Benjamin Disraeli, the prime minister of the United Kingdom at the turn of the 20th century, had a special way of taking on detractors who heckled him as a Jew when he rose to speak in parliament. "My people were kings in Jerusalem while you were still scratching around in the fields for mushrooms," he would say.
The point is, Jerusalem was the Royal House of Israel long before London or Paris had regal palaces, and before Berlin or New York even existed. Yet it is these capitals in their arrogance that seek, almost daily, to disinvest the Jewish people from their ancient, biblical claim and connection to Jerusalem.
This is a people that for thousands of years expressed its attachment to and longing for the city by exclaiming every Passover: "Next year in Jerusalem!" The city has been the capital of only one people, and that is the Jewish people. No other nation can or should lay claim to it. As Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recently declared, "Jerusalem is not a settlement!" It is the City of David, Solomon, the great prophets and sages of the Bible, and the city that Jesus himself prayed for and recognized as Jewish.
Even the Patriarch Abraham, 4,000 years ago, travelled to Moriah and the city of Salem to worship God. It is from this divine encounter that the city, even the modern one, takes its name. It is Jerusalem, the city of peace and of righteousness.
IN CONTRAST, when the Ottoman Turks conquered the region and reigned over it for 400 years, they never treated the city as anything more than a backwater provincial town. It was no one else's capital and remained neglected and broken down. Even the Islamic legend that Muhammad ascended into heaven from here is doubtful and disputed by Islamic theologians. Yet the great Israelite kings David and Solomon wrote magnificent eulogies to the city 3,000 years ago, and these can all be read in the poetry section of the Bible.
The great Hebrew prophets did the same as they called the city's Jewish inhabitants to account. The apostle Paul always returned to Zion to worship and had a great longing to be in Jerusalem for the biblical feasts. Jerusalem has always had a Jewish presence, and a Jewish majority once more since the mid-1800s.
How strange it is then that the world believes that the ancient biblical city should not be Jewish. What nonsense is this? The Jews have more claim to Jerusalem than the French have to Paris or the Germans to Berlin or the British to London. It is absurd to think otherwise, and yet this is the nature of the global political consensus today. It is nothing short of shameful.
At our annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration this week, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem will mark 30 years of unequivocally standing with and advocating for a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty. Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people, and those who contest this statement have to either rewrite or totally ignore history. Yet sadly, this they happily do.
The Psalmist of Israel, King David, looked over the walls and ramparts of Jerusalem and wrote, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper who love her." His great prayer was for peace and joy to rain down upon the city as the Jewish worshipers gathered to celebrate their prescribed festivals and as the nations also came to this "house of prayer for all peoples." This is our prayer as well. And as the only embassy in Jerusalem, representing millions of like-minded Christians around the globe, we gladly take ownership of it. "Jerusalem united!" is our rallying cry this Succot.
The writer is executive director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem; www.icej.org
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