Source: The Quest for Justice in the Middle East, by Gerald A. Honigman, January 4, 2018
By The Rivers Of Babylon…President Trump and Jerusalem
Regarding President Trump’s declaration concerning Jerusalem on December 7, 2017, let’s forget about political correctness or downright ignorance by many of those now commenting. For some credentials, I’ve done extensive doctoral studies in this area and am a widely-published author whose work is found in many leading universities all over the world.
To state that Muslims and Jews have equal claims to Jerusalem and its Temple Mount (Muslims call it Haram al-Sharif) is to simply tell a lie.
Besides the above designation, Arabs/Muslims and friends who claim this also refer to the Jews’ Temple Mount as “Al-Buraq’s Mount.” According to Islamic belief, Al-Buraq was Muhammad’s winged horse with the head of a woman who carried him from Arabia to the site of both ancient Israel’s King Solomon and Judaea’s Roman ally, King Herod’s, temples. Via this assertion and the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque built on top of it (after the Arab conquest of the land and city in the 7th century C.E.), the Arab/Muslim connection to Jerusalem is established.
“Coincidentally,” during Muhammad’s flight (the Hijra) from enemies in Mecca to the date palm oasis founded centuries earlier by Jews fleeing Roman wars in Judea–Medina–the Arab Muhammad (his pagan colleagues in Mecca and elsewhere worshipped stone idols in the Kaaba) came closely in touch with Jews and their unique religious beliefs. Abraham, G_d, Jerusalem, Isaac, Ishmael, the Angel Gabriel, the Temple Mount, Hebron, etc. had absolutely no meaning to pagan Arabs. While there was some contact with Christians as well, it is no accident that Islam’s Qur’an looks like an Arabized version of the Hebrew Bible. Not a few famous ancient and modern scholars have noted this. After Muhammad’s sojourn with Medina’s Jews (there were pagan Arabs living there too), Muhammad had his followers worship facing Jerusalem (the qibla).
While Arabs claim Muhammad learned all of this via personal conversations with the Hebrew Bible’s Angel Gabriel, “perhaps” the Jews had some role in his enlightenment as well. Again, ancient and modern Arab historians have long spoken of this connection. Jalaluddin, as one example, came right out and stated that the only reason Muhammad honored Jerusalem was to win support from Medina’s Jews. When they refused to recognize him as the Seal of the Prophets and such, he slaughtered their men and enslaved their women and children. The Prophet of Islam then changed the qibla back towards the Kaaba.
Of all places in the world, the Jews’ Jerusalem (the entire city, “Zion,”considered by Jews as a holy place since, some 3,000 years ago, David–born in Bethlehem, crowned King of Israel in Hebron, etc. took it from the Jebusites) was named as the site of Muhammad’s flight to Heaven upon Al-Buraq.
That’s it for the Muslim claims to Jerusalem–besides their conquest and settlement of it by Muhammad’s Caliphal successors who burst out of the Arabian Peninsula and conquered lands and peoples in all directions. Yet, no Arab or other Muslim conquering empire ever made Jerusalem its capital, and no independent state or other entity existed in the land after the final Roman conquest of Judea in 135 C.E. in the wake of the Jews’ second major revolt for freedom.
Contrast this with the Jews’ connection, beyond what’s already alluded to above…
Since David made Jerusalem his capital and it became the site of his son Solomon’s Temple, Zion became the heart and soul of Jewish national and religious existence. Jews from all over the early diaspora made their pilgrimages and sent offerings to its Temple.
“By the Rivers of Babylon we wept…” and “If I forget thee O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its cunning…” were just a few of the many ancient biblical expressions of the Jews for Zion. Such yearning persisted throughout subsequent millennia in the Diaspora as well.
“Next Year in Jerusalem” sustained the Jew throughout countless massacres, expulsions, forced conversions, inquisitions, demonization, degradations, and humiliations–-culminating in the Holocaust.
Regardless of whatever religious theology one clings to, Christianity’s Jesus’ actual historical experiences in Roman-occupied Judaea and Jerusalem were those of a Judaean/Jew living under very precarious conditions. Thousands of his countrymen had already been killed, were crucified, and so forth in the fight for freedom during Rome’s subjugation/pacification process. The contemporary Roman and Roman-sponsored historians themselves–Tacitus, Josephus, Dio Cassius, Pliny, etc.–had much to say about all of this.
Here’s just one telling quote from Volume II, Book V, of The Works Of Tacitus…
“Vespasian succeeded to the throne…it infuriated his resentment that the Jews were the only nation who had not yet submitted.”
These oppressive conditions led to open revolts and guerilla warfare to rid the land of its mighty pagan conqueror–wars which would eventually lead the Roman emperor, Hadrian, to rename the land from Judaea to Syria Palaestina in 135 C.E. in an attempt to stamp out any remaining hopes for Jewish independence. Judaea was thus renamed after the Jews’ historic enemies, the Philistines, a non-Semitic (let alone non-Arab) Sea People from the Greek islands near Crete to drive home the point.
For a modern analogy, imagine Lithuania (which is actually much larger than modern Israel) as it was engulfed by the Soviet Union in the latter’s heyday of power. Or a Hungarian freedom fighter or Greek partisan taking on the Soviets or the Nazis. Think of the sympathy and admiration normally given to such folks…
But now also think about the treatment Jews received over the ages for longing for this same freedom and dignity in the human realm. Only they were expected and told to just think of a Heavenly Jerusalem instead–ignoring their wordly subjugation. Whatever Jesus did or did not mean in his alleged statement, “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s…,” this passage and others in the New Testament have been used to belittle this same desire for freedom and independence among Jews.
Judaea Capta (not “Palaestina” Capta) coins were issued (Google search the front cover of my book, The Quest For Justice In The Middle East…to see one— a timely and beautiful holiday present), and the towering Arch of Titus was erected after the first major revolt in 70 C.E. and shows, among other things, the Romans carrying away the giant Menorah and other objects from Jewish Temple that at least many Arabs and other Muslims claim never existed. It stands in Rome to this very day to commemorate Rome’s victory over the Jews and Jewish Jerusalem.
Summing things up, in reality, there is no Arab/Muslim parallel to age-old Jewish claims, regardless of efforts to portray Palestinian Arabs (many of whom were new arrivals into the land themselves) as the “new Jews.”
Jews, from a hundred different lands (including one half of Israel’s Jews who are from refugee families who fled “Arab”/Muslim lands, didn’t have almost two dozen other states to potentially choose from like Arabs now do and suffered dearly for this statelessness. Most Muslim Arabs and others claim sole rights to Jerusalem the same way they want sole rights over Tel Aviv…in their eyes, only they have legitimate political rights anywhere in what they regard as purely Arab patrimony and the Dar ul-Islam. To hell with some 40 million native Kurds, 35 million native North African Imazighen (“Berbers”), 12 million Egyptian Copts, Assyrians, kilab yahud (Jew Dogs), black Africans in the Sudan, Libya,and elsewhere (still being enslaved by Arab masters), and so forth whom they had earlier conquered. Where’s the college professor or student protest on campus speaking out for those folks?
When Jordanian Arabs–whose nation itself was formed after 1922 from nearly 80% of the original Mandate for Palestine issued to Britain on April 25, 1920–seized East Jerusalem after their invasion of a reborn Israel in 1948, they destroyed dozens of ancient synagogues and thousands of Jewish graves, using tombstones to pave roads, build latrines, and so forth in efforts to de-Judaize the land…
When Jews were denied access to their holy sites for two decades, the whole world (including the Vatican, which choses now to speak out against President Trump) remained silent. After Israel was forced to fight in 1967 due to its being blockaded by Egypt at the Straits of Tiran (a casus belli ) and other hostile acts, Jerusalem became reunited. Unlike the experience under Arab/Muslim rule, access to all peoples and faiths subsequently became unhindered under Jewish rule. It was from that moment onwards that much of the world suddenly rediscovered Jerusalem–demanding its re-division, internationalization, and so forth.
President Trump’s acknowledgement of Israel’s ancient connection to Jerusalem is long overdue. While it may be upsetting to many still addicted to Middle Eastern oil; those masking long-imbedded anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism; “Progressives” who expect Israel to commit suicide for the birth of a 22nd state for Arabs while ignoring the plight of other peoples like those mentioned above; the just plain ignorant; and so forth, relative justice (the perfect variety rarely, if ever, exists in the realm of man) demands that Israel, like every other sovereign nation, has the right to determine its own capital.