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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Imagination, Not Fact: Shaping the UN Members' Minds Over Palestine

Nadene Goldfoot
The land called Palestine after the Roman conquest of Israel in 70AD had become a land holy not only to the Jews but to the Christians as well, but never to Islam.  The fact is that in 632 the Arabs invaded and conquered from Arabia.  By 640 Palestine was a part of their emerging Muslim empire.  The Omayyads, mainly an Arab people, ruled there for 450 years from Damascus.  Then the Abbasid dynasty, mainly Turkish ruled from Baghdad.  The Fatimids from Cairo then took over the rule and these people were either tolerant or were persecuting the peoples there.  The Crusaders ruled Palestine or parts for about 2 centuries and massacred Jews in the cities.  Through it all the remaining Jews continued to survive, no matter who was at the helm.  Jews fought with Muslims against the Crusaders.  When Jerusalem fell, the Crusaders gathered the Jews in a synagogue and burned them.  Jews held out against the Crusaders in Haifa for a month from June to July 1099.  At this time there were Jewish communities all over the country such as Jerusalem, Tiberias, Ramleh, Ashkelon, Caesarea and Gaza and they all had to endure persecution and continuous attacks.  They became reduced in population but  their stiff-necked stubborness helped them to hold on and to endure. 

During the time Muslims ruled in Palestine, they weren't impressed with Jerusalem's importance to their own religion of Islam.  When this city fell to the Crusaders in 1099, a Muslim delegation arrived in Baghdad, the capital of their empire , to ask for aid against the invading Christians.  The Baghdadis cried and were sympathetic but did nothing to help recover Jerusalem.   Jerusalem had no part to play in the Arab's political life as it was considered just a backwater provincial townlet.  It wasn't a capital of anything to them.  It wasn't a cultural center for Arabs and no school of Islamic lore came from there or any religious writings.  Even when the Muslims ruled there, the majority of the population was mainly made of Christians., not Muslims.  

In the 1800's when Jews immigrated back from the Russian Empire, they became the majority and have kept this position.  The British encouraged or permitted Arab attacks on Jews from 1920 to when they left by May 1948.  These attacks brought about the Jews' retreat out of the Old city and moving into the newer parts.  In 1948 the Jews ran out of ammunition and the defenders surrendered to the Jordanians.  This was when Jerusalem was divided in half.

Islam was based on a lot of borrowing from Judaism and Christianity, religions established at the time of its birth. Mohammed tried to convert Jews and Christians  and first ordered his faithful to face Jerusalem when praying.  When neither did so after 18 months of pressure, he changed his ruling to face Mecca.  Islam teaches that he rose on his winged horse with a woman's face and a peackock's tail, Buraq, who took him to heaven  at the Temple area.  This area was an existing holy place for Jews for almost 2,000 years before Mohammed ever came along.  The writer of this episode chose this awesome site for Mohammed's ascent.  Islam had the habit of borrowing Holy Places that were originally Jewish. They then built The Dome of the Rock and the Al Aksa Mosque on this Mount so it became the 3rd holiest place in Islam.  First was Mecca and then Medina in Arabia.  There is no evidence that Mohammed ever was in Jerusalem at all.  Christopher Sykes, of the Sykes- Picot Agreement in 1915 wrote:  "To the Moslems it is not Jerusalem, but a certain site in Jerusalem which is venerated...the majestic Dome of the Rock. ...Apart from the hallowed rock, Jerusalem has no major Islamic significance."  In 1948 during the war Abdallah's Arab League under British guidance captured the eastern part of Jerusalem, basically the Old City.  During the Jordanian rule of 19 years the Arabs worked on destroying anything involving the Jewish presence and identity.  All the sysnagogues were destroyed.  At the most famous one, the Hurvah, an Arab erected his stable for his ass and goat.  The ancient Jewish cemetery located on the Mount of Olives was torn up and tombstones were used for paving and for lavatory seats in the Jordanian army camps. 

 However, the Jordanians were very careful not to destroy any Christian places for political purposes, so the Christians there kept mum about what was going on at the Jewish sites. 

In confrontations between Jews and Muslims, it is felt that the Arabs have a facility to manufacture facts and to deceive themselves into accepting them, thereby working themselves up into passionate hatred over what is actually a nonexistent reason for such emotion.  What a people believes, even if untrue, has the same influence over their lives as if it were true.  This is some imagination that has been believed enough to play a part in shaping world events.  Radio, TV, and other modern means of communication serve to spread lies which are used to shape world policy.  Such policies were also used by Germany and the Soviet Union.  Back in the 11th century, Al-Ghazzali, a great Muslim theologian wrote, :"Know that a lie is not haram (wrong) in itself, but only because of the evil conclusions to which it leads the hearer, making him believe something that is not really the case...If a lie is the only way of obtaining a good result, it is permissible...We must lie when the truth leads to unpleasant results."  Sania Hamady, an Arab sociologist wrote, "Lying is a widespread habit among the Arabs and they have a low idea of truth...The Arab has no scruples about lying if by it he obtains his objective...He is more interested in feeling than facts, in conveying an impression than in giving a report.  The Arab language, moreover, provides its users with the tool for assertion (tarokid) and exaggeration (mubalong).  Such descriptions can fit many situations today with many peoples, it seems, not just the Arabs.  I believe this philosophy has permeated into all levels of society everywhere.  Readers and listeners, beware.  In order to make just decisions and rulings, one must really get to facts.   

Such is the goal of Fatah and Hamas, Arabs who will go to the UN to plea for their own state of Palestine.  They also want, not only Gaza, Judea and Samaria which will become a state without any Jews as they will force them out, but will demand East Jerusalem as well for their capital, and this will also be free of Jews.  This contains the  Wailing Wall, for one thing, immensely important to Jerusalem and to Israel.  The fact remains that Israel is being attacked from Gaza constantly and that Israel has good reason to feel that the aim is to take all of Jerusalem from Israel, and then of course, to destroy Israel as well.  This comes from the goals of Hamas and also from the Muslim Brotherhood as well. 

In Israel, over a million Arabs are citizens.  They even serve in the Knesset.  Democracy is the rule in Israel.  It will not be in Palestine.  It will be made up of a people with hatred and vengence on their minds towards Israel.  Nothing will be accomplished except the nod of approval for their actions.  Is this where the world has gone?  Will it seek truth and prevent another war?  The fathers of Israel had accepted  Feisal's plan of a state for the Arabs as well, but not in the state of hatred they have worked themselves up to.  He envisioned a peaceful community of Jews and Arabs living in harmony.  That's not going to happen at this time. 

Resource:  Battleground, Fact and Fantasy in Palestine by Samuel Katz

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