jerusalem 3d 311.
(photo credit: Highlight Films Footage)
In 1981, undeterred by the fact that no Muslim empire or dynasty had made
Jerusalem its capital – even a regional or provincial capital – the late Iranian
leader Ayatollah Khomeini declared the last Friday of the month of Ramadan to be
al-Quds Day, an occasion to call for Muslim rule of the city.
Friday, Muslims from Indonesia to Gaza marked al-Quds Day with typically fierce
fanfare. Speaking at a mass rally at Tehran University, Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that “the goal of all believers and seekers of
justice should be the disappearance of the Zionist regime.”
leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah meanwhile addressed crowds via a large screen in
the southern Lebanese town of Maroun al-Ras.
“Al-Quds and Palestine are
part of our religion, culture, fast in Ramadan, prayers and Jihad,” he
In Gaza City, PFLP-General Command politburo member Adel Al-Hakim
condemned Israeli efforts to “Judaize” Jerusalem. In Afghanistan, thousands
rallied in support of the Palestinian struggle at Shah-e Doh Shamshira mosque in
Kabul and in the northern Balkh Province. Balkh Governor Atta Mohammad Nur
called on the Taliban and al- Qaida to fight against the Israeli occupiers
rather than carry out suicide attacks in Afghanistan.
burned Israeli flags in Malkiya, Bahrain and outside the Israeli embassy in
Cairo. They shouted anti-Israel slogans at Mtoro mosque in Dar es Salaam,
Tanzania, as well as in Trafalgar Square, London.
In the Muslim
imagination, Jerusalem was the place where Abraham stood ready to sacrifice his
son Ishmael, and it was here the angel Gabriel accompanied Mohammed from Mecca
before ascending through the heavens. According to one hadith, or prophetic
saying, at the end of days the Kaaba shrine will be transferred from Mecca to
Palestinians, insisting on their historic ties to the city,
continue to claim that no “final-status” agreement is possible unless Jerusalem
is “shared” (a euphemism for “divided”).
Most Israelis, however, remain
intellectually illequipped to defend their own rights to Jerusalem. Too few
realize that since the days of King David, the only nation of which Jerusalem
has been the capital is the Jewish nation; that there has been an unbroken
Jewish presence here since the fifth century; that only under full Israeli
sovereignty over the united city has there been freedom of worship for all
Needless to say, the role Jerusalem occupies in Jewish
consciousness, longing and prayer cannot be overstated.
itself embraced a style of beautiful exaggeration to describe the Chosen
“Because of the fragrance of incense,” boasts the Talmud, “brides
in Jerusalem did not have to perfume themselves.” Like a lover bestowing
terms of endearment on the beloved, Jewish literature has given Jerusalem
seventy names, including Zion, Salem, Moriah, Ariel, Neve Zedek (habitation of
justice), Bethel (the house of God), Harel (the divine mountain), and simply
Ha-Maqom (the Place).
To fully fathom the centrality of Jerusalem to the
Jewish people is to reject not only the Muslim extremists roused on al-Quds Day,
but the Israeli ideologues who seem eager to accept the division of the city as
a price of peace with the Palestinians. The prospects of a repartition of the
city, after all, leave little room for complacency. The very same circumstances
which led to Israel’s relinquishment of the West Bank – the pressures of world
opinion, the lures of “peace” – today apply to Jerusalem.
In 1799, during
his sweep through the Middle East, Napoleon issued a “Proclamation to the Jews”
from his headquarters a couple of dozen miles west of Jerusalem: “Bonaparte,
Commander in Chief of the armies of the French Republic in Africa and Asia, to
the rightful heirs of Palestine – the unique nation of Jews who have been
deprived of the land of your fathers by thousands of years of lust for conquest
and tyranny. Arise then with gladness, ye exiled, and take unto yourself
Turned back by the Ottoman warlord Ahmet Jazzar, the
Frenchman beat a retreat to Egypt before he could deliver any such gladness, but
two centuries later it is high time we took his advice and reaffirmed our
“All roads in our part of the world,” Jordan’s King Abdullah
warned last year, “all the conflicts, lead to Jerusalem.”
afford to pretend otherwise.