It is a given in our tense, war-torn world that Jerusalem is a “hot spot,” a focal point of conflict and hostilities that could easily bring about the next world war. And everyone knows why: Because Jerusalem is sacred to all the great religions and they’re all fighting over the same piece of “real estate.” Right?
Let’s press “Reset.” Let’s clear the table and tell the “narrative” as it really is: Jerusalem was chosen as the Jewish people’s national and religious center before the dawn of organized religion. Other religions followed suit and declared it their own holy city – with catastrophic results during various periods of history.
The simple proof of the inequality between the Jewish and Muslim claims to Jerusalem is that the Jews constantly remembered and longed for Jerusalem, through every exile, while Muslims took interest in Jerusalem only when it was politically expedient.
A statement by Yehoshua Ben-Arieh, a Hebrew University professor, brings out this point clearly. Seeking to explain how Jerusalem rose to the top of world-interest charts in the past century, he told The New York Times last December “It was for the British that Jerusalem was so important. They are the ones who established Jerusalem as a capital. Before, it was not anyone’s capital since the times of the First and Second Temples.”
In making this fascinating point, Prof. Ben-Arieh is ignoring half the story. Jerusalem was important “for the British” – not as opposed to the Jews, but as opposed to the Muslims! For the latter, the British nod towards Jerusalem was simply a wake-up call telling them they had better get in on the action.
But for the Jews, the British move made perfect historic and religious sense: Where else could a capital of the Holy Land be placed if not Jerusalem? While it is true that Jerusalem had not been the Jewish political capital since the times of the Holy Temples, that was only because there was no Jewish State for it to be capital of! But in the minds, hearts, and prayers of Jews throughout history and across the globe, Jerusalem most definitely remained the “capital” – the focal point around which their lives revolved.
The Times article seeks to make the point that the struggle for Jerusalem is only a modern issue, with no historic roots. Again, this is half-right: The Muslims truly have no historic claims – but the Jews have countless ties, which are, incredibly, not mentioned at all in the article. The hundreds of Biblical references to Jerusalem, as opposed to the zero times it is noted the Quran, and the many Jewish customs and prayers that revolve around Jerusalem – all of these are ignored by the Times as it highlights only the “modernity” of the Jerusalem issue.
Gatestone Institute contributor A. Z. Mohamed wrote this week: “Only when non-Muslims are in control of Jerusalem do Muslims seem to remember the city. Otherwise, as history shows, Muslims have never attached real significance to it.” And as we have noted several times in these articles, Jerusalem was not even mentioned in the PLO’s original Palestine National Charter of 1964, nor in its amended charter of 1968.
What motivates Muslims’ claim to Jerusalem today, then? Simply the desire to disenfranchise Jews and Judaism from the Holy City and, by extension, the entire Holy Land. By delegitimizing our rights and history, they believe they are nearing their goal of destroying Israel and expelling its Jews.
The Times article concludes with another intriguing quote by Prof. Ben-Arieh: “Jerusalem was a city holy to three [emphasis added] religions, but the moment that, in the land of Israel, two nations grew – the Jewish people and the local Arab people – both embraced Jerusalem.”
In fact, however, Jerusalem was a city holy to one religion, joined later by two others in on-again, off-again relationships. Yes, later, “in the land of Israel, two nations grew” – but in different ways: one ancient nation picked up where it had left off 1,900 years earlier, while the other artificially declared itself a nation as a “contra” to the first.
And yes, “both embraced Jerusalem”: one embraced its 3,700-year-old center (dating back to Abraham’s Binding of Isaac there) while the other made a quick backtrack from years of neglect, rushing to adopt Jerusalem as its “third holiest site.”
Why a “backtrack”? Because in 1925, the Supreme Muslim Council published a booklet, entitled “A Brief Guide to the Al-Haram al-Sharif,” which highlights the ancient Jewish history in Jerusalem. On page 4, it states that the sanctity of the Temple Mount “dates from earliest (perhaps from pre-historic) times. Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute [emphasis added].This, too, is the spot, according to universal belief, on which ‘David built there an altar unto the Lord…'” The pamphlet even gives the source: II Samuel 24:25.
One has to give the Muslims credit for making such an abrupt and effective U-turn on this point. Much of the world – certainly on American college campuses! – now equates Jerusalem and historic Muslim sanctity as a matter of course.
Our struggle to publicize the above facts in a largely left-leaning Western world is undoubtedly an uphill battle. The Jewish Nation is used to such efforts, however, and the truth will ultimately and certainly be universally recognized.
Those wishing to help spread the message that Jerusalem has always been Jewish, and will remain so forever, are invited by KeepJerusalem.org to participate in its eastern and northern Jerusalem bus tours. For information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit at www.keepjerusalem.org.