The Case of Jerusalem -- The Holy City 1

The Case of Jerusalem — The Holy City

Edi­tor’s Note : The mis­sion­ar­ies have pub­lished an arti­cle claim­ing that there is no sig­nif­i­cance between the holy city of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) with Islam, while at the same time dis­play­ing their Zion­ist ten­den­cies. We repub­lish an arti­cle from Israeli Watch which rebuts their fatu­ous claims and cements the rela­tion­ship between Islam and Al-Quds.

Last June, Israel cel­e­brat­ed Jerusalem Day to com­mem­o­rate its cap­ture of East Jerusalem 38 years ago. As one may recall in 1980, in vio­la­tion of the U.N. res­o­lu­tions, the Gov­ern­ment of Israel offi­cial­ly annexed the city and adjoin­ing areas in the West Bank of the Jor­dan Riv­er. The city remains the thorni­est and knot­ti­est issue fac­ing nego­tia­tors that will decide its final sta­tus in a future Pales­tin­ian state.

Since com­ing to pow­er in 2001, Prime Min­is­ter Sharon has issued orders for con­struct­ing new set­tle­ments around the occu­pied East Jerusalem. His defense force has also con­fis­cat­ed Palestinian?owned land for the con­struc­tion of Israel’s Apartheid Wall.http://​www​.coun​ter​cur​rents​.org/​p​a​-​p​m​c​150604​.​htm Many Mid­dle-East experts sus­pect, and prob­a­bly right­ly so, that his recent uni­lat­er­al ?dis­en­gage­ment ? or with­draw­al from the Gaza Strip, after some 38 years of ille­gal occu­pa­tion, is ill-moti­vat­ed and is only a smoke­screen to deny the Pales­tin­ian Author­i­ty — in future nego­ti­a­tions — any claim to East Jerusalem as its capital.

Accord­ing to Yossin Beilin, head of Israel’s left-wing Yachad Par­ty, since the Intifadah of Sep­tem­ber 2000, near­ly 1200 Israeli Jews have moved into the pre­dom­i­nant­ly Pales­tin­ian parts of east­ern Jerusalem.

All these activ­i­ties are in vio­la­tions of UN Res­o­lu­tions and Pres­i­dent Bush’s Roadmap”. How­ev­er, the Bush Admin­is­tra­tion will not take Sharon to task for such non-com­pli­ance, and the lat­ter knows it very well. That is why he is so bold with all his war crimes — from his geno­ci­dal activ­i­ties in Jenin to extra-judi­cial killings of lead­ers and mem­bers of Pales­tin­ian resistance.

Sharon cre­ates the impres­sion that he is not ready to go back to the pre-1967 bor­der and wants to hold on to East Jerusalem by hook or by crook. He wants to make sure that Pales­tini­ans are removed out of Jerusalem and its envi­rons so that the demog­ra­phy of the Holy Land is altered before any seri­ous nego­ti­a­tion resume on the final sta­tus of Jerusalem. This is also the posi­tion sug­gest­ed by the orga­niz­ers of the Jerusalem Sum­mit and oth­er Zion­ist lead­ers. For instance, Mar­tin Sher­man, the Aca­d­e­m­ic Direc­tor to the Jerusalem Sum­mit and a Polit­i­cal Sci­ence lec­tur­er at the Tel Aviv Uni­ver­si­ty recent­ly ?rede­fined ? the Pales­tin­ian prob­lem by sug­gest­ing that ?gen­er­ous ? sums of mon­ey be paid to the Pales­tini­ans so as to relo­cate and reset­tle them else­where in Arab/​Muslim world. What a bril­liant” and benev­o­lent” way of cleans­ing Pales­tini­ans from their ances­tral land ! To these hawks : Jerusalem is Israel’s eter­nal cap­i­tal and Jews should rule an undi­vid­ed Jerusalem.”

So, how does Israel prove its her­itage to a city ? Arche­ol­o­gy is a means. Years of exca­va­tion in Arab East Jerusalem in the post-1967 era by Dame Kath­leen Keny­on, Ben­jamin Mazar and Meir Ben-Dove, how­ev­er, did not unearth any traces of Jew­ish exis­tence from the so-called Tem­ple Mount Era”. Much to their embar­rass­ment what sur­faced were more Mus­lim palaces, courts and mosques, and ruins belong­ing to the Romans, Greeks and Canaan­ites. The exca­va­tions, clan­des­tine and overt, under­neath the Haram al-Sharif (the so-called Tem­ple Mount) are weak­en­ing the very foun­da­tion of two of the holi­est Mus­lim shrines. Should those shrines cave in and col­lapse, I am not sure if many Israelis and their friends real­ize the ensu­ing reper­cus­sion, enough to pale all the wars human­i­ty has seen before. I only pray and hope that we nev­er see such a human catastrophe.

Anoth­er tech­nique employed is : manip­u­la­tion of his­to­ry. A clas­sic exam­ple is the Israeli-spon­sored ?Jerusalem 3000 ? cel­e­bra­tion in 1998. This was aimed at advo­cat­ing the myth that Jerusalem?s his­to­ry began 3000 years ago with David, rather than some 5000 years ago, as the arche­ol­o­gists con­cur. Fol­low­ing the foot­steps of ear­ly Zion­ists who will­ful­ly trans­formed” Pales­tine into a his­tor­i­cal and geo­graph­i­cal desert with pro­pa­gan­das like Give a coun­try with­out a peo­ple to a peo­ple with­out a coun­try,” today’s Zion­ists are also spread­ing the myth that pol­i­tics, not reli­gious sen­si­bil­i­ty, has fueled the Mus­lim attach­ment to Jerusalem for near­ly four­teen cen­turies” or that Jerusalem was nev­er impor­tant” to Mus­lims, and that dur­ing the Mus­lim rule it declined to the point of becom­ing a sham­bles”. Anoth­er tech­nique in prov­ing her­itage is find­ing jus­ti­fi­ca­tion through theology.

In what fol­lows, we shall study these hypotheses.


Jerusalem has been the sub­ject of immense inter­est through­out his­to­ry. It embod­ies sacred mem­o­ries of the Prophets of Judaism, Chris­tian­i­ty and Islam. It is here that all the three Semit­ic reli­gions of the world played vital roles at dif­fer­ent junc­tures in the his­to­ry of mankind. For twelve cen­turies, under Mus­lim rule (6361917 CE, except a cen­tu­ry of Chris­t­ian rule), Jerusalem has been an oasis of peace and tran­quil­i­ty. Yet, begin­ning in 1948, we wit­ness a change of a major dimen­sion, a con­spir­a­cy that cul­mi­nat­ed in the estab­lish­ment of a Zion­ist state in Pales­tine ignor­ing the rights of its over­whelm­ing Mus­lim major­i­ty. This event has been respon­si­ble for much blood­shed to sub­se­quent­ly fol­low among the chil­dren and heirs to the Abra­ham­ic heritage.

Jerusalem is very dear and sacred to Mus­lims for a num­ber of reasons.

The Holy Qur’an refers to Jerusalem in con­nec­tion with Prophet Muham­mad’s (sal­lal-lahu alayh wa-as-salam : bless­ings of Allah and peace be upon him) Isra’ and Mi’raj in the fol­low­ing vers­es : Glo­ry be to Him who did take His ser­vant for a jour­ney by night from the Masjid Al-Haram (Sacred Mosque) to the Masjid Al-Aqsa (Far­thest Mosque) whose precincts We did bless, in order that We might show him some of Our signs. He (Allah) is the One who hears and sees all things.“Qur’an 17:1 (The masjid in Jerusalem was called the far­thest mosque because it was the far­thest mosque known to the Arabs dur­ing the Prophet’s time.) Accord­ing to most com­men­ta­tors of the Qur’an, this event of Isra’ and Mi’raj took place in the year before the Hijra (Prophet’s migra­tion to Mad­i­na). The hadith lit­er­a­ture gives details of this jour­ney. To Mus­lims, the event is viewed as pass­ing of the spir­i­tu­al baton.

As has been point­ed out by Pro­fes­sor Walid Kha­li­di in his 1996 address at the Jerusalem Con­fer­ence of the Amer­i­can Com­mit­tee on Jerusalem, The Prophet’s isra to and mi’raj from Jerusalem became the source of inspi­ra­tion of a vast body of devo­tion­al Mus­lim lit­er­a­ture, as suc­ces­sive gen­er­a­tions of Tra­di­tion­ists, Koran­ic com­men­ta­tors, the­olo­gians, and mys­tics added their gloss­es and embell­ish­ments. In this lit­er­a­ture, in which the Prophet is made to describe his vis­its to Hell and Par­adise, Jerusalem lies at the cen­ter of Mus­lims beliefs, lit­er­al and alle­gor­i­cal, con­cern­ing life beyond the grave. This lit­er­a­ture is in cir­cu­la­tion to this day in all the lan­guages spo­ken by near­ly one bil­lion Mus­lims. To this day, too, the Night of the Mi’raj is annu­al­ly cel­e­brat­ed through­out the Mus­lim world.”

A par­tic­u­lar link also exists between Jerusalem and one of the five pil­lars” of Islam — the five dai­ly prayers (salat). Accord­ing to Mus­lim tra­di­tion, it was dur­ing the Prophet’s mi’raj that, after con­ver­sa­tions between the Prophet and Moses, the five dai­ly prayers observed through­out the Mus­lim world became canon­i­cal. Par­al­lel to this body of lit­er­a­ture con­cern­ing the isra and miraj is anoth­er vast cor­pus of devo­tion­al writ­ings con­cern­ing the Excel­len­cies” or Virtues” (fada’il) of Jerusalem.”

In the ear­ly stage of Islam, Jerusalem was the Qiblah towards which Mus­lims faced in their prayers. Lat­er, how­ev­er, they were instruct­ed by Allah to change their Qiblah to Makkah : So turn thy face toward the Masjid al-Haram, and ye (O Mus­lims), where­so­ev­er ye may be, turn your faces (when ye pray) toward it. Lo ! those who have received the Scrip­ture know that (this Rev­e­la­tion) is the Truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do.“Qur’an 2:144

With this change of Qiblah, Jerusalem did not lose its sacred­ness to Mus­lims though. It came to be known as Al-Quds (the sanc­tu­ary), al-Bayt al-Muqad­dis (i.e., the holy house), and al-Quds ash-Sharif (the holy and noble city).

Pre-Islam­ic Period

The mem­o­ran­dum of the Zion­ist Orga­ni­za­tion to the Peace Con­fer­ence in 1919 declared, This land is the his­toric’ home of the Jews”. By his­toric” they meant the right of the ?first occu­pi­er,? i.e., nobody inhab­it­ed the region pri­or to the Jews. Such an asser­tion, as we will see, is only a myth. For debunk­ing this myth of ?first occu­pi­er,? we shall exam­ine the Bible. The Book of Gen­e­sis says, And Ter­ah took Abram [refer­ring to prophet Abra­ham or Ibrahim (alay­hi-salaam)] his son, and Lot [refer­ring to Lut (AS)] the son of Ha?ran his son?s son, and Sa?rai his daugh­ter in law, his son Abram?s wife ; and they went out from Ur of Chaldeans in order to enter the land of Canaan.? [Gen. 11:31]; And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaan­ite was then in the land.” [Gen. 12:6] The vers­es 13:3 – 7 state that the Canaan­ite and the Per­izzite were already dwelling in the land when Abra­ham returned from Egypt to Bethel and set his tent between Bethel and Ha?i. Not only did the tribes with Abra­ham find the Canaan­ites but they also found the Hit­tites (around Hebron), the Ammonites (around Amman), the Moabites (to the east of the Dead Sea) and the Edomites (in the south-east). At the same time, there were arriv­ing from the Aegean Sea anoth­er peo­ple, the Philistines, who installed them­selves between Mount Carmel and the desert.

The Bible says that Jacob [Prophet Ya’aqub (P)], who is also known as Israel, set­tled in Sha’lem , a city of She’chem, which was in the land of Canaan (Gen. 33:18). There he erect­ed an altar and called it El-e-lohe-Israel. [Gen. 33:20]

The mod­ern-day Pales­tini­ans are, in deed, descend­ed from indige­nous Canaan­ite Jebusites who lived in Pales­tine at least 5000 years ago, from the Philistines (who gave the coun­try its name — Pales­tine, Ara­bic for Falastin), and from the Per­sians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and the Turks who suc­ces­sive­ly occu­pied the ter­ri­to­ry, fol­low­ing the Baby­lo­ni­ans, the Hit­tites, and the Egyp­tians. The ?first occu­piers ? are these inhab­i­tants who have inhab­it­ed the ter­ri­to­ry since the dawn of his­to­ry. And any ref­er­ence that the Pales­tini­ans are descen­dants of Mus­lim Arabs (from the time of Mus­lim con­quest of Jerusalem) is disin­gen­u­ous and is aimed at deny­ing their ances­tral tie to the land for five millennia.

The cur­rent mythol­o­gy to con­nect Prophet Dawud or David (P) with Jerusalem is a typ­i­cal exam­ple of dis­tort­ing his­to­ry. The name Jerusalem does not come from the Hebrew word shalom” mean­ing peace, but from Uru-shal­im, mean­ing the city or foun­da­tion of the (Canaan­ite Jebusite) god Shal­im, cit­ed in ancient Egypt­ian texts. It is these Jebusites who gave the name of the city some 2000 years before the time of David and Solomon.

Both the Qur’an and the so-called Old Tes­ta­ment men­tion that the chil­dren of Jacob [Ya’aqub (P)] set­tled in Egypt when Joseph [Yusuf (P)] was appoint­ed a Min­is­ter to the Pharaoh. Moses [Musa (P)], born in Egypt, was lat­er com­mand­ed by Allah to res­cue the Chil­dren of Israel from the Egypt­ian bondage and to set­tle them in the Sinai desert. Dur­ing the time of Moses, the holy land was denied to them due to their dis­obe­di­ence of the com­mand­ments of Allah (see the Book of Deuteronomy).

From the accounts in the Bible, it is clear that the Chil­dren of Israel did not estab­lish them­selves in the Holy Land until around 1004 BCE when David [Dawud (AS)] of the tribe of Judah defeat­ed the Jebusites to found a king­dom there. He cre­at­ed a mul­ti-nation­al state, embrac­ing peo­ples of dif­fer­ent reli­gions. His own ances­tress Ruth was a Moabite. His son Solomon [Sulay­man (AS)], who suc­ceed­ed the throne, was born of a Hit­tite moth­er. Solomon, like his father, main­tained the mul­ti-nation­al char­ac­ter­is­tics of his régime. He built a stone tem­ple, com­mon­ly known as the Tem­ple of Solomon, as a ges­ture of his thanks to Allah (YHWH).

After Solomon?s death, the king­dom got divid­ed into two ? the King­dom of Israel in the north (com­pris­ing the ten tribes) with the cap­i­tal in Samaria, and the King­dom of Judah in the south (com­pris­ing the two tribes) with cap­i­tal in Jerusalem. In 722 – 721 BCE, the King­dom of Israel was invad­ed by the Assyr­i­ans and its peo­ple scat­tered, who came to be known as the ?Ten lost tribes of Israel.? In 586 BCE, the Baby­lo­ni­ans under the lead­er­ship of King Neb­uchad­nez­zar annexed the south­ern king­dom of Judah. The country?s nota­bles were exiled to Baby­lon. Jerusalem was rav­aged to the ground, along with its tem­ple and for­ti­fi­ca­tions. When Emper­or Cyrus (Dhul Qar­nain of the Qur’an) of Per­sia defeat­ed the Baby­lo­ni­ans in 538 – 537 BCE, he let the exiles to return to Jerusalem. Many Jews, how­ev­er, pre­ferred to remain in more pros­per­ous Babylon.

His­to­ry is scant and dubi­ous before Alexander?s peace­ful entry into Jerusalem in 332 BCE, but it suf­fered heav­i­ly under the Per­sians and the tem­ple — rebuilt under Ezra (Uza­yr) and Nehemi­ah about 515 BCE — might have been destroyed dur­ing Artax­erx­es’s régime. In 320 BCE, Ptole­my I of Egypt par­tial­ly demol­ished the for­ti­fi­ca­tions that remained in ruins until their restora­tion by Simon II in 219 BCE After a series of strug­gles between the Ptolemies and Seleu­cids, the lat­ter obtained the city by a treaty in 197 BCE. The tem­ple was total­ly Hel­l­enized, i.e., turned into a hea­then idol-tem­ple, by Anti­ochus Epiphanes in 167 BCE.

Next we come to the peri­od of the Mac­cabean revolt. After a twen­ty years ? strug­gle, the Mac­cabees were able to form the Has­monean dynasty in 164 BCE. This broke up owing to inter­nal con­flicts and in 63 BCE Roman Gen­er­al Pom­pey was able to con­quer Pales­tine, which first became a vas­sal monar­chy under Herod, and then a Roman province.

Under Herod, Jerusalem was rebuilt and the sec­ond tem­ple (known as the Tem­ple of Zeruba­bel) elab­o­rat­ed (from 17 BCE to 29 CE). How­ev­er, dur­ing the failed revolt (6670 CE) by the Hebrews, the city was block­ad­ed by Roman Gen­er­al Titus who com­plete­ly razed it to the ground and burned the tem­ple in 70 CE on the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Ab, the very month and day on which 657 years ear­li­er Neb­uchad­nez­zar had razed the first Tem­ple. (The Qur’an briefly men­tions these two destruc­tions of the Tem­ple in Surah 17:4 – 7.) The Jew­ish inhab­i­tants were exiled or sold into slav­ery. After the failed sec­ond revolt (132 CE), led by Bar Koch­ba, the city was renamed Aelia Capi­toli­na in 135 CE and Jews were banned from enter­ing the city. And since then Jews grad­u­al­ly moved away from Palestine.

In 326 CE, Emper­or Con­stan­tine the great ordered the build­ing of the Church of Holy Sep­ul­cher in Aelia. In 614 – 615 CE Khoshru II of Per­sia cap­tured the city by defeat­ing the Roman (Byzan­tine) Chris­tians, men­tion of which is avail­able in the Qur’an 30:2 – 3 : ?The Romans have been defeat­ed in a land close by : but they, (even) after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be vic­to­ri­ous with­in a few years, with Allah is the com­mand in the past and in the future : on that day shall the believ­ers rejoice.? His forces destroyed many build­ings. Just as the Qur’an had proph­e­sied, the Romans defeat­ed the Per­sians in 628 C.E, under Her­a­clius, and reen­tered Aelia.

Mus­lim Period

In 636 CE, at the bat­tle of Yarmuk, the Byzan­tines were defeat­ed by the Mus­lim Army, led by Amr ibn al-?As (R). Patri­arch Sophoro­nius offered to sur­ren­der the city if Khal­i­fa Umar ibn al-Khat­tab (R) him­self would come in per­son to rat­i­fy the terms of sur­ren­der. The encounter between these two men was very dra­mat­ic. In the words of a Chris­t­ian his­to­ri­an, Antho­ny Nut­ting, ?Umar taught the caparisoned throng of Chris­t­ian com­man­ders and bish­ops a les­son in humil­i­ty by accept­ing their sur­ren­der in a patched and ragged robe and seat­ed on a don­key.? [The Arabs, New Amer­i­can Library, N.Y. (1964)]

The terms of the sur­ren­der were : ?Bis­mil­lahir Rah­ma­neer Raheem (In the name of Allah, Most Gra­cious, Most Mer­ci­ful). This is a covenant which Umar, the ser­vant of Allah, the Amir (Leader) of the faith­ful believ­ers, grant­ed the peo­ple of Aelia. He grant­ed them safe­ty for their lives, their pos­ses­sions, their church­es and their cross­es. They shall not be con­strained in the mat­ter of their reli­gion, nor shall any of them be molest­ed. ? Who­ev­er leaves the city shall be safe in his per­son and his prop­er­ty until he reach­es his destination.?

Umar (R) thus pledged secu­ri­ty of the lives, prop­er­ties, church­es and free­dom of wor­ship of the city?s Chris­t­ian inhab­i­tants. These pledges came to be knows as the Covenant of Umar, which estab­lished the stan­dard of con­duct vis-a-vis the non-Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion of Jerusalem for sub­se­quent gen­er­a­tions and specif­i­cal­ly for the two sub­se­quent Mus­lim con­querors of Jerusalem : Sal­adin (1187) and the Ottoman Sul­tan Selim (1516).

When Umar (R) entered Jerusalem what is now known in the West as the Tem­ple Mount lay vacant. The Chris­t­ian Byzan­tines had used it as a garbage dump. But to the Mus­lims it con­tained the Rock hal­lowed by the Prophet Muhammad?s (S) Isra ? and Mi?raj (the Prophet?s night­ly jour­ney to Jerusalem and ascen­sion to heav­en). Accord­ing to the Mus­lim chron­i­clers, Umar?s (R) next con­cern was to iden­ti­fy that Rock. Sophoro­nius guid­ed him to a spot, which by then had no traces of its Jew­ish past. Because of high rev­er­ence for the place, Umar (R), the Amir­ul Mu?meneen, him­self start­ed clean­ing it in per­son, car­ry­ing dirt in his own robe. His entourage and army fol­lowed suit until the whole area was cleaned. He direct­ed that no prayers be held on or near it until the place has been washed by rain three times. His entourage then sprin­kled the place with scent. Umar (R) then led the Mus­lims in prayer on a clean spot to the south. Foun­da­tion of a mosque was erect­ed on the spot and this is the Al-Aqsa mosque, revered by Mus­lims as one of the three most sacred mosques on earth.

In the Jew­ish apoc­a­lyp­tic lit­er­a­ture of the time, Umar?s (R) cap­ture of Jerusalem was seen as an act of redemp­tion from the Byzan­tines. It is worth­while men­tion­ing here (as has also been rec­og­nized by Jew­ish his­to­ri­an Moshe Gil) that it was not until 638 CE that a Jew­ish quar­ter would be assigned in the city — since the days of the sec­ond Jew­ish Revolt some five hun­dred years ago — when Mus­lims invit­ed Jew­ish fam­i­lies to reside there.

The most obvi­ous reflec­tion of Islam?s rev­er­ence for Jerusalem is in its archi­tec­ture. Dur­ing the Umayyad rule (660750 CE) Jerusalem flour­ished to become a major city, and from this peri­od, impor­tant build­ings sur­vive. The Umayyad Khal­i­fa Al Walid lat­er com­plet­ed the con­struc­tion of the al-Aqsa mosque in 715 CE. His father Caliph Abdul Malik bin-Mar­wan con­struct­ed the ?Dome of the Rock ? ? Masjid al Quba as-Sakhra (vis­i­ble with gold dome) on the Haram al-.Sharif ear­li­er in 688 – 691 CE (6871 AH). These two mosques became essen­tial­ly the most vis­it­ed mosques in the entire Mus­lim world out­side the Ka?ba and Masjid an-Nabi in Ara­bia, and grace the city of Jerusalem to this very day.

In 728 CE the cupo­la over the Al-Aqsa Mosque was erect­ed, the same being restored in 758 – 75 by the Abbasid Khal­i­fa Al-Mah­di. In 831 Khal­i­fa Al-Ma?mun restored the Dome of the Rock and built the octag­o­nal wall. In 1016 the Dome was part­ly destroyed by earth­quakes ; but it was repaired in 1022.

As part of his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ism, some Ori­en­tal­ists, such as John Wans­brough, and Likudnik/​Zionist his­to­ri­ans have opined that Muhammad?s (S) night jour­ney to Jerusalem — the Isra’ and Mi’raj, one of the prin­ci­pal foun­da­tions of Jerusalem?s sanc­ti­ty in Islam — was a lat­er inven­tion aimed at account­ing for the Qur’an­ic verse 17:1. Oth­ers, such as Patri­cia Crone, have pro­posed that Jerusalem was in fact the orig­i­nal Islam­ic holy city, and that the sanc­ti­ty of Makkah and Mad­i­nah was a lat­er inno­va­tion. Nei­ther of these ludi­crous the­o­ries enjoys much accep­tance (out­side die-hard Zion­ists), least of all among Muslims.

Dur­ing the Abbasid rule (750969 CE) Jerusalem became a reli­gious focal point for Chris­t­ian and Jew­ish pil­grims and Sufi Mus­lims. The vast major­i­ty of its inhab­i­tants were Mus­lims. It remained under Mus­lim con­trol until the first Cru­sade (1099). Except­ing a brief peri­od dur­ing Fatimid caliph (insane) al-Hakim?s rule (9961021), there was no reli­gious per­se­cu­tion of minorities.

In Novem­ber 1095, Pope Urban II deliv­ered a speech at Clare­mont, France, which can only be described as the vilest and most spite­ful speech of the Mid­dle Ages, respon­si­ble for ini­ti­at­ing the nev­er-end­ing Cru­sade. He said : O race of Franks ! race beloved and cho­sen by God ! From the con­fines of Jerusalem and from Con­stan­tino­ple a griev­ous report has gone forth that an accursed race, whol­ly alien­at­ed from God, has vio­lent­ly invad­ed the lands of these Chris­tians, and depop­u­lat­ed them by pil­lage and fire. The king­dom of Greeks is now dis­mem­bered by them, and has been deprived of ter­ri­to­ry so vast in extent that it could not be tra­versed in two months’ time.

On whom, then, rests the labor of aveng­ing these wrongs, and of recov­er­ing this ter­ri­to­ry, if not upon you — you upon whom, above all oth­ers, God has con­ferred remark­able glo­ry in arms, great brav­ery, and strength to hum­ble the heads of those whom resist you ? Let none of your pos­ses­sions keep you back, nor anx­i­ety for your fam­i­ly affairs. For this land which you now inhab­it, shut in all sides by the sea and the moun­tain peaks, is too nar­row for your large pop­u­la­tion ; it scarce­ly fur­nish­es food enough for its cul­ti­va­tors. Hence it is that you mur­der and devour one anoth­er, that you wage wars, and that many among you per­ish in civ­il strife.

Let hatred, there­fore, depart from among you ; let your quar­rels end. Enter upon the road to the Holy Sepul­chre ; wrest that land from a wicked race, and sub­ject it to yourselves.

Jerusalem is a land fruit­ful above all oth­ers, a par­adise of delights. That roy­al city, sit­u­at­ed at the cen­ter of the earth, implores you to come to her aid. Under­take this jour­ney eager­ly for the remis­sion of your sins, and be assured of the reward of imper­ish­able glo­ry in the king­dom of Heaven.”

With that dele­te­ri­ous speech, the Pope aroused Chris­tians to recap­ture Jerusalem from Mus­lims. On 1099 CE the Cru­saders entered the city and began one of the blood­i­est and crud­est mas­sacres in his­to­ry. Accord­ing to Ibn al-Athir some 70,000 Mus­lims were slaugh­tered in Masjid al-Aqsa alone, all of them non-com­bat­ants, some of them Imams and pro­fes­sors of theology.

Ray­mond d’Aguiliers, chap­lain to Ray­mond de Saint-Gilles, Count of Toulouse, wrote : ?Piles of heads, hands, and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was nec­es­sary to pick one?s way over the bod­ies of men and hors­es. But these were small mat­ters com­pared to what hap­pened at the Tem­ple of Solomon, a place where reli­gious cer­e­monies were ordi­nar­i­ly chant­ed. What hap­pened there ? If I tell the truth, it will exceed your pow­ers of belief. So let it suf­fice to say this much, at least, that in the Tem­ple and porch of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bri­dle-reins. Indeed, it was a just and splen­did judg­ment of God that this place should be filled with the blood of unbe­liev­ers, since it had suf­fered so long from their blas­phemies. The city was filled with corpses and blood.?

Jerusalem became the cap­i­tal of the Latin King­dom under God­frey, Count of Bouil­lon, who changed the Al-Aqsa mosque into a church and erect­ed a big cross on top of the Dome of Rock. Mus­lims and Jews were banned from liv­ing in the city.

In 1187 Sul­tan Salahud­din (Sal­adin) Ayyu­bi (RA) lib­er­at­ed Jerusalem from the Cru­saders and restored the al-Aqsa mosque to its pre­vi­ous con­di­tion. Before lib­er­at­ing Jerusalem, Sal­adin wrote a let­ter to King Richard which sums up Mus­lim posi­tion vis-?-vis the sta­tus of the city. He wrote : ?Jerusalem is our her­itage as much as it is yours. It was from Jerusalem that our Prophet ascend­ed to heav­en and it is in Jerusalem that the angels assem­ble. Do not imag­ine that we can ever aban­don it. Nor can we pos­si­bly renounce our rights to it as a Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty. As for the land, your occu­pa­tion of it was acci­den­tal and came about because the Mus­lims who lived in the land at that time were weak. God will not enable you to build a sin­gle stone in the land so long as the war lasts.?

Com­par­ing Saladin?s behav­ior with those Chris­t­ian Cru­saders, the his­to­ri­an Antho­ny Nut­ting writes : ?Apart from restor­ing the holy places of Islam, Sal­adin allowed not a sin­gle build­ing to be touched. As Chris­t­ian his­to­ri­ans have attest­ed, strict orders were issued to all Mus­lim troops to pro­tect Chris­t­ian life and prop­er­ty and not a sin­gle Chris­t­ian was molest­ed on account of his reli­gion — a remark­able con­trast to the atroc­i­ties per­pe­trat­ed by the Franks eighty eight years before.? It is worth men­tion­ing here that while the Cru­saders, when they entered Jerusalem, burned Jews in their syn­a­gogue Salahud­din, after recov­er­ing the city, had allowed Jews to return.

Except­ing brief peri­ods between 1229 – 1239 and 1243 – 1244 when Jerusalem again fell in the hands of the Cru­saders (because of Mus­lim in-fight­ing), it remained a Mus­lim City through all its life. Reli­gious free­dom and rights of wor­ship by Chris­tians and Jews were respect­ed. In 1267 Rab­bi Moshe Ben Nah­man (Nah­manides) arrived from Spain, revived the Jew­ish con­gre­ga­tion and estab­lished a syn­a­gogue and cen­ter of learn­ing bear­ing his name. In 1448, Rab­bi Oba­di­ah of Berti­noro set­tled in Jerusalem and led the com­mu­ni­ty. After the Span­ish Inqui­si­tion (1492), Jews found shel­ter among the Mus­lims of North Africa and (what is now called) the Mid­dle East.

The Mam­luks (12481517), who came after the Ayyu­bids, left their mark in archi­tec­ture with beau­ti­ful build­ings, schools and hos­pices through­out the Old City. They added mar­kets, repaired water sup­plies and con­struct­ed city?s foun­tain system.

In 1517 the Ottomans took over Jerusalem peace­ful­ly. Sul­tan Suleiman ?the mag­nif­i­cent ? (153741) rebuilt the city walls (un-walled since 1219) includ­ing the present day 7 gates (what is now known as the Old City) and the ?Tow­er of David.? He fur­ther improved the city?s water sys­tem, installed drink­ing foun­tains still vis­i­ble in many parts of the Old City. He also patron­ized reli­gious cen­ters and edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tions. A Jew­ish colony ?Safaradieh ? was formed in 1522 in Pales­tine. The Ottomans grant­ed reli­gious free­dom to all and it was pos­si­ble to find (some­thing that was unthink­able in Europe) a syn­a­gogue, a church and a mosque in the same street.

The Dam­as­cus gate was erect­ed in 1542. It was Sul­tan Selim, the Ottoman ruler, who dug out the Wail­ing Wall from under the rub­ble in the 16th cen­tu­ry and per­mit­ted Jews to vis­it it. All the Ottoman Sul­tans ? from Suleiman ?the mag­nif­i­cent ? to Sul­tan Abdul-Hamid (RA) ? were great patrons of Jerusalem, mak­ing sur­round­ing ter­ri­to­ries of the mosques as their Waqf properties.

Through­out the Ottoman era, the city remained open to all reli­gions, although the empire?s faulty man­age­ment after Sul­tan Suleiman meant slow eco­nom­i­cal stag­na­tion. When Jew­ish peo­ple faced exter­mi­na­tion across Europe, the Ottoman Sul­tans allowed them to take refuge in the Empire. Some of them set­tled in Pales­tine. In 1562 there were 1,200 (most­ly reli­gious) Jews and 11,450 Arabs liv­ing in Jerusalem.

By mid-19th cen­tu­ry, with the weak­en­ing of the Ottoman Empire (to the extent of being ridiculed as the ?Sick Man of Europe?) the Euro­pean colo­nial pow­ers vied with each oth­er to gain a foothold in Pales­tine. New areas with names like the Ger­man Colony and the Russ­ian Com­pound sprout­ed the city. Accord­ing to Zion­ist his­to­ri­og­ra­phy, res­i­den­tial build­ing out­side the walls of the Old City began around 1860 with the Jew­ish set­tle­ment — Mishkenot Shaanan­im. How­ev­er, such schol­ar­ship over­looks the much ear­li­er con­struc­tion and con­tin­ued use of numer­ous indige­nous res­i­den­tial build­ings out­side the walls such as khans, res­i­dences for reli­gious per­sons, and sum­mer homes with orchards and olive press­es, belong­ing most­ly to non-Jews, espe­cial­ly the Arab Mus­lims. In time, as the com­mu­ni­ties grew and con­nect­ed geo­graph­i­cal­ly, this became known as the New City.

This was also an age of Chris­t­ian reli­gious revival, and many church­es sent mis­sion­ar­ies to pros­e­ly­tize among the Mus­lim and espe­cial­ly the Jew­ish pop­u­la­tions, believ­ing pas­sion­ate­ly that this would expe­dite the Sec­ond Com­ing of Christ. These out­side mis­sion­ar­ies set­tled in and around places like Beth­le­hem and Jerusalem.

In 1846 there were only 12,000 Jews in Pales­tine out of a pop­u­la­tion of 350,000. In 1880, short­ly before the Russ­ian Pogroms, there were only 25,000 Jews in Pales­tine out of a pop­u­la­tion of half a million.

The last half of the 19th cen­tu­ry wit­nessed the pon­tif­i­ca­tion of Pope Pius IX (184678), the pub­li­ca­tion of Wil­helm Marr?s ?Jewry?s Vic­to­ry over Teu­ton­ism ? (1873), the assas­si­na­tion of Czar Alexan­der II (1881) and the Alfred Drey­fus case (1894). These events led to pogroms and anti-Semi­tism (actu­al­ly Jew-hatred) across Europe, espe­cial­ly in East­ern Europe and Rus­sia. Jews again found refuge in the Ottoman Empire. [Iron­i­cal­ly, the demise of the Ottoman régime can part­ly be blamed on the Jew­ish enclave in Saloni­ka (now Thes­sa­loni­ca or Thes­sa­loni­ki in Greece) — home of the D?nme and the birth­place of the (Jacobin) Young Turk movement.]

The last decade of the 19th cen­tu­ry saw the emer­gence of polit­i­cal Zion­ism call­ing for the estab­lish­ment of a Jew­ish state. Sul­tan Abdul-Hamid, the last of the Ottoman Sul­tans, was approached by Theodor Her­zl, the father of polit­i­cal Zion­ism, who offered to buy up and then turn over the Ottoman Debt to the Sultan?s gov­ern­ment in return for an Impe­r­i­al Char­ter for the Col­o­niza­tion of Pales­tine by the Jew­ish peo­ple. In his Diary, Her­zl writes, ?Let the Sul­tan give us that par­cel of land [Pales­tine] and in return we would set his house in order, reg­u­late his finances, and influ­ence world opin­ion in his favour?? The Sul­tan reject­ed the offer.

In his let­ter to a Sufi Shaykh (dat­ed Sept. 22, 1911), Sul­tan Abdul-Hamid men­tions this episode : ?I left the post of the ruler of Caliphate only because of the obsta­cles and threats on the side of peo­ple who call them ? Young Turks. The Com­mit­tee of Uni­ty and Progress obses­sive­ly insist on my agree­ment to form a nation­al Jew­ish state in the sacred land of Pales­tine. But in spite of their obsti­na­cy I strong­ly refused them. In the end they offered me 150 mil­lion Eng­lish pounds in gold, but again I refused and said the fol­low­ing to them : ?If you offer me gold of the world adding it to your 150 man, I won?t agree to give you the land. I have served Islam and the peo­ple of Muham­mad (S) for more than 30 years, and I won?t cloud the Islam­ic his­to­ry, the his­to­ry of my fathers and grand fathers ? Ottoman Sul­tans and caliphs.? After my def­i­nite refusal they decid­ed to remove me from pow­er, and after that they told me that they would trans­port me to Saloni­ka and I had to resign. I praise my bene­fac­tor who didn?t let me bring shame on the Ottoman state and the Islam­ic world. I want to stop at this. I praise the Almighty once again and fin­ish my letter. ?

The Sul­tan, to the last of his days, resist­ed bar­ter­ing Jerusalem for his reign.

So what we notice from his­tor­i­cal accounts is a remark­able Mus­lim rev­er­ence for the city of Jerusalem, much in con­trast to the disin­gen­u­ous claims made by Zion­ist apol­o­gists like Daniel Pipes. Down the cen­turies, from the time of Umar (R) to the sub­se­quent Mus­lim dynas­ties rul­ing from Dam­as­cus, Bagh­dad, Cairo and Istan­bul, Jerusalem was always impor­tant to Mus­lims. They con­struct­ed a wide vari­ety of build­ings and insti­tu­tions in Jerusalem : mosques, the­o­log­i­cal col­lege con­vents for Sufi mys­tics, abodes for holy men, schools of the Hadith and the Qur’an, orphan­ages, hos­pi­tals, hos­pices for pil­grims, foun­tains, baths, pools, inns, soup kitchens, places for rit­u­al ablu­tion, mau­soleums, and shrines to com­mem­o­rate the Prophet?s (S) Mi?raj. These build­ings were main­tained through a sys­tem of endow­ment in per­pe­tu­ity (awkaf), some­times involv­ing the ded­i­ca­tion of the rev­enues of entire vil­lages in Pales­tine, Syr­ia, or Egypt. The patrons were caliphs and sul­tans, mil­i­tary com­man­ders and schol­ars, mer­chants and offi­cials, includ­ing a num­ber of women. Their phil­an­thropy bears wit­ness to the impor­tance of Jerusalem as a Mus­lim cen­ter of res­i­dence, pil­grim­ages, retreat, prayer, study and burial.

British Man­date Period :

With the defeat of the Turk­ish Army dur­ing the World War I (191418), British Gen­er­al Edmund Allen­by took con­trol over Jerusalem. Upon enter­ing the city on 11 Decem­ber, 1917, he declared, ?Now the Cru­sades come to an end.? As a mat­ter of fact, it was the begin­ning of the end, i.e., mar­shalling of a neo-cru­sade against Mus­lims by using Israel as a ?ram­part ? in the Mus­lim heartland.

In 1917, Britain issued the infa­mous Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion promis­ing the Zion­ists estab­lish­ment of a Jew­ish nation­al home­land in Pales­tine. The Dec­la­ra­tion was crim­i­nal to the core as his­to­ri­an Arthur Koestler so apt­ly described : ?One nation solemn­ly promised to give to a sec­ond nation the coun­try of a third nation.? With that goal in mind, dur­ing the devi­ous British Man­date (191747), Jews were pumped into Pales­tine from all over Europe. In spite of such Jew­ish influx, accord­ing to a cen­sus tak­en by the British on 31 Decem­ber 1922, there were alto­geth­er 83,000 Jews in Pales­tine out of a total pop­u­la­tion of 757,000 of which 663,000 were Mus­lims. That is, the Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion was only 11%.

In 1935, when the Pales­tin­ian Arabs rose in revolt against fur­ther Jew­ish immi­gra­tion, there were 370,000 Jews out of a total pop­u­la­tion of 1,366,670, i.e., 3 out of 4 were Arabs. Dur­ing par­ti­tion, the Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion owned less than 6% of the total land in Pales­tine. Yet when on Novem­ber 29, 1947, the UN vot­ed to par­ti­tion Pales­tine into Jew­ish and Arab states, with Jerusalem in an inter­na­tion­al zone, 56% of the total area was allot­ted to the Jew­ish state. As was expect­ed, Arabs (with the excep­tion of King Abdul­lah of Tran­sjor­dan) reject­ed the plan and a fight for ter­ri­to­ries broke out in which armed Jew­ish ter­ror­ist gangs mas­sa­cred unarmed Pales­tini­ans in sev­er­al vil­lages. At that time, in Old (East) Jerusalem Jews owned less than 1% of land. Their own­er­ship of prop­er­ties in the New (West) city was 26%.

In recent years, the issue sur­round­ing pre-1948 demo­graph­ics of Jerusalem has become a hot item. Zion­ist his­to­ri­og­ra­phers (e.g., Ben Arieh, Gilbert and oth­ers) have been try­ing to prove a Jew­ish major­i­ty in Jerusalem before the par­ti­tion. This myth has no sub­stance what­so­ev­er quite sim­ply by look­ing care­ful­ly at the avail­able late Ottoman-era sta­tis­tics and (for the lat­er peri­od) by exam­in­ing the bound­aries of the Jerusalem munic­i­pal­i­ty as drawn by the British Manda­to­ry authorities.

In this regard it is worth quot­ing what pre-emi­nent demog­ra­ph­er Justin McCarthy had clear­ly point­ed out, ?Ottoman sta­tis­tics are the best source on Ottoman pop­u­la­tion.? The Ottoman data on Jerusalem show that in 1871 – 2, the Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion of Jerusalem was a quar­ter of the total pop­u­la­tion liv­ing in Jerusalem. In 1895, when the city?s pop­u­la­tion was about 43,000, the entire Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion could not have been more than a third (i.e., 14,500). In 1912 — the last Ottoman sta­tis­tics — show that Jerusalem had a total pop­u­la­tion of 60,000 of which near­ly 25,000 were Jews.

Accord­ing to Pro­fes­sor Walid Kha­li­di the inter­na­tion­al zone com­pris­ing ?Manda­to­ry munic­i­pal Jerusalem ? in addi­tion to some 20 sur­round­ing Arab vil­lages had a slight major­i­ty of Arab pop­u­la­tion who num­bered 105,000 while the Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion was just under 100,000. Aca­d­e­m­ic research works by Sal­im Tamari (direc­tor of the Insti­tute of Jerusalem Stud­ies and a pro­fes­sor in the Depart­ment of Soci­ol­o­gy and Anthro­pol­o­gy at Birzeit Uni­ver­si­ty) and oth­ers present a sim­i­lar pic­ture. They point out how Zion­ist his­to­ri­og­ra­phers delib­er­ate­ly avoid­ed account­ing for Arab neigh­bor­hoods in their demo­graph­ic stud­ies of Jerusalem while con­cen­trat­ing most­ly on Jew­ish suburbs.

Upon review­ing the lit­er­a­ture on the selec­tive demo­graph­ics of Man­date Jerusalem, British his­to­ri­an Michael Dumper attrib­ut­es two major rea­sons for these pop­u­la­tion dis­crep­an­cies. First, esti­mates count­ed Jew­ish migrants who arrived in Jerusalem before 1946 and lat­er moved to Tel Aviv and oth­er local­i­ties. Sec­ond, while exclud­ing Pales­tini­ans who were work­ing in the city but liv­ing in its rur­al periph­ery (the day­time pop­u­la­tion such as the com­mut­ing work­ers from Lif­ta and Deir Yasin), they includ­ed Jew­ish res­i­dents liv­ing in sub­ur­ban areas such as Beit Veg­an, Ramat Rahel, and Meqor Hay­im. The lat­ter were incor­po­rat­ed with­in the munic­i­pal pop­u­la­tion through a process he refers to as ?demo­graph­ic gerrymandering.?

Pro­fes­sor Tamari?s stud­ies on Jerusalem?s west­ern vil­lages, for instance, show that once the rur­al neigh­bor­hoods are intro­duced, the pic­ture in regard to demo­graph­ics and land com­po­si­tion change dra­mat­i­cal­ly. ?Extrap­o­la­tions from 1945 Manda­to­ry sta­tis­tics,? Pro­fes­sor Tamari says, ?show that the Jerusalem sub-dis­trict con­tained slight­ly over a quar­ter of a mil­lion inhab­i­tants of whom 59.6% were Arabs and 40.4% were Jew­ish. In the west­ern Jerusalem areas that came under Israeli con­trol after the war (251,945 dunums) 91.8% (231,446) dunums were Arab owned, 2.7% were Jew­ish owned, and the rest were pub­lic lands.?

Israeli Peri­od :

The con­spir­a­cy of the West­ern pow­ers in col­lu­sion with the Zion­ists, the ter­ror­ism inflict­ed upon the Arab inhab­i­tants, the fool­ish­ness of the local lead­ers, and the incom­pe­tence or indif­fer­ence of oth­ers — all these led to the estab­lish­ment of the state of Israel on May 15, 1948 when on that day the Jew­ish set­tlers declared inde­pen­dence. The mas­sacre of Arab res­i­dents of Deir Yasin, Qibya and Kafr al-Qasim that fol­lowed were only the pre­ludes to Israel?s geno­cide of Pales­tini­ans at Sabra and Chatil­la, Tyre and Sidon, Nablus, Jenin and of ongo­ing atroc­i­ties in Gaza, West Bank and South­ern Lebanon.

Soon after the uni­lat­er­al dec­la­ra­tion, in a sub­se­quent war with neigh­bor­ing Arab states, Israel cap­tured 78% of the orig­i­nal Pales­tine by annex­ing ter­ri­to­ries set for the Arab Pales­tin­ian state, leav­ing only East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in Arab hands. This cat­a­clysmic event forced 750,000 Pales­tini­ans to seek refuge elsewhere.

As to its impact on Jerusalem, Pro­fes­sor Tamari writes, ?Dur­ing the war of 1948, par­tic­u­lar­ly dur­ing the months of April-May, about 2530,000 Pales­tini­ans were dis­placed from the urban sub­urbs of Jerusalem. In addi­tion, the bulk of the vil­lage pop­u­la­tion (23,649 rur­al inhab­i­tants) were also expelled. These includ­ed the pop­u­la­tion of the two largest vil­lages in the Jerusalem sub-dis­trict, Ain Karim and Lif­ta, and vir­tu­al­ly all of the rur­al habi­ta­tions west of the city (with the excep­tion of Abu Ghosh and Beit Safafa). Alto­geth­er 36 vil­lages and ham­lets were destroyed, or — as was the case with Lif­ta and Ain Karim — were phys­i­cal­ly left intact but their Pales­tin­ian inhab­i­tants removed. Most of the dis­placed per­sons even­tu­al­ly found refuge in the Old City and its north­ern Arab sub­urbs (Shu?fat, Beit Han­i­na, Ram), and in the refugee camps of Ramal­lah and Beth­le­hem. Today the refugee pop­u­la­tion orig­i­nat­ing from the Jerusalem dis­trict is esti­mat­ed to be 380,000.?

In July 1949, the Israeli gov­ern­ment declared West Jerusalem ?ter­ri­to­ry occu­pied by the State of Israel?, and all Arab lands and busi­ness­es were con­fis­cat­ed under the Absen­tee Prop­er­ty Reg­u­la­tions of 1948. Most of the urban refugee prop­er­ty in Jerusalem was sold to Israelis and squat­ters. Refugee-lands out­side the urban cen­ter were most­ly sold to a spe­cial­ly estab­lished Gov­ern­ment Devel­op­ment Author­i­ty which in turn sold them to the Jew­ish Nation­al Fund or to coöper­a­tive agri­cul­tur­al set­tle­ments. Soon, Israel began to trans­fer its gov­ern­ment offices to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. Gov­ern­ment employ­ees were housed in aban­doned refugee property.

On 13 Decem­ber 1949, the Israeli gov­ern­ment declared Jerusalem as its cap­i­tal, which was lat­er passed as a res­o­lu­tion in the Knes­set on Jan­u­ary 231950.

On June 5 – 10, 1967 Israel launched an offen­sive against neigh­bor­ing Arab states and cap­tured East Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza, plus the Sinai and the Golan Heights. Most Jews cel­e­brat­ed the event as a lib­er­a­tion of the city ; a new Israeli hol­i­day was cre­at­ed, Jerusalem Day (Yom Yerusha­lay­im), and the pop­u­lar Hebrew song, ?Jerusalem of Gold ? (Yerusha­lay­im shel zahav), became pop­u­lar in celebration.

Between 1949 and 1967 scores of Pales­tin­ian towns and more than 400 Pales­tin­ian vil­lages were destroyed by Israel. In the first flush of vic­to­ry in the 1967 war, Ben Guri­on want­ed the mag­nif­i­cent walls built by the Ottomans that sur­round the ?Old City ? destroyed because they were such a pow­er­ful reminder of the Islam­ic char­ac­ter of the city. Most of the Israeli gov­ern­ment build­ings in Jerusalem includ­ing the Knes­set are built on Pales­tin­ian-owned land.

Israeli Occu­pa­tion Forces (IOF), since annex­a­tion of East Jerusalem, have embarked on a ?Judaiza­tion ? pol­i­cy that entails con­strict­ing build­ing per­mits to local Arabs to build hous­es on their ances­tral land, with­draw­ing res­i­den­cy per­mits, demol­ish­ing Pales­tin­ian homes and mosques, and build­ing ille­gal set­tle­ments. One of the first moves was to demol­ish the Maghari­ba quar­ter in order to enlarge the prayer area next to the Wail­ing Wall. One hun­dred and twen­ty-five Arab hous­es were destroyed in the process. Jerusalem Pales­tini­ans are con­sid­ered as for­eign res­i­dents. The pol­i­cy of the Inte­ri­or Min­istry towards them — endorsed on 30 Decem­ber 1996 by the Israeli Supreme Court — is too severe and arbi­trary (espe­cial­ly since 1994). In 30 years (196797), an esti­mat­ed 50,000 to 100,000 Arab res­i­dents in Jerusalem have lost their right of res­i­den­cy in the city. These include, for exam­ple, Jerusalem Pales­tini­ans who lived for over sev­en years out­side the city lim­its. Dur­ing the first two weeks of Jan­u­ary 1997 alone, 233 Pales­tin­ian res­i­dents in Jerusalem were issued with expul­sion orders. Pales­tin­ian refugees from camps locat­ed with­in the lim­its of Greater Jerusalem (the Shu­fat and Kalan­dia camps) have absolute­ly no polit­i­cal rights.

This ?pol­i­cy of Judaiza­tion,? which has been con­duct­ed open­ly by the Israeli gov­ern­ment to reduce the Arab pres­ence in Jerusalem, is start­ing to bear fruit. While in 1990, there was still a major­i­ty of 150,000 Pales­tini­ans against 120,000 Jews in the east­ern part of the city, the ratio has been reversed to the ben­e­fit of the lat­ter. In 1993, East Jerusalem count­ed 155,000 Pales­tin­ian Arabs against 160,000 Israeli Jews. Some 250,000 Israelis lived in West Jerusalem. In 1996, out of a total pop­u­la­tion of 602,100 in Jerusalem, the Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion alone was 421,200.

On 19 April 1999, an inter-min­is­te­r­i­al com­mit­tee on Jerusalem rec­om­mend­ed that Israel needs to build 116,000 new hous­ing units in the city for Jews by 2020 in order to main­tain a 7030 per­cent Jew­ish major­i­ty in Jerusalem. This would sig­ni­fy an annu­al rate of 5,500. Fig­ures pub­lished on 28 May, 2003 by the Israeli Cen­tral Bureau of Sta­tis­tics show that Jerusalem?s pop­u­la­tion has reached 683,000, of which six­ty-six per­cent is Jew­ish. Of the 32 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion who are Arabs, 94% are Mus­lim and 6% are Chris­tians. In 2004, the Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion in Jerusalem was esti­mat­ed at 464,000 out of a total pop­u­la­tion of 692,000.

The ille­gal Israeli set­tle­ments in and around occu­pied East Jerusalem have expand­ed rapid­ly, in vio­la­tion of all inter­na­tion­al laws. The Jew­ish set­tler pop­u­la­tion in East Jerusalem has also mul­ti­plied accord­ing­ly. In 2000 it was esti­mat­ed to be close to 180,000. In 2003, 217,000 Pales­tini­ans share East Jerusalem with 200,000 Jew­ish set­tlers. Of these, 66,500 were in the Greater Jerusalem area of Ma?aleh Adu­mim, Givat Ze?ev, Betar Élite, Har Adar, Efrat and part of the Etzion Bloc.

The Israeli gov­ern­ment has suc­ceed­ed in apply­ing Jerusalem?s reli­gious sym­bol­ism to vast areas that have noth­ing to do with his­toric Jerusalem. So, e.g., over half of what we call Jerusalem today was not part of the city pre-1967, but were parts of Beth­le­hem and 28 oth­er West Bank towns.

Between 1967 and 2003, 35% of the land in East Jerusalem has been expro­pri­at­ed for the con­struc­tion of Jew­ish neigh­bor­hoods and atten­dant facil­i­ties. Of the more than 38,500 hous­es built on expro­pri­at­ed land, as of 2003, none has been con­struct­ed for Arabs. In East Jerusalem there are now over 43,000 homes in Jew­ish neigh­bor­hoods and only 28,000 in Pales­tin­ian neighborhoods.

In today?s Israel even the dead are not safe from des­e­cra­tion. For exam­ple, dur­ing Olmert?s tenure as the may­or of Jerusalem, Islam­ic bur­ial places in West Jerusalem ?Ma?man Allah ? (or col­lo­qui­al­ly Mamil­la), mea­sur­ing some 250,000 square meters, were turned into build­ing plots. The Sher­a­ton Plaza Hotel, Super­sol super­mar­ket, Beit Argon build­ing and the adja­cent car park­ing lot are all built on this Islam­ic Waqf owned land which was used by Mus­lims as their bur­ial place in Jerusalem until 1948. What remains of this Mus­lim ceme­tery is being used as an open park, cour­tesy of Jerusalem mayors.

The 1993 Oslo Accord left the future of Jerusalem to be deter­mined lat­er through seri­ous nego­ti­a­tion. At Camp David in July 2000 and lat­er at Taba, Israeli nego­tia­tors con­sid­ered allow­ing some sov­er­eign­ty to the Pales­tin­ian state over Arab areas of East Jerusalem but no agree­ment was reached. The Pales­tin­ian side was ready to con­cede Israel?s claim to West Jerusalem of which Pales­tini­ans had pri­vate­ly owned 40 per cent in 1948. The final nego­ti­a­tion fell flat on the sta­tus of Haram al-Sharif.

In the post-Clin­ton era, noth­ing sig­nif­i­cant has been done to set­tle Jerusalem?s long-stand­ing prob­lem except Pres­i­dent Bush?s announce­ment of the so-called ?Roadmap ? for the cre­ation of a Pales­tin­ian state, which appears to be aimed more at get­ting the nec­es­sary coöper­a­tion from his Arab client states before top­pling Sad­dam than estab­lish­ing the ground­work for real peace or a just solu­tion to the Israeli-Pales­tin­ian problem.

Reli­gious Myth

Next, we come to the ques­tion of reli­gious myth, as Men­achem Begin once said, ?The coun­try was promised to us, and we have a right to it.? [Davar, Dec. 12, 1978] Gol­da Meir sim­i­lar­ly said, ?This coun­try (i.e., State of Israel) exists as a result of a promise made by God Him­self.? Moshe Dayan said, ?If you have the book of Bible, the peo­ple of the Bible, then you also have the land of the Bible — of the Judges, of the Patri­archs in Jerusalem, Hebron, Jeri­cho and there­abouts.? [Jerusalem Post, Aug. 101967]

One should not be sur­prised by such invo­ca­tions of Bib­li­cal pas­sages to ?jus­ti­fy ? or ?sanc­ti­fy ? the per­ma­nent exten­sion of the Zion­ist state. In 1956, it was David Ben-Guri­on who showed the way by declar­ing that Sinai formed part of the ?King­dom of David and Solomon.?

Over the past year, Jerusalem munic­i­pal­i­ty has issued orders to demol­ish 64 of the 88 Pales­tin­ian homes in the adjoin­ing Arab town of Bus­tan (Sil­wan for the Israelis). City Coun­cil­man Meir Mar­galit said that the remain­ing 24 homes would also be demol­ished short­ly. Why Bus­tan ? The answer is sim­ple : to the Israelis, it is the ?City of David ? where King David decid­ed to build the cap­i­tal of his king­dom in 1004 BCE. To them, Bus­tan should not belong to a future Pales­tin­ian state. To real­ize this, Jerusalem May­or Uri Lupo­lian­s­ki plans to expand the ?City of David Park ? that would include near­by Bustan.

Colo­nial­ists have always sought a ratio­nal­iza­tion for their crim­i­nal annex­a­tions, rob­beries and author­i­ty. And what a bet­ter way than to claim being ?God?s Cho­sen Peo­ple ? or belong­ing to a ?Supe­ri­or ? race ? Are we, there­fore, sur­prised at the remark­able sim­i­lar­i­ty between Zion­ist claims and Vorster?s (late Prime Min­is­ter of the Apartheid régime in South Africa in 1972) asser­tion about jus­ti­fi­ca­tion of apartheid when the lat­ter said, ?Let us not for­get that we are the peo­ple of God, entrust­ed with a mission??

The con­cept of race” is a 19th cen­tu­ry inven­tion by Euro­pean colo­nial­ists to jus­ti­fy colo­nial hege­mo­ny. To jus­ti­fy colo­nial­ism, Eng­lish writer, Rud­yard Kipling spoke of the White Man’s bur­den” to civ­i­lize the non-whites. This very idea of cho­sen peo­ple” should be rec­og­nized as his­tor­i­cal­ly infan­tile, polit­i­cal­ly crim­i­nal, the­o­log­i­cal­ly intol­er­a­ble, and moral­ly insane. It has no sci­en­tif­ic basis. It is a bizarre puz­zle to say the least. Because, God’s mer­cy is nev­er restrict­ed to a group, but tran­scends entire human­i­ty. It is nar­rat­ed in the Qur’an, ?Remem­ber when Abra­ham was tried by his Lord with cer­tain words, which he ful­filled. He said, I shall make you an Imam to humankind.” Said he, And what of my prog­e­ny?” He said, My covenant shall not include the wrong­do­ers.” [Qur’an 2:124]

Zion­ists often invoke the Book of Gen­e­sis (15:16) which states : ?In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, say­ing, Unto thy seed have I giv­en this land, from the riv­er of Egypt unto the great riv­er, the riv­er Euphrates.? So, which ?seed ? or son is meant here ? Is it Ish­mael ? the first born, or Isaac (the son of Sarah) ? the father of Jacob ? What we know from his­to­ry is that this ?promise ? was only ful­filled through the Arab descen­dants of Ish­mael, the fore­fa­ther of Muham­mad (P), and not ever by any descen­dant of Isaac. Period !

So, if the­ol­o­gy were to deter­mine the sta­tus of Jerusalem, the Mus­lim posi­tion strong­ly con­tra­dicts Jew­ish aspi­ra­tion for the city and shows that they have stronger claim to the city than their Jew­ish cousins.

Sad­ly, polit­i­cal Zion­ism has betrayed Judaism and per­vert­ed Chris­tian­i­ty. The same church that once labeled Jews as ?Christ-killers?, as the ?reject­ed ? or ?for­sak­en peo­ple?, now calls them the ?Cho­sen peo­ple.? They are now its best friends, more zeal­ous than many Israelis in their sup­port for the rogue state. It is real­ly strange ! I wish the Chris­t­ian moti­va­tion was gen­uine and not sim­ply to gath­er them as the sac­ri­fi­cial lambs for the ?com­ing Armageddon?!

The entire pol­i­cy of the state of Israel, inter­nal or exter­nal, is a colo­nial enter­prise, but it wears the ?chador ? (cloak) of pseu­do-the­o­log­i­cal myth. From its begin­ning to the present, Israel has always been a racist, colo­nial state. The father of mod­ern Zion­ism, Theodor Her­zl remarked, ?Uni­ver­sal broth­er­hood is not even a beau­ti­ful dream, antag­o­nism is essen­tial to man?s great­est efforts.? [Jew­ish State, (1897)] Con­trary to this view, the great­est minds ever in the his­to­ry of mankind, from Moses to Jesus to Muham­mad (S), spoke of uni­ver­sal broth­er­hood to be the solu­tion. This remark right­ly shows the sick men­tal­i­ty of this founder of Zion­ism. As a mat­ter of fact the Zion­ists — Jew­ish or Chris­t­ian alike — are moral­ly wrong.

In his Diary, Theodor Her­zl writes about the estab­lish­ment of a Jew­ish state : ?We should form there a por­tion of ram­part of Europe against Asia, an out­post of civ­i­liza­tion as opposed to bar­barism.? Here, it clear­ly shows his colo­nial, racist men­tal­i­ty. He first dis­re­gards the rights of the indige­nous inhab­i­tants of the Arab Pales­tini­ans, and then calls them bar­bar­ians. With the records of Israeli lead­ers since the estab­lish­ment of the mod­ern Zion­ist state, it is quite obvi­ous that it has served the pur­pose of being a ?ram­part ? rather too well !

Con­clud­ing Remarks

From the above dis­cus­sion we see that the so-called Chil­dren of Israel far from being the first set­tlers in Pales­tine were only one group among many oth­ers. The total peri­od of Jew­ish rule or sov­er­eign­ty over Pales­tine in gen­er­al and Jerusalem in par­tic­u­lar was only about 400 years, and this peri­od is much short­er a peri­od com­pared to the peri­od of Mus­lim rule. As a mat­ter of fact, in its entire his­to­ry, no oth­er com­mu­ni­ty had ruled Pales­tine or Jerusalem for a longer peri­od. The myth of polit­i­cal rights of the Jews over Pales­tine is thus not sub­stan­ti­at­ed by history.

In the pre-1948 peri­od, Jews returned to Pales­tine pri­mar­i­ly as a result of per­se­cu­tion in Europe, and least from any yearn­ing for the home­land of their ances­tors”. Had it not been for the gen­eros­i­ty of Mus­lim rulers, they could not have found refuge among Mus­lims, and sure­ly not in Palestine.

If the­ol­o­gy were to be the basis for occu­py­ing land, then Mus­lim claims for Jerusalem is at least, if not more, as strong as those of Jew­ish (and Chris­t­ian) claims.

Con­trary to the myths now spread by Zion­ists, Jerusalem was always impor­tant to Mus­lims and that dur­ing the Mus­lim rule it nev­er declined to the point of becom­ing a shambles.

More impor­tant­ly, East Jerusalem, includ­ing its Mus­lim holy places, is not the pat­ri­mo­ny of any Arab incum­bent in what­ev­er Arab cap­i­tal he or she may be, but that of near­ly 1.5 bil­lion Mus­lims and of the Arab peo­ple of Pales­tine. Israel through its actions in post-1967 era has shown that it can­not be trust­ed for guardian­ship of Mus­lim shrines.

In com­mon with the wish­es of mil­lions of Pales­tini­ans liv­ing inside and out­side the Occu­pied Ter­ri­to­ries of Pales­tine, Old (East) Jerusalem, com­pris­ing all the pre-1967 ter­ri­to­ries, is deserv­ing of being their capital. The Case of Jerusalem -- The Holy City 2Endmark

Adopt­ed and updat­ed from the author’s speech at the Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty, Los Ange­les, May 16, 1987. The author may be con­tact­ed at saeva[at]aol[dot]com



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