Jerusalem, Cry the Beloved City
"Hear this, you leaders of the house of Jacob, you rulers of the house of Israel, who despise justice and distort all that is right; who build Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with wickedness...." (Micah 3:9 NIV)
Jerusalem, AlQuds, Ur Salam, City of Divine Peace, Gift from God, forgive us our transgressions against you. You were meant as a divine holy city of peace from the One Almighty God to the true believers among the children of Abraham, peace be upon him, yet now the children of Judah seek exclusive rights to you to the exclusion of the faithful Christians and Muslims. God meant for his children to share in the oneness of the city to His divine glory, to come together in peace to worship the Oneness of God. No matter the arrogance, greed, and historical manipulation of the children of Judah, you shall always reside in our hearts and we will never, never, ever, as Muslims and Christians surrender your precious soil to anyone for any price no matter the consequences to ourselves. Our blood shall wash your streets with love. Never again, never again, shall we accept singular domination of our holy places to be desecrated and damaged by those who refuse to share with us our worship to Thee.
Jerusalem, your history goes back 5000 to 6000 years when the Cannanites, Jebusites, Amorites, and Hittites owned the land and passed it on to their descendents, the Palestinians, who never left the land. The American scholar Charles Matthews writes in his book "Palestine-Muhammedan Holy Land" (Yale University Press, 1946) that the "Arabs" of Palestine are the historic people of the land, and the country has always been theirs. Over time some of the Palestinians became Jews, Christians, and Muslims but they are the true owners of Palestine.
During the last 3000 years Jerusalem has been occupied more than 20 times and ruined 18 times. Four basic groups ruled over the Holy Land and Jerusalem during that time. The first were the Pagans (Babylonians, Persians, Romans etc.) whose rule lasted 800 years. Then came the Jewish Domination that lasted about 543 years. King David and Solomon's rule in Jerusalem only lasted for 73 years. Then came the Christian Domination that lasted for 427 years. Finally, the Muslims dominated Jerusalem and the Holy Land for a period of about 1200 years. It was only under the Muslim rule that Jews were allowed to return to Palestine and worship freely along with the Christians.
From 1948 to 1967 a de facto two-state arrangement existed with Jews living in Israel and Palestinians living in Palestine. Israel was founded due to the conquest of European Jews of Palestinian land with the support of the west, mainly the United States. From 1967 till present Israel rules over all of Palestine through its preemptive wars on the Palestinians and Arab countries. In 1948 West Jerusalem was conquered by Israel, which expelled 25,000 Palestinians from their homes and confiscated their land and homes.
In 1967, Israel forcibly conquered East Jerusalem expelling more Palestinians, demolishing homes, and bulldozing farms. It then began a systematic strategy of building Jewish settlements, using American tax dollars despite America's lame protestations that illegal settlements are the biggest obstacle to peace. The settlements that surround East Jerusalem were purposely built to change the demographics and geography of Jerusalem to become a Jewish city. Yet despite all their bulldozing, refusal of building permits, illegal confiscation of land, and daily harassment of Palestinians, 200,000 Christian and Muslim Palestinians still reside in East Jerusalem to protect their homes and the holy sanctuaries of Haram AlSharif and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Jewish extremists have attempted several times to blow up the Al Aqsa mosque while over time killing and injuring over 300 Muslims worshipers during their prayers. They also desecrated the Church of the Holy Sepulchre by stealing the statue of the Virgin Mary. Now the right-wing Rabbis and their militant supporters are considering building a Synagogue on the grounds of the holy Al Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. Their ideology states that all of Palestine is holy Jewish land given to them by God and thus they must expel all non-Jewish infidels from "their" land.
The Ottomans established Jerusalem as a municipality in 1863 and until 1948 it served as the capital of Palestine with successive Palestinian mayors. In 1947 Britain handed over its mandate over Palestine to the United Nations to resolve the Jewish Arab conflict. The United Nations passed UN Resolution 181, with U.S. support that called for the land to be divided between both populations and for Jerusalem to have an international separate status. The U.N. gave the Jews, who comprised only a third of the population (due to heavy immigration from Europe), 56.6% of the land with the remainder to the Palestinians who comprised two-thirds of the population. When war broke out in 1948, Israel conquered another 22 percent of the land and in the 1967 war, it took the remaining 22% of the land to conquer 100% of Palestine.
Since 1948, the United Nations has passed about 70 Resolutions, all with U.S. support, condemning Israel for its belligerence against the Arabs, for forcefully annexing territory, including Jerusalem, for demolishing homes, expelling Palestinians, human rights abuses, torture of its prisoners, its Apartheid racist laws that apply differently to Jews and non-Jews and for much more.
In 1967 when Israel launched a preemptive attack on Palestine, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, the U.N. Security Council passed two resolutions, 242 and 338, that demanded Israel withdraw immediately from occupied territories and reaffirmed Jerusalem as an international city. For the last 33 years these two resolutions have been superficially used by Israel and the United States as the basis for peace negotiations and yet Israel still continues to occupy Palestinian land. It took Israel 22 years to withdraw from Lebanon and comply with U.N. Resolution 425 passed in 1978.
When Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1980 as its "eternal undivided capital" the United Nations Security Council passed two Resolutions, 476 (6/30/80) and 478 (8/20/80), that declared Israel's forceful annexation of Jerusalem "null and void" and demanded Israel's withdrawal from Jerusalem.
With the exception of Costa Rica and El Salvador, no country recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital, including the United States. So why is Israel able to defy dozens of U.N. Resolutions, the Fourth Geneva Convention (dealing with the status of civilians in wartime), International Law, and human rights principles for the last 52 years? The answer is quite simple. Israel has the military, economic, and diplomatic backing of the world's supreme superpower--America. It is able to dictate America's foreign policy due to its rich, powerful, Jewish lobby that dominates the media, Hollywood, and Wall Street. Jewish Americans comprise less than two percent of America's population, yet they constitute eleven percent of the Senate that has no African Americans, Hispanics, or Muslims despite their greater population. American politicians have learned over time that the Jewish lobby can either reward you with campaign money and positive media stories or defeat you should you cross them as it proved with Senators Fulbright, Percy, Abourezk and several House Representatives. (Read Paul Findley's "They Dare To Speak Out").
The latest proof of Israel's influence and power came at the Camp David II talks where Clinton again was Israel's enforcer and messenger as he was with the late President Hafez Al Assad in Geneva. Arafat has proven himself to be a compliant weak politician who is more interested in photo ops and platitudes than relieving his people's suffering. However, he s,hocked Clinto,n and Barak who assumed he would capitulate on Jerusalem. When he did not, Clinton publicly chastised him as intransigent. It only took Clinton 48 hours to state in an Israeli television interview that he had all along intended to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem and that he will reassess America's relationship with the Palestinians if they don't concede to Barak's "generous concessions". What an arrogant and patronizing tone to take with an "equal peace partner".
Clinton's reckless Jerusalem statement was perhaps issued to shore up Barak's standing, or to shore up his wife's campaign among New York's Jewish community, especially after her alleged "anti-semitic" slur. Or perhaps it is an attempt to shore up Gore's campaign donations from Jewish Americans (now guaranteed with Senator Lieberman as his Vice Presidential candidate), or to payback his dues to Jewish Americans who voted overwhelmingly for him twice, donated heavily to his defense fund, even after his embarrassing escapade with a Jewish girl. With such an irresponsible statement, Clinton lost any credibility with the Arab and Muslim world, jeopardized America's standing in the United Nations as a nation willing to violate International law, risked America's relationship with the Vatican, Russia, China, and the European Union. Apparently, there is no limit to an American politician's pandering to comply with the Jewish American agenda, even if it means putting Israel's interest above the national interest.
In any case, Muslims and Christians around the world face their greatest challenge, a challenge directed to their faith. So far, the response to Clinton's comments are muted in the hope that it was for domestic consumption and would not really materialize in the last months of his presidency.
They falsely believe that Arafat has the courage to withstand more pressures from Clinton and his Arab allies and to refuse to negotiate Jerusalem. Rumors are swirling that a second summit is planned prior to the September 13 deadline. Arafat, if left to his limited talents, will succumb. Thus, there's the rub. The sound of silence from the Muslim and Christian world is deafening. Where are the protests in the streets? Where are the Arab/Islamic summits on Jerusalem to unify their stand and demand? Where is the flurry of diplomatic activity around the world to ensure Jerusalem is never surrendered exclusively to one faith? Where are the 60 Islamic nations along with the Vatican and other Christian leaders demanding the interjection of the U.N. to isolate and sanction Israel for its continued defiance? So many questions yet so few answers.
If we can't rise to the occasion of defending Jerusalem then we are spiritually dead. Shame on all who are silent, who have lost their faith, dignity and honor. Jerusalem is meant for two peoples, Israeli's and Palestinians, and for three faiths, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is the holiest city to Christians, yet they too have been silenced by their Holocaust guilt. Little does the world know that pilgrims can come to Jerusalem from around the world yet a Palestinian Christian or Muslim living fifty feet away cannot enter to pray in his holy city.
I for one am willing to sacrifice myself for Jerusalem, are you? Blessed are the peacemakers.
(Dr. Mohamed Khoder is a Muslim writer and activist living in Washington, D.C.)
Topics: Occupation, Palestine