On Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced that the US would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, says this “represents a threat to the future of the peace process and is unacceptable for the Palestinians, and Arabs internationally.”
How does recognition of a foreign capital threaten peace anywhere?
When Jordan conquered the Old City of Jerusalem in 1948, they burned down the Jewish Quarter and killed or exiled all the Jews. Do Arabs care about Jerusalem, or do they just want to keep it out of Israel’s control?
Given the current interest in President Trump’s decision to acknowledge that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, refreshing people’s memory with a bit of a history may prove useful. The Jewish people have had a continuous presence in the land of Israel for over 3,000 years. Jerusalem has been their capital, home to the biblical temples of Kings David and Solomon, the city where a young rabbi named Jesus preached 2,000 years ago. For people to deny these facts is to deny history.
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Yasser Arafat, born and raised in Egypt, is credited with popularizing the term “Palestinian people” to the world; an invented people that supplemented the diverse local Muslim tribal populations with many Egyptians, Syrians, Lebanese, Iranians, and Jordanians who had moved to the land of Israel, largely before World War II.
Jerusalem is mentioned in the Jewish Old Testament over 700 times.
What brought them there is that they saw the Jewish people turning this previously arid land into a vibrant agricultural and industrial state, with many more opportunities for a better life than they had in their countries of origin. The Jewish people generally accepted these Muslim immigrants at the time, with the naïve vision that they would all work together to create a modern-day land of milk and honey.
There has never been a Palestinian people with a unique, documented culture, and no part of Jerusalem was ever their capital. Indeed, while Jerusalem is mentioned in the Jewish Old Testament over 700 times, it’s not mentioned even once in the Koran.
Arafat used the notion of a Palestinian people to justify to the world his racist intent to destroy the Jewish state of Israel after its creation in 1948 and replace it with his Muslim supporters. To provide an idea of how unified and homogeneous the “Palestinian people” are today, one need only look at a sampling of the terrorist support organizations operating in Gaza and the West Bank, which include among others: Al Qaida, Al Aqsa, Al Nusra, Fatah, PA, Hamas, Hizbollah, and ISIS.
The bottom line is that the Jewish, democratic state of Israel is here to stay; that, like all other sovereign countries, it gets to choose its own capital, which is Jerusalem, and that Israel shares a common vision with the broader world of a peaceful, thriving Middle East.
Some day, the leaders of Gaza, the West Bank, and Iran may choose to acknowledge these facts, and join their neighbors, Egypt and Jordan, in making peace with Israel. Once the Palestinian leadership, their Iranian proxies, and other sponsors stop spending their money, energy, and brain power on trying to destroy Israel, and blaming Israel for their own abusive, neglectful, and corrupt governments, they can begin working to create better jobs, housing, schools, and overall improve living conditions for their people.
Josh Ravitch lives in Chapel Hill.