Arabist CBS 60 minutes lies about Jews and Jerusalem
One of the main obstacles in previous peace-making efforts has been Arab unwillingness to accept Israel as a Jewish state and Muslim denial of Judaism's historical and religious ties to Jerusalem. U.S. negotiator Dennis Ross complained that during the July 2000 negotiations at Camp David, Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat's only contribution was his refusal to acknowledge Jewish ties to Jerusalem, claiming the Jewish Temple never existed there. When talks resumed in Taba later that year, the Israelis agreed to full Palestinian sovereignty on the Temple Mount, but requested Palestinians acknowledge the sacredness of the place to Judaism. They refused. (See "The Battle Over Jerusalem and the Temple Mount ") Moreover, Palestinian leaders not only deny the existence of Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem, they falsely allege that Jews are trying to takeover or destroy Muslim holy sites there. In that way, they follow the lead of Jerusalem Mufti and Nazi sympathizer Haj al Amin Husseini who so successfully incited anti-Jewish rioting in the1920's by making his battle cry "Defend Muslim Holy Sites."
But this is not the story 60 Minutes wanted to tell. Instead host Lesley Stahl promoted Arab delegitimization of Jewish roots and rights in Jerusalem as follows:
1) Characterize as "controversial" Israel's publicizing ofarcheological findings of Israelite history in Jerusalem, discredit the field of biblical archeology and dismiss archeological excavations as something run by a "settler organization."
According to Ms. Stahl:
It's controversial that the City of David uses discoveries to try to confirm what's in the Bible, particularly from the time of David, the king who made Jerusalem his capital...
...But for all the talk of King David, one thing is glaringly missing here at the City of David. There`s actually no evidence of David, right?
Ms. Stahl dismisses the field of biblical archeology,especially the City of David enterprise, by throwing outa red herring — that there is no archeological proof of a King David himself.But, while it is impossible to uncover archeological evidence of any single individual, there is strong archeological evidence for the existence of a Davidic Kingdom. Stahl omits mention, for instance, that in 2005, archeologist Eilat Mazar uncovered remnants of amassive palacein the City of David dating to the 10th century BCE which is believed to be King David's palace.
It is unlikely that Ms. Stahl would ever challengePalestinians about the existence of Mohammed, or whether shewould questionChristians about the existence of Jesus, based on lack of direct archeological proof of those individuals. Her approach, of course, supports attempts by Arab and Muslim leaders to erase any evidence of Jewish history in Jerusalem, whether through the Waqf's unsupervised construction and dumping of artifacts, or whether through the riots that are incited whenever Israel excavates, builds or discovers evidence of its Jewish roots in Jerusalem's holy basin.
Ms. Stahl studiously avoided mention of this issue. She also did not bother to note that City of David archeologists, who are respected internationally for their scholarly contributions to the field, carry out their work under the auspices of the well-regarded Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). Nor did she elaborate on the strict protocols which govern their work.
Excavations must be supervised by scholars associated with recognized institutes of archaeology, where there is an infrastructure for research, laboratory treatment, and processing. These scholars publish all of their finds (both Israelite and others) according to accepted scientific standards, and they conserve each uncovered layer of the excavated area as required by the Conservation Department of the IAA. But Ms. Stahl chose tosmear the excavations as governed by a "settler organization." According to the CBS reporter:
While a government agency oversees the excavations, the dig and the site are largely funded and run by something called El`Ad...which claims they`re not a settlers` organization, though, people we spoke to say they are.
2) Call it political "indoctrination" to teach Jews about their historical roots in Jerusalem.
According to Ms. Stahl:
Half a million tourists visit the site every year, with guides who try to bring King David to life. There's an implicit message: that because David conquered the city for the Jews back then, Jerusalem belongs to the Jews today....
...So archeology is being used as a political tool. I mean, I hate to use the word, but indoctrination...
Would Ms. Stahl similarly suggest that archeologists should avoid telling Arabs about their own history in the area? Should Americans not send their children to Washington to visit the Lincoln Memorial? By conveying the attitude that it is somehow sinister to strengthen Jewish knowledge about and connection to Jerusalem, Ms. Stahl reflects the Arab perspective where Muslim rights and connection to the Holy Basin are a given, while Jewish rights and connection to the area are considered dubious and an obstacle to peace.
Needless to say, Ms. Stahl does not mention anything about indoctrination by Arab leaders who deny that Jews have any history in the area.
3) Portray Silwan as an area that does or should belong to Arabs. Describe Jews as interlopers with no right to live or carry out excavations there and ignore "inconvenient" history – both of Jewish habitation there as well as Jordan's illegal and racist occupation that ended it.
According to Ms. Stahl:
Another problem is an inconvenient truth that biblical Jerusalem is not located in the western half of the city. It`s right under the densely-populated Arab neighborhood of Silwan. And according to the Clinton parameters, Silwan should be part of a Palestinian state...
...organizations that move Jewish settlers into Arab areas have infiltrated Silwan...
...El Ad has raised tens of millions of dollars, half from the United States, and buys these homes on land the Palestinians claim for a future state......
What Ms. Stahl fails to report is that there was a community of Yemenite Jewish families in Silwan as early as 1882 in the neighborhood known as Kfar HaShiloach, and additional Jewish families from various countries joined them in the following years. In the early 1900's Baron de Rothschild bought several acres of land there for the Jewish community. Silwan's Jewish residents lived in the area until they were forced out by Arab attacks in the late 1920s. The City of David, situated in the Silwan valley, is still 60 percent Jewish-owned, including the area bought by Baron de Rothschild. And it is perfectly legal to continue to buy homes there.
The notion that this area must nowbe renderedJudenrein — free of Jewish habitation,with Jews prohibited from purchasing homes there — echoes the racist policies of Jordan's 19-year illegal occupation of the area, something that Ms. Stahl assiduously avoids mentioning.
4) Gloss over, minimize or ignore "inconvenient truths" that show Arabs as interlopers in the area.
Ms. Stahl discusses the plans to create a tourist park in King's Garden near the City of David, noting that this "requires demolishing twenty-two Arab homes in Silwan," something she suggests would be an "explosive" action.
Ms. Stahl attributes to the mayor the argument that the "Arab houses were built illegally," and that he plans to relocate them, but viewers are never informed that the land had been set aside as conservation parklandwith residential buildingprohibited long before the Arab homes in question were illegally erected. Instead she concludes, "but the locals want to stay in their homes," as if describing them as "locals" is reason enough for them to be allowed to defy the law governing this archeologically-rich area.
The missing "inconvenient truth" can be found in an article by Ha'aretz journalist Nadav Shragai:
Progress has brought troubles along with it to the King's Valley. For hundreds of years floodwaters drained into the garden of the kings of Judea, east of the Shiloah Pool in Jerusalem. In winter it was a swamp, but in summer it became a blooming garden.
With a bit of imagination and with the help of varied historical sources it is possible to imagine King David strolling in the royal garden with its abundant greenery and water among the olive, fig, pomegranate and almond trees, singing Psalms.
According to one tradition, this is where the Book of Ecclesiastes was composed.
About 20 years ago, the Jerusalem municipality shored up the water runoff there, and in the open green area (al Bustan, in Arabic), which the Turks and the British took care to preserve for hundreds of years as a public area intended for preservation and development of parks and tourism, an illegal Palestinian outpost arose.
Within 18 years 88 buildings went up there, under the noses of mayors Teddy Kollek and now outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Under former mayor Uri Lupolianski, the construction was halted, after the municipality confiscated tractors and heavy machinery from the lawbreakers.
Last summer the director general of the Antiquities Authority, Shuka Dorfman, noted in a kind of "post mortem" that the construction in the King's Garden caused significant and irreversible damage to antiquities.
Representatives of the municipality and Dorfman admitted that they had no good explanation for what has happened in this lovely garden, which is described in the Books of Nechemiah and Ecclesiastes, in midrashim (rabbinic Biblical homiletics) and in many historical sources. Dorfman stressed that together with Tel David, the garden constitutes the only complete archaeological garden of first-rate importance.
5) Challenge Israeli statements with Palestinian accusations.
Ms. Stahl gave up all pretense of journalistic objectivity when she took on the role of court prosecutor with Israeli interviewees. She challenged them by echoing Palestinian allegations:
LESLEY STAHL: So El Ad is doing archaeology and settlements?
DORON SPIELMAN: We are doing archaeology, and we are buying homes and buying land.
LESLEY STAHL: But is it El Ad`s goal to ease the Arabs away from right where we are right now?
DORON SPIELMAN: Put it this way, if there`s a home that an Arab wants to sell and I have the money to buy it and I can move, enable a Jewish family to live there, and I can dig archaeologically underneath it, then I think that`s a wonderful thing to do.
LESLEY STAHL (voiceover): The Arabs say it`s a provocative thing to do.
LESLEY STAHL: I heard you wanted to evict people. Where are-- where are those houses?
NIR BARKAT: That`s-- that`s just not true. To accept--
LESLEY STAHL (overlapping): Well, wait, but if you make a park, then those houses can`t be there anymore.
NIR BARKAT: They mustn`t have been there in the first place.
LESLEY STAHL: Yeah, but so-- so you will evict. You will evict.
NIR BARKAT: Not evict. When you improve their quality of life, the right word to say is that you`re dealing with improvement of quality of life.
LESLEY STAHL (voiceover): His park, he says, will upgrade the area, and he`ll allow the people who`ll be evicted to build new houses nearby. But locals tell us the only way to do that would be to build on top of other homes in Silwan...
...The European Union, the United Nations has criticized this plan to get rid of these twenty-two homes. Public opinion, especially while the peace talks are under way, is-- is looking at this and saying you`re trying to get rid- - move Arabs out of Jerusalem.
NIR BARKAT (overlapping): That`s not true.
LESLEY STAHL: But that`s the way it looks......
6) Do not challenge or fact-check any Palestinian statements. Instead accept, repeat and endorse them.
In sharp contrastto her prosecutorial attitude toward Israeli interviewees, Stahl accepts Palestinianstatements without challenge.
LESLEY STAHL (voiceover): Palestinian Jawad Siyam was born in [Silwan] and says he can trace his roots here back nine hundred thirty years. He`s pessimistic about the Palestinians ever having their own state....
LESLEY STAHL (voiceover): Jawad says that El`Ad uses the dig`s archeological prestige to hide its aim of moving the locals out. And he believes that the tunneling is a way for El`Ad to extend its reach deeper into Silwan...
LESLEY STAHL (voiceover): There`s a feeling of encroachment. The Arabs feel it...
LESLEY STAHL (voiceover): But as with the dig, the local Arabs see this as another attempt to gobble up their side of Jerusalem...
7) Avoid mention of anything that might portray Palestinians and Arab leaders in a poor light, or as an obstacle to peace.
There was no mention of Jordan's ethnic cleansing of Jews from the region or their Judenrein policy during their illegal occupation, no mention of attempts by Palestinian and Muslim leaders to erase – both mentally (with denials) and physically (by destroying archeological remnants) Jewish history here. There is no mention of the deadly attacks by eastern Jerusalem Arabs against Jews both in eastern and western Jerusalem — a contributing factor to why Israel does not want Jerusalem divided.
Whileshe mentions "escalating confrontations" near Silwan, Ms. Stahlfocuses on one incident which she says "became violent" when a car driven by an Israeli whoturned out to be "of all people, the head of Elad," struck twomaskedPalestinianyouths who had been throwing stones.Of course, the incident was violentfrom the start,asmasked Palestinian youths and adults surrounded the car, hurling stones at it. Three people, two of them minors and one adult, were subsequently arrested for thowing stones and smashing the window of a car.There were also many questions about the incident itself, particularly, why so many photographers had converged at the site well before the Israeli driver had entered the scene. Had they beenalerted in advance? Had they been told that there would be dramatic distubances or confrontations they might want to photograph? (See: "Silwan Distortions in the Israeli Press") Needless to say, Ms. Stahl did not explore any of this, as it did not support the story she was telling.
8) Suggest instead that it is Israeli actions – whether archeological excavations, purchasing of homes, or enforcing municipal laws – that obstruct the possibility of peace.
According to Ms. Stahl:
Settlements have been a stumbling block in peace negotiations of the past. And ...could become the stumbling block again.
A decade ago, Chairman President Mahmoud Abbas went on record challenging Jerusalem's Jewish heritage and the existence of a Jewish Temple, adding that even if there were one, "we do not accept it, because it is not logical for someone who wants a practical peace." (Kul Al-Arab, August 25, 2000; Translation: MEMRI) Today, he refuses to accept Israel as a Jewish state.
But to Ms. Stahl and CBS, thePalestinians' refusal to recognize Israel andthe attempt to erase Jerusalem's Jewish heritageare not the story she wants to tell. To her, the only obstacle to peace is Israel's commitment to its Jewish roots in Jerusalem.
Posted by Esynagogue JewU at 12:52 PM 0 comments
Thursday, October 21, 2010
How the State department changes speeches about Israel
Is Jerusalem Sacred for Muslims? - Hagai Mazuz and Harold Rhode (Hudson Institute New York)
* Muslims were initially commanded to pray toward Jerusalem. But when the Jews refused to convert to Islam, Muhammad changed the prayer direction toward Mecca. Islamic sources from the first 50 years after Muhammad's death make clear that Jerusalem had absolutely no holy status for Muslims.
* Some centuries later, Muslim cleric Ibn Taymiyya (1263-1328) wrote extensively about Jerusalem, and how there were only two holy cities in Islam - Mecca and Medina. He eventually became the intellectual godfather of Wahhabism, the dominant Islamic doctrine of the Saudi government.
* Ibn Taymiyya went to great lengths to explain that the veneration of Jerusalem is nothing more than the "Judaization" of Islam and that Muslims must rid themselves of all non-Muslim innovations and return to the early Islam of Muhammad.
* He wrote that after the second caliph 'Umar conquered Jerusalem in 637, he and his aide Ka'b al-Ahobar [a Jewish convert to Islam] went up to view the Temple Mount. 'Umar decided to build the place to pray on the southern part of the Temple Mount - the place today known as the Aqsa Mosque. 'Umar's choice of location meant that the Muslims bowed down only to Mecca and that their backs (rear ends) were facing the Rock on the Temple Mount.
* Ibn Taymiyya wondered how Muslim clerics could have accepted Ka'b's attempts to incorporate Jewish traditions into Islam, because Ka'b did not cite any of Muhammad's companions as the source of his claim. Ibn Taymiyya also accused Ka'b of fabricating Muslim traditions and incorporating Jewish writings, i.e., the Bible, Talmud, etc., into Islam.
* So how did Jerusalem become holy in Islam? In the 680s, a civil war erupted among the Muslims. The caliph who ruled from Damascus wanted to put down a revolt by the people who controlled Mecca. In order to weaken them, he chose to build a dome over the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and to encourage people to make pilgrimages there instead of to Mecca. So in essence, Jerusalem's sanctity to Muslims stems from a local revolt which occurred some 50-plus years after Muhammad's death.
Netanyahu hints at flexibility on Jerusalem
By Uriel Heilman · July 7, 2010
Photos 1 out of 1
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a Jewish gathering in New York, July 7, 2010. (Michael Priest Photography)NEW YORK (JTA) -- It was an otherwise wholly unremarkable stump speech before a friendly audience in New York.
On Wednesday evening at Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel, the Israeli prime minister addressed a roomful of more than 300 Jews on the subjects of Iran, his government’s eagerness for direct peace talks with the Palestinians and the swell meeting he had just had with President Obama at the White House.
But then, in an off-the-cuff remark to a question on Jerusalem from the audience, Benjamin Netanyahu dropped a hint that his government’s insistence on Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem might not be ironclad.
“Everybody knows that there are Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem that under any peace plan will remain where they are,” Netanyahu said in response to the question read by the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Malcolm Hoenlein.
The implication of Netanyahu’s remark -- that other neighborhoods of Jerusalem may not remain “where they are,” becoming part of an eventual Palestinian state -- was the first hint that the Israeli leader may be flexible on the subject of Jerusalem. Until now, Netanyahu has insisted that Jerusalem is not up for negotiation.
Palestinian Leaders Deny Jerusalem's Past
By BARI WEISS
Jews have no history in the city of Jerusalem: They have never lived there, the Temple never existed, and Israeli archaeologists have admitted as much. Those who deny this are simply liars. Or so says Sheik Tayseer Rajab Tamimi, chief Islamic judge of the Palestinian Authority.
His claims, made last month, would be laughable if they weren't so common among Palestinians. Sheik Tamimi is only the latest to insist that, in his words, Jerusalem is solely "an Arab and Islamic city and it has always been so." His comments come on the heels of those by Shamekh Alawneh, a lecturer in modern history at Al Quds University. On an Aug. 11 PA television program, "Jerusalem—History and Culture," Mr. Alawneh argued that the Jews invented their connection to Jerusalem. "It has no historical roots," he said, adding that the Jews are engaging in "an attack on history, theft of culture, falsification of facts, erasure of the truth, and Judaization of the place."
The Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock
As President Barack Obama and his foreign-policy team gear up to propose yet another plan for Israeli-Arab peace, they would do well to focus less on important but secondary issues like settlement growth, and instead notice that top Palestinian intellectual and political leaders deny basic truths about the region's most important city.
For the record: Jerusalem is the holiest city in Judaism, mentioned more than 600 times in the Hebrew Bible. Three times a day, religious Jews face eastward toward the city when they pray. At Jewish weddings, the couple's joy is diminished as they shatter a glass to acknowledge Jerusalem's still unfulfilled redemption. It is a widespread custom then to recite the 137th psalm ("If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither, let my tongue cleave to my palate. . ." ).
According to Jewish tradition, Jerusalem's designation as Judaism's most sacred city made it the obvious place for King Solomon to build the Holy Temple following the death of his father, King David. After the temple's destruction by the Babylonians, it was rebuilt by King Herod before being destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70.
Earlier this month, archaeologists with the Israeli Antiquities Authority discovered a 3,700-year-old Jerusalem wall—the oldest and biggest ever uncovered in the region—that they believe was built by the Canaanites before the First Temple period. It's true: there is scant archaeological evidence of the First Temple. But not so for the Second Temple, which is accepted as historical fact by most archaeologists. From the Herodian period, aside from dozens of Jewish ritual baths surrounding the temple that have been uncovered, one retaining wall of the temple, the Western Wall, still stands.
But Sheik Tamimi doesn't need to take the Jews' word for any of this, or that of legions of world-class scholars. For proof of the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, he need only look at writings from his own religious tradition.
The Koran, which references many biblical stories and claims figures like Abraham as Islamic prophets, also acknowledges the existence of the Jewish temples. The historian Karen Armstrong has written that the Koran refers to Solomon's Temple as a "great place of prayer" and that the first Muslims referred to Jerusalem as the "City of the Temple." Martin Kramer, a historian who has combed through Koranic references to the temples in Arabic, notes surra 34, verse 13, which discusses Solomon's building process: "They [jinn/spirits] worked for him as he desired, (making) arches, images, basins large as wells, and (cooking) cauldrons fixed (in their places)."
There is still more recent official Muslim acknowledgment of Jerusalem's Jewish history—a booklet put out in 1924 by the Supreme Muslim Council called "A brief guide to al-haram al-sharif." Al-haram al-sharif, the Arabic name for the Temple Mount, is currently the site of the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosque. It is, according to Islamic tradition, where Muhammad ascended to heaven.
Yet it is also, according to the council's booklet, a site of uncontested importance for the Jews. "The site is one of the oldest in the world. Its sanctity dates from the earliest (perhaps from pre-historic) times. Its identity with the site of Solomon's Temple is beyond dispute." And the booklet quotes the book of Samuel: "This, too, is the spot, according to the universal belief, on which 'David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offering and peace offerings.'" Later, the booklet says the underground structure known as King Solomon's Stables probably dates "as far back as the construction of Solomon's Temple." Citing the historian Flavius Josephus, it claims the stables were likely used as a "place of refuge by the Jews at the time of the conquest of Jerusalem by Titus in the year 70 A.D."
So why do those like Mr. Tamimi deny what their predecessors acknowledged? To undermine Israel, which earned statehood in 1948 and captured the Old City of Jerusalem during the Six Day War of 1967. Since then, Palestinian leaders have fought to erase any Jewish connection to sacred places, particularly the Temple Mount.
While Israel has never hesitated to acknowledge Jerusalem's holiness in Islam—albeit saying that it has less importance than Mecca—Palestinian leaders insist that Jews are transplants in the region, nothing more than white European colonialists. This denial has formed the foundation for their argument that Jerusalem should become Palestine's capital. This is why the previous mufti of the Palestinian Authority, Sheik Ikrama Sabri, dismisses the Western Wall as "just a fence." Yasser Arafat classified it, bizarrely, as "a Muslim shrine." As Saeb Erekat, Arafat's chief negotiator, said to President Clinton at Camp David in 2000: "I don't believe there was a temple on top of the Haram [holy site], I really don't."
These sentiments are echoed in Palestinian primary-school textbooks, preached at mosques, and printed in official newspapers. The Palestinian leadership isn't bellyaching over borders—it is stating, in full voice, that Israel has no right to its most basic historical and religious legacy.
This is no foundation for "peace talks."
—Ms. Weiss is an assistant editorial features editor at the Journal.
# times Jerusalem mentioned in Hebrew Bible-almost 700
# in Koran? 0
When was Jerusalem established as Israel's capital? Read 2 Kings 6 King David 1010 bce995 BCE
Islam started far away 1700 years later
History of Jerusalem
Around the year 1010 B.C.E., King David defeated the Jebusites in Jerusalem and decided to make the city his administrative capital. When he brought the Ark of the Covenant to the city, he stripped the Twelve Tribes of the spiritual source of their power and concentrated it in his own hands.
King David wanted to build a great Temple for God as a permanent resting place for the Ark of the Covenant. According to Jewish tradition, David was not permitted to build the Temple because he had been a warrior. The task was to fall to a man of peace, David's son, Solomon. The Temple would become the focus of Jewish veneration from that point to the present.
After Solomon died in 931 B.C.E., a civil war led to a split in the Israelite nation. Jerusalem became part of the southern kingdom of Judah, while ten of the northern tribes formed the new kingdom of Israel. That kingdom lasted until 722 B.C.E., when it was conquered by the Assyrians.
If you think modern punishments are harsh, after his defeat by Nebuchadnezzar, Zedekiah's sons were murdered in front of him and then his eyes were gouged out.
Meanwhile, Judah staved off the Assyrians and other potential invaders until the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar, led his army into Jerusalem and captured the city in 597 B.C.E. He deported thousands of Jews and appointed 21-year-old Zedekiah, a descendant of King David, to serve as king, expecting him to be a puppet ruler. Zedekiah had different ideas, however, and mounted a revolt. After an eighteen-month siege, Nebuchadnezzar razed Jerusalem. Most of the population was deported to Babylon in 586 B.C.E.
In 560 B.C.E. a new empire emerged, the Persians, led by Cyrus the Great. Cyrus conquered Palestine and then unexpectedly told the Jews they could return to their homeland. While he was probably motivated primarily by the desire to have someone else rebuild Palestine and to make it a source of income for the Persian Empire, the impact on the Jews was to reinvigorate their faith and stimulate them to reconstruct the Temple. The Second Temple was completed in 516 B.C. Over the next 150 years, Judea flourished as the Jews rebuilt Jerusalem and developed the surrounding areas.
The family of Mattathias became known as the Maccabees, from the Hebrew word for "hammer," because they were said to strike hammer blows against their enemies. The family is more commonly known as the Hasmoneans.
In 332 B.C.E. a new power swept through the Middle East. This time it was Alexander the Great who became Palestine's ruler and introduced Greek culture and ideals -- Hellenism. Though many Jews had been seduced by the virtues of Hellenism, the extreme measures adopted over the years helped unite the people. When a Greek official tried to force a priest named Mattathias to make a sacrifice to a pagan god, the Jew murdered the man. Responding to Greek reprisals, the Jews rose up in 167 B.C.E. behind Mattathias and his five sons and fought for their liberation. Three years later, Jerusalem was recaptured from the Greeks by the Maccabees and the Temple purified, an event that gave birth to the holiday of Chanukah.
The last Jewish kingdom survived only 76 years. The grandsons of the Maccabees who had won Jewish independence lost it in large part because of their jealousy and greed. In all likelihood however, with their own empire expanding, the Romans would not have permitted the Jews to keep their kingdom much longer anyway. After three years of fighting, Herod's Roman-backed army wrested control of Jerusalem and the rest of Judea from the Jews in 63 B.C.E.
Rome Rebuilds the Temple
The most significant of Herod's projects was the rebuilding of the Second Temple in the first century B.C.E. It took 10,000 people and a thousand priests nine years to complete the project. The original Temple of King Solomon was a relatively small building on top of Mount Moriah. Herod doubled the area of the Temple Mount and surrounded it with four massive retaining walls. The western wall is the longest, about 1600 feet (485 meters), and includes the Jewish area of prayer known as the Kotel or Western Wall.
In 66 A.D., after the procurator Florus provoked the Jews through a variety of activities that ranged from stealing silver from the Temple to desecrating the vestments of the High Priest, the Zealots started a revolt. The Jews initially met with success, routing Roman armies in Jerusalem, but the Romans returned with a larger force. The Jews hoped to hold off the Romans in fortified Jerusalem, but they began a fratricidal battle in which the Zealots murdered Jewish leaders who refused to go along with their rebellion. The Romans laid siege to the city and in the year 70 A.D. overwhelmed the remaining defenders and destroyed the Second Temple. Some of the Zealots escaped and made their last stand at Masada.
Though the mighty Romans had been held at bay for four years, their ultimate victory was never in doubt and the consequences of the Jews' defeat was devastating. Not only was the Temple destroyed, but perhaps as many as one million Jews were killed and many survivors enslaved.
Scholars now believe Jesus Christ was born between 4 and 7 B.C.E. and was crucified either in 30 or 33 C.E. Like other major figures in religious history (including Moses and Mohammed), little is known about Christ's childhood beyond the fact that he visited Jerusalem when he was about 12. He does not reappear in the Gospel until he is 30, when he is baptized by John the Baptist.
After the suppression of the Jewish revolt, relative calm settled on the Holy Land for nearly 60 years. The Emperor Hadrian had even talked at one point of rebuilding the Temple. He did build a temple; however, it was in honor of Jupiter rather than the god of the Jews. He also renamed Jerusalem Aelia Capitolina and made it a Roman city.
This insult, along with other indignities that went along with being Roman subjects, provoked yet another rebellion beginning in 132 A.D., this time under the charismatic leadership of Simeon Bar-Kokhba. It took nearly three years for the Romans to pacify the country and, when they were done, roughly 600,000 Jews were dead (including Bar-Kokhba) and Judea had been devastated. The Emperor renamed the entire province Syria Palaestina, Jerusalem became a pagan city that Jews were forbidden to enter, and the persecution of Judaism became widespread.
After the destruction of the Second Temple, the center of Jewish life shifted from Jerusalem to Yavneh, where Yochanan ben Zakkai established an academy to train scholars. Meanwhile, the influence of Christianity began to grow in the region, culminating in 330 C.E. with Emperor Constantine's decision to move the capital of the empire from Rome to the city of Byzantium, which he renamed Constantinople (now Istanbul).
The Rise of Islam
The Islamic conquest of Palestine, which began in 633, was the beginning of a 1,300-year span during which more than ten different empires, governments, and dynasties were to rule in the Holy Land prior to the British occupation after World War I.
In 638, the Jews in Palestine assisted the Muslim forces in defeating the Persians who had reneged on an agreement to protect them and allow them to resettle in Jerusalem. As a reward for their assistance, the Muslims permitted the Jews to return to Jerusalem and to guard the Temple Mount.
The Muslims fended off their rivals until the end of the 11th century. In 1095, Pope Urban II called for Crusades to regain Palestine from the infidels. They succeeded in 1099 and celebrated by herding all the Jews into a synagogue and burning them alive. Non-Christians were subsequently barred from the city.
Saladin succeeded in expelling the Crusaders and recaptured Jerusalem for the Muslims in 1187. Two years later, the Christians mounted the Third Crusade to retake Jerusalem, but Saladin's forces repelled them.
Here Come the Turks
The next important phase in the history of Jerusalem was the conquest of the Ottoman Turks at the beginning of the sixteenth century. The Turkish sultan then became responsible for Jerusalem. The Holy Land was important to the Turks only as a source of revenue; consequently, like many of their predecessors, they allowed Palestine to languish. They also began to impose oppressive taxes on the Jews.
Neglect and oppression gradually took their toll on the Jewish community and the population declined to a total of no more than 7,000 by the end of the seventeenth century. It wasn't until the nascent Zionist movement in Eastern Europe motivated Jews to return to Palestine that the first modern Jewish settlement was established -- in Petah Tikvah in 1878.
The Ottoman Empire held its own against rivals from Europe and Asia for roughly 400 years. They chose, however, to engage in a battle they could not win -- World War I -- and lost their empire. Palestine was captured by the British, who subsequently were awarded a mandate from the League of Nations to rule the country.
Politics & Religion Mix
Ever since King David made Jerusalem the capital of Israel 3,000 years ago, the city has played a central role in Jewish existence. The Western Wall in the Old City — the last remaining wall of the ancient Jewish Temple, the holiest site in Judaism — is the object of Jewish veneration and the focus of Jewish prayer. Three times a day for thousands of years Jews have prayed, “To Jerusalem, thy city, shall we return with joy,” and have repeated the Psalmist's oath: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.”
Jews have been living in Jerusalem continuously for nearly two millennia. They have constituted the largest single group of inhabitants there since the 1840's (map of Jerusalem in 1912). Today, the total population of Jerusalem is approximately 662,000. The Jewish population in areas formerly controlled by Jordan exceeds 160,000, outnumbering Palestinians in "Arab" East Jerusalem.
The Dome of the Rock
Muslims also revere the Holy City. According to Islam, the prophet Mohammed was miraculously transported from Mecca to Jerusalem, and it was from there that he made his ascent to heaven. Still, despite controlling the city for more than a thousand years, Jerusalem was never the capital of any Arab entity. In fact, it was a backwater for most of Arab history.
For Christians, Jerusalem is the place where Jesus lived, preached, died, and was resurrected. While it is the heavenly rather than the earthly Jerusalem that is emphasized by the Church, places mentioned in the New Testament as the sites of his ministry and passion have drawn pilgrims and devoted worshipers for centuries.
A City Divided
When the United Nations took up the Palestine question in 1947, it recommended that all of Jerusalem be internationalized. The Jewish Agency, after much soul-searching, agreed to accept internationalization in the hope that in the short-run it would protect the city from bloodshed and the new state from conflict. The Arab states were as bitterly opposed to the internationalization of Jerusalem as they were to the rest of the partition plan. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, subsequently, declared that Israel would no longer accept the internationalization of Jerusalem.
In May 1948, Jordan invaded and occupied east Jerusalem, dividing the city for the first time in its history, and driving thousands of Jews — whose families had lived in the city for centuries — into exile. For the next 19 years, the city was split, with Israel establishing its capital in western Jerusalem and Jordan occupying the eastern section, which included the Old City and most religious shrines.
In 1950, Jordan annexed all the territory it occupied west of the Jordan River, including east Jerusalem. The other Arab countries denied formal recognition of the Jordanian move, and the Arab League considered expelling Jordan from membership. Eventually, a compromise was worked out by which the other Arab governments agreed to view all the West Bank and east Jerusalem as held "in trust" by Jordan for the Palestinians.
From 1948-67, the city was divided between Israel and Jordan. Israel made western Jerusalem its capital; Jordan occupied the eastern section. Because Jordan — like all the Arab states at the time — maintained a state of war with Israel, the city became two armed camps, replete with concrete walls and bunkers, barbed-wire fences, minefields and other military fortifications.
Broken grave stones in the Mount of Olives cemetery
In violation of the 1949 Armistice Agreement, Jordan denied Israelis access to the Temple Wall and to the cemetery on the Mount of Olives, where Jews have been burying their dead for 2,500 years. Jordan actually went further and desecrated Jewish holy places. King Hussein permitted the construction of a road to the Intercontinental Hotel across the Mount of Olives cemetery. Hundreds of Jewish graves were destroyed by a highway that could have easily been built elsewhere. The gravestones, honoring the memory of rabbis and sages, were used by the engineer corps of the Jordanian Arab Legion as pavement and latrines in army camps. The ancient Jewish Quarter of the Old City was ravaged, 58 Jerusalem synagogues — some centuries old — were destroyed or ruined, others were turned into stables and chicken coops. Slum dwellings were built abutting the Western Wall.
Jews were not the only ones who found their freedom impeded. Under Jordanian rule, Israeli Christians were subjected to various restrictions, with only limited numbers allowed to visit the Old City and Bethlehem at Christmas and Easter. Because of these repressive policies, many Christians emigrated from Jerusalem, leading their numbers to dwindle from 25,000 in 1949 to less than 13,000 in June 1967.
Jerusalem is Unified
In 1967, Jordan ignored Israeli pleas to stay out of the Six-Day War and attacked the western part of the city. The Jordanians were routed by Israeli forces and driven out of east Jerusalem, allowing the city's unity to be restored. Teddy Kollek, Jerusalem’s mayor for 28 years, called the reunification of the city "the practical realization of the Zionist movement's goals." Today, a museum devoted to promoting dialogue and coexistence, the Museum on the Seam, is located at the junction of East and West Jerusalem.
Freedom of Religion
The Temple Mount
After the war, Israel abolished all the discriminatory laws promulgated by Jordan and adopted its own tough standard for safeguarding access to religious shrines. "Whoever does anything that is likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the various religions to the places sacred to them," Israeli law stipulates, is "liable to imprisonment for a term of five years." Israel also entrusted administration of the holy places to their respective religious authorities.
Muslim rights on the Temple Mount, the site of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aksa Mosque, have not been infringed, and the holy places are under the supervision of the Muslim Waqf. Although it is the holiest site in Judaism, Israel has left the Temple Mount under the control of Muslim religious authorities.
Since 1967, hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Christians — many from Arab countries that remain in a state of war with Israel — have come to Jerusalem to see their holy places. Arab leaders are free to visit Jerusalem to pray if they wish to, just as Egyptian President Anwar Sadat did at the El-Aksa mosque.
Along with religious freedom, Palestinian Arabs in Jerusalem have unprecedented political rights. Arab residents were given the choice of whether to become Israeli citizens. Most chose to retain their Jordanian citizenship. Moreover, regardless of whether they are citizens, Jerusalem Arabs are permitted to vote in municipal elections and play a role in the administration of the city.
The Final Status of Jerusalem
The Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles (DoP) signed September 13, 1993, leaves open the status of Jerusalem. Other than this agreement to discuss Jerusalem during the final negotiating period, Israel conceded nothing else regarding the status of the city during the interim period. Israel retains the right to build anywhere it chooses in Jerusalem and continues to exercise sovereignty over the undivided city. Meanwhile, the Palestinians maintain that Jerusalem should be the capital of an independent Palestinian state.
Jerusalem is one issue on which the views of Israelis are unanimous: The city must remain the undivided capital of Israel. Still, efforts have been made to find some compromise that could satisfy Palestinian interests. For example, one suggestion is to allow the Palestinians to set up their capital in a West Bank suburb of Jerusalem — Abu Dis.
Only two countries have embassies in Jerusalem — Costa Rica and El Salvador. Of the 184 nations with which America has diplomatic relations, Israel is the only one where the United States does not recognize the capital or have its embassy located in that city. The U.S. embassy, like most others, is in Tel Aviv, 40 miles from Jerusalem. The United States maintains a consulate in east Jerusalem that deals with Palestinians in the territories and works independently of the embassy, reporting directly to Washington. While Congress has voted to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, successive Presidents, the final arbiters of the nation's foreign policy, have refused to do so.
Jews have been building in Jerusalem 3000 years
Jerusalem Mayor: U.S. Policy Set by the Palestinian Press - Nahama Duek (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 19Mar10)
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said in an interview: "I don't understand why the Americans are upset....No government has ever frozen building in Jerusalem, not a Labor government or Kadima. I think it would have been wise if the Americans had come and learned the details before they took a position."
"There are detailed, public master plans for the good of all....If the Americans had come and learned the plans, they wouldn't have reacted as they did. To my regret, their policy was set according to what appeared in the Palestinian press."
Q: So what's the proper solution?
Barkat: "To keep building. That is the only solution. Jerusalem can't be frozen. This was never part of the negotiations and it needs to be removed from the agenda. I believe we must end the crisis with the Americans. Our fate is bound together, intertwined with one another, but let them come and learn the territory. I'll be happy to guide them."