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From Jerusalem to Mecca and Back: The Islamic Consolidation of Jerusalem
Prof' Yitzhak Reiter 2005
Since 1967, when Israel took over East Jerusalem with its Old City and sacred places, the Islamic perspective of Jerusalem has changed dramatically. A Muslim campaign for liberating Jerusalem from Israeli control was launched in August 1969 following the fire, which was started by an Australian non-Jewish tourist to the structure of the al-Aqsa Mosque. Over the last decade, this campaign has been conducted under the banner “Al-Aqsa is in Danger” with the claim that Jerusalem is “captive” of Jews and therefore Jihad should be carried out to liberate it. This campaign aims to influence the religious emotions and the political awareness the Arab and Muslim communities in the world and mobilize them for political ends. The campaign, which began in Jerusalem, was disseminated to the heart of the Muslim world, which is symbolized by Mecca, and rebounded back by an echo from “Mecca” influencing the political struggle over Jerusalem in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In the struggle for “cognition” over Jerusalem, one particular space — the Temple Mount/al-Aqsa compound is in the eye of the storm. This space epitomizes the national strife between two peoples, two nations, which to a great extent is also an ideological battle between two cultures and two religions. Although this most sacred place is administered in practical terms by the Muslim Waqf authorities, Muslims view it as being continuously threatened by the Israeli-Jewish side of the conflict. Jews as well as Muslims regard it as a bone of contention, because it is such a central symbol of identity.

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