Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What have 40 years of Jewish rule brought to Jerusalem? For the first time in history, the holy places of all three western monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, have been protected. For the first time in history, adherents to each of those faiths are permitted to worship freely in Jerusalem. Indeed, ironically, the only exceptions to that general statement, other than occasional security closures, are that the Israeli government allows the Moslem Waqf to prohibit Jewish prayer on the top of the Temple Mount, and that the non-Orthodox denominations of Judaism argue that they are discriminated against at the Western Wall.

Arabs and Jews, as wells as Christians from around the world, live in safety and security in Jerusalem. While since the 1980s it often has been dangerous for Jews to walk through Arab neighborhoods, the Arab citizens of Jerusalem have free run of the entire city

Compare the present situation to the conditions that prevailed before June 1967. From 1948 until 1967, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan controlled Jersusalem, Hebron and Bethlehem. Jews were not permitted to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron or the Tomb of Rachel in Bethlehem. Over 30 Jewish synagogues that existed in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem in 1948 were destroyed and looted by the Arabs after the Jordanian Arab Legion conquered the Jewish Quarter during the 1948 War of Independence. Those destroyed synagogues included the 700 year old Ramban Synagogue, the famous Hurva synagogue, completed in 1864; and the Sephardic Porat Yosef Yeshiva. The ethnic cleansing of Jews actually began in the 1920s, when Arab rioters and murderers drove Jews out of centuries-old communities in the sections of the Old City of Jerusalem, outside the Jewish Quarter, and from Hebron. After 1948, even the Jewish Quarter was "judenrein." The Jewish cemeteries on the Mount of Olives were desecrated, and their ancient tombstones used by the Arabs to pave roads and build latrines. Arab snipers stationed on the walls of the Old City would periodically shoot Israelis on the streets of the neighboring sections of Jerusalem that were under Israeli control.

Even during the centuries of Islamic rule preceding 1948, Jews visiting the Tomb of the Patriarchs could not enter the buidling, all of which was a mosque, but could only walk up the the seventh step of the outer staircase. While one must note and acknowledge the horror of the massacre perpetrated by a deranged Jew against Moslem worshipers in 1994, with that one tragic exception, both Jews and Moslems have been able to worship in the mosques and synagogues inside the Tomb of the Patriarchs since 1967.

Does anyone believe this present era of religious tolerance will continue if the Palestinian Authority or a new Palestinian state governs the Old City of Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron? If so, consider this mental exercise: Arabs have lived in safety and security as citizens of Israel for the past 60 years. Why then is the idea of Jews living in Gaza, Yehuda and Shomron, under Palestinian Arab governance, so farfetched as to seem preposterous?

For that matter, why does Saudi Arabia not allow Jews to live there, or even allow Jewish and Christian visitors to practice their religions? What happened to the Jewish tribes that flourished in the Arabian penisula prior to the time of Mohammed? Why was the population of Baghdad over 20% Jewish less than 100 years ago, and yet only a handful of Jews remain there today? What happened to the once robust Jewish communities of Syria, Egypt, and Yemen? Israel is often accused of genocide and ethnic cleansing against Palestinian Arabs, by the Palestinians, the Arab and Islamic world and the European and American Left. Who really has committed ethnic cleansing and genocide in the Middle East?


Blogger Wes Landen said...

I don't understand the extent of the authority of the Israeli PM. Is he able to enter into a treaty with Palestinian Arabs or others on his own, or must he obtain ratification from the Knesset? If the latter, it would be valuable for any article about the possible Israeli agreements to also indicate the likelihood of obtaining Knesset approval. News articles and commentaries about Ehud Barak's proposed concessions to Arafat (which Arafat rejected) seem to imply that the PM had final authority.

Thursday, November 15, 2007 7:52:00 AM  

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