Yasuf Mosque, in Salfit Governorate of the northern West Bank, was attacked last week by Israeli settlers.
(The Israeli political establishment and major international players all expressed shock and denounced the attack. It seems that attacking a mosque is worse, and taken more seriously, than attacking anything else. Certainly there are fears that it is more inflammatory. The U.S. and the E.U. said that the attackers should be arrested and punished. But, so far, there have been no arrests … Nor has there been any significant popular reaction either, however. For the Palestinians living under occupation, this seems to have been just another event in a long line of events… So what?)
However, this week, the Friday prayer in the Yasuf Mosque is being broadcast live on Palestinian TV — last week, the Friday prayers in Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of East Jerusalem. It is an even colder, grey, and wet day, as winter sets in.
This week, the security forces at the doors with guns were Palestinian, not Israelis…
And, this week, there were a few senior political officials present from various parts of the West Bank [I could recognize, from Ramallah, Azzam al-Ahmad and Tawfik Tirawi and Mustafa Barghouthi — the Palestinian TV camera lingered for a few long and apparently significant moments on Dr. Barghouthi. who is a political independent and not a member of Fatah, and now one of the leading political figures calling for an international boycott and sanctions against Israel as a means of resistance and pressure to end the occupation. There was also Bassam al-Salhi, Secretary-General of the Palestinian People’s Party (Communist or ex-Communist), and Rafiq Husseini from East Jerusalem. My friend and colleague Nasser recognized other Palestinian Authority (the Waqf minister was reportedly present) and Fatah figures, including Hajj Ismail Jaber, as well as Mustafa Alloul, the immdiate past Governor of Nablus who was just obliged by a Presidential decision to leave his post because of the Presidential decision adopted last August at the Fatah General Conference in Bethlehem that anyone elected to the Fatah Central Committee would have to leave all their other posts and jobs. Nasser saw Taysir Khalid, a PFLP official from Nablus, and also figures from Hebron. It was later announced that someone was there from Gaza… though almost certainly it must have been somebody who left Gaza a couple of years ago.]
The Yasuf mosque smaller prayer hall seems almost as spare as Al-Aqsa, but there are touches of green (the columns) and perhaps a very, very light blue. Apparently, Yasuf Mosque’s the smaller prayer room which was not attacked — reportedly, it was only the larger prayer hall that sustained damage.
Earlier this week, one of Israel’s Chief Rabbis visited the site of the attack on the Yasuf Mosque, and said that the attack by the Jewish settlers (they may not all be Israeli citizens) was just like the Kristallnacht attack in August 1939 that marked the intensification of Nazi attempts to erase — by cruel mass persecution and murder — the German and European Jewish communities.
But the organization of this politico-religious event (it was not exactly a demonstration, but it is the first organized Palestinian political protest at what happened) does seem to indicate that attacking a mosque is considered worse, and taken more seriously, than attacking anything else…
Is it also really more inflammatory?
This politically-organized Friday prayer event at Yasuf Mosque, dominated by Fatah with a sprinkling of figures from other political movements, was a politically rigid and stultified event, lacking any spontaneity. Everybody talks as if they’re at a political rally, as usual. There is little from the heart, except codified anger. [There were also no women… but the women who have succeed in the Palestinian political establishment are as stultified and rigid as the men. Almost everyone was mature, middle-aged or more — not many young people. Nor, of course, were there any Christians… who used to have a disproportional representation in the secular Arab nationalist resistance of previous decades.]
The formula that will inspire popular report in this cynical and exhausted environment does not yet seem to have been found.
[[After the Friday prayers, Palestinian television is airing a comedy satire program — it seems to be a version of Al Watan Ala Watar, or The Homeland on a String — that, astonishingly is a satire of the current Israeli government and official style. It is in Arabic, but with enough Hebrew words that everybody now knows (slicha, excuse me; keen, yes; haver, friend)… Of course, most Israelis now also use Arabic words, like yellah (let’s go, or get going), and the show makes a play on that, too. After what appears to be a Knesset committee meeting, another scene shows an official is calling UNSG BAN Ki Moon to discuss the Goldstone Report… “Ya zalame, forget Cana”, the official tells BAN Ki Moon. I am not aware of any previous Palestinian political satire making fun of Israeli officialdom… The next skit is a satire of a clueless presenter trying to present a news bulletin — and the sound goes out, just like it famously often does on Palestinian TV. Everybody, from the presenter to the producers in the control room, are smoking like chimneys. Everytime there is a mishap, they go to the famoust Palestinian TV political fillers. Then, a reporter is trying to do a live standup in front of Arafat’s mausoleum at the Muqata’a in Ramallah, and the sound goes down. The reporter talks on air non-stop: “I am not a donkey”… Then back to the presenter, who keeps on getting the name of the Chairman of the Elections Committee wrong. “OK, I am a watermelon”, the presenter says. When, in a live re-take, he says the Chairman of the Elections Committee is Tony Blair, the producer goes down to the set and a fist fight ensues, all on air… ]]