Op-Ed: The "Two Jerusalems" Myth
Eli E. HertzEli E. Hertz is the president of Myths and Facts, an organization devoted to research and publication of information regarding US interests in the world and particularly in the Middle East. Mr. Hertz served as Chairman of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting.
Palestinian Arabs have nurtured a myth that historically there were two Jerusalems - an Arab 'East Jerusalem' and a Jewish 'West Jerusalem.'
Jerusalem was never an Arab city; Jews have held a majority in Jerusalem since 1870, and 'east-west' is a geographic, not political designation. It is no different than claiming the Eastern shore of Maryland should be a separate political entity from the rest of the state.
With an overall population of nearly 800,000 today, separating East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem is as viable and acceptable as the notion of splitting Berlin into two cities again, or separating East Harlem from the rest of Manhattan.
Arab claims to Jerusalem, a Jewish city by all definitions, reflect the "what's-mine-is-mine, what's-yours-is-mine" mentality underlying Palestinian Arab concepts of how to end the Arab-Israeli conflict. That concept is also expressed in the demand for the 'Right of Return,' not just in Jerusalem - Israel's capital, but 'inside the Green Line' as well.
Most of those neighborhoods in the city are built on rock-strewn empty land around the city that was in the public domain for the past 44 years.
Arabs deny the bond between Jews and Jerusalem; they sabotage and destroy archaeological evidence, even at the holiest place in Judaism – the Temple Mount.
Arabs continually denied the legitimacy of the Jewish people’s connection to Jerusalem.
Arafat and other Arab leaders insisted - Abbas did it just recently - that there never were Jewish Temples on the Temple Mount. They also claimed the Western Wall was really an Islamic holy site to which Muslims have historical rights. Putting rhetoric into action, Islamic clerics who manage the Temple Mount have demonstrated flagrant disrespect and contempt for the archaeological evidence of a Jewish presence.
Between 1999 and 2001, the Muslim Waqf removed and dumped more than 13,000 tons of what it termed rubble from the Mount and its substructure, including archaeological remains from the Jerusalem First and Second Temple periods, which Israelis found at dumping sites.
During construction of a new underground mosque in a subterranean hall believed to date back to the time of Herod, and the paving of an “open air” mosque elsewhere on the Temple Mount, the Waqf barred the Israel Antiquities Authority from supervising, or even observing, work. When archaeological finds from any period – Jewish or otherwise – are uncovered in the course of construction work, the Authority is mandated by law to supervise and observe everywhere in Israel – legislation that dates back to 1922 and documented in the international accord of the League of Nations – the “Mandate for Palestine.”
Such gross disregard for the pre-Islamic Jewish heritage of Jerusalem – particularly on Judaism’s holiest historic site – is a far more insidious form of the same Islamic intolerance that motivated the Taliban to demolish two gigantic pre-Islamic statues of Buddha carved into a cliff in Afghanistan..
Arab attitudes have not changed since the words below were written over 100 years ago, when the name Palestine was used to denote the Jewish link to the land. :
THE JEWS IN JERUSALEM by Edwin S. Wallace, former U.S. Consul, Constantinople, Published by Cosmopolitan Magazine – 1898
“It is hardly exact to call Palestine “the Land,” or Jerusalem “the City, of the Jews” to-day. But Palestine is the land of Judaism and its chief city is beyond doubt the world’s capital of this particular form of religious belief.
“In this City of the Jews, where the Jewish population outnumbers all others three to one, the Jew has few rights that the Mohammedan or average Christian is bound to respect.”
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