Whose Jerusalem?

By Peter Bernard - Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, has stated that he plans to go back to the United Nations to yet again urge the UN to recognize a Palestinian state.

His plan is based upon a view of the Middle East that dooms it from the start.

As recently as October 3rd of this year, Abbas spoke to the United Nations about the prospect of peace with Israel.  In addition to continuing to refuse direct talks with Israel, he declared that Jerusalem was the city of Mohammed, Jesus, and the “final resting place of Abraham.”

Note to Abbas: Abraham and the other Jewish Patriarchs (Isaac and Jacob) are buried in the West Bank town of Hebron – not in Jerusalem.  But still Muslims claim this burial place – a shrine for Jews and Moslems – only for themselves.

Abbas stated that Israel is stealing Jerusalem’s “cultural, human, and Islamic-Christian religious history.”  This is not the first time that Abbas has denied any Jewish presence in Jerusalem and claimed the city for Islam alone.

According to Itamar Marcus and Jacques Zilberdik, writing in Palestinian Media Watch, “Mahmoud Abbas [has] said that taking Jerusalem from Israel is a religious Islamic obligation of the highest level, a fard ayn – a personal Islamic commandment incumbent on every Muslim.”

To say that Jerusalem has no Jewish history is either astoundingly malicious or incredibly ignorant.  But this is a man whose Ph.D. thesis at Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, “The Secret relationship of Zionism and Nazism,” denies the Holocaust; therefore, his claim is perhaps not so surprising.

To declare Jerusalem a holy city (“Al Quds”) of Islam takes only a little more chutzpah.  Jerusalem, mentioned hundreds of times in the Jewish Bible, is never referred to directly in the Quran. What, then, is the uniquely Islamic connection to the city?

According to the website www.askmoses.com, the answer is found in the 17th Sura [chapter] of the Quran. “This chapter recounts the story of a dream Mohammed has where he takes a midnight ride (al-Isra) on his flying horse al-Buraq, which had the face of a woman, the body of a horse and the tail of (sic) Peacock.”

The actual location of al-Aqsa (the further mosque) in Mohammed’s dream ride is never mentioned. Some early Muslims understood al-Aqsa metaphorically, or as “a place in heaven.”

In the late 7th century, the Umayyids who ruled Jerusalem claimed that the actual site of al-Aqsa was in fact the Temple Mount. Islam thus claimed that the site of Mohammed’s ascension to heaven was a rock atop Mount Moriah – coincidentally or not, the site of Solomon’s Temple.

This dispute between Jews and Muslims may seem like just another religious difference between the long-time rivals.

Ho-hum, right?  Not so fast.

There is another overlay in this argument over history that goes beyond the obvious:  Abbas’ other target is clearly Christianity.

How can that be? After all, according to a June 22, 2012 article on The Christian Post, Abbas denied the Jewish claims to Jerusalem and said the city is “forever Arabic-Islamic and Christian.”

Really?  If, as Abbas states, the city of Jerusalem was never Jewish and the Temple never existed, what does that say about Jesus’ activities in Jerusalem and at the Temple as recorded in the New Testament?

Abbas’ position regarding Jerusalem requires the undoing of Christian as well as Jewish history.  Mr. Abbas pretends to glorify the Christian background of Jerusalem while completely breaking Christianity’s strong bonds to its Jewish roots.

The Christian Post reported in May of this year that the Palestinian Authority strongly supported the granting of World Heritage Site to the Church of the Nativity. This spiritually significant location is, of course, in Bethlehem – not Jerusalem.

In reality, he gladly gives Christianity a pat on the back, but only for The Church of the Nativity’s importance as an exalted place outside of the Holy City itself.

What a guy.

So why does all this matter?

How can there ever be peace between Jews and Muslims if the latter continue to deny the former’s history?  How can Christians trust in Muslim promises to safe-guard their homes and holy places given the Muslim denial of Christianity’s own narrative of its beginnings?

Arab Christians in the Middle East are on the run. Coptic Christians in Egypt and the Maronite community in Lebanon are under constant threat. Arab Christians in the Palestinian areas (e.g. Bethlehem) are becoming scarce. This is not due to Israeli action, but because of intolerant Muslims.

The denial of Jerusalem’s Jewish associations is an obvious attack on Judaism. This same line of reasoning is also, however, a devious attack on the origins and validity of Christianity.

The Psalmist in Palms 122:6 says, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; may they prosper who love thee.”

Caveat to Christians: You too are in the crosshairs of those who want anything but peace in Jerusalem.


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