"We have made the Arabs lose faith and confidence in themselves. Now we must make them lose the hope of pressuring us through the United States."
"I am sorry, gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism. I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents."
Harry S. Truman
"Should a nation which attacks and occupies foreign territory in the face of United Nations disapproval be allowed to impose the conditions of its withdrawal? If so, I fear we have turned back the clock of international order."
Dwight D. Eisenhower
On Thursday, September 28, a group of people who do not repect those of us who worship on Haram al-Sharif, our Muslim name for the Temple Mount, insisted on entering the premises. They came armed. The next day, on our holy day, Friday, shooting began and continued even at worshippers coming out of the beautiful Dome of the Rock and Al-Aska Mosque. At least, 10 Palestinians were blinded by rubber bullets and 7 were killed. We, in the medical profession, know that at least 250 Palestinians were hurt, many seriously. At our Palestinian hospital, Makasad, Israeli soldiers blocked the roads to prevent the injured from getting help. This situation makes one thing clear, "There is no room" and there is no beneficence in Israel for those of us who are Arab. This reminds me of the famous Christian epithet, "There is no room in the inn."
Recently, I read a description of Jewish beliefs in "The Encyclopedia of Bioethics." The encyclopedia explained that "Judaism has seen the Torah's commandments as binding on all human-kind." The authors of the encyclopedia continue, "It has long been accepted that there cannot be a double standard differentiating between Jews and non-Jews in questions of life and death."
They also point out that "many Jewish scholars maintain that there is no area of human action, however unprecedented, to which the rules formulated in the Jewish tradition do not somehow apply. . . God," says the encyclopedia, is creator, "covenanter", "sanctifier" of life and giver of human benevolence. God is good and all that he commands is right. This is one version of Jewish philosophy; I cannot help apply it to our Palestinian experience.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque is one of the three most holy mosques in Islam. It does not just belong to Palestinians, but to Muslim Arabs everywhere. Non-Muslim Arabs including Christian authors, poets, artists and singers from the Arab world have kept the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock alive and eternal through their creative works.
After the Israeli occupation of the land in 1967, visiting the holy place became an impossible dream for Arabs living outside the confines of Jerusalem. Even Muslim Arabs living a few miles outside Jerusalem's borders were not permitted to go to the Dome of the Rock of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Zionists, living in Israel, closed the doors of our place of worship to Muslim non-Jerusalemites telling the world that this was a "security measure." Muslims answered this indignity with poems and songs full of peaceful pain and resistence. The beauty of poetry and the sadness in the eyes of the people did not absolve us of the semi-closing of our place of worship. The Harem al-Sharif and the mosques on it remains out of bounds for most Arab Muslims.
The September 28th visit to the Haram al-Sharif by Israeli Likud leader and convicted war criminal, Ariel Sharon, protected by more than a few armed policemen and soldiers is more than insulting to the holiness of the place and the feelings of Muslims. It is perceived as a deliberate affront designed specifically to stir up violence. It is a visible indication that there are Zionists who wish to reclaim the Temple Mount for themselves and only themselves.
Sharon, the "hero" of Sabra and Shatila, is notorious to Palestinians for his involvement in various Israeli military initiatives in which thousands of Palestinians have been killed. Now, he comes to the mosque with an army of gun carrying soldiers. The gates of the Haram al-Sharif where only Jerusalem's Muslim worshipers or those carrying Israeli government issued entry permits are allowed to enter on our holy day, Friday, close.
Is the violence arriving at Palestinian's holy door God's will? Israel's will? Sharon's will? The United States's will? Zionist's will? Those of you who believe that God owns all land and all peoples on it and that God has made Israel yours, is this your will?
Perhaps, this bold move to infuse indignity into Palestinian hearts will be the "eye for an eye" action that will settle the Jerusalem controversy once and for all. Sharon says he comes in peace to show respect. Explain to me how a known perpetrator of violence against Palestinians arriving with an army troop encumbered with guns and with the power to lock the door behind them can be construed as a visit of respect?
Jerusalem is one of the main topics in the current round of talks Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are conducting with the Americans in Washington. While the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak suggests to President Clinton that parts of Jerusalem can become the capital of a future Palestinian state in a ploy to convince the world that the Zionist regime is conciliatory, Sharon, fired from his military post by his own people as the butcher of Palestinians in Lebanese refugee camps, marches onto this most holy site with guns and the fierce eyes of a conqueror.
He does not come during visiting hours with his head bowed in respect. He comes on the eve of a holy day with guns and rubber bullets that mar and kill more than anyone who has not seen their effect could believe. His soldiers do not only use rubber bullets. We in the hospital examine people shot by live long metal bullets and remove such death dealing items from heads and hearts.
If only our people could bow in prayer and react with non-violence, their prayers being their weapons, imagine the impact. But, our young people are angry. They have lost their homes, their vineyards, their opportunities, their eyes, their speech, everything.
Who has stood to show them what peace means and how justice is won? Many were born after the 1948 occupation, so they have never ever known non-violence at all. And, now, in 2000, their place of worship is desiccated with gun totting invaders. This is what the peace initiatives conducted in Washington have led to.
Islam, Christianity and Judaism are based on ethical principals that twine like the very DNA that makes us who we are in, among and through all three religions. God is good and God's will is right is one thing all three monotheistic religions teach children. Another premise is that places of worship are holy and not to be disturbed by violence.
Quotes and statistics: Rima Nashashibi
(Samah Jabr is a medical student and life-long resident of Arab East Jerusalem. Elizabeth Mayfield writes in support of Palestinian rights. Beginning quotes were supplied by Rima Nashashibi, official visitor to Palestine on September 28, 29.)