Troubling 'Nakba day' speech in South Africa

The public sermon delivered by the president of the Muslim Judicial Council of Cape Town shortly before the Palestinian Nakba Day on May 15 is immensely troubling.

May 29, 2013 23:54
Anti-Israel protestors in South Africa

Anti-Israel protestors in South Africa 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko)

The public sermon (jumuah khutba) delivered by Maulana Igsaan Hendricks, president of the Muslim Judicial Council of Cape Town, South Africa, at Masjid-Sulaimani on Friday, May 10, shortly before the Palestinian Nakba Day on May 15, and broadcast live on VOC, is immensely troubling.

Hendricks referred to the Balfour Declaration which, he said, in 1917 “promised this land to some other people, who never owned the land in the first place.” By “some other people,” Hendricks of course meant the Jews, who have a long and well-documented history binding them inexorably to the land of Israel. Although they were displaced from their land in many wars over many millenia, they always considered the land of Israel their only home.

While in exile – an unnatural state of existence – they yearned for their return to Zion (Jerusalem). As Jews they could not fulfill the mitzvot, or commandments, while living outside of Israel, because many could only be fulfilled at the Holy Temple.

These are deeply embedded principles of faith and tradition, that Hendricks cannot just dismiss. To state the Jews “never owned the land” is an outrageous lie. Jews are not mere colonists; they have always lived in Israel, and in Jerusalem they have always been a majority. For 400 years, two kingdoms of Jews reigned in Judea and Israel – as is recorded in the bestselling book of all time.

Hendricks then ventures to make make the outrageous statement that, “Prior to 1929, there was absolutely no evidence of the Wailing Wall.” He then proceeds to say that “The Buraq Wall is an integral part of Masjidul-Aqsa. If any Muslim believes it is an exercise of interfaith or to recognize that the Jewish people have a right to be in front of the Wailing Wall, then it is a sign of extreme arrogance and ignorance.”

This is a provocative attack on the foundational truths of not only Judaism, but also Christianity. If Hendricks had any knowledge of the New Testament he would have read in Matthew (21:12), that Jesus chased Jewish “moneychangers” from the Holy Temple, Mark 11;12-19 refers to Jesus praying at the Holy Temple, and many other Christian references, several hundred years before al-Aksa was built.

Hendricks addresses the nakba (catastrophe), or birth of Israel, at length, and he is entitled to do so. But he neglects to mention that the Palestinians were offered half the land between the Jordan River and the Sea by the United Nations. While the Jews were prepared to share the land, the Palestinians preferred the path of war.

Hendricks is also wrong with his percentages, as the Jews were promised under the Treaty of San Remo, in 1922, the whole of Mandate Palestine, which included the land to the east of the Jordan – they were prepared to accept less than a third of the land approved by the League of Nations.

As a direct result of the war, and the attack by five Arab countries against a very weak fledgling state of Israel, 600,000 Palestinians were displaced. Their descendants may now number six million, but only 50,000 can directly trace their origins to Israel.

Hendricks then makes mention of “the famous refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila,” which he fails to mention are in Lebanon. He “speaks very loud of the very despicable conditions of the Palestinian people living there,” but fails to mention that the Arab people of Lebanon are responsible for keeping the Palestinians under these pitiful conditions. It is not Israel’s fault that these refugees have been denied rights enjoyed by refugees everywhere else in the world.

This ongoing crime against humanity, being perpetrated against the descendants of the Palestinian refugees, needs to be acknowledged and the blame for it rests squarely with the Arab governments of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Egypt. If Hendricks were to be true to his next words, instead of identifying with the “Ummah of Islam” he should condemn it for the enslavement of the Palestinian people.

Hendricks continues to spin his web of lies: “So for the last 60 years, there has been no single archaeological evidence that the Temple of Solomon ever existed beneath al-Masjid Al Aqsa al- Mubarak.” And as evidence he refers to “a leading Jewish archaeologist who is author of a book on the city of the domes now lives in exile in the United Kingdom and worked for 30 years on this project.”

The evidence of this nameless researcher, when measured against the thousands of books and papers that have been written about discoveries in the past 60 years, of Jewish ritual baths, of altars, of stones like the “trumpeting place” discovered by Benjamin Mazar, of the City of David, of wells and of coins, can’t be wished away or ignored by Hendricks.

So what is it in the minds of intelligent men like Hendricks – and there are others, such as Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, his adviser Ahmad al-Ruweidi, and almost the entire Palestinian cabinet, clerics and ministers, all of whom used the term “alleged Temple” – that forces them to deny the Jewish connection to Israel? Nonnie Darwish, in her article “Why Muslims must hate Jews,” posits an explanation, which is frightening in the extreme: “After a lot of thinking, analysis, research, and writing, I discovered that Jew-hatred in Islam is an essential foundation to the Islamic belief system that Muslims cannot seem to be able to rid themselves of. Jew-hatred masks an existential problem in Islam.

Islam is terrified of the Jews, and the number-one enemy of Islam is the truth, which must be constantly covered at any cost.”

Hendricks coasts close to calling for a religious war by fabricating a story about a Zionist plot to lock a door leading to an enclave of Sufi sheiks. “From 1967 till now, that Zawiya has been closed by the Zionists.”

He fails to acknowledge that the whole Haram as-Sharif is closed to Israelis, and Jews are not allowed to enter. He fails to mention that al-Aqsa mosque is under the control of the Wakf, and instead tries to foment violence by making an emotional call to action, with the words.

As long as Maulanas like Hendricks preach such hateful and hurtful untruths in their mosques, the Palestinian people will be caught up in a vortex which will transform their struggle into a religious and irrational dimension, with no hope of resolution.

The words of Nonnie Darwish ring eerily: “When I was a Muslim, I believed that the one-sided story against Jews by Islam was enough to justify all the killing, terror, lies, and propaganda by Islamic leaders against Jews. To the average Muslim, routinely cursing Jews in mosques feels normal and even holy!”

The writer is chairman of the Cape Council of the South African Zionist Federation.

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