Of all the outrageous accusations made against Israel by the Palestinian Arabs, this is the only one that I find amusing, in a manner of speaking.
How, pray tell, might we “judaize” Jerusalem when it is Jewish?
The amusement is fleeting, however, for there is nothing funny about the Arabs’ motivation in making this charge: They are seeking to delegitimize the Jewish claim to Jerusalem, and, more extensively, to Israel.
When I wrote my last posting, I said I would return to consider other reasons why Israel needs a strong right-wing government without delay. And this, my friends, is one significant reason. We need leaders who are clear on our rights and ready to stand on them. For, just as anti-Semitism is increasing world-wide, so is anti-Zionism, the flip side of the same ugly coin.
The Palestinian Arabs and their supporters may be virulently hostile, but they are not stupid. They know that Jerusalem and Har Habayit (the Temple Mount) are an essential element of our claim to the Land.
Our claim is based on international law.
We have just celebrated the 101st anniversary of the San Remo Conference: At the end of WWI, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan – with the United States as a neutral observer, came together for the Conference in San Remo, Italy, under the auspices of the League of Nations. They met to determine the allocation of Middle Eastern lands that had been part of the defeated Ottoman Empire. Borders were drawn that defined Mandate territories. These were to be governed temporarily by either Great Britain or France, and would receive independence within a relatively short period of time.
The Mandate for Palestine was given to Great Britain, which was charged with establishing it as a Jewish homeland.
The decision made at San Remo was then officially confirmed in a unanimous vote of the League of Nations (51 nations) on June 24, 1922. Thus was the Jewish right to the land established in international law; that law still stands. Jerusalem, it should be noted, was within the area defined by the Mandate as a Jewish homeland.
Our claim is also based on heritage and history.
Incorporated into the San Remo Resolution regarding the Mandate for Palestine was the Balfour Declaration – a 1917 letter from the British Foreign Secretary declaring the government’s sympathy with Zionist aspirations and endorsing establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
The text of the Mandate for Palestine as passed by the League of Nations additionally said this:
“…recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.”
This is huge. The fifty-one nations of the world belonging to the League of Nations all signed on to a document recognizing the Jewish historical connection to Palestine. (See the full list here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Member_states_of_the_League_of_Nations)
The US was not a member of the League of Nations, but the Lodge-Fish Resolution, passed by both houses of Congress on June 22, 1922 (before the League of Nations voted), endorsed the Mandate for Palestine; it was then signed by President Warren Harding.
Recognizing the “grounds for reconstituting the Jewish national homeland” is very, very different from a statement that would have simply said that since land had been acquired from the defeated Ottomans, the League of Nations saw fit to award the Jews a small portion of that land, in Palestine.
Do not imagine for a second that the Palestinian Arab leaders do not fully understand. It is precisely this which they seek to undermine.
Jews became a nation in the Land during the time of King David, over three thousand years ago, when he selected Jerusalem to be a capital for all of the tribes. We learn about this in the Tanach, the Hebrew Bible.
Today there is an excavated City of David in Jerusalem, which is understood by archeologists to be the original Jerusalem. In 2005 archeologist Eilat Mazar excavated the foundations of a large palace in the City of David that was dated to the time of King David, and which she believes may have been his palace.
We also learn from the Tanach that the First Temple was built by King David’s son, Solomon. The site chosen for it was Mount Moriah (Har Moriah), above and adjacent to the City of David. A Second Temple was built on the same site some years after the first had been destroyed in 586 BCE. That Second Temple was enlarged by Herod in 37 BCE; to accommodate the expansion, he substantially expanded the Mount (Har Habayit, the Temple Mount). The Western Wall (the Kotel) is the remaining portion of the retaining wall of the expanded Temple Mount.
The Second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE. The Dome of the Rock (pictured) was built as a shrine by the Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik on the Mount some 620 years later. Many scholars and archeologists believe it is on the exact site of the Temple. Then the same Caliph built Al Aksa Mosque elsewhere on the Mount in 705 CE.
Now Arabs up on the Mount cry, “With spirit and with blood, we will redeem you, Al Aksa.” As if it is all theirs and the Jews have no claim. Many Palestinian Arabs are incited by these words. And many others in the world may be inclined to believe that Jews infringe on the rights of the Palestinian Arabs. The Palestinian Arab goal is to delegitimize the Jews on the site of their most ancient heritage.
We need leadership that stands strong against this. Israel purportedly has sovereignty on the Mount, but does little to assert that sovereignty. Jews cannot pray on the Mount because it “upsets” the Arabs (i.e., motivates them to riot); they have very limited hours during which to ascend, while Arabs are free to come and go.
In 1999, an underground area on the Mount, known as Solomon’s Stables, was converted to a huge mosque. The work was done by the radical northern Islamic Movement of Israel in conjunction with the Wakf (Islamic trust that administers the Mount). Reportedly, then-Prime Minister Barak gave oral permission for this to proceed. But Israeli law requires Israeli archeological supervision on such a site, and there was none. Bulldozers were utilized and priceless archeological relics were destroyed. Over 300 truckloads of soil were carted away. (The soil is in the Kidron Valley and is being sifted, slowly.)
We must do much better than this: treasuring and protecting our heritage, broadcasting the facts of our history far and wide, and demanding our rights.
It should be noted that the profound loyalty to the Mount professed by Palestinian Arabs is politically motivated. Muslims treasure first Mecca and then Medina in Saudi Arabia.
A nine-page English-language tourist guide entitled “A Brief Guide to al-Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount)” was published by the Supreme Moslem Council in 1925. It states that the Temple Mount site “is one of the oldest in the world. Its sanctity dates from the earliest times. Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute.” (Emphasis added)
And then there is much earlier evidence that the Muslims knew about the connection of the Mount to the Temples: “A recently studied inscription from a mosque near Hebron offers insight into how, until the mid-20th century, the Muslim world considered Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock to be the successor to two ancient Jewish shrines that formerly stood atop the Temple Mount.”
I have written extensively about the illegal building being done in Area C by the Palestinian Authority funded by the EU. This is yet another aspect – a significant aspect – of what Israel’s leaders are called upon to do in order to protect Israel’s rights and prevent a de facto Palestinian state from being built.
Israeli NGO Regavim, which fights the fight against illegal construction on an on-going basis, put out a report on illegal building done over Pesach.
“Under current Civil Administration operational guidelines, all field inspectors vacation for the duration of the Jewish high holidays in the fall and Passover in the spring. For a week or more, no oversight, inspection or enforcement activity is carried out in Judea and Samaria. The results have become depressingly predictable: an outbreak of illegal construction in Area C. (Emphasis added here and below.)
“Several years ago, Regavim released a report titled ‘Festivals of Construction’ (Hebrew) surveying this phenomenon. Among other recommendations, the report suggested that the Civil Administration hire Druse inspectors to carry out the necessary fieldwork on Jewish days of rest and festivals…
“…says Eitan Melet, Regavim’s Field Coordinator for Judea and Samaria. ‘The authorities know full well what will happen, but fail to take any preventative measures.’”
This situation cannot be permitted to continue, even if the EU and other hostile organizations and groups pressure us to refrain from blocking or taking down illegal structures that infringe on Israeli rights.
Please see this article by Meir Deutsch, director general of Regavim, regarding Amendment 116, commonly known as the Kaminitz Law. Passed by the Knesset in 2017, this is collectively a series of amendments which mandate stiff penalties for illegal construction and place efficient enforcement tools and significantly enhanced authority in the hands of inspectors…
“In an attempt to garner Arab parties’ support, the Israeli left is now seeking the total repeal of Amendment 116, which seeks to address the epidemic of illegal construction…
“The Zionist parties must act in every way to prevent the repeal of the Kaminitz Law, and work to strengthen the rule of law in general.” (Emphasis added)
It is hardly a secret that the Biden administration – reversing pro-Israel Trump policies – is advancing positions that are problematic for Israel and thus call for particular strength on the part of our government:
US funds totaling roughly $235 million for the Palestinian Arabs, cut by Trump, are being restored, some for “development” and “peacebuilding” programs. There is a serious question as to whether this is legal: The Taylor Force Act requires cessation of funding until the PA no longer pays funds to terrorists in prison or terrorists’ families, and these “salaries” continue.
$150 million will be provided to the very problematic UNRWA. Textbooks of this organization foster terrorism, while UNRWA policies of sustaining Palestinian Arabs in refugee status indefinitely are counterproductive to efforts for peace.
All of this will be problematic for Israel, as funds, which are fungible, will be utilized in ways that are certainly not consistent with genuine peace in the region.
But in addition to the funding, there is a policy shift regarding “a two-state solution,” which has been embraced again by Secretary of State Blinken.
He recently stated that “Israelis and Palestinians should enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity, and democracy.” This is patently ridiculous on the face of it, as residents of the areas controlled by the autocratic, repressive PA are not about to secure freedom and democracy if the PA is turned into a state. That Blinken chooses to close his eyes to this, and seeks to promote the exceedingly problematic PA, tells us we are in for difficult times.
In line with its new position, the Biden administration again defines Israel’s presence in Judea & Samaria as “occupation,” a position that had been rejected by the Trump administration. Then Secretary of State Pompeo, in 2019, announced that the State Department had determined that settlements are not inconsistent with international law.
When one considers the evidence above regarding Jewish rights in law and tradition pertaining to all of Palestine, it is obvious that there is no “occupation.” Jews are the indigenous people. But this is of no interest to the Biden administration, as it tilts towards progressive positions.
This tilt spells trouble.
See international lawyer Alan Baker on the two-state solution:
“The phrase is repeated daily by administration officials as well as by international leaders and organizations, as it was during the Obama and previous administrations.
“However, as in the past, the phrase is again being bandied about as a form of collective and generalized ‘wishful thinking,’ as the only panacea to the Palestinian-Israeli dispute, but without a full awareness of its history, its practical implications, and the feasibility of its implementation amidst the realities of that dispute.”
Baker’s reference to “international leaders and organizations” is pertinent here. The world will happily follow Blinken’s lead on attitudes towards Israel. There is no counterforce.
Lastly, and most worrisome, is the Biden administration’s position on the Iran deal. Reversing the Trump position on this, as well, Biden and members of his administration seem determined to cut Iran slack and sign on a deal, no matter the risk to Israel or the world. Biden’s selection of Robert Malley as envoy to Iran told us very early on what was coming: Malley was Obama’s chief negotiator on the 2015 deal.
Jonathan Tobin is on the mark when he says “Israel has no choice but to act alone to stop Iran”:
“White House spokesperson Jen Psaki made it clear last week that the Israelis are wasting their time. When asked if Israeli pleas about the danger to the region if the United States rejoins the 2015 nuclear deal would have any impact on President Joe Biden’s plans, Psaki answered ‘no.’ She went on to say that…the best they could hope for is to be ‘kept abreast’ of America’s plans. (Emphasis added)
“That contemptuous attitude was of particular significance because the day before the Israeli security officials arrived, news broke about how former secretary of state John Kerry had shared intelligence with Iran about Israeli covert operations seeking to stop their nuclear program…”
This was with regard to a high level delegation consisting of Mossad chief Yossi Cohen and National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat that went to Washington on Monday to register Israel’s position.
So there we have it: a nightmare scenario of situations that must be dealt with from Jerusalem.
The citizens of Israel are waiting with extreme impatience for the erstwhile leaders of the country to take a look at this broad scenario and conclude that they must, absolutely must, put aside squabbling and come together in strength and unity for the good of the country.
Every now and then there are hints that this might happen at some level, and then hopes are dashed once again.
I will not be writing again until after Shabbat. Perhaps by then there will be good news. Netanyahu’s mandate runs out next Tuesday.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.