Yes, we are in the throes of a worldwide crisis, but certain things in Jewish life remain important at all times; even if they don’t take center stage, the floodlights are still directed in their direction as they wait in the wings.
One of these is Yerushalayim, our holy and eternal city. We continue to pray for its welfare and for our return to its borders several times each day. Yet, around the world, appreciation of Israel’s historical, national, and international rights to a united Jerusalem under its sole sovereignty is sorely lacking. We therefore present a list of the top 10 reasons why Jerusalem must remain Israeli and undivided.
- History: Jerusalem has served as the capital of Jewish states in the Land of Israel as early as 3,000 years ago – and was never the capital of any other nation, Arab or otherwise.
- Sanctity: Jerusalem has been the world’s #1 holy spot for Jews from time immemorial, beginning with the Binding of Isaac on Mt. Moriah (Genesis 22:2) and continuing with the construction of the Holy Temples there. Jerusalem is mentioned 641 times in the Bible.
For Islam, which was founded when Judaism was about 2,500 years old, Jerusalem is only its third holiest city, following Mecca and Medina. Its sanctity is founded upon a “miraculous horse journey” taken by Muhammad to what the Koran obliquely calls “the farthest Mosque”; some Islamic commentaries say this refers to a mosque in Saudi Arabia. Otherwise, Jerusalem is mentioned exactly zero times in the Koran.
- Legal Rights: Jewish legal rights to Jerusalem, as well as to Judea and Samaria, were unanimously and internationally recognized in 1922 by the League of Nations, based on the San Remo Conference of two years earlier. No similar rights were accorded to Arabs.
- Demography: Jews have been the majority population in Jerusalem since at least the 1870s and have constituted the largest single group of inhabitants there for almost 180 years. They have been living in the city continuously for nearly two millennia. Today, the Jewish population just in the areas liberated in 1967 is well over 300,000 – approximately half of all Jerusalem’s Jews.
- Strategic Importance: Holding on to the high ground in Jerusalem is of paramount strategic and security importance for Israel. Dividing Jerusalem would hand over all the high ground to the Arabs.
- Security: Dividing Jerusalem would lead to disorder from a municipal standpoint, but would lead to downright chaos in terms of security. The various Arab terror groups would compete for supremacy, imperiling the security and wellbeing of residents and tourists on both sides of the city, and leading to a large exodus of Jews to central Israel.
- Democracy: Most Arabs in Jerusalem do not want to come under PA or Hamas control and thus give up their Israeli benefits, financial and otherwise.
- Religious Freedom and Holy Sites: Past Jordanian control of Jerusalem, PA control of Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem, and PLO desecration of the Church of the Nativity in Beth Lechem in May 2002 are examples of abuse of Jewish and Christian holy sites. Under Israeli control, Jerusalem has become an open city. Only Israel can guarantee that it will remain this way and that holy sites will be freely accessible to all.
- International Tensions: A change in Jerusalem’s political status quo, and the ensuing tensions in the city, would lead to similar tensions around the world between Jews, Muslims, and Christians.
- Ramifications for the Rest of Israel: Arab control of even part of Jerusalem, and especially as a Palestinian capital, would not only be a blow to Israeli sovereignty and identity, but would also embolden Arab aspirations to continue to chip away at the rest of Israel. Such aspirations are clearly spelled out in the original PLO Charter, which calls repeatedly and unambiguously for the violent “liberation of Palestine.”