As most of you read these words, Egyptians are taking to the polls to elect their new president – and the outcome is liable to be fairly treacherous for their smaller neighbor to the northeast, Israel.
How so? One recent quote from a public endorsement for one of the candidates paints the picture: “Our capital shall not be Cairo, Mecca or Medina. It shall be Jerusalem, please Allah.”
The words were proclaimed by a prominent Egyptian Muslim cleric, endorsing the Muslim Brotherhood’s presidential candidate at a large election rally. “Our chants shall be: ‘Millions of martyrs will march towards Jerusalem,’” continued cleric Safwat Hagazy, in a speech broadcast on Egypt’s religious Annas TV.
“Yes, we will either pray in Jerusalem or we will be martyred there,” he threatened.
The Egyptians themselves are said to be not thrilled with their choices in this week’s election. One candidate, Ahmed Shafiq, represents the hated, ousted Mubarak regime; he was the last Mubarak-era prime minister. But his opponent, Muhammad Mursi, is the candidate of the extremist Muslim Brotherhood movement, which many Egyptians say they do not want to run the country.
Results of the recent parliamentary election, however, appear to belie this claim. Muslim Brotherhood candidates won over two-thirds of the legislature’s seats, and several more went to another Muslim movement. Thus, Mursi – whose supporters see Jerusalem as the future Muslim capital of the world – appears to be the favorite to win.
Not surprisingly, Hamas, the terrorist organization that now rules Gaza, has endorsed the Brotherhood, from which it actually emanated back in 1987. Other indications that a Mursi victory bodes ill for Israel include a written statement issued last month by the Brotherhood’s “General Guide” calling the formation of Israel the “worst catastrophe ever to befall the peoples of the world” and demanding that it withdraw from the entire “land of Palestine.”
Perhaps, one might ask, the Muslim longing for a presence in Jerusalem is based on purely religious considerations? Perhaps the Muslim claim on the Holy City is benignly similar to Christian claims that – at present – are not military in nature? Not quite.
For one thing, Jerusalem has little historic significance in Muslim theology. Muslim claims to the city merely disguise their long-term, nationalist, strategic plot to take full control over Jerusalem and rid its Old City of Jewish presence.
To underline this point, let us note yet again that while Yerushalayim is mentioned directly in the Bible approximately 650 times, it is not mentioned even once in the Koran – and Muslims actually turn their backs on Jerusalem when they pray! In fact, the Wikipedia entry on “Caliphate” – the worldwide Muslim-religious government that once existed and that Muslims hope to revive – mentions Jerusalem only once, in passing.
It is ironic that the Muslim name for what is supposedly their third-holiest city is Al-Quds – an abbreviation of a previous Arabic name of the city, “Bet Al-Maqdes” – referring to none other than the Beit HaMikdash, our Holy Temple. Thus, the name that the Arabs use for Jerusalem for the purpose of “Arab-izing” it – is actually one that perpetuates its Jewishness.
Today, when the Muslim word is once again thinking “Caliphate” and worldwide dominion, we must make sure not to be fooled: Whenever Muslim ties to Jerusalem are reawakened, it means Islam wants to conquer Jerusalem for political, nationalistic, or military reasons.
This first occurred in Muhammad’s own lifetime: Seeking to win over the Jews living near his hometown of Medina, he announced that prayers would be directed toward Jerusalem. As soon as he was rebuffed, he skillfully zigzagged and redirected Muslim prayers toward Mecca. When the Muslims later conquered the Holy Land, they totally ignored Jerusalem and established their capital in Ramle.
Twice more this pattern repeated itself in later centuries – and now it is happening once again. Until 100 years ago, Jerusalem remained way in the background for the Muslim world, but when Jews began returning to their homeland, Muslims again awoke and “remembered” the holy city as a pinnacle of its religious aspirations. Again, however, its interests are simply to rid the Middle East of Israel.
As recently as 1964, when the PLO was founded, its original charter did not even mention Jerusalem.