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Jerusalem - The Peace FAQ

Jerusalem

Frequently Asked Questions:

● We often hear that a mosque in Jerusalem is Islam's third holiest


place. Does it have any competitors?
● Just how important is Jerusalem to Muslims?
● What is the significance of Jerusalem to Jews?
● So why do the Arabs claim that Jerusalem is significant to them?
Does it have anything to do with the significance Jerusalem has for
the Jews?
● I often hear accusations that Israel is 'Judaizing' Jerusalem. Are the
Jews a majority in Jerusalem, and is this a contemporary
phenomenon?
● What is the status of Jerusalem in the Peace Talks? Shouldn't the
Jews just give the place to the Arabs if the Arabs promise Peace?
● What has been the Arab policy regarding access by Christians and
Jews to sites which Muslims consider holy?
● The Arabs occupied part of Jerusalem for 19 years between 1948 and
1967. Wasn't this the only time when all peoples and all faiths had
free access to their holy sites, which were respected by the
authorities at the time?
● Are the Arabs more tolerant now about the sacred places of other
people?
● What is the view of the Christian masses regarding Jerusalem under
Israel's administration?
● Didn't Israel cut that tunnel, in 1996, right under some Islamic holy
site, causing riots and bloodshed?

We often hear that a mosque in Jerusalem is Islam's third holiest


place. Does it have any competitors?

● Also on Cyprus is another highly venerated islamic site - the third


most important after Mecca and Medina - the Hala Sultan Tekke.
This, too, has a black rock, said to have fallen as a meteorite as part
of the tritholon over the shrine. The shrine is to a woman - the aunt

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and foster mother of Prophet Mohammed. Could this, like Mecca,


have been originally a goddess shrine? Unfortunately no other clues
are forthcoming.

- MSANEWS referencing 'Aphrodite's island', by Penny Drayton,


Wood & water, Vol.2, No.41, Jan 1993.

● On the west side of the lake, resting peacefully among a copse of tall
cypress trees, with its minarets reflect ed in the water, is the Tekke
(shrine) of Hala Sultan built to honour a female relative of the
Prophet Mohammed, Umm Haram, who accompanied the Arab
invaders of Cyprus in 694AD, but died after falling from a mule near
Larnaca. Her shrine, the third holiest in the Moslem world after
Mecca and Medina, is today a wonderfully peaceful sanctuary planted
with palm trees and flowering shrubs enjoyed by Cypriots and
tourists alike.

- Larnaca Area tourist information on CosmosNet

● Shortly after his arrival, Hayel Srour visited the mosque of "Umm
Haram" or the Tekke of Halan Sultan in Larnaca for prayers.

This tekke is one of holiest shrines of Islam. It was built in memory


of Umm Haram, an aunt of Prophet Mohammed. She was buried on
the spot near the Salt Lake, where she died after accidentally falling
off her mule during one of the frequent Arab raids against Cyprus.

- from "Jordanian Speaker visits Cyprus", Cyprus News Agency:


News in English (AM), 28-Jul-1997

● On the divided mediterranean island of Cyprus, more than 12-


hundred Turkish Cypriots have had a rare opportunity to make a
pilgrimage to the Greek Cypriot sector, where one of Islam's holiest
shrines is situated... it is at the Tekke mosque where an aunt of the
Prophet Mohammed is said to be buried.

- Chris Drake, Voice of America, 31-Jan-98

● On April 19, some 450 Turkish Cypriots crossed for the first time
since 1974 to the free areas of the Republic for a pilgrimage to Hala
Sultan Tekke Mosque in Larnaca, on the southeastern coast, on the
occasion of the Muslim religion festival of Kurban Bayram.

The Hala Sultan Tekke, located on the shore of Larnaca's Salt Lake,
was built in memory of Umm Haram, an aunt of prophet Mohammet
and is considered one of the holiest Islamic religious places. This visit
was offered as a good will gesture on the part of the Cyprus

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government in the framework of the on-going proximity talks under


UN auspices.

- Bulletin of the UNDP, April 30, 1997

Just how important is Jerusalem to Muslims?

● What about Islam's holy sites? There are none in Jerusalem.

Shocked? You should be. I don't expect you will ever hear this brutal
truth from anyone else in the international media. It's just not
politically correct.

I know what you're going to say: "Farah, the Al Aqsa Mosque and the
Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem represent Islam's third most holy
sites."

Not true. In fact, the Koran says nothing about Jerusalem. It


mentions Mecca hundreds of times. It mentions Medina countless
times. It never mentions Jerusalem. With good reason. There is no
historical evidence to suggest Mohammed ever visited Jerusalem.

So how did Jerusalem become the third holiest site of Islam? Muslims
today cite a vague passage in the Koran, the seventeenth Sura,
entitled "The Night Journey." It relates that in a dream or a vision
Mohammed was carried by night "from the sacred temple to the
temple that is most remote, whose precinct we have blessed, that we
might show him our signs. ..." In the seventh century, some Muslims
identified the two temples mentioned in this verse as being in Mecca
and Jerusalem. And that's as close as Islam's connection with
Jerusalem gets -- myth, fantasy, wishful thinking. Meanwhile, Jews
can trace their roots in Jerusalem back to the days of Abraham.

The latest round of violence in Israel erupted when Likud Party


leader Ariel Sharon tried to visit the Temple Mount, the foundation of
the Temple built by Solomon. It is the holiest site for Jews. Sharon
and his entourage were met with stones and threats. I know what it's
like. I've been there. Can you imagine what it is like for Jews to be
threatened, stoned and physically kept out of the holiest site in
Judaism?

- Joseph Farah, Arab-American journalist,


editor and CEO of WorldNetDaily

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● This question would be easy to answer if someone would just count


the number of times Jerusalem is mentioned in the Koran, the
Scriptures, and the Torah. Unfortunately, such questions are rarely
THAT easy to answer. Except in this case. It seems that Mohammed
failed to forsee the struggle for Jerusalem, and thus failed to mention
Jerusalem even once. That's right, Jerusalem is mentioned zero
times in the Koran. For Jewish and Christian texts, Jerusalem is of
course central.

Some call Jerusalem Islam's third holiest place precicely because


Islam has only two holy places, Mecca and Medina; there are a
number of holy shrines and mosques - any of these can rightly be
called Islam's third holiest in that they are all tertiary. In fairness,
some do think that the big rock on the Temple Mount was the place
that Mohammed ascended to heaven, however to compare the
importance to Muslims of this rock to the importance of the meteorite
inside the Kaaba in Mecca, is a more recent political invention.

- the Society for Rational Peace

● In A.D. 691 Caliph Abd el-Malik commissioned the best architects


to build the Dome of the Rock. His plan was based upon a Fourth
Century Christian shrine on the Mount of Olives marking the site of
Jesus' Ascension. The Caliph's new shrine was deliberately built as a
political, economic, and religious counter attraction to Mecca. Medina
and Mecca, the two cities holy to Islam, were under the control of a
rival Caliph. Abd El-Malik sought to build up the importance of
Jerusalem as an Islamic center for pilgrimage and worship. The holy
spot of Judaism was now to be identified with the spot where
Mohammed's horse ascended to heaven.

Another indication that Jerusalem was not considered of great


importance to the Muslim armies is the fact that it was one of last
cities taken by the Syrian Muslims after the death of Mohammed. It
was conquered by a mediocre commander, and not by Omar himself.
The Arabs first called the city Ilya (Aelia Capitolina) rather than Beit
el-Maqdas (the holy house).

from Allah and the Temple Mount, by Lambert Dolphin

● If I Forget Thee: Does Jerusalem Really Matter to Islam?


by Daniel Pipes, editor of the Middle East Quarterly
[Originally appeared in slightly different form in The New Republic
April 28, 1997]

The architects of the Oslo peace accords understood Jerusalem's


power. Fearing that even discussing the holy city's future before less
combustible issues are resolved would detonate the fragile truce

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between Israelis and Palestinians, they tried to delay this issue to the
end. But they failed: riots met the opening a new entrance to an
ancient tunnel last September and now the building of apartments on
an empty plot in eastern Jerusalem has brought the negotiations to a
halt. As it becomes clear that the struggle for Jerusalem will not wait,
the outside world must confront the conflicting claims made by Jews
and Muslims on the city that King David entered three millennia ago.

When they do, they will no doubt hear relativistic cliches to the effect
that Jerusalem is "a city holy to both peoples," implying a parallel
quality to the Jewish and Islamic claims to Jerusalem. But this is
false. Jerusalem stands as the paramount religious city of Judaism, a
place so holy that not just its soil but even its air is deemed sacred.
Jews pray in its direction, mention its name constantly in prayers,
close the Passover service with the wistful statement "Next year in
Jerusalem," and recall the city in the blessing at the end of meals.

What about Jerusalem's role in Islam? Its significance pales next to


Mecca and Medina, the twin cities where Muhammad lived and which
hosted the great events of Islamic history. Jerusalem is not the place
to which Muslims pray, it is not once mentioned by name in the
Qur'an or in prayers, and it is directly connected to no events in
Muhammad's life. The city never became a cultural center and it
never served as capital of a sovereign Muslim state. Jerusalem has
mattered to Muslims only intermittently over the past 13 centuries,
and when it has mattered, as it does today, it has done so because
of politics. Conversely, when the utility of Jerusalem expires, the
passions abate and its status declines.

In A.D. 622, the Prophet Muhammad fled his home town of Mecca for
Medina, a city with a substantial Jewish population. On arrival, if not
earlier, he adopted a number of practices friendly to Jews, such as a
Yom Kippur-like fast, a synagogue-like house of prayer, and kosher-
style dietary laws. Muhammad also adopted the Judaic practice of
facing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during prayer; "He chose the
Holy House in Jerusalem in order that the People of the Book [i.e.,
Jews] would be conciliated," notes At-Tabari, an early Muslim
commentator on the Qur'an, "and the Jews were glad." Modern
historians agree: W. Montgomery Watt, a leading biographer of
Muhammad, interprets the prophet's "far-reaching concessions to
Jewish feeling" as part of his "desire for a reconciliation with the
Jews."

But Jews criticized the new faith and rejected Muhammad's gestures,
leading Muhammad to eventually break with them, probably in early
624. The most dramatic sign of this change came in a Qur'anic
passage (2:142-52) ordering the faithful no longer to pray toward

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Syria but toward Mecca instead. (The Qur'an and other sources only
mention the direction as "Syria"; other information makes it clear
that "Syria" means Jerusalem.)

This episode initiated a pattern that would be repeated many times


over the succeeding centuries: Muslims take religious interest in
Jerusalem because it serves them politically and when the political
climate changes, their interest flags.

In the century after Muhammad's death, politics prompted the


Damascus-based Umayyad dynasty, which controlled Jerusalem, to
make this city sacred in Islam. Embroiled in fierce competition with a
dissident leader in Mecca, the Umayyad rulers sought to diminish
Arabia at Jerusalem's expense. They sponsored a genre of literature
praising the "virtues of Jerusalem" and circulated accounts of the
prophet's sayings or doings (called hadiths) favorable to Jerusalem.
In 688-91, they built Islam's first grand structure, the Dome of the
Rock, on top of the remains of the Jewish Temple.

In a particularly subtle and complex step, they even reinterpreted


the Qur'an to make room for Jerusalem. The Qur'an, describing
Muhammad's Night Journey (isra'), reads: "[God] takes His servant [i.
e., Muhammad] by night from the Sacred Mosque to the furthest
mosque." When this Qur'anic passage was first revealed, in about
621, a place called the Sacred Mosque already existed in Mecca. In
contrast, the "furthest mosque" was a turn of phrase, not a place.
Some early Muslims understood it as metaphorical or as a place in
heaven. And if the "furthest mosque" did exist on earth, Palestine
would have seemed an unlikely location, for that region elsewhere in
the Qur'an (30:1) was called "the closest land" (adna al-ard).

But in 715, the Umayyads built a mosque in Jerusalem, again right


on the Temple Mount, and called it the Furthest Mosque (al-masjid al-
aqsa, or Al-Aqsa Mosque). With this, the Umayyads not only post hoc
inserted Jerusalem into the Qur'an but retroactively gave it a
prominent role in Muhammad's life. For if the "furthest mosque" is in
Jerusalem, then Muhammad's Night Journey and his subsequent
ascension to heaven (mi`raj) also took place on the Temple Mount.

But, as ever, Jerusalem mattered theologically only when it mattered


politically, and when the Umayyad dynasty collapsed in 750,
Jerusalem fell into near-obscurity. For the next three and a half
centuries, books praising the city lost favor and the construction of
glorious buildings not only stopped, but existing ones fell apart (the
Dome over the rock collapsed in 1016). "Learned men are few, and
the Christians numerous," bemoaned a tenth-century Muslim native
of Jerusalem. The rulers of the new dynasty bled Jerusalem and its
region country through what F. E. Peters of New York University

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calls "their rapacity and their careless indifference."

By the early tenth century, notes Peters, Muslim rule over Jerusalem
had an "almost casual" quality with "no particular political
significance." In keeping with this near-indifference, the Crusader
conquest of the city in 1099 initially aroused a mild Muslim response:
"one does not detect either shock or a sense of religious loss and
humiliation," notes Emmanuel Sivan of the Hebrew University, a
scholar of this era.

Only as the effort to retake Jerusalem grew serious in about 1150 did
Muslim leaders stress Jerusalem's importance to Islam. Once again,
hadiths about Jerusalem's sanctity and books about the "virtues of
Jerusalem" appeared. One hadith put words into the Prophet
Muhammad's mouth saying that, after his own death, Jerusalem's
falling to the infidels is the second greatest catastrophe facing Islam.

Once safely back in Muslim hands after Saladin's reconquest,


however, interest in Jerusalem dropped, to the point where one of
Saladin's grandsons temporarily ceded the city in 1229 to Emperor
Friedrich II in return for the German's promise of military aid against
his brother, a rival king. But learning that Jerusalem was back in
Christian hands again provoked intense Muslim emotions; as a result,
in 1244, the city was again under Muslim rule. The psychology at
work here bears note: that Christian knights traveled from distant
lands to make Jerusalem their capital made the city more valuable in
Muslim eyes too. "It was a city strongly coveted by the enemies of
the faith, and thus became, in a sort of mirror-image syndrome, dear
to Muslim hearts," Sivan explains.

The city then lapsed back to its usual obscurity for nearly eight
centuries. At one point, the city's entire population amounted to a
miserable four thousand souls. The Temple Mount sanctuaries were
abandoned and became dilapidated. Under Ottoman rule (1516-
1917), Jerusalem suffered the indignity of being treated as a tax
farm for non-resident, one-year (and so very rapacious) officials. The
Turkish authorities raised funds by gouging European visitors, and so
made little effort to promote Jerusalem's economy. The tax rolls
show soap as the city's only export item. In 1611, George Sandys
found that "Much lies waste; the old buildings (except a few) all
ruined, the new contemptible." Gustav Flaubert of Madame Bovary
fame visited in 1850 and found "Ruins everywhere." Mark Twain in
1867 wrote that Jerusalem "has lost all its ancient grandeur, and is
become a pauper village."

In modern times, notes the Israeli scholar Hava Lazarus-Yafeh,


Jerusalem "became the focus of religious and political Arab activity
only at the beginning of the present century, and only because of the
renewed Jewish activity in the city and Judaism's claims on the

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Western Wailing Wall." British rule over city, lasting from 1917 to
1948, further galvanized Muslim passion for Jerusalem. The
Palestinian leader (and mufti of Jerusalem) Hajj Amin al-Husayni
made the Temple Mount central to his anti-Zionist efforts, for
example raising funds throughout the Arab world for the restoration
of the Dome of the Rock. Arab politicians made Jerusalem a
prominent destination; for example, Iraqi leaders frequently turned
up, where they demonstrably prayed at Al-Aqsa and gave rousing
speeches.

But when Muslims retook the Old City with its Islamic sanctuaries in
1948, they quickly lost interest in it. An initial excitement stirred
when the Jordanian forces took the walled city in 1948_as evidenced
by the Coptic bishop's crowning King `Abdallah as "King of
Jerusalem" in November of that year_but then the usual ennui set in.
The Hashemites had little affection for Jerusalem, where some of
their most devoted enemies lived and where `Abdallah himself was
shot dead in 1951. In fact, the Hashemites made a concerted effort
to diminish the holy city's importance in favor of their capital,
Amman. Jerusalem had served as the British administrative capital,
but now all government offices there (save tourism) were shut down.
The Jordanians also closed some local institutions (e.g., the Arab
Higher Committee) and moved others to Amman (the treasury of the
Palestinian waqf, or religious endowment).

Their effort succeeded. Once again, Arab Jerusalem became an


isolated provincial town, now even less important than Nablus. The
economy stagnated and many thousands left Arab Jerusalem. While
the population of Amman increased five-fold in the period 1948-67,
Jerusalem's grew just 50 percent. Amman was chosen as the site of
the country's first university as well as of the royal family's many
residences. Perhaps most insulting of all, Jordanian radio broadcast
the Friday prayers not from Al-Aqsa Mosque but from a mosque in
Amman.

Nor was Jordan alone in ignoring Jerusalem; the city virtually


disappeared from the Arab diplomatic map. No foreign Arab leader
came to Jerusalem between 1948 and 1967, and even King Husayn
visited only rarely.

King Faysal of Saudi Arabia often spoke after 1967 of yearning to


pray in Jerusalem, yet he appears never to have bothered to pray
there when he had the chance. Perhaps most remarkable is that the
PLO's founding document, the Palestinian National Covenant of 1964,
does not even once mention Jerusalem.

All this abruptly changed after June 1967, when the Old City came

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under Israeli control. As in the British period, Palestinians again


made Jerusalem the centerpiece of their political program. Pictures of
the Dome of the Rock turned up everywhere, from Yasir Arafat's
office to the corner grocery. The PLO's 1968 Constitution described
Jerusalem as "the seat of the Palestine Liberation Organization."

Nor were Palestinians alone in their renewed interest. "As during the
era of the Crusaders," Lazarus-Yafeh points out, many Muslim
leaders "began again to emphasize the sanctity of Jerusalem in
Islamic tradition," even dusting off old hadiths to back up their
claims. Jerusalem became a mainstay of Arab League and United
Nations resolutions. The formerly stingy Jordanian and Saudi
governments now gave munificently to the Jerusalem waqf.

As it was under the British mandate, Jerusalem has since 1967 again
become the primary vehicle for mobilizing international Muslim
opinion. A fire at Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969 gave Faysal the occasion to
convene twenty-five Muslim heads of state and establish the
Organization of the Islamic Conference, a United Nations for Muslims.
Lebanon's leading Shi`i authority regularly relies on the theme of
liberating Jerusalem to inspire his own people to liberate Lebanon.
Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran's 1-rial coin and 1000-rial
banknote have featured the Dome of the Rock. Iranian soldiers at
war with Saddam Husayn's forces in the 1980s received primitive
maps marking a path through Iraq and onto Jerusalem. Ayatollah
Khomeini decreed the last Friday of Ramadan as Jerusalem Day,
and the holiday has served as a major occasion for anti-Israel
harangues.

Since Israeli occupation, some ideologues have sought to establish


the historical basis of Islamic attachment to Jerusalem by raising
three main arguments, all of them historically dubious. First, they
assert a Muslim connection to Jerusalem that predates the Jewish
one. Ghada Talhami, a scholar at Lake Forest College, typically
asserts that "There are other holy cities in Islam, but Jerusalem
holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Muslims because its
fate has always been intertwined with theirs."

Always? Jerusalem's founding antedated Islam by about two


millennia, so how can that be? Ibrahim Hooper, national
communications director for the Washington-based Council on
American-Islamic Relations explains: "the Muslim attachment to
Jerusalem does not begin with the prophet Muhammad, it begins
with the prophets Abraham, David, Solomon and Jesus, who are also
prophets in Islam." In other words, the central figures of Judaism
and Christianity were really proto-Muslims.

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Second, and equally anachronistic, is the claim that the Qur'an


mentions Jerusalem. Hooper (and others) argue that "the Koran
refers to Jerusalem by its Islamic centerpiece, al-Aqsa Mosque." But
this makes no sense: a mosque built a century after the Qur'an was
delivered cannot establish what a Qur'anic verse originally meant.

Third, some Muslims deny Jerusalem any importance to Jews. `Abd


al- Malik Dahamshe, an Arab member of Israel's parliament, flatly
stated last month that "the Western Wall is not associated with the
remains of the Jewish Temple." A fundamentalist Israel Arab leader
went further and announced that "It's prohibited for Jews to pray at
the Western Wall." Or, in the succinct wording of a protest banner:
"Jerusalem is Arab."

Despite these deafening claims that Jerusalem is essential to Islam,


the religion does contain a recessive but persistent strain of anti-
Jerusalem sentiment. Perhaps the most prominent adherent of this
view was Ibn Taymiya (1263-1328), one of Islam's strictest and
most influential religious thinkers. (The Wahhabis of Arabia are his
modern-day successors.)

In an attempt to purify Islam of accretions and impieties, Ibn


Taymiya dismissed the sacredness of Jerusalem as a notion deriving
from Jews and Christians, and from the long-ago Umayyad rivalry
with Mecca. More broadly, learned Muslims living in the years
following the Crusades knew that the great publicity given to hadiths
extolling Jerusalem's sanctity resulted from the Countercrusade-that
is, from political exigency-and treated it warily.

Recalling that God once had Muslims direct their prayers toward
Jerusalem and then turned them instead toward Mecca, some early
hadiths suggested that Muslims specifically pray with away from
Jerusalem, a rejection that still survives in vestigial form; he who
prays in Al-Aqsa Mosque not coincidentally shows his back precisely
to the Temple area toward which Jews pray.

In Jerusalem, theological and historical claims matter, serving as the


functional equivalent of legal documents elsewhere. Whoever can
establish a deeper and more lasting association with the city has a
better chance of winning international support to rule it. In this
context, the fact that politics has so long fueled the Muslim
attachment to Jerusalem has two implications. First, it points to the
relative weakness of the Islamic connection to the city, one that
arises as much from transitory considerations of mundane need as
from the immutable claims of faith.

Second, it suggests that the Muslim interest lies not so much in


controlling Jerusalem as it does in denying control over the city to

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anyone else. Jerusalem will never be more than a secondary city for
Muslims.

In contrast, Mecca is the eternal city of Islam, the place where


Muslims believe Abraham nearly sacrificed Isaac's brother Ishmael
and toward which Muslims turn to pray five times each day. Non-
Muslims are strictly forbidden there, so it has a purely Muslim
population. Mecca evokes in Muslims a feeling similar to that of
Jerusalem among Jews: "Its very mention reverberates awe in
Muslims' hearts," writes Abad Ahmad of the Islamic Society of
Central Jersey. Very roughly speaking, what Jerusalem is to Jews,
Mecca is to the Muslims. And just as Muslims rule an undivided
Mecca, so Jews should rule an undivided Jerusalem.

Daniel Pipes is editor of the Middle East Quarterly and author of The
Hidden Hand: Middle East Fears of Conspiracy (St. Martin's Press).

What is the significance of Jerusalem to Jews?

● "Mecca is holy to Moslems, and Jerusalem to the Jews."

- Yakut, the 13th-century Arab biographer and geographer

● I did not enter on my own the city of Jerusalem. Streams of endless


craving, clinging, dreaming, flowing day and night, midnights, years,
decades, centuries, millennia, streams of tears, of pledging, of
waitings-from all over the world, from all corners of the world-carried
us of this generation to the Wall.

- Abraham Joshua Heschel

● We do not mourn properly over Jerusalem. Were we guilty of this


transgression alone, it would be sufficient reason for the extension of
the period of our Exile. In my opinion this is the most likely, most
apparent and the strongest reason for all of the dreadful terrifying
persecutions which have been fallen us in Exile, in all the places of
our dispersion. We have been hotly pursued. We have not been
granted rest among the nations with our humiliation, affliction and
homelessness, because this sense of mourning has left our hearts.
While becoming complacent in a land not ours, we have forgotten
Jerusalem; we have not taken it to heart. Therefore, "Like one who is
dead we have been forgotten," from generation to generation sorrow
is added to our sorrow and our pain.

- Jacob Emden, an 18th century rabbi, quoted by Arthur

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Herzberg, editor, Judaism, George Braziller, Inc. New York, 1961,


pp. 163-164

● One must weep ceaselessly over the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the
restoration of the glory of King David, for that is the object of human
perfection. If we do not have Jerusalem and the kingdom of the
House of David, why should we have life? . . . Since our many
transgressions have led to the Destruction and to the desolation of
our glorious Temple and the loss of the kingdom of the House of
David, the degree which we suffer the absence and the lack of good
is known to all. Surely have we descended from life until death. And
the converse is also true: "When the Lord restores the captivity of
Zion," we shall ascend from death unto life. Certainly the heart of
anyone who possesses the soul of a Jew is broken when he recalls
the destruction of Jerusalem.

- Jonathan Eibschutz, another 18th century rabbi, quoted as


above.

● Through a historical catastrophe - the destruction of Jerusalem by


the emperor of Rome - I was born in one of the cities in the diaspora.
But I always deemed myself a child of Jerusalem, one who is in
reality a native of Jerusalem.

- S.J. Agnon, upon receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature, 1966
[from Jsource]

● Not living in Jerusalem, I always feel a special thrill when I come into
the capital.
I am continually overwhelmed by the uniqueness of this special, holy
place, and I am reminded of the famous Talmudic adage that, "Ten
measures of beauty descended upon the world, and Jerusalem took
nine of them."
I love to walk through the streets and neighborhoods of the city,
where ancient history and modern skyscrapers blend together in
wondrous harmony, where people of every background and
persuasion meet, greet and eat.
One of my favorite stops has always been the Mahaneh Yehuda
market. There one can see not only the vibrancy of a population
bursting with energy, but also the bounty of the Land of Israel.
j This place, to me, is the epitome of the ancient prophecy that
foretells the imminent Redemption, "when the fields of Israel begin
to bloom again."
There, amid the watermelons and tomatoes, the onions and oranges,
one can smell, taste and feel the reincarnation of this age-old nation,
long-dormant but in full bloom again.
Jerusalem brims with important historic and religious sites. But this is
the first place I take visitors from abroad when I want to show off my
beautiful, fruitful country.

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- Stewart Weiss, director of the Jewish Outreach Center in


Ra'anana

● "three of the greatest achievements of my life are connected to


Jerusalem. I was the commander of the forces that saved Western
Jerusalem in 1948, the Chief of Staff of the army that liberated
Eastern Jerusalem in 1967 and will be the Prime Minister of Israel
when this legislation will mandate the long overdue recognition of
Jerusalem as our eternal capital."

- Yitzhak Rabin, Washington D.C., October 25, 1995

● "For Christians and Moslems, the term 'Holy Sites' is an adequate


expression of what matters. Here [in Jerusalem] are sacred places
hallowed by most holy events... But Judaism... is not tied to sites,
but to the land; not to what happened in Jerusalem, but to Jerusalem
itself"

- Bishop Prof. Krister Stendahl, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Autumn


1967

● The Arabs argue that Israel has no claim on Jerusalem beyond power
politics. Yet, Jerusalem has long been a Jewish city, and calling for an
end to Israel's sovereignty over an undivided Jerusalem is simply a
call for an end to Israel. When, in 1947, the United Nations called for
an international (UN-administered) city, it was not the Jews - but the
Arabs - who refused. When the Jordanian army seized the Old City
during its war of aggression against Israel in 1948, it promptly
desecrated all Jewish holy sites in the area, turned Jewish cemeteries
and synagogues into urinals and murdered all Jews who remained on
the Jordanian side of the 1948 armistice line. During the 1967 War,
Jordan's King Hussein - a celebrated man of peace to Israel's Oslo
supporters - spoke as follows on Radio Amman: "Kill the Jews
wherever you find them. Kill them with your arms, with your hands,
with your nails and teeth." Of course, Jordanian control over East
Jerusalem from 1949 - 1967 was entirely unacceptable under
international law from the standpoints of both the Arab kingdom's
method of acquisition and its brutal methods of occupation. Do
Israel's Oslo supporters object to these earlier and egregious
violations of international law by the Kingdom of Jordan? If they do,
they certainly haven't mentioned them.

The statement that Jerusalem is holy to the three monotheistic


religions is now generally taken as self-evident. Yet, for Muslims,
even for those who regard the city as theirs because of Canaanite
origins, it is not Jerusalem, but the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca, that
is paramount. It is Mecca, not Jerusalem, to which Muslims must

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pilgrimage at least once. For Christians, Jerusalem contains some,


but not all, of their holiest shrines. For Jews, all main holy sites are
within the post-1967 Jerusalem municipal borders or in very close
proximity.

Jews at prayer anywhere in the world face towards the Temple Mount
in Jerusalem. Muslims, even those praying on the Mount, face away
from it, towards Mecca. When they pray on the Mount, Muslims have
their backs toward the Dome of the Rock, while those praying in the
Al-Aqsa mosque also look away from Jerusalem and toward Mecca.
In the Hebrew bible, Jerusalem is mentioned 656 times; Jerusalem's
well-being is central to all Jewish prayer. In the Koran, Jerusalem is
never mentioned, not even once. With the brief exception of the
Crusader period, no conqueror of Jerusalem made the city a capital.
Driven into exile by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C.E., the Jews returned
fifty years later and rebuilt Jerusalem as their capital. It was the
capital of the Jews, again, under the Maccabees.

The rights of both Jews and Christians were trampled on by the


Muslim conquerors of Jerusalem. Churches were made into mosques.
Slaughterhouses were deliberately established near Jewish places of
worship. Mosques were built next to churches and synagogues so
that their minarets could literally overtower them.

In the 2554 years between 587 B.C.E. and 1967 C.E. Jerusalem was
conquered more than twenty times, and as part of many empires,
was ruled from different and distant capital cities. Only for the Jews
(for more than 650 years), for the Crusaders (for 188 years) and for
the State of Israel (since 1949) has Jerusalem served as a capital
city.

- Louis Rene Beres


Professor of International Law
Department of Political Science
Purdue University

So why do the Arabs claim that Jerusalem is significant to them?


Does it have anything to do with the significance Jerusalem has
for the Jews?

● On a February day in the year A.D. 638 the Caliph Omar entered
Jerusalem, riding upon a white camel. He was dressed in worn, filthy
robes, and the army that followed him was rough and unkempt; but
its discipline was perfect. At his side was the Patriarch Sophronius, as
chief magistrate of the surrendered city. Omar rode straight to the

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site of the Temple of Solomon, whence his friend Mahomet had


ascended into heaven.

- Steve Runciman, A History of The Crusades. Volume One: The


First Crusade, Cambridge University Press, 1951

● After the capitulation of Jerusalem to 'Omar in 635 (A.H 14), that


Khalif caused a mosque to be built on what was considered to be the
ancient site of the Temple (or Masjid) of David. The traditional
position of this site, 'Omar (as it is stated) verified, by the re-
discovery of the Rock concealed under a dunghill from the description
that had been given to him, 'Omar, by the Prophet, of the place
where he had made his prayer prostrations in Jerusalem on the
occasion of his Night-Journey.

- Guy Le Strange, History of Jerusalem Under the Muslims, (From A.


D. 650 to 1500), 1890

"... The Al-Buraq [Wailing] Wall belongs to the Muslims alone. This is
not my personal view, but rather, that of Islam."

- Sheikh Sabri (Voice of Palestine, June 12, translated by MEMRI).


The Wailing or Western Wall, a Herodian retaining wall of the Temple
Mount, predates the birth of Islam by several centuries.

I often hear accusations that Israel is 'Judaizing' Jerusalem. Are


the Jews a majority in Jerusalem, and is this a contemporary
phenomenon?

● "The sedentary population of Jerusalem numbers about 15,500 souls,


of whom 4,000 are Mussulmans [Muslims] and 8,000 Jews. ...[the]
Mussulmans, forming about a fourth of the population [are not a
uniform group, as they are] consisting of Turks, Arabs and Moors."

- Karl Marx, 1854, quoted in Karl Marx and Jerusalem, by Shlomo


Avineri, The Jerusalem Post, Sept 4 2000

"What is the population at present?" asked Will.

"It is variously estimated," said Mr. Crunden. "No


accurate census has been taken, and we have to
estimate. Ten years ago it was placed at from 25,000

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to 30,000. The Episcopal Bishop of Jerusalem now


estimates it at from 50,000 to 60,000. It has increased
rapidly of late years."

"Are the most of these Mohammedans?"

"No. The majority are Jews. The Mohammedans are


next in number. There are, however, perhaps 10,000
Christians, mostly Greeks, though there are many
Roman Catholics, several hundred Armenians, and
some Protestants."

- by B. W. Johnson, in Young Folks in Bible Lands: Chapter X, 1892

What is the status of Jerusalem in the Peace Talks? Shouldn't the


Jews just give the place to the Arabs if the Arabs promise Peace?

● "[The Arab] claim to lost fields cannot be elevated to national status.


They should not inherit Jerusalem for the same reason that Jews
failed to inherit Baghdad: Jerusalem stands for Jewish ideas and
Baghdad for Arab ideas."

- Avi Erlich, "Ancient Zionism"

● "the search for peace can only be hindered by raising utterly


unrealistic hopes about the future of Jerusalem among the
Palestinians and understandable fears among the Israeli population
that their capital city may once again be divided by cinder block and
barbed wire."

- SENATOR DANIEL PATRICK MOYNIHAN (D-NY) and 91 other


members of the Senate, March, 1995

● Jerusalem: A City Undivided


By Congressman Jim Saxton (R-NJ-03)
Chairman, House Task Force on Terrorism & Unconventional Warfare

During the Six Day War in 1967, the Israeli Defense Forces
confronted four Arab armies simultaneously: the Lebanese Army in
north, Syrians and Jordanians in the east and the Egyptians in the
south. The Israeli forces, under the commands of General Moshe
Dayan and General Yitzhak Rabin, not only defeated the multiple
armies, but they captured Judea and Samaria (the so-called "West
Bank"), the Golan Heights, the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip.

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They also established a security zone in Southern Lebanon to thwart


the Arab terrorist groups from infiltrating and shelling northern
Israel.

However, the most significant event of the Six Day War was the
capture of Jordanian-ruled eastern Jerusalem and the Western Wall
by Israeli Paratroopers. The Western Wall, a remain of the Second
Jewish Temple, is the holiest site on earth in the Jewish religion.

When Israeli forces liberated eastern Jerusalem exactly thirty years


ago this June 7th, a 1,900 year old yearning to regain control of their
holy capital finally came true for the Jewish people. For 3,000 years,
since King David declared it Judaism's eternal capital, Jerusalem has
been the focal point of the Jewish people. The name of Jerusalem
appears over 600 times in the Torah, Judaism's holiest book. And
Jews around the world face Jerusalem to pray three times a day. It is
often said that no other people on earth have such reverence for a
single city than the Jews have for Jerusalem.

It is therefore discouraging that some have taken the position that


Jerusalem should be redivided into "Eastern/Arab" and "Western/
Jewish" halves. By using the term "Arab East Jerusalem", some
media outlets have misled the American people about the reality of
Jerusalem's demographic and political status. First, the eastern
section of Jerusalem formerly occupied by the Jordanians is presently
majority Jewish. Second, there is also no such place as "East
Jerusalem". Jerusalem is one city, reunited and under one Israeli
rule. It is as ridiculous as if one were to say they lived in "Chinese
South New York" if they lived in Manhattan's Chinatown.

Moreover, the Jews of the Old City did not voluntarily leave eastern
Jerusalem, but were driven out or killed by Jordanian forces in
Israel's 1948 War of Independence. During nineteen years of
Jordanian occupation, Jordan had so little interest in Jerusalem that it
neglected to provide the city with even the most basic municipal
services, including electricity, plumbing, health care, or running
water. And not a single Arab leader visited Jerusalem during those
nineteen years. In fact, during the centuries of Muslim rule of the
city, Jerusalem was never made into a regional or provincial capital,
and no major institute of Islamic study was ever established there.
In addition, Jordan had no respect for the sanctity of the holy sites in
the city. For example, prior to Jordanian occupation, there were 58
synagogues in the Old City. All of these synagogues were
systematically destroyed by the Jordanian Army. The Jordanians
went so far as to tear up the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount
of Olives, using the tombstones (including the tombstone of
Hadassah founder Henrietta Szold) to pave roads and build latrines

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in Jordanian Army barracks. It goes without saying that Jews and


Christians were completely denied access to their holy sites.

Jews have inhabited Jerusalem, uninterrupted, for 3,000 years, far


longer than any other people. Since Jewish rule in the city, Jerusalem
has been open to all faiths, holy sites of Christianity and Islam are
protected, and the right to worship is maintained. For these reasons,
I I am opposed to any "redivision" of Jerusalem. Rather, it is my
hope that all of Jerusalem will remain, peacefully, in Israeli hands for
at least the next 3,000 years.

● England, of course knew of the Holocaust and mass killings in 1941


as well as all the discriminations, theft, sterilizations, Euthansaia
killings, medical experiments and concentration camp murders that
began in 1933 and did nothing about any of it. Nor would they bomb
the camps railway systems to save Jews or allow them to emigrate to
Palestine or anywhere else. After the war, Jews were again put in
British concentration camps to prevent entry to Israel, and the
British along with the Vatican took Nazi gold, and allowed the
murderers to escape; allowed the slave labor companies who worked
to death 14millions or led to the gas chambers, not to have to pay
any penalties or compensate survivors. And Britian has until last year
negated any relationship to the Holocaust. Then a conference on Nazi
gold and an offer of a few $millions as part of a fund. Yet Britian is
leading the charge to divide Jerusalem, as well as the Vatican, whose
bank helped fund Hitler and this Vatican helped the murderers to
escape and this Vatican sits on $millions of Jewish Torahs, holybooks
and artifacts to this day that was stolen and nothing returned to the
Jewish community ,while making a half-hearted, too little too ,late
statement on its role in the Holocaust, while ignoring its role with a
Catholic Hitler.

Today over 50,000 New Nazi attacks in Germany alone since


runification in 1990 and nothing from our leaders. Meanwhile the
deathcamps in Germany are experiencing the same outrage as at
Auschwitz and not a word from our leaders, while the very same
countries mum aout the Holocaust and their role in it, are the very
ones supporting a murderer like Arafat to have his state still
committed to the destruction of the Jews, with Jerusalem as its
capitol.

Of course, no Jew says to Arafat to give up Mecca for Peace, but to


lose Jerusalem, like Auschwitz is no Big Deal anymore than the
Holocaust was any Big Deal to them either. With supposed "Peace"
comes "Prosperity" and their only definition is the' bank accounts 'to
begin with.

It's amazing to watch the Palestinians fight for sand and then watch

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todays Jews ignoring completely exactly why Jews were persecuted


and murdered to be 'next year in Jerusalem'.

- Bob Kunst, Shalom International

● The very nations that have criticized Israel for reunifying Jerusalem
and who demand internationalization of the city would never permit
any such decision or denial of sovereignty with respect to their own
historic capitals.

- by A. Roy and Alice Eckardt in "AGAIN, SILENCE IN THE


CHURCHES", The Christian Century, August 2, 1967

What has been the Arab policy regarding access by Christians


and Jews to sites which Muslims consider holy?

● They have always been much averse to having Christians visit their
holy places. Up to this time no one has visited Mecca or Medina
unless he was in disguise and passed himself off as a Mohammedan.
For a long time Christians were not allowed to visit the "Harem Esh
Sheriff," and still they refuse to all them to enter the mosque at
Hebron which stands over the Cave of Macpelah. where Abraham and
the patriarchs were buried. But the pressure of the European powers
has forced the Turks to give orders to admit visitors, under certain
restrictions, to the site of the Temple. We found it necessary to
secure permission to make this visit through the U.S. Consul, and to
go under the protection of an officer sent from his office, called a
Cavass.

- by B. W. Johnson, in Young Folks in Bible Lands: Chapter X, 1892

The Arabs occupied part of Jerusalem for 19 years between 1948


and 1967. Wasn't this the only time when all peoples and all faiths
had free access to their holy sites, which were respected by the
authorities at the time?

● In 1990, liturgical church leaders in Jerusalem remarked that "the


integrity, cultural and religious autonomy of the Christian, Armenian
and Moslem Quarters of the Holy City" had been "honored by all
previous rulers of Jerusalem". History reveals that it was terrible for
the Jews and not at all good for Christians under Jordanian Moslem
rule. The church leaders did not mention the integrity of the Jewish

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quarter, because it was destroyed. After 1948, the Jordanians


attempted to obliterate the Jewish presence and signs of Jewish
identity from the Old City, including the destruction of 53 synagogues
along with Jewish academies and libraries. They built a road through
the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, and used Jewish
gravestones as paving material and lavatory seats in Jordanian
camps. The Jordanians even evicted the Jewish residents of the Old
City and subsequently prevented Jews and Israeli Moslems from
entering the Old City to pray at their respective holy sites. As for the
Christians, in 1965, a Jordanian ordinance was enacted curtailing the
further acquisition of land or property by Christian institutions in
Jerusalem. Prior to this, Christian schools had to be closed on Fridays
(the Moslem holy day), and they were required to have their
Christian students taught the Koran by Moslem teachers. Mosques
were built next to churches to prevent the expansion of the Christian
churches. Even the members of the Order of the Church of the Holy
Sepulcher were ordered to become Jordanian citizens in a law passed
in 1958, although they had maintained their Greek citizenship since
the Order was founded in the 5th century.

Bridges for Peace


International Headquarters
Jerusalem, Israel

● Thousands of Jews lived in what Arab spokesmen now call


"traditionally Arab East Jerusalem" until Israel's independence in
1948. Actually, "East Jerusalem" only existed for 19 years, from
1948-1967, when Jordan saw to it that the part of the Holy City
under their control stayed Judenrein, including the Western Wall.

Of course, Jerusalem cannot be viewed from a purely prosaic


statistical vantage point, or merely in the modern context. The city's
meaning for mankind goes back 3,000 years to King David, who
made it Israel's capital. Its influence radiated worldwide on religion,
civilization, culture and history.

As part of Israel and Judea, it was home to kings, priests and


prophets, warriors, poets and the sages of the Sanhedrin.

The Roman writer Pliny the Elder described Jerusalem in Second


Temple times as, "the most illustrious city of the East by far, not
merely of Judea".

Jerusalem particularly influenced both Christianity and Islam. Jesus


was a Jew preaching to Jews in Jerusalem. Scriptures revered by
Christians refer to the sanctity of Jerusalem in a Jewish context.

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This is less well known for Islam; yet, Mohammed originally ordained
prayer in the direction of Jerusalem. He subsequently changed it to
Mecca, separating his new faith from Judaism.

After the Arab-Moslem conquest, Moslems absorbed many Jewish


traditions relating to Jerusalem and the Temple (mentioned in the
Koran 17:7). The usual Arab names for the city today, al-Kuds and
Bayt al-Makdis, derive from Jewish tradition. They are adaptations of
the Hebrew names Hakodesh and Beit Hamikdash, referring to
holiness, the Temple, and Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is thus essentially Jewish, both in its meaning for world


history and on the mundane, numerical plane. Even "East Jerusalem"
now has a Jewish majority. BUT the fact of Jewish residence
throughout the city before 1948 has been obscured since then.
Before 1914, Jews lived in various quarters of the Old City, and
outside the walls, both "east" and "west". Jewish homes clustered
around Simon's Tomb north of Orient House, and the American
Colony Hotel. The Eshel Abraham neighborhood faced Damascus
Gate. Other Jews lived in Silwan and on the Mount of Olives.

However, under British rule Arab pogroms drove Jews out of Eshel
Abraham (1929), Silwan (1929, 1938), and the Old City quarters
other than the Jewish Quarter (1920, 1929, 1936-38). Arabs
performed "ethnic cleansing" with British acquiescence, in 1938
driving Jews out of Batei Sham'a (today the Cinematheque) and the
Beit Yosef quarter (1929).

Whereas the latter two areas came under Israeli control in 1948,
Arabs drove all Jews out of Arab-occupied areas (the Jewish Quarter,
Neveh Ya'acov, the neighborhood of Simon's Tomb). Jews were
forbidden to live anywhere in Jordan.

Marx wrote that "Turks, Arabs, and Moors" were about a fourth of
the city's population, but "masters in every respect". Judging by
statements made by Arab leaders, it seems some Moslems want to
rule here again, despite their minority status. Curiously, some
Christians support them.

Perhaps they think like Jerome, the Church Father, who wrote about
the Jews of his time who were not allowed to reside in Jerusalem and
came to lament its ruins: "The children of this wretched nation... are
not worthy of compassion".

(c) Jerusalem Post 1997

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Are the Arabs more tolerant now about the sacred places of other
people?

● "Just as Jews can't come to the Ka'aba in Mecca, they can't come to
the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and the Temple Mount in
Jerusalem. These are holy Islamic places."

- Palestinian Legislative Council member Ra'fat Al-Najjar (IMRA,


June 12). Editor's note: the Temple Mount and the Cave of the
Patriarchs are the two most sacred sites for Jews.

● "... the Western Wall is not associated with the remains of the Jewish
Temple ... the Western Wall is part of the Al Aqsa Mosque complex.
When Mohammed took his horse to Jerusalem ... he tied it to the
Western Wall before he ascended into heaven."

- Israeli Knesset member Abdul Malik Dahamshe of the


Democratic Arab Party (IMRA, March 24)

What is the view of the Christian masses regarding Jerusalem


under Israel's administration?

● WITHOUT JERUSALEM

The hullabaloo world-wide over Israel's decision to build a housing


project in its capital city should send an urgent warning to Israel's
political leaders. They and their predecessors have persistently failed
to confront the part played by the Christian world, not to mention
traditional anti-Semitism, in supporting the Muslim Arabs' monstrous
claim to "ownership" of Jerusalem.

One of the great changes effected by the rise of Zionism, and


accelerated by the establishment of the Jewish state, was the
transference, by and large, of the thrust of anti-Semitism from the
individual Jew as a non-person to the Jew as an equal, with a
national state like everybody else. Most actively hostile has been the
Catholic church, for whom the central element in the situation
created by restored Jewish sovereignty has been the fear of Jewish
dominion over Jerusalem. It is a real and understandable fear. Jewish
rule over the Christian holy places constitutes a direct challenge to
the assertion that (because of the Jews' rejection of Jesus) no Jewish

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polity would or could ever arise again in Jerusalem. If, as in 1967,


the church found itself confronted by actual Jewish rule in Jerusalem,
it has naturally sought ways to break that hold. This does not mean
that other Christian denominations have not been similarly guilty.
But a vast gulf separates the religious establishment from the lay
masses. Indeed, among Israel's good friends are devout Christians of
all denominations.

This generation, moreover, has seen the growth of a great


movement in non-mainstream Christianity which has become a
redoubtable ally in Israel's struggle with its many enemies. It does
not, however, command the corridors of power. On the morrow of
the Holocaust, the Christian nations, among them those who had
refused to help save Jews who could have been saved from the Nazi
inferno, agreed at the newly formed UN to sponsor the establishment
of a tiny Jewish state in a part of Palestine. Excluded from the
envisaged sovereignty was the city of Jerusalem, the time- hallowed
capital of the Jewish people. It was to be "internationalised".

Through successive vicissitudes, and as a result of a defeated Arab


aggression, Israel finally gained control of its ancient capital. Most of
the Christian governments, admittedly following the lead of the
American government, refused and continue to refuse to recognise
Israel's right to Jerusalem. They all know the Bible, which
dramatically records the centrality of the city throughout Jewish
history; which reflects its passionate relationship, going back 3,000
years, not only with the Jewish nation, but with the Jewish individual.
Yet neither the Bible nor the modern mandate for Palestine which
reaffirmed that unique historic connection in legal terms; neither
logic, nor common decency, nor even now in the US the decision of
the legislature to transfer its embassy to Israel's capital has been
strong enough to overcome the prejudice of executive government.
The most brilliant manoeuvre of the US and European governments
in promoting their own prejudice has been simply to ignore the
unimpeachable Jewish truth, and to embrace the fantastic hoax of a
Muslim religious overruling right and an Arab overruling political
claim. They have actively collaborated with the Arabs in injecting a
flagrantly rootless mendacity into ongoing history which, they insist,
must supersede the Jewish truth. It was an American president who,
when Israel had regained the Old City of Jerusalem from the
Jordanians, described it as "occupied Arab territory".

Persistent propaganda has widely planted the notion that Jerusalem


is "a city holy to three faiths". Even the pope recently repeated this
grotesque untruth. Nobody, from calculating politicians and
tendentious media down to the last Arab propagandist, has been able
to produce a single text in the Koran containing even a mention of
Jerusalem's name; nor any happening in history since then, to accord
the remotest justification for this claim. Without Jerusalem not an

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iota would be changed in the texture of Islam, or in the personal life


of the Arab or any other Muslim. He would continue to pray in the
direction of Mecca, as he has always done. But can you imagine
Christianity without Jerusalem? Can one even conceive Judaism, or
the daily life of any conscious Jew, if his Jerusalem were removed
from his orbit? The enormity of the sin envisaged by the Christian
collaborators of the Muslim was reflected in the pithy summing up by
the British (Christian) writer and historian, Christopher Sykes: "To
the Muslims," he wrote "it is not Jerusalem but a certain site in
Jerusalem, which is venerated ... To a Muslim, there is a profound
difference between Jerusalem and Mecca or Medina. The latter are
holy places containing holy sites. Apart from the hallowed rock,
Jerusalem has no major Islamic significance."

It is often suggested that the US promotion of the Arab-Muslim claim


was born of the usual moral considerations petrodollars, oil, markets.
This, however, does not tell the whole story. There is much earlier
testimony which must be recalled. When in 1917, the British issued
the Balfour Declaration and asked US President Wilson to subscribe
to it, he was advised by secretary of state Robert Lansing not to do
so: "Many Christian sects and individuals would undoubtedly resent
turning the Holy Land over to the absolute control of the race
credited with the death of Christ ..." It is not enough for Israel to
reassert its exclusive sovereignty in Jerusalem. What our
government must make clear is its absolute refusal to countenance
any interference in the execution of that right no less than the US in
Washington, the UK in London, or Saudi Arabia in Riyadh or Mecca.

- Shmuel Katz, writer and historian, from the International Christian


Embassy in Jerusalem

Didn't Israel cut that tunnel, in 1996, right under some Islamic holy
site, causing riots and bloodshed?

● The Israelis, of course, did not build a tunnel (in September 1996);
they opened a new exit to an existing tunnel, parts of which were
more than two thousand years old. Other, modern sections of the
tourist tunnel had been open for more than a decade.

The Israelis did not build under any structure; the tunnel runs along
the outer, Western wall of the Temple Mount. The opening of the new
door had no impact whatsoever on any structures and was,
moreover, several blocks away from Muslim shrines, none of which
suffered the slightest effects from Israel's action.

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The Israelis did not harm any sites holy to Arabs. In claiming they
had, one repeats a false charge that had violent consequences when
it was used by Palestinian Authority and Islamic officials to incite
Arab anger during the 1996 crisis.

The number of Arabs killed in the subsequent rioting is put variously


at 58 to 70, and the number of Israelis killed at 15.

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