Independent Arabia

Independent Arabia evokes lie that Jews pray at al-Aqsa Mosque


Independent Arabia – a joint venture of the UK based Independent and the Saudi media group SRMG, with ties to the Saudi state – continues to parrot anti-Israeli propaganda in yet another egregiously biased article. The author is the news organisation’s Israel correspondent, Nazareth-based Amal Shehadeh, whose November 6th article covered the new Jerusalem cable car project as it entered a new stage after receiving government approval.

From her very first words, Shehadeh introduced her biased, often baseless, views into the “news article”, whilst also using inflammatory rhetoric (all translations, emphases and in-bracket remarks are by CAMERA Arabic):

In an attempt to complete the ‘Judaization of Jerusalem’ plan and to ease the arrival of Israelis to the Jerusalem Holy Sanctuary in order to pray in what they refer to as ‘the Wailing Wall’, Israel has approved a cable car project which connects the Mount of Olives with Moors’ Gate in al-Buraq Wall (which the Israelis call the Wailing Wall). Throughout its entire [expected] path, it tarnishes a few of the most prominent Palestinian landmarks of the city […]

The main objective of this plan [i.e. the cable car, not the ‘Judaization of Jerusalem’ as a whole] is to ease the process of ‘Jewish worshipers’’ arrival to al-Aqsa Mosque, followed by them performing a prayer there.”

Indeed, Shehadeh’s failure to distinguish between opinions, interpretations and facts, and her related use of all-time favorite Arabic pejorative buzzword “Judaization” (Tahweed), are all textbook examples of unprofessional journalism. Perhaps the easiest way to demonstrate this is by showing her complete lack of precision when naming specific locations, always in service of the historically toxic “al-Aqsa is in Danger!!!” trope:

“the arrival of Israelis to the Jerusalem Holy Sanctuary in order to pray in what they refer to as the ‘Wailing Wall’

The truth is that the Wailing Wall (Arabic: Ha’et al-Mabka) Compound, where Jewish prayer is allowed, is not at all a part of the JHS/Temple Mount (Arabic: al-Haram al-Qudsi al-Shareef). Moreover, there is very little sense in referring to Israelis who “arrive […] to the Holy Sanctuary in order to pray in […] the ‘Wailing Wall’”, as all the entrances to the Wall’s Compound are completely separate from Temple Mount. (In fact, it is the Temple Mount which is only accessible to non-Muslims via the Compound, not vice-versa…)

The main objective […] is to ease the process of ‘Jewish worshippers’’ arrival to al-Aqsa Mosque, followed by them performing a prayer there

Shehadeh does not provide the slightest piece of evidence that this is the project’s “main objective” (not even in the distorted “quotations” from Israeli officials she brings later; see below). Currently, though, no Jews are allowed to enter the al-Aqsa Mosque, let alone pray there; nor is Jewish prayer allowed on the Temple Mount, which is where the al-Aqsa Mosque is located.

“a cable car project which connects the Mount of Olives […]”

The cable car project that the government has approved would only reach outside the Old City walls and next to Dung Gate (which, in turn, leads directly into the Western Wall Compound). A plan to extend the line from there to Mount of Olives is withheld by the government since 2017 until further notice, due to the high sensitivity of the area.

“[…] with Moors’ Gate in al-Buraq Wall”

As mentioned above, the cable car is expected to have a stop outside Dung Gate. Moors’ Gate is located inside the Old City walls, as it leads from the Western Wall Compound into Temple Mount itself. The claim, as if the cable car’s Dung Gate stop is characterized mainly by its proximity to Moors’ Gate (and not to any other site in the Compound) is misleading as it implies an unnecessary connection between the proposed cable car and Temple Mount.  

The report continues to survey various positions in Israel (and rather uniformed positions among Palestinians) in regard to the project. Unfortunately, it also quotes Israeli officials in a distorted manner:

“[…] The Israeli government… has been defending the project, considering it [to be] ‘a new source of tourism to the city, as well as [its] assistance to Jewish worshippers in their arrival to al-Aqsa’”

Shehadeh did not provide the name of the specific source in the Israeli government she quoted (though even this putative Israeli government ‘source’, by the way, does not view Jewish prayer at “al-Aqsa” as the “main objective” of the project…).

However, it seems extremely unlikely that such a quote even exists, as it refers to the Temple Mount as “al-Aqsa” (!) and assumes Jews are allowed to pray there (!!). Could it be that this was originally a reference to Jewish worshipers in the Western Wall, and that it was confused with al-Aqsa?

Research and writing by CAMERA Arabic.  Edited by UK Media Watch.

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