As Muslim communities around the globe rejoice Eid and the top of Ramadan, Palestinian Muslims in occupied East Jerusalem are reeling from one more holy month by which Israel determined to unleash brutal violence on them. But once more, Israeli safety forces raided Al-Aqsa Mosque – Islam’s third holiest website – to brutalise praying Palestinians.
Israel doesn’t have jurisdiction over al-Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary), the place Al-Aqsa is positioned. Beneath the internationally recognised establishment, Jordan and the Jordanian-appointed Jerusalem Waqf Council have the suitable to determine what occurs on its premises.
Nonetheless, Israeli authorities imposed a ban on in a single day worship within the Al-Aqsa compound, stopping Palestinians from freely working towards their religion, which was met with Palestinian resistance. Israeli authorities additionally as soon as once more banned many Palestinians from visiting the holy website, violating not simply their proper to free worship but additionally their rights to maneuver freely inside their very own homeland.
By now, the worldwide media has moved on from the story of Israeli violence in occupied East Jerusalem, however the Muslim group shouldn’t. It’s time we replicate on how we should always handle Israeli violations of Islam’s holy website and Israeli brutality towards our Palestinian brothers and sisters.
One necessary query is how Muslims ought to method pilgrimage to Al-Aqsa and journey to occupied Palestine.
Understanding the occupation
When contemplating this subject, it’s essential to have some understanding of the Israeli occupation and the apartheid system that Palestinians reside below.
For many years now, the Palestinian folks have confronted a variety of ruthless Israeli insurance policies, together with land confiscations, segregation, financial dispossession and unlawful settlement constructing. Israel commonly violates Palestinians’ human rights, not sparing even Palestinian youngsters, who’re intimidated, overwhelmed, arrested and even killed by Israeli forces.
Israeli troopers ceaselessly perform raids towards Palestinian communities, murdering Palestinians with impunity. Israel has additionally imposed an unlawful blockade on Gaza, turning the realm into an open-air jail, which it commonly bombs in its mass homicide campaigns.
Even Palestinians with Israeli citizenship face the results of Israeli apartheid, being discriminated towards in all features of life, together with training, healthcare and different important companies.
Palestinians are additionally denied freedom of motion inside their very own homeland. A collection of checkpoints, roadblocks, segregated roads, an apartheid wall and an arbitrary system of permits stop them from travelling freely between Gaza, the West Financial institution and Jerusalem.
Which means Palestinians – each Muslims and Christians – are sometimes denied entry to their holy websites whereas international vacationers are free to go to and stroll round as they please.
Palestinians are additionally commonly prevented from travelling overseas. In 2021, Israel imposed journey bans on greater than 10,000 Palestinians.
Even Palestinian folks from the diaspora are sometimes not allowed into occupied Palestine and Jerusalem. Israeli border police gather data on who’s of Palestinian descent, who has refugee standing and what their intention is once they go to. And in lots of circumstances, international nationals of Palestinian descent who wish to go to, reside or work in Palestine are arbitrarily turned away at ports of entry managed by Israel.
Even when you’ve got a privileged passport that doesn’t require a visa to enter Israel, you may nonetheless be denied entry. For instance, though I’m an American citizen and my partner and son are German residents, the truth that they’ve Palestinian IDs from Gaza prevents us from coming into Jerusalem collectively as a household.
Those that are residents of occupied East Jerusalem have nominal entry to Al-Aqsa, however even they face restrictions. For instance, Muslim pilgrims are allowed to enter the compound via the Mughrabi Gate, however Palestinians will not be. The Israeli authorities additionally commonly and arbitrarily shut Al-Aqsa “for safety” causes.
Israel’s declare that it recognises and abides by the established order on the holy websites is blatantly false. Israeli authorities violate Jordan’s and the Waqf’s rights day by day by imposing their very own safety measures and deciding who will get to enter Al-Aqsa and who doesn’t.
These violations have lengthy fed debates, particularly within the Arab world, about avoiding journey to Jerusalem. In 2012, the late Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi issued a fatwa arguing that it’s forbidden to make pilgrimage to Jerusalem as a result of it’s a type of normalisation of the Israeli state.
Israeli income and the erasure of Palestinians
Other than Israel’s assaults on Al-Aqsa and Muslim worshippers, one other subject to think about is how travelling to the holy locations really advantages Israel financially and inadvertently helps its propaganda.
Tourism is a vital a part of Israel’s economic system, accounting for two.8 p.c of the nation’s gross home product and 6 p.c of its employment.
In 2019, Israel estimated that greater than 127,000 vacationers arrived from Muslim majority nations. Add to that Muslims from numerous diasporas, and also you get a major chunk of the 4.5 million vacationers who go to Israel/Palestine yearly.
With the signing in 2020 of various normalisation offers with Arab states, referred to as the Abraham Accords, Israel has sought to faucet into new swimming pools of potential Muslim vacationers to spice up its tourism sector.
In 2021, former US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman stated he’ll work to carry Muslims to Jerusalem to allow them to “see for themselves the best way Israel protects holy websites”. In the meantime, the tourism ministry has prioritised advertising and marketing Israel as a vacationer vacation spot to Muslim travellers, managing its personal tour companies and coordinating with journey companies.
The highest consequence on Google if you enter “pilgrimage to Al-Aqsa” is the web site of an Israel-based company named Tourism of the World. The touchdown web page for its Muslim pilgrimages to the “Sacred Land” quotes the Quran and lists numerous religiously vital locations, comparable to Al-Aqsa, Omar Mosque and Jericho’s Nabi Musa Mosque. In fact, it makes no point out of Palestine or the Palestinians.
The issue is that it’s not simply Israeli-run journey companies that erase the Palestinian folks and their struggling. A fast take a look at tour operators for Muslim journey reveals that lots of them additionally make use of the identical erasure.
One German company, for instance, presents a visit to Jerusalem that additionally consists of visiting Bethlehem, Jericho and Hebron. Not as soon as is “Palestine” or “Palestinians” talked about within the commercial of the tour on its web site although these are Palestinian cities on the itinerary.
One company primarily based within the UK not solely makes no point out of Palestine, however it additionally discourages vacationers from interacting with the “locals”. One other one even asserts that the tour it presents “is strictly a historic and non secular journey” and it does “not affiliate with any political teams”.
There are even tour organisers who declare Al-Aqsa is protected for households with youngsters, thus protecting up the Israeli occupation’s lethal violence towards Palestinians.
Emphasising the non secular significance of the land whereas turning a blind eye to the plight of its Indigenous folks normalises Israel’s occupation and apartheid and reinforces its marketing campaign of erasure towards the Palestinian folks.
The Palestinians have made clear how they really feel about such acts of complicity. In October 2020, native worshippers requested a enterprise delegation from the United Arab Emirates that visited Al-Aqsa accompanied by Israeli safety forces to go away the compound. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, additionally spoke up towards Emirati Muslims visiting Al-Aqsa, citing a 2014 fatwa prohibiting prayer on the holy website that includes the normalisation of Israel.
Boycotting Israel, embracing Palestine
Palestinians, after all, don’t really feel they’ve the unique proper to determine who from the Muslim group might go to Al-Aqsa and who can not. However they’ve requested for solidarity with their trigger.
Since 2005, this enchantment has emerged within the type of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) motion, which calls on “folks of conscience” around the globe to specific their solidarity with the Palestinian folks by boycotting Israel.
Heeding the decision and deciding to not journey to Jerusalem is one possibility. However there may be one other: a pilgrimage to Jerusalem can as a substitute supply vacationers a possibility to advertise worldwide solidarity with the Palestinian trigger.
Israel employs tourism to whitewash its crimes, and it’s incumbent on anybody who visits to withstand these ways that assist exploit and brutalise the Indigenous inhabitants.
The BDS tips may help Muslims who wish to go to Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa achieve this in a approach that doesn’t hurt the Palestinians and their trigger. They’ll heed the decision by avoiding vacationer websites in occupied Palestine which are run by Israel, boycotting all Israeli merchandise and companies, and never attending Israeli cultural occasions.
Selecting a journey company or a gaggle journey that doesn’t violate the tenets of BDS is essential. Whereas some journey companies incorporate interacting with native Palestinians as a part of their excursions, they don’t adhere to BDS. There are even circumstances of journey companies actively violating it by promoting vacationer points of interest such because the Tower of David Museum run illegally by the Israeli occupation authorities.
However BDS ought to be the naked minimal for each Muslim travelling to Jerusalem. Arguably, what’s extra necessary than doing no hurt is in actual fact going to Palestine to study in regards to the entrenched settler colonialism, work together with Palestinians and try to turn into their world ambassadors after returning dwelling.
Via delegation journeys, comparable to these performed by teams like Eyewitness Palestine, travellers can undertake not solely pilgrimage to the holy websites but additionally work in direction of constructing transnational solidarity and turn into advocates for justice and liberation inside their very own communities.
Fulfilling a sunnah doesn’t must go towards the Palestinian trigger. Struggling towards injustice and standing up for the oppressed are key tenets of Islam. On this sense, it is just pure to help the Palestinian battle by reimagining non secular tourism to Jerusalem as a type of resistance to the occupation.
Muslims have to grasp that the political and the non secular are deeply intertwined. They need to reject Israeli propaganda that dissociates Al-Aqsa from the Palestinian plight, assist expose Israel’s settler colonial mission and amplify Palestinian voices that narrate their oppression and liberation.
The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.
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