‘Talmudic Rituals’ & ‘Vegetarian Sacrifices’: How Palestinian Media Cover the Jewish Holidays

All who survive of all those nations that came up against Yerushalayim shall make a pilgrimage year by year to bow low to the King lord of Hosts and to observe the festival of Sukkot.

Zechariah

14:

16

(the israel bible)

September 25, 2022

4 min read

Tonight, Jews around the globe will once again dip apple slices in honey and wish each other a sweet year, kicking off the three-week holiday period that starts with Rosh Hashanah on the evening of September 25 and concludes on October 18 with Simchat Torah.

While many Jewish holidays are strikingly particularistic, as they relate to the Jewish nation’s unique history and purpose, the High Holiday prayers also carry a message for humanity as a whole. In the words of the late chief rabbi of the United Kingdom, Jonathan Sacks: “There is a note of universality to the prayers on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur that we do not find on other festivals…The emphasis is on human solidarity. And human solidarity is what the world needs right now.”

For instance, the section of malchuyot — which appears in the Rosh Hashanah Musaf service and references God’s kingship over all that is — alludes to Judaism’s ultimate eschatological vision; a messianic era in which all nations will peacefully coexist.

Our God and God of our fathers, reign over the entire world with Your glory, and be uplifted over all the earth with Your honor, and appear in the splendor of Your majestic might over all who dwell in the inhabited world of Your earth; so everything that has been made will know that You have made it, and it will be understood by everything that was formed that You have formed it.”

Drawing upon similar themes, Zechariah 14:16, chanted in synagogues on the first day of Sukkot (9-16 October), envisions a time when all nations will joyfully flock to Jerusalem to celebrate the seven-day festival following the establishment of a “house of prayer for all peoples” on the Temple Mount.

Yet the Palestinian media, in their reporting on the impending Jewish holiday season, chose to ignore these positive themes and instead used the occasion to incite more hatred and violence against the Jewish people.

“What are the settlers’ plans during their incursion to the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque in their claimed holidays from Sep 26 to Oct 17, 2022?” one Twitter post by Al-Qastal, a popular Palestinian news site, focusing on events in Israel’s capital, read [emphasis added].

The attached graphic mocked Jewish tradition, suggesting that peaceful worshippers are actually “settlers” preparing to “storm” the Al-Aqsa Mosque while carrying out nefarious “Talmudic rituals” and blowing the “trumpet” (an apparent reference to the shofar, a ram’s horn customarily blown to inspire introspection).

Al Qastal furthermore incited its followers by claiming that Israelis were plotting “large-scale incursions” into the Western Wall plaza, Judaism’s second-holiest site, where they allegedly planned to introduce “vegetarian sacrifices.”

For the record, Jews (as well as other non-Muslims) are strictly forbidden from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque. And although a very small minority of religious Jews have the custom of eating the etrog, the four species used during Sukkot prayers are certainly not meant as a modern-day sacrifice.

Quds+, another Jerusalem-based media platform, nevertheless issued a “call for mobilization…to thwart the plans of the occupation and its settlers during the so-called ‘Jewish holiday’ season,” amplifying Hamas terror propaganda that threatened a “religious war” in response to Israelis marking their holiest days.

Meanwhile, in a bizarre rant published by multiple Arab media outlets, the Western-backed Palestinian Authority in Ramallah accused Israel of “violating international law” by not taking tougher police action against people blowing the shofar in the city sacred to Jews and Christians, and Muslims alike.

It is crucial to note that baseless accusations of Israeli threats to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site built on the ruins of the ancient Jewish Temple in Jerusalem’s Old City, have long been a rallying call for Palestinian terrorism. For example, the 1929 Hebron massacre, in which Arabs murdered 67 Jewish inhabitants of the city, was sparked by rumors that Jews were planning to seize control of the mosque.

The Israel Defense Forces and Israel Police have been on high alert in recent weeks due to a rise in shooting attacks by Palestinian terrorists against security forces and civilians.

On September 15, Eyal Hulata, head of Israel’s National Security Council, warned that “there are constant efforts by Hamas and others to escalate and create a narrative that Al-Aqsa is in danger and to turn Jerusalem into an explosive detonator…We are in a very sensitive time, before the holidays and the election. These things have a great influence.”

If there’s one takeaway from the 2020 Abraham Accords, which normalized ties between Israel and four Arab states, it’s that peace will only come when the Palestinian leadership accepts the Jewish people’s deep historical and religious ties to the Land of Israel, and Jerusalem in particular. However, just days after Prime Minister Yair Lapid stretched out his hand in peace at the UN General Assembly — in line with two decades of Israeli policy — this prospect seems ever more distant.

Perhaps change will come from the bottom up, when journalists in Ramallah and Gaza City put an end to their incessant hate campaign against any form of Jewish presence in the city whose name means “they will see peace.”

Wishing you a shana tova u’metuka, a good and sweet year, from Jerusalem, Israel.

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