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The Aqsa Moment

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Over recent days, cries of Al-Aqsa fi khatar ("The Al-Aqsa Mosque is in danger.") have crammed the vestigial, all-too-narrow public space in the Arab world. Despite the iron-fist policies of unpopular Arab leaders – buttressed by imperial Western nations – the popular outbursts witnessed in the aftermath of the sacrilegious storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque once again symbolized the very much living spirit that exists within the Ummah.

Shocked by the level of response exhibited by their populations, "moderate" Arab leaders have timidly remonstrated before their masters, hoping against all hope that the fast-teeming popular mutinies at home be somehow quelled through some benign, retractive gesture by the provocateur-par-excellence. 

Government-funded news agencies in the Arab world have meanwhile been overcome by a sense of disbelief in their reporting, adding that no other reaction is fitting at a time when "peace talks" are underway. Yet neither is there anything "shocking" about the recent acts of Israeli occupation forces, nor are such provocations in Al-Quds about to end. The present phase merely represents the logical climax of the Zionist, colonialist enterprise surmised decades ago by former prime minister, Golda Meir:

"It doesn't matter how you coat it. Arab sovereignty in Jerusalem just cannot be. This city will not be divided – not half and half, not 60-40, not 75-25, nothing. The only way we will lose Jerusalem is if we lose a war, and then we lose all of it." ("Middle East: Getting Almost All Points of View", TIME Magazine, 19 February 1973)

In reality, the Palestinian cause – at whose heart is the question of Al-Quds – has been historically assaulted not only by the Zionist enterprise, but it is under the aegis of the so-called "international community" and unmistakable Arab-complicity that the principle motif of Palestinian life has become one of suffering and vulnerability – stripped off all dignities and rights deserving of human beings. The present threat to the Al-Aqsa Mosque occurs not in a vacuum but as part of an almost teleological process (as some fanatic, ultra-orthodox Jewish extremists will no doubt underline) in which the present Washington administration has also played its part. 

Commenting on the systematic demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem (in effect the Judaization of the city) in March of this year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remarked that the development was "unhelpful" – pretty much sending a signal to Tel Aviv that it could pace on with demolitions until a harsher tone was adopted in Washington, if at all. The reactions from European capitals to the effective annexation of East Jerusalem and rapid settlement-growth in the West Bank were likewise tentative and dared not take any concrete steps to reign in the clear violations of international law. One should make a further note here that such was the response of the so-called "international community" to Israeli violations shortly on the heels of the brutal war on Gaza.

The complicity of "moderate Arab allies" (post-January war on Gaza) on the other hand has come in the way of their shared conspiracy with Israel and the US to exclude Hamas from any significant say in this entire process. In addition to the open farce of Egyptian mediation in striking a "unity" deal (as if the end product of any Mubarak-brokered deal was ever in doubt), the simple reality is that Egyptian mediation was merely a 'formal show' under the tutelage of the "principles of the Quartet".

Hence, the entire exercise was sure to be futile from its outset without two elementary prerequisites: 1) lifting of the illegal blockade on Gaza, 2) prior assurance that the Quartet would officially recognize and acknowledge the result of any future Palestinian vote. Needless to say, none of Israel, the US, and even some European states were willing to sign on to those two prerequisites. In the classical American tradition therefore, the maxim of "it is only democracy when it suits us" won the day, and the Egyptian-Saudi-Jordanian alliance on their part told long tales of Hamas' irrationality. Mission accomplished.

As the years have progressed, the painful legacies of Camp David and Wadi Araba have proven themselves to fit into the grander scheme of leaving the Palestinians high and dry on any future "historical settlement" – one can well argue that the moderate Arab menials are doing a rather fine job of affecting that end. It is thus imperative that Syria does not buy into this strictly autonomous, bilateral peace track conspiracy at a time when the heart of Palestine is being readied for the final coup de grace. 

During the course of the week in which Israel's occupation forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory reports that a further six demolition orders in East Jerusalem were carried out leading to the displacement of 26 Palestinians, including 10 children. Washington meanwhile continues to stress that the Palestinians should come to the negotiating table with no preconditions – in addition to lauding bags of praise on Netanyahu and his hawks. Zionist zealots, encouraged by the warmth in the US response, speak of "changing the status quo at the Temple Mount" through efforts done "quietly and through subterfuge".

In the face of these foul machinations and seemingly overpowering forces, Palestinians are expected to crumble in acquiescence to the new "facts on the ground". In parentheses, the cries of moderate Arab leaders to "defend the Aqsa" exhibit a level of hypocrisy and moral imbecility odious to the highest degree. Yet it is not to bogus slogans emanating from Cairo and Amman that the Palestinian and Muslim populations turn. Rather, they have found in the spirit of resistance and in the simple act of defiance a "fact on the ground" that de-legitimizes any "facts" that their adversaries can muster.

Author of this article: Ali Jawad
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