The ongoing pressures exerted against construction in Jewish neighborhoods of
Jerusalem like Gilo reflect intensified global efforts to redivide the
Like many aspects of the Israeli-Arab conflict, the issue of
Jerusalem is being reviewed in a vacuum without relationship to the reality on
the ground. It also overlooks the abominable restrictions on freedom of worship
in the eastern part of the city between 1948 and 1967 when the city was occupied
by Jordan. Jewish holy sites, including the 2000 year-old Jewish cemetery at the
Mount of Olives were desecrated, with tombstones used to build
In the Old City, all 58 synagogues were razed to the ground,
including the ancient Hurva synagogue.
Abdulla el-Tal, Jordan’s military
governor of the Old City and an uninhibited anti-Semite, proudly proclaimed that
“for the first time in 1,000 years, not a single Jew remains in the Jewish
quarter... and as not a single building remains intact, this makes the return of
the Jews here impossible.”
Christians were also maltreated, with over 60
percent of them emigrating from Jerusalem during that period.
the reunification of the city in 1967 following Israel’s victory over the
combined Arab assault, complete freedom of religion was immediately extended to
all citizens of Jerusalem.
In addition, universities, hospitals and
social service facilities provided absolutely equal services to Jew and Arab
alike. One need only visit any of the major hospitals in Jerusalem to verify the
extraordinary high standard of health benefits that unification provided for
IRONICALLY, JEWS today are the ones being discriminated
against by their own government in their own capital. In 1967, immediately after
the liberation of Jerusalem, Moshe Dayan effectively handed over the keys of the
Temple Mount to the Muslim Waqf (religious authority), who retained total
control and jurisdiction over this extensive area which includes the holiest
Jewish site in the world. It proved to be a disastrous blunder.
situation was further aggravated by the rabbinate, which on halachic grounds
prohibited Jews from visiting the holy site. However, today many national
religious rabbis maintain that Jews are entitled to visit most of the area and
even consider it a mitzva to pray there.
But on a recent visit to the
Temple Mount, I was astonished to observe the bizarre spectacle of Jews being
bundled off by Israeli police in co-operation with the Wakf for quietly engaging
in private prayer. I was informed that some Jews who were seen praying are
permanently prohibited from visiting the area. This is scandalous.
Israeli police to deny Jews the right to pray at their holiest site in their own
capital because it offends Muslim sensitivities is surely outrageous. It amounts
to practicing inverse discrimination, denying the same freedom of worship to our
own people which we take pride in guaranteeing to others.
arrangement also provided fuel to Palestinians to initiate a massive exercise in
historical revisionism in order to bolster their false narrative. They are now
frenziedly attempting to deny the Jewish links to Jerusalem and make the
preposterous allegation that the Jewish relationship to Jerusalem was
effectively a Zionist fabrication designed to justify the “invasion” of
Palestine. It is a form of revisionism no less obscene than Holocaust denial and
has emerged as a central tenet of hostile Palestinian nationalism.
late as the 1930s, Muslim Council guidebooks identified Solomon’s Temple on the
site. But those references were expunged in 1954 in favor of a new historical
In 2000, Arafat stunned then-US president Bill Clinton at
Camp David by declaring that “Solomon’s Temple was not in Jerusalem. It was in
Nablus.” On another occasion he said it was in Yemen.
Palestinian Authority spokesman Saeb Erekat, alleged that “the issue of the
Temple... is a Jewish invention lacking any basis.”
PA President Mahmoud
Abbas now repeatedly dismisses any Jewish link to the Holy Land and the PA
Ministry of Information website describes the Jewish connection to Jerusalem as
a “biblical myth.” Even the “moderate” Sari Nusseibeh claimed that “the
historical ties and attachments of the Palestinians precede any Israeli claim to
These expressions were recently extended to even include
denial of a Jewish link to the Western Wall.
Only last week, Sheikh Ahmed
al-Tayib, head of Cairo’s al-Azhar University and the principal global religious
authority for Sunni Muslims, warned that the continued “Judaization” of
Jerusalem, which he claimed had originally been constructed by Arabs, would
result in the annihilation of “the Zionist entity in Palestine.”
addition, we are witnessing a systematic, ongoing course of wanton destruction
in which bulldozers have been employed on the Temple Mount by the Palestinian
Wakf in order to eliminate ancient Jewish archaeological evidence. But despite
protests and expressions of outrage from most Israeli archeologists, the
government has refused to intervene.
The links of the Jewish people to
Jerusalem are at the very core of our national and spiritual history and
For over 2,000 years of exile we yearned and prayed for a
return to Jerusalem, and since 1800 Jews have constituted the majority of the
population of Jerusalem.
IT IS noteworthy that Yitzhak Rabin, in what
proved to be his last Knesset speech before being assassinated, pledged that
Jerusalem would never again be divided.
Yet the sad truth is that in
addition to condemning any construction in Jewish Jerusalem as “undermining the
peace process,” neither the United States nor the Europeans have even recognized
Israeli sovereignty over west Jerusalem.
There is no doubt that were any
areas of Jerusalem ever to fall under Palestinian jurisdiction, the despicable
discriminatory practices applied by the Jordanians until 1967 would be
reintroduced. Abu Mazen [Abbas] has already publicly proclaimed that not a
single Jew would be permitted to live in any future Palestinian state.
is also inconceivable that neighborhoods like Ramot, Gilo, French Hill, Ramat
Eshkol and Givat Ze’ev will ever be seceded from Israel. No power could evacuate
over 100,000 Jews from these areas.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
allegedly criticized Netanyahu recently in relation to the announcement of new
construction in Gilo, but in view of her personal Berlin background she should
be sensitive of the highly negative aspects of dividing a city. Although it will
never happen, greater autonomy and allocation of municipal duties could be
extended to Arabs in areas in which they comprise the majority of
Interestingly, a recent poll conducted by the Palestinian
Center for Public Opinion demonstrated that 59 percent of Arab residents in
Jerusalem were satisfied with their standard of living and that the majority
strongly objected to dividing the city and living under PA jurisdiction. In
fact, as many as 40% stated that if the city was divided, they would prefer to
move to an Israeli neighborhood rather than fall under the authority of the
corrupt Palestinian Authority and possibly eventually find themselves under
Hamas control.The writer’s website can be viewed at