Addressing hostile foreign Islamic intervention in Jerusalem – analysis

Due to the presence of terror supporting organizations in Jerusalem, we must be proactive in removing evil and supporting law-abiding citizens.

By Dr. Shmuel Katz and Chaim Silberstein

The ongoing war in Gaza and Lebanon which was started by Hamas and Hezbollah and instigated by Iran, is naturally taking a center stage in our national strategic consciousness.

However, we cannot neglect dangerous developments occurring within our capital city of Jerusalem, which if not addressed, will impact peace loving Jews, Muslims, Christians and others.

Two of the main players in this ongoing problem, are Qatar and Turkey, whose anti-Israel stances are well-known. Some examples of their activities in Jerusalem include:

TIKA, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency, which renewed its activities in eastern Jerusalem, following some years of having been shut down by Israel.

Acting under the auspices of the Turkish President Erdogan, it works closely with the Yunus Amra Cultural Center in Jerusalem. Their agenda is to delegitimize Israel, support the “resistance” (= terrorism), and cultivate anti-Israel cultural events and activists.

At least two other Turkish bodies – the Turkish Culture Association, and Miratana, directed by senior Hamas figure Jihaad Yaamour – are also supporters of the “resistance” against Israel. They are essentially fronts for Hamas activities in Jerusalem.

In 2021, Qatar announced that it was renewing its “solidarity” activities with eastern Jerusalem Arabs, via its Permanent Qatari Committee to Jerusalem. Members of this body include senior PA and Fatah figures.

Another Qatari organization is the Jerusalem Support Foundation. It was founded by the Emir of Qatar when he took office in 2013 – apparently as part of his policies which were tilting towards the Muslim Brotherhood, Iran, and Turkey, at the expense of Egypt and Saudi Arabia. One billion dollars were allocated towards this foundation.

The above is a small part of the big picture; JCAP – the Jerusalem Center for Applied Policy – is investigating these examples of Qatari and Turkish activities in Jerusalem and elsewhere. These malicious activities undermine peaceful arrangements, or even dialogue.

When Arab Palestinians are encouraged to believe that their opposition to Israel’s existence has foreign political and financial support, they will not try to reach any peaceful coexistence with Israel.

The Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem are rife with tensions between the locals. Some favor tranquility so that they can go to work and support their families – and others favor agitation and anti-Israel activities, such as protests and terrorism. It is in Israel’s interest to cultivate the moderate local leadership, but the Qatari and the Turkish interventions undermine reconciliation and prevent social and political integration of Arabs into Israeli society.

These actions are strengthening the extremist Islamic elements, such as Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Tahrir, and other extremist religious clerics.

Unfortunately, it seems that Turkish and Hamas operatives, together with terrorists released in the “Shalit” deal, are working to establish terror cells, exploiting local charities, non-profit organizations, and family connections.

Considering only these few examples of the anti-Israeli activities in Jerusalem, we must figure out what can be done to improve the lives and the future of all good residents.

Wisely implemented actions on local and national levels will significantly mitigate the damage from extreme elements, and will encourage the participation of responsible leaders and community cooperation.

Therefore, we propose the following:

1. Any organization, that is linked to terrorism, must have all its financial resources legally seized.

2. Incitement to violence and hatred, should be addressed consistently and systematically, via the legal system.

3. A proactive campaign against all anti-Israeli propaganda must be ongoing.

4. The promoters of malicious, and deceptive propaganda must be exposed by sharing broadly truthful and well documented information. Hopefully, once people will understand that they are being exploited by self-serving bad operatives, they will act responsibly.

5. The malicious and deceptive materials which are used for incitement to violence, must be confiscated, and their promoters must be challenged legally for incitement.

6. The Israeli government must constantly update its lists of terror-supporting organizations and prevent their funding from domestic or foreign origins.

7. The state of Israel passed a law in July of 2018 mandating withholding of tax monies owed to the PA in the amount equal to the sum of money used by the PA to pay to terrorists. However, this law was enforced only selectively. With the onset of the current war, the transfer of money to the PA became even more contentious. The government will have to reevaluate this policy periodically.

8. Due to the abuse of foreign funds by bad operatives, a serious consideration must be given to limit or to control funding that pours into eastern Jerusalem particularly from Qatar and Turkey.

9. The Israeli Intelligence obtained documents revealing assets and companies owned by Hamas in various countries. This half a billion-dollar investment fund, finances Hamas activities. The existence and nefarious use of these funds must be addressed too.

10. Several countries have announced a halt to their funding of UNRWA, following revelations of its corruption and involvement with Hamas terrorism. This organization must be replaced.

Due to the presence of terror organizations in Jerusalem and elsewhere, we must be proactive in removing evil and supporting law-abiding citizens from all walks of life. The ideas listed above are some first steps, that will help create a healthier environment for a peaceful coexistence in Jerusalem and in the rest of the country.

Ultimately, a peaceful Jerusalem will be to the benefit of the free world.

Dr. Shmuel Katz served as an officer in the 6 Day War, is double-boarded in Surgery, a Fellow of the Israeli Surgical Society and of the American College of Surgeons and other medical societies. He is on the board of many pro-Israel organizations, including JCAP.

Chaim Silberstein is the founder and chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Applied Policy (JCAP) and the Im Eshkachech-Keep Jerusalem public diplomacy organization.