Imagine if the following was an authentic news story:
STOP PRESS: UK Minister Tom Tugendhart was summarily fired just before the publication of the ensuing report. According to a statement from 10 Downing Street, the lawmaker had contravened “established British foreign policy” and behaved in a “dangerously irresponsible way” on his recent visit to Jerusalem.
JERUSALEM – British Minister of State for Security, Tom Tugendhart, Thursday affirmed Israel’s unique connection with the Temple Mount when he visited the flashpoint site in Jerusalem that is holy to all three major monotheistic religions.
“I emphasised the UK’s recognition of the Jewish people’s 3000-year-old attachment to the Temple Mount, site of the two Temples where their forefathers worshipped the God of Israel. And I expressed my conviction that religious freedom should be extended to all – Jews, Christians and Muslims – to pray on the Mount” Tugendhart tweeted after the visit.
The British lawmaker was accompanied to the site – which is the holiest in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam – by his Israeli counterpart, Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir.
It was the first high-level foreign visit since worldwide outrage was levelled at Israel after Ben-Gvir entered the plaza last week.
During his tour of the site, the British lawmaker unexpectedly took issue with the UN Security Council’s unanimous January 5 condemnation of Ben-Gvir’s visit.
Tugendhart pointed out, rightly, that Ben-Gvir had taken pains to abide by the “status quo”: had entered the site through the one gateway Jews are permitted to use (Muslims can use nine); had kept to the extremely restricted hours for Jewish visits (Muslims are free to enter at any time), and had refrained from praying (only Muslims are permitted to pray).
“The outcry against my Israeli friend’s 13-minute, quiet and orderly visit, exposed the sickening hypocrisy of the international community,” said Tugendhart as his visit came to an end.
“The practice and enforcement of religious apartheid is not only ignored, but shamelessly supported by the entire United Nations, the same United Nations that condemns this kind of discrimination at every opportunity, and fights for freedom of religious worship in every other corner of the globe.”
Before leaving the site Tugendhart, who is Jewish, unnerved his security detail when he donned a kippah, faced that part of the hilltop where the Holy of Holies once stood, and moved his lips in prayer.
Shouts were heard coming from the Al-Aqsa mosque as the two ministers were quickly ushered off the Mount and out of the Old City.
The above fiction was motivated by a news item that appeared in The Jerusalem Post on January 12 and read as follows:
British Minister of State for the Middle East Lord Tariq Ahmad affirmed Jordan’s special custodial role on the Temple Mount when he visited the flashpoint site in Jerusalem that is holy to all three major monotheistic religions.
“I emphasized the UK’s unwavering support for Jordanian Custodianship of Jerusalem’s Holy Sites [and] for the Status Quo” to be maintained, Ahmad tweeted after the visit.
His trip to the Aqsa Mosque compound on the site, which is the holiest in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam, is the first high-level foreign visit since National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir caused international controversy when he went to the courtyard there last week.
Israel insisted that his visit was in keeping with past protocols and did not violate the status quo that anyone can enter the site, but only Muslims can pray there.
Ahmad, who is Muslim, prayed at the site and was accompanied by Jerusalem Wakf Department director Sheikh Azzam Al-Khatib.
The report went on to cover Ahmad’s visit to Hebron (the Palestinian Arab, not the Jewish, part of that ancient Jewish town) where he tweeted Britain’s support for the theft of Jewish ancestral lands via the Two State Solution. He also called on residents of illegally-constructed Palestinian Arab homes who face eviction under Israeli law.
“Great Britain and the EU have funded some of the illegal structures in that area,” the Post observed.
It should also be noted that Lord Ahmad’s host on the Temple Mount, Al-Khatib, has a history of provocative, racist and antisemitic behaviour.
In 2014, Al-Khatib flatly refused an invitation to the Knesset to participate in a discussion about the wanton destruction of antiquities that had taken place on the Temple Mount under the eyes of the Waqf, which in fact enabled it.
The Muslim is openly contemptuous of the State of Israel – the state that has permitted the Waqf to retain its authority on the Temple Mount.
In a statement, his Waqf Department said that “Al-Aqsa is far too important to be discussed by a committee in the Knesset… we consider the invitation … a provocative step to inflame the feelings of Muslims worldwide.”
The statement stressed something anti-Israel news media tend to ignore, that the entire 36-acre Temple Mount platform is exclusively for Muslims: “Non-Muslims are not allowed to pray [anywhere] in it,” the sheikh insisted.
It is Al-Khatib who inflames the feelings of Muslims worldwide – against the Jewish state. He has belligerently charged that Israel is responsible for “provocations targeting al-Aqsa Mosque and impairing the life of the city’s residents,” and has called for universal Islamic responses to “provocations” like Jewish prayer. The Al-Aqsa, he insists, “is not for the Palestinians alone; it is an Islamic mosque for all Muslims”. The “provocations and statements of extremist Jewish groups” must be stopped…”
When asked, at the time of the two above reports, about assertions that a US State Department’s document on religious freedom in Jerusalem had called for Jews to be allowed to pray on the Mount, Al-Khatib contended that “the US Consulate in Jerusalem clarified that this is not the case, and the State Department does not encourage Jews to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
This obfuscation about what comprises Al-Aqsa Mosque (the State Department can claim that it was referring to the lead-domed mosque on the southern edge of the Mount, and not the entire platform) is left unchallenged by both the US administration and by the news media, who clearly collude in it, thereby perpetuating the conflict.
In point of fact, as much as Islamic intolerance, it has been the international community’s historical, unyielding pro-Muslim/pro-“Palestinian” position on the Temple Mount that has encouraged the antisemitism that makes the site such a flashpoint for violence.
Lord Ahmad didn’t even attempt to hide his bias. As a Muslim, his belief in the pre-eminence of his co-religionists over Jews (and Christians) is an article of faith for him that would transcend his Britishness if it needed to, but in fact sits quite comfortably side-by-side with the UK’s longstanding anti-Israel predisposition.
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