As Israel authorities increased security at the Kehilat Bnai Torah synagogue ahead of morning prayers, the Claremont Main Road Mosque (CMRM) has unequivocally denounced the violence at the place of worship on Tuesday. Two Palestinian men killed four rabbis and a police officer and maimed eight Jewish worshippers praying in the synagogue in Jerusalem.
The attack on the synagogue in Jerusalem takes place against a backdrop of mounting tensions brought about by the provocations of rightwing Israeli settlers campaigning for the rebuilding of the so-called Temple Mount on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound which is in breach of international law. This led to the temporary closure of the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Thursday 30 October and further limiting access to Muslim worshipers during the past few weeks.
In a statement, the CMRM said beyond this immediate backdrop, the latest violence must be understood in the broader context of more than 60 years of colonial occupation of Palestine.
“During this time, the Zionist state of Israel has embarked on campaigns of ethnic cleansing that has involved land grabs, settler expansions, home demolitions, destruction of mosques and other essential infrastructure, illegal imprisonment and targeted killings of Palestinians. These acts of State terror have been perpetrated by and large with the active complicity and legitimation of the established Jewish religious hierarchy in Israel and elsewhere in the diaspora,” said CMRM.
It is within this broader context that desperate acts of counter-violence by Palestinians should be viewed, said the masjid’s Imam Rashied Omar. He reminded Muslims and people of faith that they are guided by ethical and principled means by which to struggle against all forms of oppression.
In Islamic ethics “the end does not justify the means”, he stressed. While South African should always defend the right of Palestinians to resist the illegal occupation of their land by the Zionist state of Israel, the killing of worshipers in a synagogue could not be justified. He said the acts of resistance that violate Islamic ethics do not serve to advance the legitimate struggle of the Palestinians for justice and dignity for all.
“We re-affirm that all human life has equal value and that the unjust killing of one human being is equivalent to the slaughter of all of humankind (Qur’an 5:32). In addition, the safeguarding of all places of worship is sacrosanct in Islam (Qur’an 22:40). We recognize that the struggle of the Palestinians is a social and political struggle of a nation living under illegal occupation, and should not be reduced to a religious conflict between Jews and Muslims.”
CMRM said it is also within this context of “an asymmetrical conflict between coloniser and colonised” that it condemned the demolitions of the homes of the attackers ordered by Benjamin Netanyahu as well as further threats by him of collective punishment that has become a hallmark of Israeli aggression against Palestinians. Israeli authorities’ signalled earlier in November that the homes of any Palestinian who attacked Israelis would have their homes demolished. On Wednesday, the families of three Palestinians who are suspected of recently carrying out attacks in Jerusalem received notices that their homes will be demolished soon.
“We must always be cautious not to become as dehumanized as those we accuse of committing atrocities against us. When the great Libyan anti-colonial liberation fighter, Omar Mukhtar protected two surviving Italian prisoners, saying: “we do not kill prisoners,” his fellow warrior says: “they do it to us.” Omar Mukhtar responded in these grave yet majestic words: “they are not our teachers.”
“We call on the international community to move swiftly in bringing about a just peace in the holy land.” VOC