When Jerusalem Was Divided
PROPOSING that eastern Jerusalem become part of a sovereign Arab state, President is urging not just a bad idea, but one that has already been tried -- with disastrous results.
Jerusalem was always one city before May of 1948, the month British rule in Palestine came to an end. It was supposed to remain one thereafter. Under the terms of a UN resolution, Palestine was to be partitioned into two states -- one Jewish, one Arab -- with Jerusalem belonging to neither. "The City of Jerusalem," Resolution 181 had ordained, "shall be established as a corpus separatum under a special international regime and shall be administered by the United Nations."
The Jews of Palestine accepted the partition plan, reluctantly agreeing to the internationalization of Jerusalem as the price of statehood. But the Arabs flatly rejected partition. There would be no Jewish state, they said, and no UN supervision of Jerusalem. To keep Resolution 181 from taking effect, they vowed to fight the Jews. "This will be," exulted Azzam Pasha, the secretary-general of the Arab League, "a war of extermination and a momentous massacre."
By May 15, the day Israel was born, Jerusalem was a battleground. Within days, the Jordanian Arab Legion, spurred by King Abdullah to capture Jerusalem, was bombarding the Old City's Jewish quarter.
Badly outnumbered, poorly armed, the Jews of East Jerusalem didn't have a prayer. When the United Nations called for a cease-fire, writes the renowned historian Sir Martin Gilbert, Jordan, "poised to overrun the Jewish Quarter," ignored it. "That day an Arab-language broadcast from Ramallah described in lurid detail the first stage of the long-drawn out destruction of the Hurva Synagogue."
The Hurva, first built in 1705, had been one of Jerusalem's great landmarks. Its destruction was a grim taste of what lay in store for the Jewish holy sites of the Old City.
By May 28, the conquest of Jewish East Jerusalem was complete. The remaining Jews -- some from families that had lived there for centuries -- were expelled. "As they left," Gilbert relates, "they could see columns of smoke rising from the quarter behind them. The Hadassah welfare station had been set on fire and despite [a] curfew, the looting and burning of Jewish property was in full swing."
For the next 19 years, Jerusalem was divided. West Jerusalem became Israel's capital. East Jerusalem, its Jewish Quarter now judenrein, was annexed by Jordan, which proceeded to erase the evidence that Jews had ever been there. In an orgy of desecration, 58 synagogues -- the oldest dated to the 13th century -- were ravaged. Those that weren't razed were ransacked, turned into stables and chicken coops, used as garbage dumps. The city's foremost Jewish shrine, the Western Wall, became a slum.
The ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, where the oldest tombs date from 1st century BCE, was devastated. Some 38,000 tombstones were ripped out and used to build military bunkers and pave latrines. An asphalt road was cut through the cemetery; a hotel was constructed at the top. When the Jews returned in 1967, they found graves gaping open and bones strewn on the ground.
Under Article VIII of the armistice agreement signed by Israel and Jordan in 1949, the Arabs guaranteed "free access to the Holy Places and cultural institutions and use of the cemetery on the Mount of Olives." But that proved to be a lie. For 19 years, no Jew was allowed to visit the Western Wall, the cemetery, or any other site in East Jerusalem. Israeli Arabs were likewise barred from the Old City's Muslim shrines. For 19 years, no Arab from Israel prayed at the al-Aqsa Mosque or set foot on the Temple Mount.
Of course today's Palestinian Authority cannot be blamed for outrages committed during the Jordanian occupation. But reasonable people must wonder what would happen to the Jews' holy places if the Old City were placed under Arab rule again. For the Palestinians have a record too.
Time and again Yasser Arafat and his aides have insisted that the Western Wall and the Temple Mount are purely Muslim shrines with no Jewish significance. Time and again they have claimed, as the Palestinian Ministry of Information puts it, that "the archeology of Jerusalem" reveals "nothing Jewish . . . no tangible evidence of any Jewish traces or remains." When Palestinian officials assert, "Jerusalem is not a Jewish city, despite the biblical myth implanted in some minds," it is hard not to worry about how they would treat Jewish sites if they ruled East Jerusalem, or whether they would permit Jews to visit them.
Nor is that all.
When the Palestinians signed the Oslo II agreement in 1995, they promised to "ensure free access to, respect the ways of worship in, and not make any changes to, the Jewish holy sites" on land given up by Israel. They made the same promise in the Gaza-Jericho accord in 1994 and the Hebron accord in 1997. Among the listed sites: the venerable "Peace Upon Israel" (shalom al yisrael) synagogue in Jericho and the yeshiva at Joseph's Tomb in Nablus. Today, neither exists. In October, Palestinians burned down the synagogue. They smashed Joseph's Tomb to rubble and trampled its holy books, and announced that a mosque would be built on the site.
If this is how Israel's peace partners act in Jericho and Nablus, how would they behave in Jerusalem?
The sacred places of Jerusalem have never been safer, or open to more people, than in the 33 years since it was reunified. There is no reason to redivide it, and every reason not to.
They never forgot thee, O Jerusalem
PRESIDENT proposed last week that Israel surrender the eastern half of Jerusalem, including most of the Old City and the Temple Mount, as part of a final peace plan with the Palestinians. To the dismay of Israel's friends the world over, Prime Minister Ehud Barak agreed to accept Presidents scheme as the basis for new talks. Barak has spent his brief tenure as prime minister trying to appease Israel's enemies, but even for him this was a shocking departure.
"Only one who does not understand the depth of the total emotional bond between the Jewish nation and Jerusalem," Barak had avowed just seven months ago on the 33nd anniversary of Jerusalem's reunification, "only one who is totally estranged from the legacy of Jewish history ... could possibly entertain the thought that Israel would concede even a part of Jerusalem. Only one who does not understand that Jerusalem has been intertwined with the souls of our ancestors for 3,000 years ... could demand that we turn our backs on it."
Perhaps Barak has truly had a change of heart. Perhaps this is just a cynical political ploy. It doesn't much matter. Israel's parliament will never agree to carve out the heart of Jerusalem and hand it to Yasser Arafat. Polls show Israelis rejecting the Clinton proposal by a margin of nearly 20 points. And if the rest of the world's Jews, in whose name Barak spoke so emphatically last May, could be surveyed, the results would be even more lopsided.
Slicing up Jerusalem will no more lead to Arab-Israeli peace than slicing up Cairo or Damascus would. Arafat's object is not sovereignty in a state next to Israel with East Jerusalem as its capital. It is sovereignty in a state that used to be Israel with all of Jerusalem as its capital. And as the last seven years have made clear, territory ceded to the Palestinians soon becomes a staging area for new attacks on Israel. "Land for peace" has proven a deadly hoax; the more land Israel has yielded to the Palestinian Authority, the more violence and bloodshed it has reaped.
To whom should Jerusalem belong? Arafat speaks of al-Quds, as it is called in Arabic, as if the Islamic attachment to the city is ancient, overwhelming, and self-evident. "Al-Quds is in the innermost of our feeling, the feeling of ... all Arabs, Muslims, and Christians in the world," he said in August. "It is the essence of the Palestinian issue." Journalists routinely describe Jerusalem as Islam's "third-holiest city," and identify the Temple Mount as "sacred to both Jews and Muslims."
But the Jewish and Muslim claims to Jerusalem are not remotely comparable.
The bonds of loyalty and love that bind the Jews to Jerusalem are without parallel. For three millennia, Jerusalem has been central to Jewish self-awareness. Since the time of King Solomon, Jews have turned toward Jerusalem in prayer -- and Jewish prayer is replete with remembrances of the holy city.
"And to Jerusalem Your city," religious Jews have implored the Almighty three times daily for the past 20 centuries, "may You return with compassion." Jerusalem is remembered in the grace after every meal, at the conclusion of every Passover seder, at the end of the Yom Kippur fast. The saddest date on the Jewish calendar is the 9th of Av, the day when both the First and Second Temples were destroyed and on which observant Jews sit in mourning to this day. Jerusalem is mentioned by name 657 times in the Hebrew Bible, nowhere more hauntingly, perhaps, than in the 137th Psalm:
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand wither,
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.
Jews have always lived in Jerusalem, except when they have been massacred or driven out. There has been a nearly unbroken Jewish presence in the city for the past 1,600 years, and at least since the early 1800s, the population of Jerusalem has been predominantly Jewish.
To Muslims, by contrast, Jerusalem is far less important. Mohammed never walked its streets, for the Arabs didn't conquer Jerusalem until six years after his death. Over the centuries, various Islamic dynasties controlled the city, but none ever made Jerusalem its capital or treated it as a vital cultural center. Often they neglected it outright, allowing it to sink into stagnation and decay.
From 1948 to 1967, when East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount were under Muslim rule, they were ignored by the Arab world: No foreign Arab leader ever paid a visit, not even to pray at the al-Aqsa mosque. Palestinians placed so low a priority on Jerusalem that the PLO's founding charter, the Palestinian National Covenant of 1964, makes no reference to it. Only when the Jews returned after the Six Day War did the Arabs grow passionate about Jerusalem. Throughout Islamic history, that has been the pattern. "Jerusalem has mattered to Muslims only intermittently over the past 13 centuries," the Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes has written, "and when it has mattered, as it does today, it has done so because of politics. Conversely, when the utility of Jerusalem expires, the passions abate and its status declines."
Nowhere in the Koran is there anything like the 137th Psalm with its aching love of Jerusalem. Indeed, nowhere in the Koran is Jerusalem even mentioned. For it is Mecca, not Jerusalem, that Islam venerates above all other places; Mecca, not Jerusalem, to which Muslims turn in prayer. Not for all the world would Muslims agree to divide Mecca -- least of all with their enemies. Nor would the world ever think of demanding such a thing of them. To call upon the Jews to sacrifice part of their eternal city is no less outrageous, and should be just as unthinkable.
Why are Americans so pro-Israel?
Of all the ways in which the United States marches to the beat of its own drummer, few are more striking than the American people's consistent and deep-rooted support for the Jewish state. In a recent nationwide survey, the Gallup organization asked Americans: "In the Middle East situation, are your sympathies more with the Israelis or more with the Palestinians?" For the fourth year in a row, 59 percent -- nearly 6 in 10 -- said their sympathies were with Israel, while just 18 percent sided with the Palestinians. When respondents were asked for their opinion of various countries, 63 percent said they had a favorable view of Israel (21 percent said very favorable), compared with just 15 percent who thought highly of the Palestinian Authority.
Conversely, only 29 percent of Americans told Gallup that their opinion of Israel was negative, even as a whopping 73 percent expressed a negative attitude toward the Palestinians.
This overwhelmingly positive feeling for Israel is normal for the United States, but it puts Americans sharply at odds with the rest of the world. At the United Nations, for example, nothing is more routine than the castigation of Israel. Similarly, any time Israel is forced to use its military power in self-defense, it comes under the harsh glare of the international media, which subject it to a scrutiny far more unforgiving than any other country receives. It was only a few years ago that a poll commissioned by the European Union found that a plurality of Europeans regarded Israel as the greatest threat to world peace -- more menacing than even North Korea or Iran. So what makes Americans different?
Foreign policy "realists" could certainly suggest reasons why close friendship with Israel is not in America's interest, beginning with the fact that most of the world doesn't share it. There are 300 million or more Arabs in the world, and they sit atop a vast share of the world's oil supply. Why endanger American access to that oil by maintaining such close ties to a nation with only 6 million people and no petroleum to export? Why risk incurring the wrath of Islamic terrorists by supporting Israel, a nation most of them detest? Surely it would make more sense -- so a "realist" might argue -- for Americans to distance themselves from the world's lone Jewish state, and tilt instead toward the much greater number of nations and governments that are hostile to Israel.
Yet most Americans instinctively reject such advice. The national consensus in support of Israel is longstanding and durable, and it isn't grounded in economics, energy policy, or a quest for diplomatic popularity. Nor, as some conspiracy-minded critics have claimed, is it because a "Zionist lobby" in Washington routinely hijacks US foreign policy, manipulating America into serving Israel's ends. The roots of America's bond with Israel lie elsewhere.
First, Americans stand with Israel because in it they recognize a liberal democracy much like their own: a nation in which elections are lively, fair, and democratic; in which freedom of speech and the press are core values; in which the political rights of minorities are respected; and in which a commitment to civil liberties and justice is woven into the very fabric of society.
Second, Americans know that Israel is a stable ally in one of the world's most critical and volatile regions. Its intelligence service is perhaps the world's finest, its military is the best in the Middle East, and its painfully acquired expertise in counterterrorism is invaluable -- all the more so as we wage our own war against jihadi terrorists.
Third, Americans sympathize with Israel because they understand that the enemies of Israel state hate the United States as well. The suicide bombers who revel in the death of innocent Jews, the fanatics who chant "Death to Israel," the Iranian- and Syrian-backed forces that launch rockets from Gaza or Lebanon with the aim of shedding Israeli blood -- they are steeped in the same murderous ideology as Osama bin Laden and the Islamists who slaughtered so many Americans on Sept. 11, 2001.
And fourth, there is a deep religious bond between American Christians and the Jewish people, a bond that stretches back to the earliest era of American history. More than a century before the Revolutionary War, the Puritan leader Increase Mather taught his followers to anticipate the day when the Jews would return to their homeland and establish "the most glorious nation in the whole world." In 1819, former President John Adams wrote of his wish to see "the Jews against in Judea an independent nation." Today, tens of millions of American evangelicals passionately support -- even love -- the Jewish state, and consider it nothing less than their duty as Christians to stand with Israel and her people.
Why are Americans so pro-Israel? For reasons practical and idealistic, religious and strategic. They are linked by the kinship of common values -- an affinity of strength and decency that reflects the best of both nations, and sets them apart from the other nations of the world.
Descriptive Geography and Brief Historical Sketch of Palestine.
AN uncommon degree of interest has been excited in modern times towards Palestine, to an extent scarcely ever before attained. It issues forth, as it were, out of its devastation of more than eighteen centuries standing; and people seek to reanimate it through their investigations and discoveries. The learned contend for the prize of contributing the most to its elucidation by discovering and tracing out the vestiges of antiquity which it offers; and it is therefore constantly visited and travelled over by the well-informed of all nations. How much more ardently, then, must the erudite man belonging to the house of Israel feel on the subject! For should not Israel march in the advance, and serve in this matter as an example to other nations? or shall it, to whose ancestor God said (Gen. 13. 15), “For the whole land which thou seest I will give unto thee and thy seed for ever,” receive an account of its possessions—for its property the land remains, long as the time may be that its claim is not acknowledged, and its rights usurped by the hand of power from the mouth of others?
As I now happened to live in contentment in the Holy City, this thought became the more active in me, since I had the opportunity to furnish much, more indeed than any other in this respect; because I was constantly on the spot, and had a knowledge of the languages which are necessary to carry on the discoveries and investigations, and was tolerably familiar with Hebrew literature, the most extensive and reliable source in this field of inquiry; and I was thus in a position which promised me much assistance in my labours.
I call Hebrew literature the most extensive and reliable source; and, in truth, it is this in every respect; and whoever cannot draw his information out of it in his investigations, must remain unacquainted with much, even the most interesting matter, and will therefore fail in his discoveries. It hence results, that, despite the sagacity of so many travellers, much has remained unknown; for instance, no one could hitherto indicate where to look for the Mount Hor, in Northern Palestine; Riblah, Kadesh-Barneä, Azmon, Katath, Nahallal, Shimron, Rakkath, &c.; since all the learned were unacquainted with the circumstance, that all these names were changed at a later period, as we see mentioned in Talmud Yerushalmi, and since the names into which they were changed are existing to this day. In this way, therefore, being able to draw from the source indicated, I have been permitted to discover nearly a hundred names which had hitherto remained unknown. It farther struck me, that we had no manual which could aid us in elucidating the book of Joshua, either in reading or teaching it; so that several chapters are almost left unread, and not explained in instructing. Farthermore, I found that several passages are incorrectly translated; and bow, in good faith, can one expect from the learned of the West a correct explanation of the nature of the Orient? and who should feel more interested in the matter than one belonging to the house of Israel
I therefore applied myself to compose a new geography, and I can freely flatter myself that this work does not resemble the many modern journals of the constantly augmenting visits to Palestine, in which are repeated, again and again, the old and already known facts, which are only dressed up with a somewhat changed fashion; but rarely do you find a new discovery, only some entertaining particulars, which have no value to the scholar; and all the author exhibits to the world is, that he too has travelled through the Holy Land. This work, however, is at the same time instructive, and may be viewed as a commentary on the geographical passages of the Bible, and by no means as a description of a journey of three or four months’ duration,—but as the result of investigations and discoveries continued for many years with the greatest care, with many sacrifices, and not rarely with much personal danger.
I have likewise not lost sight of the labours of all preceding scholars; since I am acquainted with nearly all the works concerning Palestine, from Flavius Josephus to the books of the most modern times; especially the celebrated work of Réland, who cites accurately the description of Palestine by Eusebius and Hieronymus.
I have also derived much information from the Arabic version of the celebrated Saadiah Gaon, edited at Constantinople in 5306 (1546), and the Persian version of Rabbi Jacob bar Joseph Tawas; likewise from another unknown edition of Saadiah of the whole Bible canon, all of which enabled me to elucidate several geographical names. I may say the same of the very rare work, Caphtore Vapherach, of Astori Pharchi, in which he gives a description of Palestine.
Having now undertaken to describe the geography of the Holy Land, it struck me that it might be advisable to give a brief account of the physical nature and history of the country, as also my studies with regard to many names beyond Palestine occurring in the Bible and Talmud, many of which are quite unknown, whilst others are shrouded in a great deal of obscurity; and I trust that I have rendered some little service in this department.
In conclusion, I cannot avoid blaming my fellow-Israelites for their neglect of this beautiful science, since they display so little interest in our country, even in a scientific point of view; and whilst they are so careful to instruct their children so accurately in the situation and nature of strange and distant lands, for instance Siberia, Australia, South Africa, &c., they appear ashamed to impart to them any information concerning Palestine and Jerusalem. But God has said: “I will heal thee again, and cure thy wounds, because they called thee the forsaken, and it is Zion for which no one careth.” (Jeremiah 30. 17.)
I, therefore, hope that my laborious efforts may attain their aim, by exciting interest and love for the Holy Land and its inhabitants, in the hearts of my brothers.
Jerusalem, in the month of Sivan, 5605.
A Descriptive Geography of Palestine.
Map of Palestine
The Boundaries of Palestine
The Boundaries of Palestine as Given in Numbers 34:3
The Boundaries of Palestine in the Time of Ezra and Nehemiah
Division of Palestine Among the 12 Tribes
Division of Judah
Towns of Judah
The Lowland, or the Valley
The Towns in the Mountains
The Towns in the Desert
The Towns Mentioned in the Maccabees
Towns in the Land of the Philistines
The Cities of Benjamin
The sons of Joseph
Names of the Towns of the sons of Joseph
Ramah in the Mountain of Ephraim
The Possession of Menasseh
The Seas, Rivers, Mountains and Valleys of Palestine
Palestine Beyond Jordan
The Temple Mount
The Springs and Pools
The Fort Kallai
Former and Present Conditions
The Family Pharchi
History of Palestine
Period I : From the Destruction of the Temple by Titus to the Mahomedan Conquest
Period II: From the Mahomedan Conquest to the First Crusade
Period III: From the Reign of the Europeans to Sultan Seliman
Period IV: 1520 to 1850
Jews and Muslims in Palestine