By Khalid Amayreh
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Muslim and Christian leaders across the occupied Palestinian lands are shocked with repeated Israeli insults of the prophets and religious sanctities.
“I don’t really know when Jews will start to respect the religious sensitivities of non-Jews,” the Chief religious judge of Palestine, Dr. Taysir Tamimi, told IslamOnline.net on Saturday, February 28.
“It is very shocking and very telling that Jewish religious leaders in Israel and abroad have not condemned these blasphemous acts.”
Israeli media shocked millions of Muslims and Christians last week by mocking Jesus, his mother Mary and Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).
A TV comedy skit, hosted by Israeli comedian Lior Shlein, last week depicted Jesus as being “too fat” to have walked on water and that Mary was not virgin.
The insult came after the host angered million of Muslims when he pointed to one of his shoes, saying “This is Muhammad.”
“Muslims throughout the world have been shocked by the evil campaign waged against Islam and the Prophet (PBUH) and abuse of this shameful campaign against the sanctities with insults addressed against the Prophet and a religion followed by more than 1.5 billion Muslims,” said Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
“This shameful conduct came a few days after broadcasting insulting rhetoric against Prophet Jesus and his virgin mother, Mary, peace be upon them.”
Salim Kubti, a lawyer representing Christian courts in Israel, said he was considering a libel suit against Channel-10, which hosted the comedy show.
“Such remarks go beyond satire and dark humor,” he told IOL.
“These are serious utterances insulting the sensibilities of every Christian and anyone who possesses values and mutual respect for other religions.
“It’s clear that Shlein is a failure and as a result is looking for any way to improve his ratings, and he is jumping on a sensitive issue.”
The Vatican labeled the Israeli show “a vulgar and offensive act of intolerance toward the religious sentiments of the believers in Christ.”
Some Christian leaders and clergymen even Pope Benedict XVI to postpone or cancel his planned visit to Israel, scheduled to take place in May.
The outcry forced outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to apologize for Pope Benedict XVI, saying the comedy segment didn’t represent Israel’s views.
IOL has contacted some Jewish leaders for comment, but they refused to talk.
Muslim leaders also denounced the Israeli TV show, calling it “wicked and blasphemous.”
“We believe in freedom of expression, but we don’t believe in freedom of vulgarity and blasphemy,” Ikrema Sabri, head of the Supreme Muslim Council in Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem), said in the weekly Friday sermon.
“You can’t insult and offend people under the pretext of freedom of expression.”
He said the “apparent acquiescence” of the Israeli government to these vulgarities reflected “malice and ill-will” toward Muslims, calling on Muslims worldwide to send an “unmistakable warning” to Israel to refrain from insulting religious symbols.
Israel has a long history of showing disrespect to Muslim and Christian faiths.
In 1948, the Israeli army and paramilitary Jewish groups systematically destroyed hundreds of mosques in Palestine in an effort to obliterate the country’s Arab-Islamic identity.
Mosques left intact, such as the Beir al Saba’a Mosque, were converted into bars or brothels. Others were simply left to fall into disrepair.
Shortly after the 1967 Middle East war, the chief rabbi of the Israeli army, Shlomo Gorin, urged the military to blow up Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest shrine, “once and for all”.
In January 1984, armed Jewish extremists, led by Rabbi Moshe Levinger, one of the leaders of Gush Emunim, the Jewish settler movement, attempted to dynamite and destroy Al-Aqsa mosque.
Jewish insults of Muslim and Christian symbols became more common and audacious in recent years.
Nearly ten years ago, a Jewish immigrant from the former Soviet Union drew an offensive image depicting Prophet Muhammad as a pig writing the Qur’an.
In 2006, a Jewish couple walked into the Basilica of Annunciation Church in the Arab town of Nazareth in Israel, carrying 19 gas canisters, bottles of turpentine and kerosene, 64 firecrackers and 25 rocket-shaped fireworks.
The couple placed the fireworks and the gas canisters in a corner then poured kerosene on them, causing a fire.
Moreover, Yeshiva (Talmudic school) students have been spitting on Christian clergymen in Al-Quds and breaking their crucifixes.
Some other fanatical Jews don’t hesitate to refer to Jesus as “Hitler of Bethlehem.”