Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sane delusions and the Temple Mount

Sometimes, when I look at the issues Israel's enemies bring up either to condemn the Jewish state, or to justify their own position, I think many of them are delusional. That's come up in this past week during the controversy (still simmering) about building work near the Temple Mount. Palestinians, Egyptians, and others have been taking to the streets, tearing their hair out in despair because the evil Jews are plotting to undermine the structure of al-Aqsa Mosque. On February 13, Khalid Mish'al, the leader of Hamas's political wing (their Gerry Adams, if you like) wrote in an overwrought piece in the Guardian: 'Meanwhile, excavation resumed last week in the compound of al-Aqsa mosque, and on Friday the mosque, to which access is denied to Palestinians below the age of 45, was invaded by Israeli troops who wounded scores of worshippers.' Speaking to al-Jazeera television, Taysir al-Tamimi, the Palestinian Authority's Chief of Judges and chairman of its Islamic law high council, said 'Israel is now carrying out wide excavations under the mosque and is building a synagogue in front of the Dome of the Rock'.

Come again? 'In the compound of al-Aqsa mosque'? Has Mish'al ever visited Jerusalem or the Temple Mount? Did he take the elementary trouble to look at a map. The essential building work is being carried out well beyond the Temple Mount, let alone al-Aqsa. '...wide excavations under the mosque'? What excavations? Where? The only people doing anything on the Temple Mount are workers from the Islamic Waqf organization, which controls everything up there (and underneath). '...building a synagogue in front of the Dome of the Rock.' What synagogue? There were implausible plans for one, but Israel preferred to let the Muslims build a minaret there instead, which they are doing.

In other words, everything these people are saying is a lie. And the people in various Muslim countries demonstrating and calling on God for vengeance are deluded. Not in the way a paranoid schizophrenic is deluded, which is mental illness, but because they have bought into a culture of shameless half-truths, brazen lies, and mind-boggling conspiracy theories. It is incredibly easy to look at a map and examine photographs in order to see how the land lies on and around the Temple Mount. All the Palestinian Arabs have to do is walk to the walkway and then stroll over to al-Aqsa, whereupon it will dawn on them that talk of excavations under the mosque is pure poppycock. But they know it's poppycock anyway, and prefer to go with that than to deal with the reality in front of their noses. That is to choose delusion, because it serves a greater political or religious interest. It's what Hitler and Stalin did when they told the Big Lie in its various forms. It's what the Palestinian Arabs do when they say there is no evidence for a Jewish presence in Jerusalem two thousand and more years ago. That there was never a Second Temple. Nor a First Temple.

The standard of education in the Middle East is poor. Even universities expect students to learn what they are told, and discourage questioning. This establishes a mindset that permits even the best educated to trot out balderdash as if it were Gospel truth. The Israeli security fence is a wall for mile after mile after mile. 9/11 was a US-Jewish plot that had nothing to do with al-Qaeda. The Zionists encouraged the Nazis to kill as many Jews as possible in order to force Jews to flee to Palestine. There was a massacre in Jenin. Hizbullah were innocent bystanders in a violent war started by the Jews with the aim of destroying Lebanon. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is an authentic historical document. The Holocaust never happened. Or, if it did, the Jews started it. There was a state of Palestine on what is now Israel, and it was destroyed by the evil Jewish settlers.

It goes on and on. Read Daniel Pipes's book The Hidden Hand to get a broad picture of how far conspiracy theory eats into the soul of the Muslim world. It poisons both politics and religion. Statesmen in the Middle East believe in things no self-respecting seventh-year schoolboy or girl here would take on board for a moment. Making a walkway safe for visitors (including Muslims) is a diabolical plot to destroy the Islamic presence on the Temple Mount. Muhammad al-Durra was shot by Israeli troops whose bullets made 90-degree turns.

If the educated believe some of these things, there's no hope for the illierate and semi-literate who take their cues from their religious and political leaders. The waters are constantly muddied by this almost blanket refusal to come to terms with historical, geographical, or political reality.

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