JERUSALEM — In an extensive radio interview, Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior reporter Aaron Klein confronted an Islamic leader here about his false claim that Israel is attempting to limit Muslim worship at the holy site.
During the interview, Waleed Taha, the deputy chairman of the Islamic Movement, labeled the Western Wall an “occupied area” and rejected archaeological evidence and the historical record tying Jews to the site. Klein challenged Taha on those allegations, as well as the Temple Mount’s Islamic custodians’ attempts to dispose of Jewish artifacts from the site.
Taha’s Islamic Movement is an Islamist group headquartered in Israel and has been at the center of charges against Israel regarding the Temple Mount.
The interview took place on Klein’s radio Sunday night program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio,” broadcast on New York’s AM 970 The Answer and NewsTalk 990 AM in Philadelphia.
Metal detectors conspiracy
Israel installed metal detectors last week in direct response to the murderous Palestinian terrorist attack on the Mount two weeks ago in which three assailants somehow smuggled weapons onto the site and then killed two Israeli police officers.
During the interview, Taha spun a conspiracy theory claiming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was deliberately “inflaming the situation” at the al-Aqsa Mosque, located on the Mount, in order to enact a “fascist agenda” and as part of a ruse to detract media attention from a graft probe related to his administration.
Klein responded that the “exact opposite” is happening, with Palestinian and Muslim leaders inciting against Israel and using the Mount to inflame the situation.
Klein stated: “I see the exact opposite. Aren’t the Muslim leaders and the Palestinian leaders inflaming the tensions at the al-Aqsa Mosque? Because a week and a half ago, last Friday, you had the terrorist attack of three Israeli Arabs who were coming off of the Temple Mount with weapons. They shot at Israeli security forces and killed two Israeli Druze police officers.
“So, the issue is that weapons were smuggled onto the Temple Mount. Weapons were then subsequently found in Israeli raids on the Temple Mount. So, wouldn’t the most sensible response to this be to put metal detectors in, given that there was an attack by jihadists using weapons on the Temple Mount? And further, won’t the metal detectors now also protect the Muslims going up because they will make sure that no weapons are brought up there?”
The sheikh responded by claiming that Israel’s new measures “don’t give any security answer to any security challenge.”
He then misrepresented Klein’s statements, saying the “weapons that were used in the attack … came from outside the Mosque and not from inside them.” Klein had stated that the weapons came from inside the Temple Mount complex and not from inside any specific mosque.
“Who told you that the weapons were found inside the mosque?” Taha continued. “Did you accompany the Israeli security forces? They are lying. They are lying in anything that regards the al-Aqsa Mosque. Look how Israel is trying to use an attack that all of the Palestinians are against it. Because they want the Mosque to be used as a place for worship and for prayer and not a place for arms. Look at how it is using this attack in order to impose a new reality.”
Klein to Taha: Palestinian groups praised the Temple Mount terrorist attack
Klein corrected Taha about the reported origins of the weapons, and then took issue with the Islamic leader’s characterization that “Palestinians are against” the terrorist attack that took place at the Mount.
“Number one,” began Klein, “you are saying that Palestinians do not agree with the attack that was carried out. But actually, numerous Palestinian organizations, including Fatah of Palestinian Authority President [Mahmoud] Abbas, praised the attack last Friday at the Mount entrance. And then also, to be clear, I didn’t say that they were coming from the Mosque when they carried out the attack. I said that they were coming from the Mount. This is a fact. They were coming off of the Harm El-Sherif complex, as you call it in Arabic. The Temple mount in English. They were coming off the Mount with weapons and that is when they carried out this attack. And it is at that exact location that the metal detectors are now being put into place.”
Western Wall an ‘occupied area’
Klein turned the interview back to Taha’s claim about an Israeli conspiracy against the al-Aqsa Mosque utilizing metal detectors by pointing out that for decades all visitors to the Western Wall – Jews, Christians and Muslims alike – must first pass through metal detectors.
“So, is there in Israeli conspiracy against the Western Wall also?” the Breitbart Jerusalem bureau chief asked.
Taha replied by falsely calling the Western Wall “an occupied area.”
“In an occupied area, you need to take security measures. The al-Aqsa Mosque is the mosque of the Muslims. When the Muslims come to the Mosque, he comes to the house of Allah. He comes to his own home. And he feels safe and secure in his own mosque, where he comes to pray in order to feel closer to Allah.”
Klein: ‘What is the problem with a Jew or a Christian praying up there?’
Taha further falsely stated that “the Israelis are digging down the mosque. And they are destroying down the mosque.”
Israel is not digging under the mosque or anywhere on the Temple Mount complex.
Klein disputed Taha’s claim that Israel is threatening Muslim worship at the Temple Mount by charging that it is the Waqf, the Mount’s Muslim custodians, who are restricting non-Muslim prayer on the site.
Israel allows the Jordanian-controlled Waqf to serve as custodians of the Temple Mount and grants Muslim worshipers access to the Mount 24 hours per day, seven days a week with the exception of rare instances of security threats.
Jewish and Christian visitors, however, are restricted by the Waqf from visiting the Mount except on small tours for about two hours per day. The Waqf does not allow non-Muslims to pray on the Mount or bring holy objects to the site; whereas Muslim prayer is unrestricted. Waqf representatives closely monitor non-Muslim visitors to the site and are known to boot those engaging in prayer.
“Isn’t it the Waqf, the Islamic custodians, who don’t allow Jews and Christians to pray up there? What is the problem with a Jew or a Christian praying up there?” Klein asked.
Taha retorted: “The Christians are our partners and they never asked to pray in the mosque because simply the mosque is very close to their churches. … Therefore, please do not introduce the Christians in this issue. The issue is with fanatic Jews who want to express fanatic ideology and to express their link to the place.”
Taha claimed there “is no link of the Jews to this place. And you are talking about the visit of one hour a day. Even this should not happen. Even this should not take place. This place belongs only to the Muslims.”
Erasing archaeological evidence
Rejecting accepted fact and the archaeological record, Taha went on to claim that “none of the archaeological results prove that there is any linkage between the Mosque and between Judaism. I invite them to go and to dig elsewhere. Because this is a place for Muslims. They (Jews) have nothing to do with this place. Al-Aqsa is only for Muslims and not for Jewish tourists.”
At this point, Klein confronted Taha with archaeological evidence and with the Waqf’s own complicity in disposing of Jewish Temple artifacts further solidifying Jewish ties to the site.
You are saying that there is no archaeological evidence that the Jewish temples ever existed on the Temple Mount. Let’s turn to a 1997… This is when the Waqf conducted a large dig on the Mount to construct a massive mosque to next to the area called Solomon’s Stables. What happened was the Waqf took truckloads of dirt that contained Jewish artifacts from the First and Second Temples. And the Israeli authorities caught them literally throwing out the dirt. Putting the dirt in the garbage.
Israel for 15 years went through the dirt and found priceless Jewish temple artifacts. Including coins with Hebrew writing on it. A Hasmonean lamp, it’s called. Second temple lamps. Jewish markings on pottery. Temple-era artifacts with Jewish and Hebrew markings on it. All found in the dirt that the Waqf was literally caught red-handed throwing out. So, first of all, we can focus on a lot of other archaeological evidence but let’s just specifically go to that. So not only is there other archaeological evidence, but the Waqf tried to erase history by throwing it out.
Taha retorted that “if there was any proof in the hands of any formal or informal Israeli association or government that there is any link between the Jews and the Mosque and between the Jews and the temples and the temples’ existence, they would have done a huge campaign in the world and they would have done a huge noise all over the world. There is no evidence, no proof that proves that there is any Jewish link there.”
While allowing that Jews resided in the area for “one thousand years before Christ,” Taha said of the Temple Mount: “This place is a place that the Prophet Muhammad mentioned when he said only in three mosques Muslims should go as pilgrims. This is al-Aqsa, the Harem and Mecca, and the mosque in Medina.”
At that point, Klein pointed out that the Quran mentions the term “al-Aqsa mosque” – meaning the “furthest mosque” – and that Jerusalem is never mentioned. The Quranic story has Muhammad riding his horse on a night journey from the Sacred Mosque in Mecca to “al-Aqsa” – meaning the furthest mosque. From there, Muhammad was said to have ascended to heaven. Klein cited the historical record, which has Muhammad dying many years before the construction of the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
Klein posited: “It says in the Quran, doesn’t it say the al-Aqsa mosque means the farthest mosque? Not a specific mosque. Because history is very clear. Muhammad was born in 570 AD in Mecca and he died in 632. So, there was no mosque when Muhammad was born. So how could Muhammad have visited the al-Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem) if it didn’t exist?”
We already know these interpretations of those who want to prove that the divine version and narrative is false. And those who want to prove that there is no link between the Muslims and the al-Aqsa Mosque. It is true that in the Arabic language, “al-aqsa” means the “farthest mosque.” But in this case, it is also the name of the mosque. And also it is the word to describe that it was very far from the al-Harem in Mecca. From this al-Aqsa Mosque, the Prophet went to the sky but before this he led a prayer. Behind him prayed all of the prophets. If you want to discuss and doubt miracles that refer to all of the prophets, do you doubt the miracles of Jesus? …
Don’t go to this issue. It is clear. It is an evidence. We were here before Jews. There was no link to the Jews with this place and the Jews as occupiers should not look for false stuff in order to justify their occupation.