20.1.09

Jerusalem

In response to quoting Psalm 137 in my previous post, I got this reply.
Our ancestors composed this tearful lament over 2500 years ago. Exiled from their beloved land, they sat down and mourned by the rivers of Babylon.

The Jewish people never forgot Jerusalem. 3 times a day, we pray in the direction of Jerusalem and ask G-d that "our eyes may behold in mercy Your return to Zion". For 2000 years, 3 times a day without fail, we looked towards Jerusalem and prayed for its rebuilding. We observe 4 fasts anually over the destruction of Jerusalem, culminating in the fast of the 9th of Av, the most tragic day i nthe Jewish calendar, when both Temples were destroyed. At the end of every Yom Kippur fast and Passover seder, we declare: "Next Year in Jerusalem!"

Jerusalem is mentioned 700 times in the Hebrew Bible. It is never mentioned in the Qur'an. Muslims pray towards Mecca, with their backs to Jerusalem. Jerusalem was never the capital of any Muslim nation. The only times Jerusalem was a capital was when Jews ruled Israel: during the Davidic kingdom, the Hasmonean dynasty and in the modern state of Israel.

G-d has returned Jerusalem to us after 2000 years of longing, mourning, hoping and praying. Never will we be distanced from her again.


I amuse myself with the many similarities between the Palestinian and Jewish peoples. The Hebrew bible is a chronicle of the Jewish people written almost as an autobiography summarising events and lessons learned in over 3500 years of their history. For Jews the 'national' is so entangled with the 'religious' that both may seem as one. That's primarily because the bible, a religious text, is also their national narrative.
Palestinians are not a religious group in their own, despite being overwhelmingly Muslim, their history and plight is not a religious matter but rather a national one. But Palestinians have the same nostalgia to the very same places that Jews have longed for. The Hebrew bible has seven hundred mentions of Jerusalem, But if you survey Palestinian literature and culture in the past century you will find that Jerusalem is at the heart of the Palestinian national identity. There is no single Palestinian home I have entered that did not have a picture of Jerusalem. Not in Palestine, not in Jordan and not in Syria and probably not anywhere else in the world. So the attachment to the symbol is ever present. At the beginning of every year, on Land Day, on Nakbeh Memorial day, on Independence Day and every other national or religious event, we Palestinians which each others three things: Return, Independence and a state with Jeruslaem as its capital.
I don't believe in God. It is So obvious that G-d did not return the Jews to Jerusalem. It was the efforts of Zionist leaders and the grace of the government of the United Kingdom and the continuous military build up in the twenties, thirties and forties of Jewish armed power which fought against the British and the Palestinians. Then Israel was established, and it did unto the Palestinians what the Romans did unto the Jews. The same distruction of their property, dispossession, and exodus. But, just the same, we will have our own Bar-Kochba, and that state will last.

1 comment:

Bar Kochba said...

Ned, the "Palestinians" are an artificial entity. There was no "Palestinian" nation before 1967.

PLO Executive Zahir Muhsein said: "The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct 'Palestinian people' to oppose Zionism. For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan."

Never has Jerusalem been the capital of an Arab country. Under the Ottomans, it was a backwater little provincial town.

If one doesn't believe that G-d returned His people to His land, they are indeed blind. Never before in history has a 3500 year old nation, exiled for 2000 years, survived persecution and oppression, Crusade, Inquisition and Holocaust, to be reborn in its homeland. Tiny Israel, with a population of barely 600 000, some survivors fresh out of Auschwitz, in 1948 defeated an army of over a million Arab troops committed to wiping out the fledgling state. The miracles of Israel rebirth are too numerous to mention, such as the Ingathering of the Exiles, or the fact that the Jews made the deserts of Eretz Yisrael bloom.

Mecca is the Muslim holy city- Jerusalem is ours. And we will not give it up.