Jerusalem: A Tale of One City – Part II
In 2008, then Presidential candidate Barack Obama addressed the annual AIPAC conference in Washington, DC. He received tumultuous applause for his declaration that he would not allow Iran to acquire nuclear arms, and that Jerusalem would remain the undivided capital of Israel.
Given his latest AIPAC performance and the usual next day equivocations, not to mention his administration’s machinations for the past three years on dragging out and limiting the effectiveness of those “crippling sanctions” while pressing Israel not to attack Iran, even if necessary, Mr. Obama’s credibility on Jerusalem can also be called into question.
President Obama is certainly consistently inconsistent. In 2008 he equivocated on Jerusalem the next day by saying whether or not Jerusalem remains undivided is “going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues.” In his now infamous May 19, 2011 policy speech at the State Department he merely said of the two “wrenching and emotional issues remaining” to negotiate “the future of Jerusalem” was one.
Hence, the Obama administration’s stance on Jerusalem is that at the very least, the Muslim claims to Jerusalem have equal validity to that of the Jewish State which clearly has no right to self-determine its own undivided eternal capital. In brief, Mr. Obama & Co. have bought into the Islamic Big Lie on Jerusalem.
The reason that Jerusalem is so important to Muslims is because it actually is important to the Jews. After all, when East Jerusalem with the Old City and the Temple Mount was occupied by the Islamic Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan from 1949 until 1967, Jerusalem was not important to the same Arab/Islamic leaders who subsequently shed crocodile tears over the loss of Jerusalem following Israel’s liberating Eastern Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War. During the 19 years of Jordanian occupation, for example, the King of Saudi Arabia, PLO chieftain Yasser Arafat, et al, never once visited Jerusalem, never felt the need to go up to the Temple Mount and pray at the mosque. And those Muslims who do pray at the “al-Aqsa mosque” built on the Temple Mount turn their backs to the mosque and face Mecca. Why? Because Jerusalem, as we will see from a brief historical review means nothing per se to Muslims except in relation to the City’s importance to their declared enemies: Jews and Christians, those “People of the Book.”
Anyone who is conversant at all with Biblical history and archeology, as well as more than three millennia of Jewish law and traditions, knows the unique and central role Jerusalem plays in Judaism. Jews have always prayed towards Jerusalem, and in Jerusalem, they pray towards the Temple Mount. Jews have mourned the destruction of both the First and Second Temples for upwards of 2,000 years, and pray daily for the ultimate rebuilding of the Third Temple in Messianic times. The Passover Hagaddah (also read by President Obama in The White House according to his latest AIPAC speech), as does the Yom Kippur service, conclude with the phrase “Next year in Jerusalem.” One of the 18 benedictions in the primary Jewish prayer (the “Amida” or “Shemona Esrei”) recited three times daily by religious Jews is the prayer to return and rebuild Jerusalem as of old. Since the days of King David, Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish state.
“Jerusalem” is mentioned 669 times in the Jewish Bible (Tanach). It does not appear at all in the Koran or in Islamic prayers. Islam’s founder and prophet Mohammad never visited Jerusalem, and no mosque was built there until 682 CE, when the Umayyad Caliph Suleiman Abd al-Malik built the mosque on the Temple Mount to create from scratch an alternative holy site after Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr rebelled against the Islamic rulers in Damascus, conquered Mecca and prevented pilgrims from reaching Mecca for the hajj. And even then, Jerusalem never served as the seat of any Islamic political entity. In fact, after the Arab/Islamic conquest of the region, the aforementioned Umayyad Caliph subsequently built the city of Ramla in 705 CE and his appointees ruled the region from there, not Jerusalem.
While the Caliph called the mosque “al-Aqsa”, claiming after the fact that this was the “al-Aqsa mosque referred to in the Koran, as “the further mosque” where Mohammad prayed, this was merely a political contrivance due to the rebellion of al-Zubayr who then controlled Mecca. As Dr. Mordechai Kedar noted in a 2008 article in Yediot Ahronot, Islamic tradition in fact tells us that the aforementioned “al-Aqsa mosque” referred to in the Koran is actually near Mecca on the Arabian Peninsula.
“Islamic tradition tells us that al-Aqsa mosque is near Mecca on the Arabian Peninsula. This was unequivocally stated in “Kitab al-Maghazi,” a book by the Muslim historian and geographer al-Waqidi,” Dr. Kedar writes. “According to al-Waqidi, there were two “masjeds” (places of prayer) in al-Gi’irranah, a village between Mecca and Ta’if – one was “the closer mosque” (al-masjid al-adna) and the other was “the further mosque” (al-masjid al-aqsa,) and Muhammad would pray there when he went out of town.”
Dr. Kedar, a renowned scholar on Islam and the Middle East, further points out: “This description by al-Waqidi which is supported by a chain of authorities (isnad) was not “convenient” for the Islamic propaganda of the 7th Century. In order to establish a basis for the awareness of the “holiness” of Jerusalem in Islam, the Caliphs of the Ummayad dynasty invented many “traditions” upholding the value of Jerusalem, which would justify pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the faithful Muslims. Thus was al-Masjid al-Aqsa “transported” to Jerusalem. It should be noted,” Dr. Kedar reminds us, “that Saladin also adopted the myth of al-Aqsa and those “traditions” in order to recruit and inflame the Muslim warriors against the Crusaders in the 12th Century.”
Islamic propaganda continues. The only new wrinkle is the “invented history” of the Muslim Palestinian Arabs predicated on negating the true and documented history of the Jews in Jerusalem. The method continues; the lie is still a lie. Yet too many in the West have volunteered to be obsequious espousers of the Islamic falsehoods on the Land of Israel in general and on Jerusalem in particular – including the current denizen of The White House.
The author is a veteran journalist specializing in geo-political and geo-strategic affairs in the Middle East. His articles have appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, Insight Magazine, Nativ, The Jerusalem Post and Makor Rishon. His articles have been reprinted by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the US Congressional Record.
This article first appeared in The Times of Israel.