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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2425

Trump’s reckless decision on Jerusalem – Part 1

By Habib Siddiqui

U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was dealt a blow when the bulk of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly (GA) member states backed its motion to brand his unilateral move as “null and void”.

The resounding condemnation against the move by the US president was delivered by 128 countries - almost two-thirds of the 193 member states of the global alliance. Only eight - Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo - supported Trump in his stance.

The UK, France and Germany were among the nations who voted in favor of the motion. It is not legally binding, but its near unanimous victory delivered an embarrassing blow to Trump.

Jerusalem remains the most contested real estate in our world. Since coming to power in 2015 for the fourth time, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has made Jerusalem one of the central pieces of his agenda to Judaize and grab the city, in violations of scores of international laws. He issued orders for constructing new settlements around the occupied East Jerusalem. On 23 December 2016, the United States, under the Obama Administration, abstained from United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, effectively allowing it to pass. On 28 December, 2016 U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry strongly criticized Israel and its settlement policies in a speech.

Of course, with the election win of Trump, the relationship between the two states has improved significantly. As far as the Netanyahu government is concerned, it’s impossible to imagine an American White House more attuned to Israel’s concerns than Trump’s. One senior Israeli official likened Trump’s picks of pro-Israel U.S. policymakers—a uniquely favorable lineup that presents Israel with an opportunity to make strategic gains. The two leaders have quite a few things in common: their tactics, their contempt for the core values of democracy, their inherent racism (both against Muslims, with Trump adding his contempt for black people and Mexicans for good measure), their love of walls, their hatred of Iran, their scandals and, more broadly, the growing sense that both are driven more by a desperation for self-preservation than by any sense of commitment to their national interests.

In October 2015, Netanyahu drew widespread criticism for claiming that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, gave Adolf Hitler the idea for the Holocaust in the preceding months to the Second World War, convincing the Nazi leader to exterminate Jews rather than just expel them from Europe. This ludicrous claim has since been dismissed by mainstream historians, who note that al-Husseini's meeting with Hitler took place approximately five months after the mass murder of Jews began. Some of the strongest criticism came from Israeli academics: Yehuda Bauer said Netanyahu's claim was "completely idiotic", while Moshe Zimmermann stated that "any attempt to deflect the burden from Hitler to others is a form of Holocaust denial.

There is no doubt that Netanyahu tried to use one of the old dirty tricks – disinformation – to jusitfy his untenable claims on Jerusalem.

Introduction

Jerusalem has been the subject of immense interest throughout history. It embodies sacred memories of the Prophets of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is here that all the three Semitic religions of the world played vital roles at different junctures in the history of mankind. For twelve centuries, under Muslim rule (636-1917 CE, except a century of Christian rule), Jerusalem has been an oasis of peace and tranquility. Yet, beginning in 1948, we witness a change of a major dimension, a conspiracy that culminated in the establishment of a Zionist state in Palestine ignoring the rights of its overwhelming Muslim majority. This event has been responsible for much bloodshed to subsequently follow among the children and heirs to the Abrahamic heritage.

Jerusalem is very dear and sacred to Muslims for a number of reasons.

The Holy Qur’an refers to Jerusalem in connection with Prophet Muhammad’s (Sallal-lahu alayh wa-as-salam: blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) Isra’ and Mi’raj in the following verses: "Glory be to Him who did take His servant for a journey by night from the Masjid Al-Haram (Sacred Mosque) to the Masjid Al-Aqsa (Farthest Mosque) whose precincts We did bless, in order that We might show him some of Our signs. He (Allah) is the One who hears and sees all things.” [Qur’an 17:1] (The masjid in Jerusalem was called the farthest mosque because it was the farthest mosque known to the Arabs during the Prophet’s time.) According to most commentators of the Qur’an, this event of Isra’ and Mi’raj took place in the year before the Hijra (Prophet’s migration to Madina). The hadith literature gives details of this journey. To Muslims, the event is viewed as passing of the spiritual baton from the children of Isaac (Ishaq) to those of Isma’il (alayhis salam).[12]

As has been pointed out by Professor Walid Khalidi in his 1996 address at the Jerusalem Conference of the American Committee on Jerusalem, “The Prophet’s isra to and miraj from Jerusalem became the source of inspiration of a vast body of devotional Muslim literature, as successive generations of Traditionists, Koranic commentators, theologians, and mystics added their glosses and embellishments. In this literature, in which the Prophet is made to describe his visits to Hell and Paradise, Jerusalem lies at the center of Muslims beliefs, literal and allegorical, concerning life beyond the grave. This literature is in circulation to this day in all the languages spoken by nearly one billion Muslims. To this day, too, the Night of the Miraj is annually celebrated throughout the Muslim world.

A particular link also exists between Jerusalem and one of the five "pillars" of Islam — the five daily prayers (salat). According to Muslim tradition, it was during the Prophet’s miraj that, after conversations between the Prophet and Moses, the five daily prayers observed throughout the Muslim world became canonical. Parallel to this body of literature concerning the isra and miraj is another vast corpus of devotional writings concerning the "Excellencies" or "Virtues" (fada’il) of Jerusalem.”[13]

In the early stage of Islam, Jerusalem was the Qiblah towards which Muslims faced in their prayers. Later, however, they were instructed by Allah to change their Qiblah to Makkah: “So turn thy face toward the Masjid al-Haram, and ye (O Muslims), wheresoever ye may be, turn your faces (when ye pray) toward it. Lo! those who have received the Scripture know that (this Revelation) is the Truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do.” [Qur’an 2:144]

With this change of Qiblah, Jerusalem did not lose its sacredness to Muslims though. It came to be known as Al-Quds (the sanctuary), al-Beit al-Muqaddis (i.e., the holy house), and al-Quds ash-Sharif (the holy and noble city).

Pre-Islamic Period:

The memorandum of the Zionist Organization to the Peace Conference in 1919 declared, "This land is the "historic" home of the Jews." By "historic" the Zionists meant the right of the "first occupier," i.e., nobody inhabited the region prior to the Jews. Such an assertion, as we will see, is only a myth. For debunking this myth of “first occupier,” we shall examine the Bible. The Book of Genesis says, "And Te’rah took Abram [referring to prophet Abraham or Ibrahim (Alayhis Salam)] his son, and Lot [referring to Lut (AS)] the son of Ha’ran his son’s son, and Sa’rai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went out from Ur of Chaldeans in order to enter the land of Canaan." [Gen. 11:31]; "And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Si’chem, unto the plain of Mo’reh. And the Canaanite was then in the land." [Gen. 12:6] [14] The verses 13:3-7 state that the Canaanite and the Perizzite were already dwelling in the land when Abraham returned from Egypt to Bethel and set his tent between Bethel and Ha’i. Not only did the tribes with Abraham find the Canaanites but they also found the Hittites (around Hebron), the Ammonites (around Amman), the Moabites (to the east of the Dead Sea) and the Edomites (in the south-east). At the same time, there were arriving from the Aegean Sea another people, the Philistines, who installed themselves between Mount Carmel and the desert.

The Bible says that Jacob [prophet Yaqub (AS)], who is also known as Israel, settled in Sha’lem , a city of She’chem, which was in the land of Canaan (Gen. 33:18). There he erected an altar and called it El-e-lo’he-Israel. [Gen. 33:20]

The modern-day Palestinians are, in deed, descended from indigenous Canaanite Jebusites who lived in Palestine at least 5000 years ago, from the Philistines (who gave the country its name – Palestine, Arabic for Falastin), and from the Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and the Turks who successively occupied the territory, following the Babylonians, the Hittites, and the Egyptians. The "first occupiers" are these inhabitants who have inhabited the territory since the dawn of history. And any reference that the Palestinians are descendants of Muslim Arabs (from the time of Muslim conquest of Jerusalem) is disingenuous and is aimed at denying their ancestral tie to the land for five millennia.

The current mythology to connect Prophet Dawud or David (AS) with Jerusalem is a typical example of distorting history. The name Jerusalem does not come from the Hebrew word ‘shalom’ meaning peace, but from Uru-shalim, meaning the city or foundation of the (Canaanite Jebusite) god Shalim, cited in ancient Egyptian texts. It is these Jebusites who gave the name of the city some 2000 years before the time of David and Solomon.

Both the Qur’an and the so-called Old Testament mention that the children of Jacob [Yaqub (AS)] settled in Egypt when Joseph [Yusuf (AS)] was appointed a Minister to the Pharaoh. Moses [Musa (AS)], born in Egypt, was later commanded by Allah to rescue the Children of Israel from the Egyptian bondage and to settle them in the Sinai desert. During the time of Moses, the holy land was denied to them due to their disobedience of the commandments of Allah (see the Book of Deuteronomy).

From the accounts in the Bible, it is clear that the Children of Israel did not establish themselves in the Holy Land until around 1004 BCE when David [Dawud (AS)] of the tribe of Judah defeated the Jebusites to found a kingdom there. He created a multi-national state, embracing peoples of different religions. His own ancestress Ruth was a Moabite. His son Solomon [Sulayman (AS)], who succeeded the throne, was born of a Hittite mother. Solomon, like his father, maintained the multi-national characteristics of his regime.[15] He built a stone temple, commonly known as the Temple of Solomon, as a gesture of his thanks to Allah (YHWH).

After Solomon’s death, the kingdom got divided into two -” the Kingdom of Israel in the north (comprising the ten tribes) with the capital in Samaria, and the Kingdom of Judah in the south (comprising the two tribes) with capital in Jerusalem. In 722-721 BCE, the Kingdom of Israel was invaded by the Assyrians and its people scattered, who came to be known as the "Ten lost tribes of Israel.” In 586 BCE, the Babylonians under the leadership of King Nebuchadnezzar annexed the southern kingdom of Judah. The country’s notables were exiled to Babylon. Jerusalem was ravaged to the ground, along with its temple and fortifications. When Emperor Cyrus (Dhul Qarnain of the Qur’an) of Persia defeated the Babylonians in 538-537 BCE, he let the exiles to return to Jerusalem. Many Jews, however, preferred to remain in more prosperous Babylon.

History is scant and dubious before Alexander’s peaceful entry into Jerusalem in 332 BCE, but it suffered heavily under the Persians and the temple – rebuilt under Ezra (Uzayr) and Nehemiah about 515 BCE – might have been destroyed during Artaxerxes’s regime. In 320 BCE, Ptolemy I of Egypt partially demolished the fortifications that remained in ruins until their restoration by Simon II in 219 BCE After a series of struggles between the Ptolemies and Seleucids, the latter obtained the city by a treaty in 197 BCE. The temple was totally Hellenized, i.e., turned into a heathen idol-temple, by Antiochus Epiphanes in 167 BCE.

Next we come to the period of the Maccabean revolt. After a twenty years’ struggle, the Maccabees were able to form the Hasmonean dynasty in 164 BCE. This broke up owing to internal conflicts and in 63 BCE Roman General Pompey was able to conquer Palestine, which first became a vassal monarchy under Herod, and then a Roman province.

Under Herod, Jerusalem was rebuilt and the second temple (known as the Temple of Zerubabel) elaborated (from 17 BCE to 29 CE). However, during the failed revolt (66-70 CE) by the Hebrews, the city was blockaded by Roman General Titus who completely razed it to the ground and burned the temple in 70 CE on the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Ab, the very month and day on which 657 years earlier Nebuchadnezzar had razed the first Temple.[16] (The Qur’an briefly mentions these two destructions of the Temple in Surah 17:4-7.) The Jewish inhabitants were exiled or sold into slavery. After the failed second revolt (132 CE), led by Bar Kochba, the city was renamed Aelia Capitolina in 135 CE and Jews were banned from entering the city. And since then Jews gradually moved away from Palestine.

In 326 CE, Emperor Constantine the great ordered the building of the Church of Holy Sepulcher in Aelia. In 614-615 CE Khoshru II of Persia captured the city by defeating the Roman (Byzantine) Christians, mention of which is available in the Qur’an 30:2-3: “The Romans have been defeated in a land close by: but they, (even) after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious within a few years, with Allah is the command in the past and in the future: on that day shall the believers rejoice.” His forces destroyed many buildings. Just as the Qur’an had prophesied, the Romans defeated the Persians in 628 C.E, under Heraclius, and reentered Aelia.

==== To be continued ….

- Asian Tribune -

Trump’s reckless decision on Jerusalem – Part 1
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