An “International Conference on Jerusalem” is being held 26-27 February in Doha, Qatar. The conference was scheduled by the Arab League during its meeting in Sirte, Libya in 2010. Its purpose is to combat the “Judaization of Jerusalem.” In the words of the Global Muslim Brotherhood Report, which tracks Muslim Brotherhood activities, this month’s conference “represents an unprecedented coalition arrayed against Israel.”
This isn’t hyperbole. The conference is unusually well advertised in English, being referred to in the media regularly as a “conference on Jerusalem,” rather than sparsely as a “conference on al-Quds,” the Arabic (and larger Islamic) term for Jerusalem. Yousef al-Qaradawi, “spiritual leader” of the Muslim Brotherhood, has held a number of conferences on Jerusalem in the last decade, hosting them around the Arab world and flying largely under the radar in terms of his media posture with the West. Researchers on the earlier Qaradawi conferences were more likely to find them under “al-Quds” than under “Jerusalem.” But the February 2012 conference is simply billed – even in a number of Arab-world English-language media – as the “conference on Jerusalem.”
Yet that doesn’t fully convey the conference’s confident tone. The conference is being given a higher profile than usual in English-language outlets, but the English transcriptions (such as the ones at the official conference website) don’t all provide the event’s full name: “International Conference for the Defense of Occupied Jerusalem.” Implied in this posture is a sense of momentum behind, and mainstreaming of, anti-Zionist themes.
This unabashed posture is certainly bolstered by the attendance of representatives from around the globe. Thirteen of them are from the United States. One, Kenneth R. Insley, Jr., bills himself as a consultant to the US State Department. Mr. Insley’s Zoom Info profile describes him as the Director of Public Diplomacy for the Capital Communications Group, and a board member of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, Inc. The Foundation’s Links page includes a number of virulently anti-Israel groups such as the Holy Land Trust and the Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem/Society. (Note: the Foundation’s website does not show Insley as a board member, but the last update is marked with a date of March 2008.)
CIF Watch was able to obtain Insley’s prepared remarks for the Jerusalem conference (which was originally scheduled for 2011 but was postponed by the Arab Spring). Among other things, Insley warned (emphasis at CIF Watch):
It is now well understood by almost everyone that either Israel will cease to be a democratic state, or a Jewish one, because it can’t have both without the creation of a Palestinian state…or it will lead to Armageddon.
Read the whole thing.
Another associate of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation is attending the conference: Albert Mokhiber. Mr. Mokhiber is listed only as an “attorney” on the conference roster, but he’s being modest: he is a former president and vice-chairman of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, or ADC. (His daughter Leila currently serves as the ADC’s Outreach and Communications Coordinator.) Mr. Mokhiber is also listed as a member of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation’s advisory board, at least as recently as 2008.
A notable recent victory of the ADC was, of course, partnering with the FBI to eliminate “discriminatory” and “inflammatory” items about Arabs and Muslims from the Bureau’s training material, a project that trashed 1,000 documents and presentations. Among the other groups involved in the effort is the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which, like ADC, has close links to anti-Israel organizations, including the terror group Hamas. And sure enough, CAIR is represented at the anti-Israel Jerusalem conference this month by Mr. Nehad Awwad Hammad, CAIR’s national executive director.
The other Americans include many “usual suspects,” such as Alison Weir of the Council for the National Interest (please note: not Alison Weir the biographer and novelist) and Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now.
Sadly, one of the Americans is Bishop Georgi Panossian, Primate of the Armenian Orthodox Church. At the conference from the various nations are four Catholic bishops, two patriarchs, an Anglican minister from the UK, and a representative of the Roman Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem, as well as attendees from Religions for Peace (including the American William F. Vendley). The holocaust-denying, anti-Zionist rabbinical group Neturei Karta has six persons attending. (*UPDATE*: Challah Hu Akbar has remarkable conference video of Mahmoud Abbas and the emir of Qatar shaking hands with Rabbi Meir Hirsch of Neturei Karta.) Of course, there is representation from Islam as well.
Eight attendees are listed as representing the United Nations:
Amb. Mutlaq Majid Alqahtani, Chairman, UN General Assembly
Ms. Elpida Rouka, Chief, Regional Affairs Unit, UNESCO
Dr. Raymond Dolphin, UN Officer for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Mr. Robert Serry, UN Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process
Mrs. Shifa Awni al Jayousi Abdeen, Program Officer, Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process
Mr. Filippo Grandi, Commissioner General, UNRWA
Mrs. Maria Mohammedi, External Relations and Projects Officer, UNRWA
Mr. Peter Ford, Representative of the Commissioner General, UNRWA
European and other participants: Government officials
European nations are being represented by their officials as well as academics, activists, and media professionals. Mr. Ranier Fsadni’s roster entry describes him as representing the European Commission, for which he served in the past as the operations director for the Euro-Arab Liaison Office. Fsadni, a Maltese professor, is also advisor to the prime minister of Malta on Mediterranean and Maritime Affairs. Finland has a member of parliament and an advisor to the Ministry of Education and Culture at the conference; France has her ambassador to the Holy See, Stanislas de Laboulaye there; Spain has a Mr. Jose Antonio Martin Pallin representing the Tribunal Supremo (Supreme Court); and Sweden has a member of parliament and two officials of the Center Party at the conference.
Turkey is also represented by a member of parliament, as well as a deputy prime minister (see below). Former Australian prime minister Robert “Bob” Hawke, a Labor politician long described as an “emotional” friend of Israel, is at the conference. The roster reflects one anti-Zionist Arab member of the Knesset in attendance, purportedly representing Israel; other reporting indicates there are at least four.
The largest delegations are, of course, from the Arab Muslim nations. But the US, UK, Netherlands, and Sweden are heavily represented. Other participants come from Canada, South Africa, Denmark, China, Russia, Australia, India, Germany, Iran, Pakistan, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy.
Oh, and Yousef al-Qaradawi is attending too.
The conferees have so far enjoyed a series of anti-Israel perorations, such as the one delivered by the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, in his conference-opener. According to the website OnIslam, the emir asserted the following:
There is no Palestinian State without Al-Quds and there is no Al-Quds without Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay, in Doha for the conference (but not on the roster), had this to say:
“Without the liberation of Jerusalem, no real peace and stability can be achieved in the Middle East or farther afield…”
Atalay described Jerusalem as “a captive city in the hands of Israel,” saying that Israel’s policy is aimed at denying Jerusalem’s thousands-year-old history with Muslims, Christians and Palestinians. …
“Israel’s oppressive attempt is aimed at changing Jerusalem’s historic fabric by intimidating Palestinians. Turkey will not allow that.”
Mahmoud Abbas, long-superannuated head of the Palestinian Authority, delivered a speech Sunday morning in which he simply ignored facts and made up “history” to justify calling on Arabs to “fight the Judaization of Jerusalem.” Abbas called Jerusalem “the cause of every Arab, Muslim, and Christian,” a grotesque but far from unusual attempt to establish a common interest between Muslims and Christians in seizing Jerusalem from the control of Israel.
Abbas’s themes have become well-worn in the campaign to erase the Jewish heritage of Israel and delegitimize the modern state. Elder of Ziyon has a worthwhile takedown of Abbas’s conference remarks. Challah Hu Akbar also calls out the theme of “Temple denial” in Abbas’s speech; that is, the denial that a Jewish temple has ever actually existed in Jerusalem. (For numerous articles on the documentation of Jewish history in Israel, see Emet m’Tsiyon. The Jewish Virtual Library’s Israel portal has comprehensive links.)
Sudden al-Aqsa Syndrome
The Global Muslim Brotherhood Report points out that this conference takes place in the wake of inflammatory statements made less than a week ago about the al-Aqsa mosque, by Hamas and al-Qaradawi. Hamas accused Israel of seeking to “storm” the al-Aqsa mosque, and asserted the mosque’s need for “rescue” from the “occupation.” Qaradawi followed up the Hamas statement with the announcement that al-Aqsa is a “red line” for Muslims, and urged Palestinians and other Arabs to rise up and liberate the mosque from the “Jewish occupation.”
The trend of sudden claims about peril to the mosque has been gathering steam for about two weeks. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, who is not to be outdone in Temple denial, reportedly proclaimed earlier in February:
Arabs and Muslims must protect Al-Aqsa before it is ruined by the Jews. According to Hussein, Israel is trying to destroy Al-Aqsa in a variety of ways and that all the violations “cannot be summed up in words.”
And on 12 February, Xinhua relayed a Syrian news report that Israel’s Likud Party had called for Jews to storm the al-Aqsa mosque, citing what turned out to be false reports that Israeli right-wing websites were circulating posters inciting the attack. The poster presented as evidence of the incitement campaign was an obvious fraud – and hilariously inaccurate, rendering “Manhigut Yehudit,” or the “Jewish Leadership” movement, incorrectly as “Manhigut HaLikud” – meaning “Likud Leadership,” which is not the movement’s name. A number of websites are referring to this incident as a “prank” against Likud and Manhigut Yehudit leader Moshe Feiglin.
More on Sudden al-Aqsa Syndrome is here and here (Elder of Ziyon and Challah Hu Akbar are doing a superb job following this). Meanwhile, two US congressmen were caught in a rock-throwing attack by Palestinian Arabs at the Temple Mount on the 24th – a repeat of an earlier attack on tourists on 19 February. In each case, Arab anger at the “Jewish” threat to al-Aqsa is invoked.
Global March to Jerusalem
If you thought the only thing lacking was an activist plan to complicate the security situation, you were wrong. A “Global March to Jerusalem” is being planned for 30 March, and is to involve foot marches (being organized by Hamas), a fly-in to Ben Gurion Airport, and – of course – a flotilla. CIF Watch has this one cold; start here and work backward through comprehensive summaries of the usual-suspect activists behind the “march.”
We can hope the following: that the US State department will publicly repudiate the conference in Doha, as it has previously repudiated the anti-Semitic “Durban” conference series; that Ban Ki-Moon will rebuke the UN officials who claim to represent his organization at the conference, and state the UN’s fundamental interest in impartiality and the rule of law; that Christians around the world will make a point of rejecting the participation of Christian leaders in the Doha conference; and that Western governments will discipline their officials who are in attendance this week, and discourage their citizens from challenging Israel’s authority to secure her territory and enforce law and order on it.
I am hopeful that the State Department may at least distance itself from the conference, and that Christian leaders in many countries will reject the conference’s premise and the idea of Christian participation. Perhaps the rest is not as unlikely as – regrettably – it seems to be.