The ascent of Prince Charles to the British throne King Charles III is a problem for advocates of the Palestinian Arab cause. The new king’s connection to a key Jewish holy site in eastern Jerusalem could focus attention on a subject that the Arabs are anxious to avoid.
King Charles III’s grandmother, Princess Alice, and her aunt, Grand Duchess Elisabeth, are both buried in a small Christian cemetery on the Mount of Olives, near the largest Jewish cemetery in the world.
The Mount of Olives is in that part of the city that the Palestinian Authority calls “Arab East Jerusalem.” The PA says that the area should be the “capital of Palestine.” According to the PA, Zionists – whether Jews or Christians – have no right to be there. They’re “illegal settlers.”
The cemetery where the two royals are buried belongs to the Church of Mary Magdalene, a Russian Orthodox church and convent that was built at the foot of the Mount of Olives in 1886 by Tsar Alexander II. It is located directly across the Kidron Valley from the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.
Princess Alice, who lived in Greece during World War II, sheltered a Jewish family from the Nazis and was posthumously honored by Yad Vashem as one of the Righteous Among the Nations. Alice, who passed away in 1969, left instructions to be buried at Mary Magdalene cemetery. Her remains were transferred there in 1988.
The British Royals practiced Christian Zionism
The royals’ desire to be buried in Jerusalem demonstrates a longstanding affection for the capital of the Holy Land, something that reflects what we call “Christian Zionism.”
Whether or not Alice or Elisabeth ever called themselves “Christian Zionists” – and whether or not the new king thinks of himself as such – doesn’t matter. The historical facts speak for themselves. Charles knows that his Bible describes the founder of their religion traveling and residing in territories with Hebrew, not Arabic, names – because those areas were, and are, central parts of the Jewish homeland. If there had been a Palestinian Authority in those days, no doubt it would have denounced Jesus as a “Zionist settler.”
As prince, Charles visited the graves of his grandmother, and her aunt, when he attended the funeral of Shimon Peres in 2016. Perhaps, in the PA’s eyes, that made him an “accessory to Zionist settlement activity.” Interestingly, Charles’s visit to the Mount of Olives was undertaken secretly, without the knowledge of the public or news media, apparently for fear of offending the Palestinian Authority.
It’s easy to see why the PA would have been angry over Prince Charles’s visit to his relatives’ graves. Any focus on the Mount of Olives is a public relations disaster for the Palestinians. It reminds the world that one of the most important Jewish religious sites in the world is situated in eastern Jerusalem – shattering the myth that it’s an all-Arab territory that belongs to the Palestinians.
The PA and its media allies call it “Arab East Jerusalem,” but that’s just a propaganda term. The Jewish people’s roots in eastern Jerusalem go back thousands of years, long before any Arab claims.
THERE’S ANOTHER reason that talking about the Mount of Olives is a public relations headache for Arab propagandists. Anybody who takes even the briefest glance at the mount’s recent history discovers that when the “moderate” Jordanians occupied it from 1949 to 1967, they destroyed thousands of Jewish tombstones, which they used for paving roads and building latrines in Jordanian Army barracks.
That experience reminds everyone how Arab regimes have mistreated Jewish holy sites throughout the century – a legacy the PA itself has continued to the present day, with its repeated desecrations of the Tomb of Joseph in Nablus, and the Tomb of Rachel in Bethlehem. When will the Jordanians and the PA pay reparations for all the damage they have done to Jewish religious sites?
The existence of the Church of Mary Magdalene is yet another PR headache for the Palestinians. It was established in 1886 – at a time when no Arabs called the area “Palestine” or called themselves “Palestinians.” That is yet another reminder that Palestinian national identity is a recent and shallow invention, created not because Palestinians are any different from Jordanians or Syrians, but simply as a weapon against the Jews.
The founders of the Mary Magdalene church would have scoffed at the notion that the land on which their church was built, and where the remains of Alice and Elisabeth were “settled,” is “occupied Palestinian territory.” They know that the Bible which they revere calls the territory the Land of Israel, not “Palestine.” They know that the Bible repeatedly refers to Jerusalem as the capital of the Jews – and that Jerusalem is not even mentioned in the Koran.
How King Charles III interacts with Israel, and whether or not he visits his illustrious family’s graves in Jerusalem, remains to be seen. But the facts about why his relatives are buried there, and who the city and the country belong to, are part of a historical record that cannot be denied.
The writer is an attorney and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.