The Muslim world acknowledges that the struggle for Jerusalem is not merely a geographical issue – but rather one that will determine the future of the Middle East.
Bar Ilan University Prof. Mordechai Kedar, an expert on the Arab world, succinctly and forcefully explained this point to Al Jazeera’s international television audience. He enlightened his predominantly anti-Israel viewers with the true reason modern Islam insists on claiming Jerusalem as its own.
Interviewed by Al Jazeera about the Temple Mount, Kedar was asked why Jews see the need to enter the area. He responded emphatically: “Because the Temple Mount is the place of our Temple, which King Solomon built. Even the old Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, wrote it in one of his books, that the Haram al-Sharif is the place where the Holy Temple stood, which was built by the Jewish – the Jewish! – king of Jerusalem 3,000 years ago.”
A booklet published by the Supreme Moslem Council in 1925 titled “A Brief Guide to the Al-Haram al-Sharif” states on page 4 that the sanctity of the Temple Mount “dates from the earliest (perhaps from prehistoric) 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 cites “2 Samuel XXIV, 25” as the source of that verse.
We return to Prof. Kedar’s history lesson, in which he explained the significance of Islam’s shift on the matter of Judaism’s unbroken ties with Jerusalem: “Do you know why they [Muslims] are trying now to deny this fact [that Jerusalem is Jewish] to which they originally agreed? Because they consider Judaism as the lowly religion, while Islam is the superior religion – but now that they see Jews coming back to our land and Judaism is coming back to life, what will be of Islam?”
He then said, “Let me show you something that the PLO produces,” and held up a two-sided scarf. On the one side was a picture of the Dome of the Rock and the words “Jerusalem is ours,” and on the other side was a map of Israel, with the implication that the entire Land of Israel is their “Palestine.”
The explanation of these two symbols, Kedar explained, is that “in their view, when they have Jerusalem, they will have all Palestine, from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River. This is why the struggle over Jerusalem is actually the struggle over Israel entirely; they won’t let us come to our holy place because they deny any connection at all between the Jewish People and this land.”
Kedar thus puts his finger on a fascinating point: Islam recognizes what King David wrote in his Psalms some 2,900 years ago: If we forget Jerusalem, or if we are made to relinquish it, our right hand – our very existence! – is liable to be forgotten or relinquished as well.
Jerusalem is the ultimate, divinely-charged symbol of our national existence; its memory and our longing for it, no matter how far or for how long we were exiled, was the glue that preserved our national existence for nearly two millennia.
Today, as well, even as it serves as the capital of our modern-day miracle state of Israel, Yerushalayim is our icon of true Jewish nationhood: It is a magnet attracting Jewish visitors and immigrants from all over the world, site of our future Holy Temple and national spiritual center, and the ultimate hope for the perfection of all mankind, as repeated so frequently in the universal words of the Jewish prophets.
Kedar is correct: A blow to Jerusalem is a blow to the entire Jewish people – and sometimes, most unfortunately, Muslims understand this even better than do Jews.
Several years ago, Kedar angered another Al Jazeera interviewer by forcefully telling him, “Jerusalem has been our capital for 3,000 years! We were here when you forefathers were burying their daughters alive and worshipping idols. So why do have to discuss [Jewish rights to build in Jerusalem]? This has been our city for 3,000 years, and it shall be so forever.”
When the interviewer interrupted him and said, “You cannot erase Jerusalem from the Koran,” Kedar countered by noting that Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Koran at all, and that “even Al Jazeera cannot rewrite the Koran.”
Kedar was right once again: Only the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem is mentioned in the Koran, but not the city itself.
“Jerusalem belongs to the Jews, period,” he exclaimed, and said there is no justification for any discussion of how many housing units Israel builds for Jews in Jerusalem: “Israel does not count the buildings Qatar builds in the Qatari Peninsula, so why do you stick your nose in Jerusalem? Jerusalem is our city forever and ever, and it is not the business of Al-Jazeera, or anyone else, period.”
It is no wonder that while the war of terrorism against Israelis continues all over the country on a daily basis, Jerusalem bears the brunt of the attacks. Just last week, young Hadar Cohen, a 19-year-old policewoman serving at the Damascus Gate to the Old City, was shot and stabbed to death. Her colleagues ultimately killed the three terrorists, thus preventing additional casualties.
The reactions to the attack in the Palestinian Authority were very telling. Palestinian Media Watch reported that the Fatah movement published on its official Facebook page the pictures of the three murderers, with these words of adulation: “Those who carried out the self-sacrifice operation in occupied Jerusalem…competed with each other for [Martyrdom] death…. They became role models across the length and breadth of the homeland.”
The father of one of the three told official PA television, “We received the news with joy. Allah chose him from among the people to be a martyr.”
Even worse, the PA TV news report of the attack opened with word of the death of the murderers by “the occupation’s bullets at the Damascus Gate.” It was not initially mentioned that they had set out to perpetrate a murderous attack against Israelis; only later in the broadcast did the reporter note a “shooting and stabbing operation…that caused the death of one soldier.”
It is this type of reporting – praise for murderers, frequent mention of their death as “execution” by Israelis, and omission of the Jewish side of the story – that incites young Arabs to perpetrate murderous attacks against Israelis.
“Incitement and peace cannot coexist,” Prime Minister Netanyahu has told U.S. officials. “Rather than educate the next generation of Palestinians to live in peace with Israel, this hate education poisons them against Israel and lays the ground for continued violence, terror and conflict.”
To help spread the message that Jerusalem has always been Jewish, and will remain so forever, KeepJerusalem.org invites you to participate in our eastern and northern Jerusalem bus tours. For information, e-mail [email protected] or visit our website, www.keepjerusalem.org.