Wednesday, February 22, 2006

There they go again, those Zionists and Crusaders!

Everyone has heard about the grievous transgressions of the West, the sacrilege of some backwater Danish newspaper portraying the Prophet. And the world of Islam, not at all recovered from these insults, no doubt somehow traceable to the Zionists and latter-day Crusaders -, now staggers amidst the rubble of one the Shia Muslims' most holy places, the Askariya Shrine in Samarra.

The obvious culprits - aside from those ubiquitously conniving Jews who many in the Arab world also are still certain are the perps behind the World Trade Center attacks - are Sunnis violently embittered by their loss of power when the US et al brought down Saddam's regime. Here, one cannot but be struck by what religious respect means among the Believers versus we, the Infidels. Let us travel back to early June 1967 when, as part of their rapid rout of their belligerent neighbours, Israeli forces entered Jerusalem and fought hand-to-hand to retake this ancient prime city of their faith at the spiritual centre of which was the site of Temple. On this holiest of site for Judaism, a mighty mosque had been built- Al-Aksa or "The Dome of the Rock". Much vaunted as Islam's third holiest site, some very good questions can be asked about just how revered the site was for Islam prior to 1967 and the Six Days War. Notwithstanding, invading/returning Israelis in 1967 were under the strictest military orders to forego the use of heavy artillery in the vicinity of the Dome as they pushed back Jordanian soldiers. As a result, that bloody, if short, battle resulted in no significant damage to the Mosque, probably at the cost of extra Israeli caualties sustained by virtue of their mandated reticence and respect in the vicinity of this Muslim holy place.

In the years that followed, quite understandably, devout Jews pushed hard to take down the Dome and rebuild the great Temple for whom more than a millenium of mixed Muslim and Christian authority in Jerusalem had shown no respect. Today, Muslim commentators ridiculously assert that Israel never allowed this to happen because of its fear of "retribution from the Muslim World": yeah, that's pretty credible - the Israeli government's 1969 ban on any practice of Jewish religious ceremonies beside the Dome(let alone razing the Dome)came came two short years after little Israel had kicked ass of its far more populous Muslim "neighbours."

What we saw then, what we see now, is a fundamental distinction between what is deemed to be sacred and inviolable - even among one's enemy's icons - between western democracies (including Israel therein) and the practiced radicalism of Islam.