Tag Archives: Jerusalem

End Propaganda Myth That Jerusalem Is Holy to Muslims

by Morton A. Klein and Daniel Mandel

It’s time to end the propaganda myth that Jerusalem is a holy city to Muslims.

The Muslim fixation and clamor on Jerusalem is actually a very recent historical development, a product of political conflict, not historical truth.

Jerusalem rates not a single mention in the Quran and Muslims face Mecca in prayer.

JUNE 8, 2017 4:48 PM
0

Critics Denounce ‘Deranged’ Pro-Corbyn Column by New York Times’ Roger Cohen

New York Times columnist Roger Cohen wrote this week he was willing to look past British politician Jeremy Corbyn’s “long flirtation” with…

In the seventh century, the Damascus-based Umayyad rulers built up Jerusalem as a counter-weight to Mecca. This is when the important Muslim shrines, the Dome of the Rock (691 CE) and, later, the Al-Aqsa mosque (705 CE), were intentionally built on the site of the destroyed biblical Jewish temples — a time-honored practice to physically signal the predominance of Islam.

However, references in the Quran and hadith to Muhammad’s night journey to heaven on his steed Buraq from the “farthest mosque” couldn’t mean Jerusalem because the Quran refers to Palestine as the “nearest” place. And it couldn’t have been a reference to the Al-Aqsa (“Furtherest”) mosque, for the simple reason that the Al-Aqsa mosque didn’t exist in Muhammad’s day.

With the demise of the Umayyad dynasty and the shift of the caliphate to Baghdad, Jerusalem fell into a long decline, scarcely interrupted by occasional bursts of Muslim interest in the city during the Crusader period and the Ottoman conquest. Mark Twain, visiting in 1867, described it as a “pauper village.”

It did, however, become a majority Jewish city during the nineteenth century. The 1907 Baedeker’s Travel Guide lists Jerusalem with a population of 40,000 Jews, 13,000 Muslims and 7,000 Christians.

So little did Jerusalem mean to the Ottomans that, during the First World War, they abandoned it to the British without a fight and even contemplated entirely destroying the city before pulling out.

Only upon the Arab confrontation with Zionism in the twentieth century did Jerusalem become a passionate Islamic issue.

It was Haj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem, a vociferous antisemite and later Nazi collaborator, who expended enormous energy to focus Islamic attention on Jerusalem. Seeking to foment a Muslim war on Palestine’s Jews, he fabricated a tradition that the wall to which Muhammad was held to have tethered his steed Buraq was not the southern or eastern walls, as Muslims had asserted for centuries, but the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site but for the Temple Mount itself, turning the site into a flashpoint.

The massive Arab assault on Jews across British Palestine in 1929, in which 133 Jews were murdered and hundreds more maimed, was triggered by orchestrated, false rumors that Jews had attacked, or were intending to attack, the mosques atop the Temple Mount.

Strangely, even under the mufti, the Temple Mount was still recognized by Muslims as the site of the biblical Jewish temples. Thus, the Jerusalem Muslim Supreme Council’s publication, A Brief Guide to the Haram Al-Sharif, states, on page 4, regarding Jerusalem’s Temple Mount: “Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute.” (After 1954, all such references to the biblical temples were excised from this publication).

During Jordan’s illegal occupation and annexation of the eastern half of Jerusalem (1948-67) Amman remained Jordan’s country’s capital, not Jerusalem, which became a backwater. Infrastructure, like water, electricity and sewerage, were scanty or non-existent. No Arab ruler, other than Jordan’s kings, ever visited. As Israeli elder statesman Abba Eban quipped, “the secular delights of Beirut held more attraction.”

Significantly, neither the PLO’s National Charter nor the Fatah Constitution, the latter drafted during Jordanian rule, even mention Jerusalem, let alone call for its establishment as a Palestinian capital.

Today, however, Palestinian Authority (PA) officials issue flat-earth denials that Jerusalem was the site of the Jewish temples, or indeed that there is any Jewish connection to the city. Muhammad Hussein, the PA mufti, sneers at the Jews’ “alleged Temple” and insists that “Palestinians have an exclusive right…which they share with no one” to the Temple Mount. Sheikh Tayseer Al-Tamimi, the former chief justice of the PA’s Religious Court, insists, “I don’t know of any Jewish holy sites in [Jerusalem]” and dismisses Jewish claims as “fictitious Jewish history.”

Today, the PA uses Jerusalem as a propaganda instrument, at once inciting violence and orchestrating anti-Israel campaigns. In 1996, Yasser Arafat used Israel’s opening of an archeological tunnel near the Mount to incite riots on the basis of the lie that the tunnel threatened the stability of the Al-Aqsa mosque. Twenty-five Israelis soldiers and a hundred Palestinian rioters were killed in the ensuing violence.

In 2015, Mahmoud Abbas urged violence over Jews visiting Temple Mount, borrowing from Haj Amin’s playbook fabricated claims of Jewish assaults on the mosques to instigate it. Over 30 Israelis were murdered and over two hundred Palestinians, the vast majority terrorists or rioters, were killed in subsequent attacks and clashes.

Far from aiding the cause of peace, according deference to the fabrication of Jerusalem’s importance to Islam and centrality to Palestinians actively impedes it and enables the instigation of bloodshed. As long as Palestinians have good reason to believe that violence over Jerusalem will reap rewards, like President Donald Trump recently reneging on his pre-election promise to transfer the US embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, expect no change.

Morton A. Klein is the national president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).  Dr. Daniel Mandel is the director of the ZOA’ s Center for Middle East Policy and author of H.V. Evatt & the Establishment of Israel (Routledge, London, 2004).

Jordan official: US can move embassy to west Jerusalem

A former Jordanian Minister of Culture wrote in a controversial op-ed article for a leading Amman newspaper that there is no need for Arabs to oppose the potential move of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to west Jerusalem, according to a report by Algemeiner.

Writing for the government daily newspaper Al Rai, Tareq Al-Masarwa — in an article translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), claimed that: “The Americans can move their embassy to the new [part of] Jerusalem [i.e. the western part] without sparking any serious rage among the Arabs. This is for the simple reason that the Palestinians and Arabs demand the Old City [of Jerusalem] — which they lost in the 1967 war, known as the Six Day War — as the capital of their state. I have not heard anyone demanding the 1948 part of Jerusalem [i.e., West Jerusalem], neither Hamas, the PLO nor anyone else.”

Al-Masarwa also exhibited cautious confidence that PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas would have a “meaningful” visit with President Trump Wednesday and added that Trump “can play the game of ‘Jerusalem the capital [of Israel]’ without causing awkwardness for [either] US policy or his allies.”

Al-Masarwa’s comments are particularly timely as they come on the eve of a vote at UNESCO — the UN’s cultural agency — on a resolution that accuses Israel of violating international law in its capital city. Jordan is not among the Arab sponsors of the resolution, which include Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, and Sudan.

The resolution states that “all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the ‘basic law’ on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith.”

US officials have expressed their concern that UNESCO is constantly being used as a tool to delegitimize Israel.

Move the US Embassy to Jerusalem

img_0916

Since 1993, residents of New York City have had a sister city in Israel named Jerusalem.  On December 5, 1949, the Israeli government declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel, and on January 23, 1950, the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, proclaimed that Jerusalem was and had always been the capital of Israel.

Everyone understands that the city of Jerusalem is holy to three religions, and there are conflicting claims to it by two peoples.  But the historical evidence confirms the forthright Knesset declaration.  David made Jerusalem the capital of his kingdom in 1003 B.C. and it remained so for 400 years until the kingdom was conquered by the Babylonians.  After Jews had returned from the Babylonian exile in 538 B.C., Jerusalem again became the capital of the Jewish people.  During the Muslim rule over the area, Jerusalem never became the capital of a Muslim state, or even became a distinct province.

Between 1922 and 1948, the city did become the center of political power during the British Mandate as Jerusalem became the seat of the British high commissioner.

The U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181, the partition resolution, of  November 29, 1947 that proposed the creation of a Jewish state and an Arab state in Palestine, also proposed that Jerusalem become a separate entity, corpus separatum, a special administrative regime separate from either state and administered by an agency of the United Nations.

Thanks to the war resulting from the invasion of Arab armies into the state of Israel, on the day of its creation on May 14, 1948, Jerusalem became a divided city, with barbed wire.  The Old City was annexed by Jordan, while the western section became the Israeli capital.  Israeli citizens and all Jews of other states were denied access to holy sites in the area controlled by Jordan.  In April 1950, Jordan declared that it had annexed the West Bank and Jerusalem, an annexation that was supported only by the U.K. and Pakistan.

As a result of the six-day June 1967 war, the city was reunited under Israeli administration.  Since 1967, Jerusalem has been a united city administered by Israel.  Israel, on June 27, 1967, extended legal and administrative jurisdiction to the whole area and expanded the municipal borders of the city.  The Knesset passed the Protection of the Holy Places law granting special status to the holy sites.

The Israeli Basic Law of July 1980 affirmed Jerusalem, “complete and united”  as the capital of the country.  It promised protection of the holy places and free access to them.

In 1990, the U.S. Congress unanimously adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 106, which declares that Congress strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected.  A Senate Concurrent Resolution 113 in 1992 reaffirmed that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city.

The U.S. Congress on October 23, 1995, by overwhelming majorities in both chambers, passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act to initiate and fund the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  It made clear that every sovereign state, under international law and custom, may designate its own capital, and that since 1950, the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of the State of Israel.  Congress asserted that the city is the seat of judicial, legislative, and executive institutions.  In addition, it is the site of social and cultural institutions and the spiritual center of Judaism.  Moreover, Jerusalem has never been the capital of any state other than Israel.

The 1995 act stated that State Department funds could be withheld if the embassy was to not moved by May 31, 1999.  But the law also provided for “presidential waiver,” allowing presidents not to implement it, and this has continued in spite of a congressional attempt in 2009 to remove the waiver.

The act was never implemented partly for fear of antagonizing the Arab world and partly because U.S. presidents have regarded it as congressional infringement on the executive’s constitutional authority over foreign policy.

It is time for the president of the U.S. to act positively.  Countries choose particular places as their capitals for different reasons.  The place may be dominant, as Berlin was in German unification in the 19th century.  It may be a political compromise, as were Washington, D.C.; Canberra; and Ottawa.  It may be shared, as in the Union of South Africa, where four colonies had political functions, and in the Netherlands, where functions are shared between Amsterdam and the Hague.

Israel has a right to choose its capital, and it is only political machinations that prevent this from being accepted internationally.  Thirteen countries had embassies in Jerusalem until U.N. Security Council Resolution 478 of August 20, 1980, which was passed by 14-0 with the U.S., in which Jimmy Carter was then president, abstaining, which condemned Israel’s Basic Law of July 1980 on Jerusalem as null and void.  The resolution held that the Basic Law, that the city was to be the complete and united capital, was a violation of international law.

The resolution called on all established diplomatic missions in Jerusalem to withdraw.  The immediate comment of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan was that the U.S. abstention in this “inane resolution” meant that the U.S. had allied itself with the enemies of Israel.

The 13 countries that had embassies then withdrew them.  The only country to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is El Salvador.

The problem remains because of intransigent Palestinian and Arab opposition.  Jordan has a stake in the issue since it is the official custodian of the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount.  It is laughable that Saed Erekat, the Palestinian negotiator who never negotiates, says that if the U.S. Embassy is moved, the PLO will withdraw its recognition of Israel, and that would destroy the nonexistent peace process.

Interestingly, on January 3, 2017, three members of the U.S. Senate, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Dean Heller, proposed the move of the embassy and suggested that State Department funds be withheld until the move was made from Hayarkon street in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, perhaps to the existing U.S.  consulate there.

The U.S. move will not inflame the “Arab street,” wherever that is located, nor is it giving in to Israeli extremists.  The U.S. ambassadors in Arab countries will not be expelled from them.  It is absurd to argue, as Secretary John Kerry did, that an “absolute explosion” will occur not only in the West Bank, but in the whole Middle East if the embassy is moved.

Two changes in U.S. policy and law are essential.  The first concerns the U.S. Supreme Court, which should overturn the decision of Zivotofsky v. Kerry, decided on June 8, 2015.  Congress in September 2002 had passed a law that an American citizen born in Jerusalem must list Israel as the place of birth.  However, the Court ruled 6-3 that the U.S. president has the exclusive power to recognize foreign states, and so Congress may not require and cannot force the government to issue passports calling Jerusalem part of Israel.  The late Justice Scalia, dissenting, argued that Congress does have the power to recognize foreign nations because it can regulate commerce with those countries.

President Obama’s defiance of an act of Congress in foreign affairs was reconfirmed when, at the memorial for Shimon Peres in September 2016, he dropped the reference to “Jerusalem, Israel” as the location of the ceremony.

It is now incumbent on President Donald Trump to recognize reality and agree to move the embassy.  He recognizes the stark reality that the State of Israel, like all other countries, has decided on the location of its capital.  It would be a symbolic gesture of major importance to agree with decision of the only friend the U.S. has in the Middle East.