Palestinian libels against Jews: No difference between Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, has also been making false accusations against Israel surrounding the mosque.

By Bassam Tawil, Gatestone Institute

The Iran-backed Palestinian terrorist group Hamas has claimed that its October 7 attack on Israel was a “necessary step and a natural reaction against Israel’s plan… to establish complete control over Al-Aqsa Mosque [in Jerusalem].”

That is why Hamas called the assault, which claimed the lives of 1,200 Israelis, “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.”

The only problem is: the claim is not true. Of course, there are no such plans. These plans only exist in the deranged imaginations of the Palestinian leaders fabricating the accusations against the Jews.

In fact, it was Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Dayan who gave control over the Temple Mount to the Islamic Wakf authorities in 1967.

The Temple Mount Compound, on which the Al-Aqsa Mosque sits, is on a site holy to Arabs Christians and Jews.

This was not the first time that Hamas and other Palestinians had utilized the Al-Aqsa Mosque as a justification for attacking Israel and slaughtering Jews. The Palestinian are still propagating the lie that the Jews intend to demolish the mosque.

According to Nadav Shragai, an Israeli journalist specializing in Jerusalem affairs:

“Palestinians often hear from their leaders that a Muslim holy site in Jerusalem, al-Aksa mosque, is in danger of collapse – and the Jews are to blame.

Whether printed in cartoons, preached in mosques or taught in schools, the lie is accepted as common knowledge across the Arab world. Millions of Muslims accept it as truth.

The message is clear: Jews seek to expel the Arabs from Jerusalem.

“This lie is nothing new. For the past century, Palestinian leaders have told the ‘Al-Aksa is in danger’ lie in order to incite their people to attack Jews. It is important to expose and counter this fabrication because it remains a spark that can lead to bloodshed.”

Shragai pointed out that “[t]he birthfather of the ‘Al-Aksa is in danger’ libel, the first in the new era to claim that the Jews were scheming to destroy the Al-Aksa Mosque and build the Third Temple in its place, was Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini,” Adolf Hitler’s friend and ally.

“Husseini exploited the Jews’ struggle for their right to pray at the Western Wall… to whip up animosity against them and accuse them of much more ambitious aims: the destruction of the [Al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock] mosques and the building of the Third Temple in their stead.”

Al-Husseini was known for his alliance with Hitler, whom he hoped would export his “final solution to the Jewish question” to the Middle East.

“Arabs! Rise as one and fight for your sacred rights,” Husseini is reported to have said. “Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion. This saves your honor. God is with you.”[1]

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During a meeting between the two, held in the Reich Chancellery in Berlin, Hitler confirmed that the “struggle against a Jewish homeland in Palestine” would be part of the struggle against the Jews.

Hitler stated that he would “continue the struggle until the complete destruction of Jewish-Communist European empire.”

When the German army looked as if it might approach the Middle East – it chose Russia instead — Germany would issue “an assurance to the Arab world” that “the hour of liberation was at hand.” It would then be al-Husseini’s “responsibility to unleash the Arab action [against the Jews] that he has secretly prepared.”

“All the explanations of the Jewish side that it had no intentions to take over the Muslim holy places were to no avail,” Shragai added. In November 1928, the National Committee of the Jews of the Land of Israel published an open letter to the Arabs that stated, among other things:

“We hereby announce, honestly and sincerely, that no one from Israel has any intention of infringing the rights of Muslims to the places that are holy to them. However, our Arab brothers must also recognize the rights that Israel has in this land, to our own places….

Any attempt to describe the desire of the Jews to pray at this holy place, the Western Wall plaza, in peace, with respect and without restriction, as the creation of a strategic base for an attack on the mosques of the Muslims, is nothing but the fruit of a fevered imagination or a malicious libel. The aim of this libel is to sow tumult and confusion in hearts and arouse animosity and conflict between different peoples.”

According to Shragai:

“Not only did this announcement not work, but al-Husseini and his Muslim Council further upped the ante. They forged an opening in the southern part of the Western Wall plaza so as to change the Jews’ place of prayer into a passageway for both man and beast, and used various stratagems to further disrupt the Jews’ worship.

This campaign was orchestrated by the mufti Haj Amin. Some of the restrooms of homes alongside the prayer plaza were actually adjacent to the wall, and from time to time the Muslims would dump feces and garbage in the narrow plaza.

In the spring of 1929, the Muslims in those residences abutting the plaza began conducting noisy ceremonies that included shouts, dances, and songs to the sounds of cymbals and drums…

“At the beginning of August 1929, Arabs attacked and injured Jews who had come to pray at the Western Wall. On August 15, the night of the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av [to commemorate the destruction of The Second Temple, destroyed in 67 CE, and all that remains of which is that retaining wall], the Betar movement and the Jewish community in the country brought tens of thousands in an impressive march to the Western Wall.

The Arab protest, however, rose to a new pitch, with ceaseless harassment of the Jewish worshippers at the spot and an incitement campaign against the Jews’ supposed aim to take over the Temple Mount and its mosques.

This ongoing incitement, in which al-Husseini played a central role, eventually erupted in large-scale pogroms against Jews, which came to be known as the “1929 riots.”

A week after the Tisha B’Av march, the signal came from Al-Aksa. Masses of fellahin [Arab villagers] assembled, bearing clubs and knives.

The inflamed Arab mass attacked Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, and from there the pogroms spread to Jewish agricultural settlements such as Motza, Be’er Tuvia, and Hulda, Jewish urban concentrations such as Haifa and Tel Aviv, and the mixed cities of Hebron and Safed.

The mayhem went on for a week. One hundred and thirty-three Jews, mostly in Safed and Hebron, were butchered. Three hundred and thirty-nine Jews were injured. Eight Jewish settlements had to be abandoned, and the events came to be etched as a terrible calamity in the collective memory of the Jews of Israel.”

Since then, Palestinian leaders Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, together with many Palestinians, including Hamas, have been using the Al-Aqsa Mosque as an excuse to justify terrorism and other acts of violence against Israel and Jews.

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In 2000, Arafat exploited a brief visit by Ariel Sharon (then leader of the Israel’s opposition) to the Temple Mount to stir up hatred against Israel and Jews. In a speech at the Arab Summit in Cairo in October 2000, Arafat accused Sharon of “desecrating” the Al-Aqsa Mosque and its compound.

It is important to note that during his tour of the compound, as had been agreed with Palestinian Authority security chief Jabril Rajoub, Sharon did not set foot inside the mosque.

Arafat’s inflammatory rhetoric and lies triggered a violent Palestinian uprising, known as the Second Intifada, also known as the “Al-Aqsa Intifada,” during which thousands of Palestinians and Israelis were killed.

Twenty-four years later, the Al-Aqsa Mosque is still in its place and Muslims continue to enjoy free access to the holy site in Jerusalem.

Arafat’s successor, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, has also been making false accusations against Israel surrounding the mosque.

In a speech in 2015, Abbas said that Jews “have no right to defile the Al-Aqsa Mosque with their filthy feet.” He was referring to peaceful and routine visits by Jews to the Temple Mount. Abbas added:

“We salute every drop of blood spilled for the sake of Jerusalem. This blood is clean, pure blood, shed for the sake of Allah. Every martyr will be placed in Paradise, and all the wounded will be rewarded by Allah.”

Shortly after Abbas’s speech, Palestinians took to the streets to stab Jews in what has become known as the “Knife Intifada.” Thirty-eight Israelis were murdered, while 558 others were wounded.

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Like al-Husseini and Arafat, Abbas denies any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, and its adjacent Western Wall. Abbas has also been spreading the lie that Jews are plotting to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

In reality, Arafat had agreed that non-Muslims may, at certain times, tour the exterior of the Al-Aqsa Mosque — the gardens and patios — as long as they do not go inside and pray there.

Abbas and his media nevertheless continue to portray the peaceful visits by Jews to the Temple Mount as violent incursions. On June 5, 2024, Abbas’s official news agency Wafa reported:

“Hundreds of Israeli colonists today broke into the compound of Al-Aqsa Mosque…[they] raided the holy Islamic Mosque from al-Maghariba Gate and took provocative tours in its compounds.”

Needless to say, Abbas is again lying: no Jew had “raided” or “broken into” the mosque.

This is the type of false propaganda that prompts Palestinians to shoot or stab the first Jew they encounter. There is no difference between the rhetoric used by Hamas and that used by Abbas regarding the lie that Jews are desecrating the Al-Aqsa Mosque and planning to destroy it.

Hamas was undoubtedly inspired by Abbas’s 2015 speech (Jews defiling with their “filthy feet” the Al-Aqsa Mosque) when it decided to call its October 7 massacre “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.”

Abbas bears equal responsibility for the October 7 atrocities because of his part in disseminating the falsehood that Jews are attacking and desecrating Islamic holy places, particularly the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Biden administration and some European countries that want to give the Palestinians a state fail to recognize that, when it comes to rejecting Israel’s right to exist as the homeland of the Jewish people and denying any Jewish link to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, there is no real difference between Abbas and Hamas.

If anyone is desecrating the Al-Aqsa Mosque, it is Palestinians who are using it to justify murder — of Jews.

[1] More recent sources for this quote indicate that the primary source is the Federal Communications Commission’s Weekly Review of Foreign Broadcasts, No. 118 3/4/44, Near and Middle East (United States National Archives, College Park, Record Group 165, MID, Regional File, 1922-44, Palestine, entry 77, Box 2719, folder 2930)

Particularly, see the listing of 3335 boxes under Formerly Security-Classified Intelligence Reference Publications (“Regional File”) Received From U.S. Military Attaches, Military and Civilian Agencies of the United States, Foreign Governments, and Other Sources, 1922-1944 (Entry 77)