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PA TV libel: The Jews are still trying “to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and build the alleged Temple in its place” as they did in 1969 arson

Nan Jacques Zilberdik  |

  • PA libel: The Al-Aqsa fire in 1969 was set by “the Jews”

  • PLO Islamic-Christian Council about Australian Christian who set the fire in 1969: Rohan was an “extremist Israeli settler”

  • Official PA daily: Arson in 1969 was “the greatest crime committed by the terrorist bodies in the history of Zionist Judaism and messianic Judaism... It was committed... by a crazy man who was blind with hatred and fanaticism, namely Rabbi Kakhakh”

Every year, the PA commemorates the burning of the pulpit of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969. And every year the PA repeats the libel that Jews set the fire.

In fact it was a man named Michael Rohan – an Australian Christian with a mental health disorder – who lit the fire in the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969.

But such facts don't matter to the PA. Every year, the PA uses the occasion to demonize Israel and Jews by claiming Rohan was a Jew, and to add fuel to its own “fire” that the PA always keeps on the backburner: The libel that Israel/the Jews are continuously trying to “destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and build the alleged Temple in its place.”

This year was no exception. In a chilling voice conveying a sense of impending danger, the narrator on official PA TV said the following:

PA TV narrator: “A disaster happened when the Jews came to burn the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969 (sic.). The spectacular pulpit was burned in the brutal fire of hatred… Since the occupation of Jerusalem in 1967 and until now, [the Jews] have not stopped the attempts to Judaize the site, to take control of it in order to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and build the alleged Temple in its place.”

[Official PA TV, Aug. 22, 2021]

The head of the PA presidential committee for church affairs and Director-General of the Palestine National Fund (PNF) Ramzi Khouri libeled Israel in a similar way, claiming arsonist Rohan was an “extremist settler terrorist” and that Israel is still driven by the same “extremist thinking and ideology,” seeking the destruction of Al-Aqsa:

“The extremist thinking and ideology that pushed this criminal to commit what he did still exist and feed the ultra-extremist Jews who are supported by an extremist right-wing government to carry out their goal to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and build the so-called alleged Temple in its place.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 21, 2021]

The PA is constantly telling Palestinians that Jerusalem - and particularly the Al-Aqsa Mosque - is in danger. As Palestinian Media Watch has documented, this is one of the PA’s ways to motivate Palestinians to use violence and carry out terror attacks against Israel – to “protect” the mosque. The PA keeps this libel on the backburner always, and intensifies it at times when the PA wants to encourage riots and terror.

Other organizations repeated the libel too. Claiming that Australian Christian Rohan was an “extremist Israeli settler,” the PLO Islamic-Christian Council stated that “the flames are still raging at the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque” and that “danger is still surrounding the Al-Aqsa Mosque more than ever.” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 23, 2021]

The Palestinian National Council - the legislative body of the PLO – referred to visits by Jews to the Temple Mount as “the ongoing aggression by the occupation authorities and the settlers to which the Al-Aqsa Mosque is being subjected” and a “continuation of the crime of burning [the mosque] 52 years ago.” [Official PA TV News, Aug. 20, 2021]

A regular columnist of the official PA daily described the arson in 1969 as “the greatest crime committed by the terrorist bodies in the history of Zionist Judaism and messianic Judaism.” He also claimed that Rohan was Jewish: “a crazy man who was blind with hatred and fanaticism, namely Rabbi Kakhakh” – PMW was unable to find records of a “Rabbi Kakhakh.” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 23, 2021]

Even the PA presidency repeated the lie that the arsonist in 1969 was Jewish, and reiterated the antisemitic statement that Jews visiting the Temple Mount “desecrate” the Al-Aqsa Mosque:

“Today, Aug. 21, is the 52nd anniversary of the burning of the Al-Aqsa Mosque by Jewish extremist Denis Michael (sic., Michael Denis Rohan), at a time when the daily Israeli attacks and violations against the Al-Aqsa Mosque are continuing and its desecration continues, through the provision of protection for the settlers’ visits and their provocative Talmudic (i.e., Jewish) prayers.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 22, 2021]

The following are longer excerpts of the statements cited above:

Headline: “The [PLO] Islamic-Christian Council: 52 years since the burning of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and danger still surrounds it more than ever”

“The [PLO] Islamic-Christian Council for Jerusalem and the Holy Places said that ‘The flames are still raging at the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.’

In a statement for the 52nd anniversary of the burning of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque yesterday [Aug. 22, 2021], the council added that the fire that was set by extremist Israeli settler Michael Denis Rohan (sic., Rohan was an Australian Christian with a mental health disorder) in 1969 is still burning and gaining strength. It also said that danger is still surrounding the Al-Aqsa Mosque more than ever, due to the techniques that the occupation authorities are inventing every day for an escalation, Judaization, and change of the status quo at the mosque.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 23, 2021]

Excerpt of a column by Yahya Rabah, regular columnist for the official PA daily

Headline: “The 52nd anniversary of the burning of the Al-Aqsa Mosque”

“Last Saturday [Aug. 21, 2021] was the 52nd anniversary of the greatest crime committed by the terrorist bodies in the history of Zionist Judaism and messianic Judaism: the day of the burning of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It was committed… by a crazy man who was blind with hatred and fanaticism, namely Rabbi Kakhakh (sic., the fire was set by Australian Christian Michael Rohan who had a mental health disorder, PMW was unable to find records of a “Rabbi Kakhakh”). To this very day there are despicable sick people of his ilk, such as [former Israeli Parliament Member] Rabbi [Yehuda] Glick…

Jewish Zionism and Jewish messianism gives itself rights that are nothing but delusions and tales, including the tales [that] this foolish rabbi who burned the Al-Aqsa Mosque [believed in]. He deluded himself that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is just a building, just stones. No, you fool! …The Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem are the inheritance of a nation, and nations do not belittle their inheritances as some sick ones do who carried out normalization [with Israel], may they be cursed (refers to Abraham Accords; see note below -Ed.).”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 23, 2021]

Israeli peace agreements with the UAE and Bahrain – an agreement normalizing diplomatic ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), called the Abraham Accords, was announced on Aug. 13, 2020, under the mediation of US President Donald Trump. Following the UAE, Bahrain signed a similar peace agreement with Israel, as was announced on Sept. 11, 2020. Pursuant to the Abraham Accords, Israel and the UAE will discuss bilateral cooperation on a number of topics. In exchange for the agreement, Israel agreed to suspend its previously announced plans to apply Israel's civilian law to parts of Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley as per the Trump peace plan. The US announced that “Muslims throughout the world who wish to come in peace to pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque, will now be able to fly to Tel Aviv through Abu Dhabi to do so and will be welcomed.”

Headline: “The [PA] presidency on the 52nd anniversary of its burning: The Al-Aqsa Mosque is still being targeted, we will continue to defend it until its liberation and the establishment of the State of Palestine”

“Yesterday [Aug. 21, 2021] the Palestinian [PA] presidential office again called on the international community to provide protection for the religious and holy sites in occupied Jerusalem.

In a press release for the 52nd anniversary of the burning of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, the presidency said that the Al-Aqsa Mosque and all the holy sites in occupied Jerusalem are still being targeted by the Israeli occupation and the settlers, as the invasions are continuing on a daily basis.

It added that despite the international institutions’ decisions on occupied Jerusalem… Israel is continuing to belittle these decisions and ignore all the dangers that are liable to ignite as a result of its reckless and irresponsible policy.

The presidency emphasized that Jerusalem is a red line, and that we will not agree to it being harmed…

Today (sic., yesterday), Aug. 21 [2021], is the 52nd anniversary of the burning of the Al-Aqsa Mosque by Jewish extremist Denis Michael (sic., Michael Denis Rohan was an Australian Christian with a mental health disorder), at a time when the daily Israeli attacks and violations against the Al-Aqsa Mosque are continuing and its desecration continues, through the provision of protection for the settlers’ visits and their provocative Talmudic (i.e., Jewish) prayers.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 22, 2021]

The PA and its leaders misrepresent all of the Temple Mount as an integral part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Therefore, they vilify any presence of Jews on the mount as an "invasion." It should be noted that Jews who visit the Temple Mount only enter some sections of the open areas, and do not enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque or the Dome of the Rock. Israeli police ban Jewish prayer at the Temple Mount because of threats of violence by Palestinians.

“The Palestinian National Liberation Movement ‘Fatah’ emphasized that Jerusalem and its sites that are holy to Islam and Christianity are a red line, and that the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque – the first direction of [Muslim] prayer and the third holiest mosque – will continue to belong to the Muslims alone without a division or partnership.

In a statement that was issued for the anniversary of the burning of the Al-Aqsa Mosque by extremist Zionist Denis Michael (sic., Michael Denis Rohan; see note below), Fatah said that all of the Israeli occupation’s measures against the Al-Aqsa Mosque, those carrying out Ribat (i.e., religious conflict over land claimed to be Islamic), and the worshippers are proof of the goals that the occupation is striving for, but this will not pass thanks to the firm stand of those carrying out Ribat and our people in Jerusalem.

It added that Jerusalem will remain the eternal capital of the free and independent Arab Palestinian state, and that there will be no peace or stability in the region until Jerusalem is liberated, the free and independent State of Palestine is established, and the [Palestinian] refugees return, as [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas has emphasized time and again…

Supreme Shari’ah Judge of Palestine and President [Abbas’] Advisor on Religious Affairs and Islamic Relations Mahmoud Al-Habbash said that the hour of Jerusalem’s liberation – including the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque – is closer than ever, and that the Israeli occupation will necessarily pass from the world.

In a statement for the 52nd anniversary of the burning of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Al-Habbash added that the other promise (refers to a Quranic verse Al-Habbash interprets as prophesizing Israel’s destruction; see note below -Ed.), which we believe in, is a true promise from Almighty Allah, and it is closer to being realized than people think…

He emphasized that all the measures that the occupation has been implementing for more than 50 years to erase the Al-Aqsa Mosque from our consciousness and our hearts have failed, and that our people is determined to restore it in its entirety without diminishing anything, with all its plazas, its courtyards, the Dome of the Rock, the Southern Mosque (i.e., the Al-Aqsa Mosque itself), and the Al-Buraq Wall (i.e., the Western Wall of the Temple Mount), which is a basic part of it and a pure Islamic endowment…

The [PA] Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates… explained that the deliberate burning of the Al-Aqsa Mosque is still continuing in more dangerous ways, including the changing of its historical and legal status that existed even before the occupation, the falsification [of facts] underneath the ground, and the forging of its landmarks through excavations and planting [archaeological] findings and forcefully inserting them into the bowels of the earth in order to serve the occupation’s narrative.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 22, 2021]

Mahmoud Al-Habbash also serves as Chairman of the Supreme Council for Shari'ah Justice. In August 2019 PA Chairman Abbas dismissed all his advisors by Presidential decree. It is unclear what their status is today.

The final (other) promise - The second half of Sura 17:7 of the Quran - “Then when the final promise came, [We sent your enemies] to sadden your faces and to enter the temple [in Jerusalem], as they entered it the first time, and to destroy what they had taken over with [total] destruction.” [Sahih International translation] - can be understood as either past or future tense due to the ambiguity of the Arabic "idha ja'a" referring to “the promise” that can be understood as “when it came” or “when it comes,” and the Arabic “al-ahera,” also referring to the promise, which can mean “other” or “final.” Many religious scholars understand it as past tense referring back to the destruction of the Second Temple. But some understand it as future tense, prophesizing some future destruction befalling the Jews. Al-Habbash presents it as prophesizing a final war in which Israel will be destroyed.

The Al-Buraq Wall - Islam's Prophet Muhammad is said to have ridden during his Night Journey from Mecca to "al aqsa mosque", i.e., "the farthest mosque" (Quran, Sura 17), and there tied his miraculous flying steed named Al-Buraq to a "stone" or a "rock." (Jami` at-Tirmidhi, Book 47, Hadith 3424). In the 1920's, Arab Mufti Haj Amin Al-Husseini decided to identify the Western Wall of the Temple in Jerusalem as that "rock" or "stone," and since then Muslims refer to the Western Wall as the "Al-Buraq Wall."

Headline: “52 years since the burning of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the crime continues”

“Today, Saturday, August 21 [2021], is the 52nd anniversary of the burning of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque (see note below -Ed.). On this day in 1969, an extremist Jewish terrorist with Australian citizenship named Michael Denis [Rohan] (sic., Rohan was an Australian Christian with a mental health disorder) invaded the Al-Aqsa Mosque and deliberately set the eastern part of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque on fire…

At the time, our people succeeded in saving what remained of the Al-Aqsa Mosque before the fire reached it, after the fire engines hurried from Hebron and Bethlehem and different areas in the West Bank and in the Arab municipalities in order to save the Al-Aqsa Mosque (sic., Israeli firefighters put out the fire, not Palestinian firefighters). This was despite the Israeli occupation authorities’ attempts to prevent them from doing this and to stop the water in the area around the mosque on the day of the fire (sic., Israeli firefighters arrived within minutes but rioting Muslims interfered with their work and broke the only fire hydrant at the site; PMW found no evidence for claims that Israel cut off the water). The fire engines of the occupation municipality in Jerusalem also deliberately delayed so as not to participate in putting out the fire (sic.).”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 21, 2021]

Headline: “The [Palestinian] National Council and the [Palestinian Popular] Struggle Front called to defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque from Judaization”

“The Palestinian National Council (i.e., the legislative body of the PLO) said that the ongoing aggression to which the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque is being subjected by the Israeli occupation and the settlers is a continuation of the crime of [the mosque] being burned 52 years ago by extremist Zionist Michael Denis Rohan (see note below -Ed.) on Aug. 21, 1969…

The council said that the time has come for the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and all the Arab and Islamic organizations and bodies and those responsible for the monetary funds that were established in order to defend the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and occupied Jerusalem to bear their full responsibility and carry out all the financial and political obligations in order to save the Al-Aqsa Mosque from Judaization, and to prevent the realization of the occupation’s dream of establishing the alleged ‘Temple.’ …

Likewise, the [Palestinian] Popular Struggle Front… warned against the excavations that are being conducted underneath the foundations of the Al-Aqsa Mosque (sic., see note below) and that threaten to collapse it in preparation ‘for building the alleged Temple.’”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 21, 2021]

Excavations under the Temple Mount - The Israeli daily Haaretz has stated that the excavations do not reach beneath the mosque: "Despite complaints from the Islamic Movement and Palestinian groups, not a single dig penetrates beneath the [Temple] Mount." [Haaretz, May 24, 2016]

“Approximately 45,000 worshippers held Friday prayers yesterday [Aug. 20, 2021] at the Al-Aqsa Mosque plazas…

[Head of the Supreme Muslim Council and] Friday preacher [at the Al-Aqsa Mosque] Sheikh Ikrima Sabri spoke in his sermon… about the burning of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque on the anniversary of the event (see note below -Ed.) and said that the fires of Judaization by the occupation authorities are still continuing against it.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 21, 2021]

Official PA TV newsreader: “The Palestinian National Council (i.e., the legislative body of the PLO) says that the ongoing aggression by the occupation authorities and the settlers to which the Al-Aqsa Mosque is being subjected is a continuation of the crime of burning [the mosque] 52 years ago (see note below -Ed.). In a statement that was issued for the 52nd anniversary of the burning of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which will take place tomorrow [Aug. 21, 2021], the council emphasized that the acts of Judaization to which the Christian and Islamic holy sites are exposed – and foremost among them the Al-Aqsa Mosque, as a way of establishing its division according to times and areas (see note below -Ed.) as is currently happening at the Ibrahimi Mosque (i.e., Cave of the Patriarchs) – requires Arab, Islamic, and international intervention.”

[Official PA TV News, Aug. 20, 2021]