Saturday, June 07, 2008

An Israeli professor tests the limits of Al-Jazeera's patience.. slogan... and good manners

This amusing interview took place on al-Jazeera:

Dr. Keidar of Bar-Ilan university, Arabic studies department, tests Qatari network's patience by saying during televised interview, 'Jerusalem not mentioned in Kuran'

It can be assumed that Al-Jazeera's top journalist Jamal Rayyan will not soon forget this year's Jerusalem Day, which was celebrated this week. Following reports of Israel's intentions to construct housing units in areas located beyond the Green Line (1967 borders), the news agency decided to hold an interview with Dr. Mordechai Keidar, a lecturer from Bar Ilan University's Department of Arabic Studies. The interview – in Arabic – can be seen in full on

Rayyan opened with the question, "Mr. Mordechai, is this decision meant to drive another nail into the coffin of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations?"

The journalist appeared taken aback when Keidar answered, "To tell you the truth I don't quite understand this. Must Israel ask permission from some other authority in the world? It has been our capital for 3,000 years. We have been there since the time your forefathers used to drink wine, bury their daughters alive, and pray to multiple gods."

Keidar was referring to a period Arabs call Jahiliyyah (ignorance of divine guidance), which prevailed in the Arab world before the time of the Islam. "So then," he continued, "why must we speak about this? It has been our city for 3,000 years and will be for eternity."

'Jerusalem is ours for eternity'

The stunned Rayyan refused to give up. "Excuse me Mr. Mordechai! If you would like to speak about history let's talk about the Kuran as well. You cannot deny the existence of Jerusalem in the Kuran! I ask you to refrain from making statements that offend Arabs and Muslims. Let's please stay with our topic," he said.

"Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Kuran," repeated Keidar.

Rayyan stated the verse that, according to Muslim belief, refers to Jerusalem, but Keidar continued to object. "Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Kuran even once.**"

Rayyan continued: "Let's talk politics, please. Doesn't this decision oppose the Road Map, which determines that Israel will halt construction of the settlements in Jerusalem?"

"The Road Map does not mention Jerusalem*," Keidar argued. "Jerusalem is outside of negotiations. Jerusalem belongs to the Jews, Period! We cannot discuss Jerusalem in any way. You return to this issue time and again, but Jerusalem is not referred to in the Road Map. My brother, go and read the Road Map."

"At this rate Jerusalem will soon include all of the West Bank," Rayyan countered.

"My friend, Israel does not involve itself in housing that Qatar constructs in the Qatar Peninsula," Keidar answered. "What do you want with Jerusalem? Jerusalem is ours for eternity and no one, not Al-Jazeera or anyone else, has any say in it. Jerusalem is solely a Jewish city and no one else has any connection to it."

The interview went on for a few more minutes, after which Rayyan parted from Keidar without thanking him. It is interesting to point out that this interview was taking place on Al-Jazeera, whose slogan is "The opinion... and the other opinion". It seems this slogan has never been put to such a test.

You will notice that, apart from failing to thank his guest at the end of the interview, the interviewer does not make an effort to address his interviewee by his correct name and honorific. He is "Sayid Mordechai", Mr. Morchechai, not Professor Keidar. A significant lapse in a culture that cares so deeply about honour/shame, hospitality, and keeping up appearances.

* according to this source, which is posted on the website of the US departmentof state, Jerusalem is mentioned in the roadmap, towards the very end, in this paragraph:

Parties reach final and comprehensive permanent status agreement that ends the Israel-Palestinian conflict in 2005, through a settlement negotiated between the parties based on UNSCR 242, 338, and 1397, that ends the occupation that began in 1967, and includes an agreed, just, fair, and realistic solution to the refugee issue, and a negotiated resolution on the status of Jerusalem that takes into account the political and religious concerns of both sides, and protects the religious interests of Jews, Christians, and Muslims worldwide, and fulfills the vision of two states, Israel and sovereign, independent, democratic and viable Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security.

The astute reader can judge for himself whether Israel, in building housing units in East Jerusalem, is in breach of its obligations specified in the roadmap...

** According to Daniel Pipes: "
Jerusalem is never mentioned by name in the Qur'an...

The Qur'an refers to Muhammad's alleged "night journey" (isra) as follows:-

"Glory to (Allah) Who did take his servant for a journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the farthest mosque-------------" (Subhana allathee asra biAAabdihi laylan mina almasjidi alharami ila almasjidi al-aqsa allathee barakna hawlahu linuriyahu min ayatina innahu huwa alssameeAAu albaseeru")

Surah 17:001

When this Surah was revealed ~621AD, the Sacred Mosque already existed in Mecca, but where was "the farthest mosque?" It was apparently identified with places inside Arabia; either Medina, or a town called Ji'rana, about ten miles from Mecca, which Muhammad visited in AD 630. Palestine had not yet been conquered by the Muslims, and contained not a single mosque...


• Solomon's Temple built 958-951 BC and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian armies in 587 BC.

• Second Temple (King Herod) built 37-4 BC and destroyed by General Titus and his Roman soldiers in AD 70

• Muhammad born AD 572

• Muhammad's alleged "night journey" and mi'raj AD 622

• Muhammad died AD 632

• Dome of the Rock built by Amir Abd-ul-Malik AD 688-691

• Masjid al-Aqsa built AD 715

Why was Al-aqsa built where it was?

The site of the Mosque originally contained the Chanuyot storehouse for the Temple in Jerusalem. The Chanuyot was destroyed along with the Temple by Roman Emperor (then General) Titus in 70 CE. Unlike the Temple, which was completely destroyed, a significant portion of the Chanuyot may have survived the destruction as the current mosque includes rows of ancient Corinthian columns that appear to predate the Islamic architecture, as visible in the photo to the right. Emperor Justinian built a Christian church on the site in the 530s and consecrated to the Virgin Mary by the name of Church of Our Lady.[6]. The church was later destroyed by the Persians in the early 7th century and left in ruins

When Jerusalem came under the control of Muslims in 638, Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattāb (580-644) was given the key to the city by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Sophronius. He later asked the Patriarch to show him what Umar spelled out as "Masjid Dawud" (Mosque of David)[citation needed] and what was called "Mihrab Dawud" (David's sanctuary or prayer niche) in the Qur'an (38:21). David chose the site on which Solomon built his temple. The Patriarch took him to the door of the sanctuary which was almost blocked due to the trash that was placed at the door. Umar looked left and right and said: “Allah is Great, I swear by the one who holds my soul in his hand that this is the Mosque of David which the prophet of Allah described to us after his night journey.”



How Jerusalem Became Sacred to the Muslims by Dr. Mordechai Keidar


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