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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

February 06, 2003

Why one should oppose a second Palestinian-Arab state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza - Part 20 of 23

This piece continues a series of which the first 19 parts were posted on September 8, 9, 11, 17, 20, 22, 23; October 7, 24, 28, 29; November 6, and 26; and December 5, and 13, 2002, and January 7, 10, 21, and 27, 2003. (Alternatively, the previous articles may be found in the IsraPundit archives as follows: September 8, 9, 11, 17, 20, 22, 23; October 7, 24, 28, 29; and November 6 and 26; December 5, and 13, 2002; and January 7, 10, 21, and 27, 2003). The object of the series is to provide a database that is not only reliable and well-documented but also one for which documents are easily accessible, preferably from web resources. The term "second Palestinian-Arab state" is used in order to underscore that one Palestinian-Arab state already exists: it's called Jordan, and it is located in that part of Eastern Palestine that was originally to have been part of the Jewish National Home.

Recapitulation: The first nine parts of this series dealt with arguments based on fundamentals and principles: the historical right of the Jewish people to a home in their ancestral land, which has had a Jewish population continuously for millenia; the international acceptance of the Balfour declaration and the British Mandate to ensure the creation of a Jewish national home in Palestine; the fact that Israel is in possession of Yesha as a consequence of a defensive war; the argument that the current Arab population of Palestine consists mainly of immigrants who came to Palestine as a consequence of the development brought about by the Jewish pioneers since the 1880's; and the fact that the Arabs of Palestine have rejected numerous opportunities to establish a state by peaceful means, indicating that their real objective is to destroy Israel.

The second group of nine parts dealt with arguments based on Middle East realities. The points made include the assessment that a sovereign Palestinian State would obviate Israel’s ability to defend herself; that such a state, by the admission of the Palestinian Arabs themselves, would not solve their grievances; that violence within and among Arab states has a long history, and adding another Arab state will not pacify the region; and the economic base of Yesha, as well as the water resources in the area, do not permit the creation of an additional, viable state.

The present Part 20 continues the third group of five articles, which deal with such issues of the disputed territories, Jerusalem, the Arab refugees, and an alternative to Palestinian-Arab sovereignty. Strictly speaking, these are not arguments against the creation of a Palestinian-Arab state, but they are intrinsically linked to these arguments.

20. An undivided Jerusalem rightfully belongs to Israel. Jerusalem is the heart of the Jewish state but of secondary importance to the Palestinian Arabs, except as a propaganda tool.

The literature on Jerusalem is vast, as any library or web search will prove. For example, a Google search under “Jerusalem and history” or “Jerusalem and status” yields hundreds of thousands of links. Jerusalem-related topics also occupy a considerable portion of sources on Israel in general. This is illustrated, for example, by Mitchell Bard’s Myths and Facts - A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict (also see other material on Jerusalem at the site of the Jewish Virtual Library. In connection with Israel’s right to sovereignty over Jerusalem, there are, however, a few ways in which the essence of this vast literature may be captured in a relatively short document. One such way is to refer to the US Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, as posted by the Mideast Web. Section 2 of the Act states as follows:
Sec. 2. FINDINGS. (1-17)

The Congress makes the following findings:

(1) Each sovereign nation, under international law and custom, may designate its own capital.

(2) Since 1950, the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of the State of Israel.

(3) The city of Jerusalem is the seat of Israel s President, Parliament, and Supreme Court, and the site of numerous government ministries and social and cultural institutions.

(4) The city of Jerusalem is the spiritual center of Judaism, and is also considered a holy city by the members of other religious faiths.

(5) From 1948-1967, Jerusalem was a divided city and Israeli citizens of all faiths as well as Jewish citizens of all states were denied access to holy sites in the area controlled by Jordan.

(6) In 1967, the city of Jerusalem was reunited during the conflict known as the Six Day War.

(7) Since 1967, Jerusalem has been a united city administered by Israel, and persons of all religious faiths have been guaranteed full access to holy sites within the city.

(8) This year marks the 28th consecutive year that Jerusalem has been administered as a unified city in which the rights of all faiths have been respected and protected.

(9) In 1990, the congress unanimously adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 106, which declares that the Congress "strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected".

(17) In 1996, the State of Israel will celebrate the 3,000th anniversary of the Jewish presence in Jerusalem since King David s entry.
Paraphrased, these Findings affirm that Israel’s claim on Jerusalem is based on: (i) the Jewish historical connection with the city; (ii) the continuous presence of a Jewish population in Jerusalem, except for short periods when Jews were prohibited from living in the city; (iii) the fact that the city is the heart of the Jewish state; (iv) the lack of justification for dividing a city united; (v) the exemplary administration of the city as a holy place accessible to adherents of all religions, as opposed to the administration of the city by the Jordanians, which deprived Jews as well as non-Jewish Israelis of any access to their holy places; (vi) the capture of a portion of the city in a defensive war.

Part 19 of this series attempted to establish that at the very least, Israel has as strong a claim to the disputed territories of Yesha as any other party. In the case of Jerusalem, this argument is even stronger. For example, it may be argued that most areas within Yesha were not inhabited by Jews at the time of the 1948 War and for long periods before that date. But in the case of Jerusalem, a Jewish plurality was evident in the first half of the 19th century, and a Jewish majority was evident since 1896; by 1948, Jerusalem’s Jews outnumbered Moslems and Christians combined by a ratio of almost 2:1 (a statistical table to that effect is given at the site Myths and Facts which was cited previously).

One point warrants special emphasis. The “International Community” has supported unification of divided cities (and, for that matter, of divided countries like Germany before the 1990s). Divided cities (currently or within living memory) include Nicosia, Beirut, Berlin and Sarajevo, as well as many other cities and towns in the former Yugoslavia.

For all these places, the literature laments the division and supports unification. In the case of Jerusalem alone, efforts are made to re-divide a city that is functioning better than it ever did as a divided entity. When Israel’s enemies contend, “we are not antisemitic, only anti-Israeli”, this evidence is sufficient to unmask the true feelings behind the hypocritical facade.

Here is a brief example of how divided cities are assessed. A CBC post under the heading, Mitrovica - A City Divided , reads:
Jerusalem, Berlin, Beirut, Sarajevo. All of these cities were divided by war and its aftermath. All became symbols of conflicts that tore them in two. It is a daunting list and now there is another city to add to it -- Mitrovica.
Well, from the cities listed, Berlin and Jerusalem have been united, why must Jerusalem alone be singled out to be re-divided?

But what, one may ask, about the Moslem claim to Jerusalem?

To answer this question suffice it to refer to the pronouncements of Abdul Hadi Palazzi. (Shaykh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi holds a Ph.D in Islamic Sciences by decree of the Grand Mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He served as a lecturer in the Department of the History of Religion at the University of Velletri in Rome, Italy and he is also an Imam who serves as secretary general of the Italian Muslim Association in Rome.) In an essay excerpted from Palazzi's address to the Third International Seminar on The Sources of Contemporary Law, Jerusalem, July, 1996 Palazzi stated:
As opposed to what "Islamic" fundamentalists continuously claim, the Book of Islam -- as we have just now seen -- recognizes Jerusalem as the Jewish direction of prayer. Some Moslem exegetes also quote the Book of Daniel as proof of this (Daniel 6:10).

After exhibiting the most relevant Koranic passages in this connection, one easily concludes that, as no one wishes to deny Moslems complete sovereignty over Mecca, from an Islamic point of view there is no sound theological reason to deny the Jews the same right over Jerusalem.
(A longer quotation is given in the Appendix; I urge readers to review the complete article at the link given above.)

Comparing the claims of Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, Daniel Pipes wrote in an article dated September 2001:
What about Muslims? Where does Jerusalem fit in Islam and Muslim history? It is not the place to which they pray, is not once mentioned by name in prayers, and it is connected to no mundane events in Muhammadìs life. The city never served as capital of a sovereign Muslim state, and it never became a cultural or scholarly center. Little of political import by Muslims was initiated there.

One comparison makes this point most clearly: Jerusalem appears in the Jewish Bible 669 times and Zion (which usually means Jerusalem, sometimes the Land of Israel) 154 times, or 823 times in all. The Christian Bible mentions Jerusalem 154 times and Zion 7 times. In contrast, the columnist Moshe Kohn notes, Jerusalem and Zion appear as frequently in the Qurìan "as they do in the Hindu Bhagavad-Gita, the Taoist Tao-Te Ching, the Buddhist Dhamapada and the Zoroastrian Zend Avesta"—which is to say, not once.
Other authors have noted that the holiness of Jerusalem to Moslems is confined to the Dome of the Rock (a point implied in the foregoing citation from Palazi’s essay), while for the Jewish people, the entire city of Jerusalem is holy.

Just as Arafat invented the notions of “Palestine”, “Arab lands” and “Palestinian People”, so he has attempted to invent new Islamic claims to Jerusalem, accompanied by an attempt to dismiss the central role of Jerusalem to the Israel. These issues are discussed in detail in the Daniel Pipes’ article cited above.

Finally, as the US Congress did, one should take into consideration the administration under Moslem rule (1948-1967), as compared with the Israeli administration. The process of ethnic cleansing conducted by the Jordanians when they captured East Jerusalem is described at the site United Jerusalem as follows:
On May 28, the Arab Legion completed the capture of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, including the Western Wall (the major remnant of the Second Temple, destroyed by the Romans over 2000 years ago, and the holiest sites in the Jewish religion.) The Legion's commander, Abdallah el-Tal, recalled that "The operations of calculated destruction were set in motion....Only four days after our entry into Jerusalem the Jewish Quarter had become a graveyard" (Abdallah el-Tal, Disaster of Palestine, Cairo 1959).
After the Arab Legion captured the Jewish Quarter, the destruction, desecration, and systematic looting of Jewish sites continued. 57 ancient synagogues, libraries and centers of religious study were ransacked and 12 were totally and deliberately destroyed. Those that remained standing were defaced, used for housing of both people and animals. Appeals were made to the United Nations and in the international community to declare the Old City to be an 'open city' and stop this destruction, but there was no response.
In addition, thousands of tombstones from the ancient cemetery on the Mount of Olives were used as paving stones for roads and as construction material in Jordanian army camps. Parts of the cemetery were converted into parking lots, a filling station, and an asphalt road was built to cut through it. The Intercontinental Hotel was built at the top of the cemetery...These acts of deliberate desecration and destruction, designed to obliterate the long history of the Jewish presence in Jerusalem, were also blatant violations of the Israel-Jordan Armistice Agreement, signed on 3 April 1949. Article VIII of this agreement stipulated the establishment of a Special Committee, "composed of two representatives of each Party...for the purpose of formulating agreed plans" including "free access to the Holy Places and cultural institutions and use of the cemetery on the Mount of Olives"...This did not take place, and these clauses of the Armistice Agreement were never honored... The United Nations was of no assistance in this issue, and ignored the discrimination and violations of the Armistice Agreement. In presentations before UN bodies, Abba Eban pointed out that although the Christian and Moslem Holy Places were freely accessible to Moslem and Christian worshippers, "the Wailing Wall, the most hallowed sanctuary of Judaism and the most ancient shrine in the entire city is barred to all access by worshippers despite solemn agreements and undertakings."
Israeli administration of East Jerusalem stands as a sharp contrast. Israel did not re-establish control of the single holiest Jewish site. To the contrary, in an act of generosity and tolerance, Israel handed over control of the site to the Wakf, the Moslem Religious Trust. This fact is recorded, inter alia, on p. 307 of a recent book,

Oren, Michael B. Six days of War. New York: Oxford U Press, 2002:

Palestinian community and religious leaders were, for the most part, retained in their prewar positions, including the Muslim wakf atop the Temple Mount.
Israel has more than earned the right to sovereignty over Jerusalem.

Appendix - Excerpt from an essay by the Islamic cleric Shaykh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi, concerning Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem

“The most common argument against Islamic acknowledgement of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem is that, since al-Quds is a holy place for Moslems, they cannot accept its being ruled by non-Moslems, because such acceptance would be a betrayal of Islam.

Before expressing our point of view about this question, we must reflect upon the reason that Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque hold such a sacred position in Islam. As everyone knows, the definition of Jerusalem as an Islamic holy place depends on al-Mi'raj, the ascension of the prophet Muhammad to heaven, which began from the Holy Rock.

While remembering this, we must admit that there is no real link between al-Mi'raj and sovereign rights over Jerusalem, since when al-Mi'raj took place the city was not under Islamic, but under Byzantine administration. Moreover, the Koran expressly recognizes that Jerusalem plays the same role for Jews that Mecca has for Moslems.

We read:

...They would not follow thy direction of prayer (qibla), nor art thou to follow their direction of prayer; nor indeed will they follow each other's direction of prayer... (Koran, Sura 2:145, "The Cow")
All Koranic commentators explain that "thy qibla" is obviously the Kaba of Mecca, while "their qibla" refers to the Temple Area in Jerusalem...

As opposed to what "Islamic" fundamentalists continuously claim, the Book of Islam -- as we have just now seen -- recognizes Jerusalem as the Jewish direction of prayer. Some Moslem exegetes also quote the Book of Daniel as proof of this (Daniel 6:10).

After exhibiting the most relevant Koranic passages in this connection, one easily concludes that, as no one wishes to deny Moslems complete sovereignty over Mecca, from an Islamic point of view there is no sound theological reason to deny the Jews the same right over Jerusalem.

If we consider ourselves as religious men, we must necessarily include justice among our qualities. As regards the argument, we have to admit that the same idea of justice requires that we treat Jews, Christians and Moslems equally. No community can demand for itself privileges that it is not ready to recognize to others.

We know that Roman Catholics consider Rome their own capital, and the fact that city has the largest mosque in Europe and an ancient Jewish community does not alter its role as the center of Catholicism.

Even more can be said of Mecca: It is the main religious center for Moslems the world over and is completely under Islamic administration.

Respecting this principle of fair-mindedness, we necessarily conclude that the Israelis as a nation and the Jews as a religion must have their own political and ethnic capital, under their sole administration, even though it contains certain places regarded as sacred by the other two Abrahamic faiths.

To my mind, this is the only realistic ground for any discussion of the future of the Holy City. The other parties must understand that Jews will never agree to have less rights than the other religions, and that Israelis will never agree to see David's City divided into two parts.

If everyone was happy to see the Berlin Wall destroyed, it was because the very idea of forced separation within a single city is something offensive to human sensitivity. We cannot even think of creating another Berlin in the heart of the Middle East.”

Palazzi’s message has been the topic of several articles, noteworthy among which are the articles by Robert Fulford (National Post of Canada, May 4, 2002) and John Dougherty (WorldNetDaily, April 17, 2001).

Contributed by Joseph Alexander Norland. This piece is cross-posted on IsraPundit and Dawson Speaks.