A far-right Israeli who was filmed last week declaring “Muhammad was a pig” at Muslims in the Old City of Jerusalem defended her actions on Sunday, refusing to apologize or recognize that her comments had exacerbated tensions and even caused riots.
Aviya Morris, 20, of the West Bank settlement of Shiloh, told Channel 2 TV that she couldn’t remain silent in the face of the abuse hurled at her by Palestinian demonstrators.
“They wouldn’t stop insulting us” during and after a visit to the Temple Mount, Morris said, referring to the Muslim women who congregate on the Temple Mount and verbally abuse Jewish worshipers.
“They didn’t stop offending our feelings and those of Jews. At some point, after more than an hour of taunts and insults, I decided to respond after things reached a climax,” Morris said Sunday of her visit Thursday to the Temple Mount, a site holy to both Jews and Muslims.
Morris is a member of a religious right-wing group known as “Returning to the Mount,” which advocates Jewish sovereignty on the Temple Mount and the construction of a third Jewish Temple on the site. Her personal Facebook page features a link to a website memorializing outlawed ultra-nationalist Kach party leader Meir Kahane, who was assassinated in 1990.
Jews consider the Temple Mount, formerly the site of the two Temples, to be Judaism’s holiest site. Muslims believe that the compound — which today houses the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, known in Arabic as the Holy Sanctuary — is the third-holiest site in Islam.
Morris said that she and a group of Jewish women went onto the Temple Mount on Thursday and, throughout their visit, were harangued by Muslim women. The women, she said, “shouted and surrounded us — they called ‘Slaughter the Jews,’ and ‘God is great’ [in Arabic].”
A video showing Morris telling the Muslim women that “Muhammad is a pig” went viral among Palestinians on social media, and the furious responses led to some minor clashes with Israeli police officers following Friday prayers on the Temple Mount. Additional clashes took place Sunday, after hundreds of Jews visited the Temple Mount.
In 2012, Morris spat at Arab MK Ahmad Tibi during a debate at Bar-Ilan University, and in 2013 was arrested on suspicion of involvement in vandalizing Jerusalem’s Monastery of the Cross. Vandals spray-painted “price tag,” “Happy Hanukkah, victory for the Maccabees” and “Jesus — son of a whore” on a wall of the monastery. She was later released without being charged.