Is Israel Forgetting Jerusalem?

By Dr. Steve Carol

"If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my highest joy."

Psalm 137

In July 2000, at Camp David, then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, offered one-half of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, to the Palestinian terror master, Yasir Arafat. Arafat said "no" and launched the second intifada.

Under the concept of "limited liability war" the Arabs waged war, the intifada, basically lost, and now "return" to negotiate, with increased demands, knowing that the Israelis have already offered half of sacred Jerusalem to them. Now the Arab demands have escalated.

As if to add gasoline to the already burning fire, during an election rally in Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Hania, the leading Hamas candidate in the Palestinian Authority elections, called for Jerusalem to be a "united capital" — not of Israel but of the future second Palestinian state. A second Palestinian state that will extend from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea. In short the Arabs want the entire city of Jerusalem and no Israel whatsoever!

Hamas candidate Hania also said that if elected, the terror group would stick to its policy of jihad, or holy war against the Jewish state. Hania stated further that there would be "no negotiations with Israel, just the barrel of the gun, the only language Israel understands."

Hania, and members of Hamas, the other terrorist groups, the PA and the Arab world in general, believe that (his words)"the Zionist enterprise is beginning to collapse. The next phase is the disintegration and withdrawal of the occupation, and the rise of eternal Islam and the eternal Islamic nation."

Add to all of this the repeated threats of late, from the Iranian President Ahmadinejad to "wipe Israel off the map!" and Israel faces grave and immediate existential challenges.

To make matters still worse, the US government, led by the State Department, pressed Israel to allow Arabs in Jerusalem to vote in the recent PA elections. Adding his voice, President George W. Bush, not only urged Israel to allow the Jerusalem Arabs the right to vote, but pressed Israel to allow Al-Fatah to campaign in the city for their candidates. It should not be forgotten that Al-Fatah was the chief component of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its list of bloody violence and murder is very long. The Israeli government bowed to these demands.

WHY DOES THE U.S. State Department continue to press Israel for further concessions? Why must Israel allow terrorist groups to vote in its own capital for another government in a yet to be created state? It has been Israel that has been making all the tangible concessions, including territory, since the start of the so-called "Oslo peace process." Where is the U.S. pressure on the Arab side to implement, a nearly 13 year old promise to "stop terrorism."? That has not been done.

Despite all its claims of Jerusalem being the "undivided and united capital of Israel" actual deeds show that Israel is conceding that the "Palestinians" have a claim to part of that city. And the walls of division will go up again.

At the recent Herzliya conference in Israel, there was a full-fledged attack on a United Jerusalem launched by Israelis of the left and their "Israeli" Arab supporters, who claim that a division of Jerusalem is prerequisite for peace. Ironically this is the same conference at which, two years ago, Prime Minister Sharon declared his policy of pulling-out of Gaza.

Fatah, the perpetrator of so many bloody attacks on Israel (directly or in its various guises of "Black September," "Al Aqsa Brigades," etc.) was legally allowed to campaign. Hamas was supposedly barred from campaigning, but the Arabs voted for it anyway. And Hamas won the election.

The current Israeli government pretended that these were "absentee votes" but the Arabs in Jerusalem voted in the post offices and cast their ballots into boxes at those same post offices. Think of it, Arabs in Israeli Jerusalem voting for a non-existent state’s "legislature"! International observers witness this. Will they now claim it as proof that Israel, de facto accepts an "Arab Jerusalem" as the capital of the future second "Palestinian" state?

Will Jews again, be forbidden to go to the Western Wall and other holy sites in Judea-Samaria (Temple Mount, Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, the Tomb of Joseph and the Tomb of Rachel, etc.) and face the same discrimination and desecrations that they faced for nineteen years (1949-1967) under the Jordanians?

IN LATE JULY 1970, I visited the Temple Mount. I freely moved about the entire plaza, knowing that this was Holy ground for all Jews. I was neither bothered nor harassed. Neither were the other non-Muslims who had entered freely from the ramp leading up from the Western Wall to the Mount itself. I saw the Tomb of King Abdullah I of Jordan, and visited both Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. The Waqf (who were given the control of the Temple Mount by Israeli General Moshe Dayan, in a "peace gesture") even granted me permission to photograph inside the Dome of the Rock and I was given explanations of the key parts of each, including the site where King Abdullah I was assassinated by an Islamic extremist, while his young grandson, the future King Hussein stood by his side. The Muslims were very deferential, for they still respected Israeli military might from the war three years earlier.

There was no real problem with the Temple Mount until after the so-called Oslo "peace process" began. Rock throwing (we speak of chunks of Jerusalem stone) from the Mount down to the Western Wall below, began. Tourists were subject to delay or being barred from access. All Jewish religious activity was forbidden. And the Israeli government went along with that.

United Jerusalem was the biblical capital of the first two Jewish states. It became the united capital of the modern State of Israel, by two wars of liberation. Both wars, in 1947-1949 and again in 1967 were launched by the aggression of the Arabs. Israel merely defended itself. In the first, Israel regained control of the western section of the city. It would have gained total control but Jordan’s King Abdullah, listening to his British advisers, agreed to an armistice before he lost it all.

For nineteen years thereafter eastern Jerusalem was under Jordanian occupation and illegally annexed. Jordan violated (with the world silent) those same 1949 armistice agreements, which provided for free access to all the Jewish religious sites in the Old City, including the Western Wall, and beyond, including the Mount of Olives Cemetery. The Old Jewish Quarter of the city was totally desecrated and destroyed.

In June 1967, despite Israeli appeals, via three different routes, the Jordanians attacked and lost the control of the city that they illegally occupied in 1949. Thus the eastern portion of the city was liberated in June 1967 only after Jordan attacked Israel. It was then proclaimed on two occasions the united capital of Israel.

It is unprecedented that the winner of a defensive war against aggression would give the loser, the aggressor, concessions. Yet this is what was done, by the Israeli government, by granting the Waqf the authority to run the Temple Mount. It was hoped at the time that the Arabs would "pick up the phone and finally agree to make peace." It proved to be a desert mirage. No peace and with a concession in hand, the Arabs would demand more. That has been the pattern ever since.

Contrast continual tangible Israeli peace gestures, including the return of territory, to those that attacked it, with what happened to Germany, Italy, and Japan after World War II. Germany, was stripped not only of its conquests, but also reduced in size, with territory given to both the then Soviet Union and Poland. Italy was shorn of all colonies, as well as territory (the Dodecanese Islands). Japan was stripped of all its empire as well as some of its "home territory," namely the Kurile and Ryukyu Islands.

The Arab states who have launched or provoked 6 major "big" wars against Israel, in their continual 125 year war against the Jewish people in their biblical homeland have suffered no such penalties — ever!

CLEARLY, ISRAELI CONCESSIONS have NOT brought peace or anything approaching peace.

There should be no more concessions, and certainly no retreat from Jerusalem. Jerusalem, all of it, is Israel’s capital. Religious rights for all in the city yes, but not political control by the Arabs. U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital is long overdue. The immediate moving of the US Embassy (as already called for by the US Congress) from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem should take place. This will send a clear signal to the Arabs that the United States supports Israel’s position in Jerusalem and that Jerusalem’s political status is NOT negotiable, nor divisible.

Let us remember the words of Psalm 137 and not forget thee "O Jerusalem."

Dr. Steve Carol is author of "Israel’s Foreign Policy in East Africa (1948-1973)", Official Historian "Middle East Radio Forum", and Senior Fellow, Center for Advanced Middle East Studies, Scottsdale, Arizona.