On Sunday, member of Knesset Jamal Zahalka (United Arab List) found that the outgoing voicemail message on his phone had been changed to a musical recitation of the Jewish prayer “Shema Yisrael”. Zahalka’s phone had apparently been hacked and his password changed, so that even he could not change it back.
The discovery was initially made by Yediot Acharonot reporter Amichai Atalai, who posted about the change on his Facebook wall.
Zahalka submitted a complaint and a request with Knesset Security and the police.
The Arab Knesset member has been outspoken against Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount for a long time, claiming that the Temple Mount is a Muslim holy site, and that Jews have no business being there.
Only a few weeks ago, Zahalka harassed Israeli police who were allowing Jews to enter the Temple Mount complex. “Why do you allow them in?” Zahalka was recorded shouting at the officers. “The hell with them, it’s just a provocation to hurt the feelings of Muslims. You are criminals, lunatics! You are here in our place, this is my home,” said Zahalka.
The “Shema” prayer is one of the holiest and most widely-known in Judaism. Recited at least twice a day during morning and evening services, it is the universal declaration of Jewish faith. According to the current status quo agreements with the Jordanian-run Waqf, it is illegal to say it, or any other Jewish prayer, on the Temple Mount.
According to reports in the Hebrew press, Zahalka has received numerous threats and harassing messages on Whatsapp, as well as via email. One Hebrew site suggested jokingly that Zahalka contact his service provider to ask them to remove his voicemail altogether, as no one ever leaves him messages anyway.