Statement: Another Ramadan, Another Invasion of Al-Aqsa by Israel
Published April 5, 2023
Updated July 21, 2023
Washington, D.C. | www.mpac.org | April 5, 2023 — During the holiest month of the year for Muslims worldwide, cameras have caught Israeli Police beating worshipers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque for the third year in a row. The assault on worshipers in Al-Aqsa Mosque by the Israeli Police is yet another atrocity violating the sanctity of a religious space by an apartheid regime. This has happened too often in recent years, and it has been timed, once again, during a holy month meant to be spent fasting and engaged in prayers. This is troublesome for several reasons, four of which deserve introspection and action.
The government of Israel has proven that it is disqualified from having any jurisdiction over the holy city of Jerusalem. Their actions have only undermined the foundation of the holy sites and will harm all three Abrahamic faiths.
The United States government has either sponsored these atrocities with our tax dollars or has been silent to the continuing abuses by the Israeli government, thereby eliminating this great superpower from having any influence or positive impact towards peace in the region, reinforced by the fact that China and Russia are now gaining strongholds through peacemaking in the region.
Despite the global recognition of the importance of religious freedom, the events unfolding in the holy city of Jerusalem suggest a deterioration of this fundamental right. The Israeli government continues to implement policies that restrict access to holy sites and limit the religious freedoms of all Palestinians of all faiths. Even worse, the use of excessive force against worshipers has amounted to countless injuries and death of innocent bystanders.
The American public has shifted from the canard that U.S. politicians have to be uncritical, unwavering, blindly endorsing every Israeli military incursion action, as seen in a recent Gallup poll.
Given the reasons outlined above, we urge lawmakers and civil society groups to consider the following recommendations for action:
Start with immediate cessation of all aggression being committed against the Palestinians including an immediate pullback of the IDF from the entire Al-Aqsa premises.
Seek a binding commitment from Israel to stop brutalizing unarmed worshipers and raiding and violating the sanctity of one holy site on a routine basis.
Intervene with the Israeli government to cease all settlement activity and to pull back its occupying forces from Palestinian land in the West Bank, particularly East Jerusalem.
Launch an investigation into violations of religious freedom, particularly the violence against Palestinian worshipers by the Israeli military and Israeli settlers during the holy month of Ramadan. Such an investigation must be led by the State Department, in the form of a report addressed to lawmakers on Capitol Hill and shared with the American public. Included in this report must be a detailed list of violations and false pretenses for the actions given by the Israeli military. Additionally, similar action must be taken in concert with the Department of Defense to review violations of the Leahy Law – which prohibits the United States from providing military assistance to foreign security forces that violate human rights.
Accurately describe the unfortunate reality when creating policy for the region and responding to the escalations of violence that destabilize peace. The language of “both sides need to show restraint” is a false paradigm. It is about the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land and the violation of human rights witnessed by the whole world.
And, finally, here at home – the U.S. government should protect the first amendment rights of its citizens to criticize Israel without conflating it with anti-semitism and protect the rights of students and others, as guaranteed by our Bill of Rights, to join the peaceful BDS movement to protest Israel’s actions.
Ultimately any steps taken toward promoting peace, justice, and human rights in the region must be grounded in a commitment to the dignity and worth of all human beings.