There are few subjects on which so many who know so little feel so entitled to say so much as the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The issue of Jerusalem is the prime example of this.
At the heart of the conflict is a great paradox. It is both the simplest and the most complex conflict in the world. It is simple in its causes, complex in its resolution. Its cause? The Arabs do not accept the right of Israel to exist. Its resolution? No one knows.
So where does this leave Jerusalem? First, Jerusalem has been the capital of only one nation in the history of the world – Israel. Second, Jerusalem was, until 1948, a unified city, and remains so now. Its only period of division was 1949-1967. Third, none of the “two-state solution” proposals since 1967 have envisioned an Israel where Jerusalem is in no way identified as its capital.
The effort to efface the Jewish connection to Jerusalem has reached truly Orwellian depths, for it is nothing less than a denial of the undeniable.
1,000 years before Christ, King David conquered Jerusalem and made it the national capital of the Jewish people. This was the first Jewish state. Solomon, his son, built the first Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount.
After periods of exile and return, Jerusalem became the capital of the Jewish people a second time a few centuries before Christ. This was the Hasmonean Kingdom, the second Jewish state.
The Romans then conquered the Hasmoneans. From the end of the Roman Empire until the 20th century, Jerusalem changed hands many times. In 1948, the Jews returned, and established the State of Israel with its capital, again, in Jerusalem. This was the third Jewish state.
At no time in the nearly two millennia that elapsed between the second and third Jewish states was Jerusalem ever the political, cultural, or religious capital of any nation. It was nothing more than a minor city within a Gentile empire.
It was never the capital of “Palestine,” for Palestine was never a nation. Rather, it was a term ascribed to the Land of Israel by the Romans. Derived from the term “Philistine,” the name was imposed on the former province of Judea to embarrass and humiliate the rebellious Jews by naming their land after their ancient enemies, the Philistines. Indeed, when you say “Palestine” in Arabic, it sounds like the English word “Philistine.”
After the Romans, not only was there never a nation of “Palestine,” but there was never even a country, territory, or a single province of “Palestine” even remotely similar in its geography to modern Israel. The Koran itself, written in the 7th century, acknowledges that the Land of Israel was precisely that, Israel’s, and never mentions “Palestine.” (See Surahs 5:21, and 17:100- 104, for example).
During these thousands of years, Jerusalem was never divided. That came in 1949. The UN Partition Plan of 1947 made Jerusalem an international city. This was accepted by the Jews, and rejected by the Arabs. War commenced, followed by Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948. The Arabs responded by attempting to annihilate Israel. Israel beat them back, securing an armistice with its Arab neighbors in 1949. The dividing line between “east” and “west” Jerusalem is nothing more than the frontline at the time of the 1949 armistice. It is not based on reason, geography, or history. The division of Jerusalem is nothing but a relic of the first Arab attempt at a second Holocaust.
Jerusalem ceased to be divided in 1967, when it was reunited under Israeli control after Jordan attacked Israel, and Israel, in self-defense, acquired the West Bank, including “east” Jerusalem.
Every peace proposal since the 1920s has put Jerusalem under 1) Jewish sovereignty; 2) “international” (i.e. UN) sovereignty; or 3) Jewish and Arab sovereignty in “west” and “east” Jerusalem respectively. In a post- 1967 world, the idea that Jerusalem could ever be an “international city” has been dropped. Thus, even under the failed “two state solution” rubric, either “west” Jerusalem, or some form of a unified Jerusalem will be Israel’s capital.
This begs the question – why the uproar? If Jerusalem will be Israel’s capital anyway, why not acknowledge it as its capital now?
Answering that would require more ink than is available at present. Suffice it to say, an historical narrative bred of Jew hatred and the denial of any Jewish rights to the Land of Israel relies on the denial of the undeniable fact of the Jewish connection to Jerusalem. To acknowledge that the capital of the one and only Jewish state will be in Jerusalem is to acknowledge that link they seek most to sever. To acknowledge as much is to decimate the claims of Palestinian nationalism.
This “nationalism” was forged not in actual history (for no such nation ever existed), but in the aftermath of the collapse of Arab nationalism in the 1960s, under the auspices of Soviet ideologues attempting to keep the West bogged down in a seemingly endless “peace process.” This is why Palestinian leaders, while talking nice to the international press, frequently speak of annihilating Israel, and espouse the idea that “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” among their own.
Palestinians can, and are, sentenced to death for selling any land to Jews. The Palestinians have, over the course of decades, even begun to deny any Jewish connection to Jerusalem itself, declaring that the Jewish Temple is a myth. Just last year, this same ideology inspired a UNESCO resolution that all but denied the Jewish connection to both Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, using only the Islamic names for all these places. Given that the Islamic Wakf that controls the Temple Mount called it the Temple Mount prior to the existence of Israel, this turn of events represents a regression into absolute absurdity.
And it is this absurdity which has continued to fuel, and even expanded efforts to destroy the Jewish state, for if the Jews have no claim on Jerusalem, they have no claim on Israel.
Thanks to President Donald J. Trump, this absurdity has come to an end for the United States.
For now.The author is an historian, lawyer, concert pianist, and author of several bestselling books, including Liberty’s Secrets: The Lost Wisdom of America’s Founders, and The Original Argument: The Federalists’ Case for the Constitution, Adapted to the 21st Century. He was the senior editor on the recently released Global Impact Bible, and his writings have been published in major outlets around the world.