Three huge granite stones rest comfortably on the top of
Midbar Sinai Street, in Givat Havatzim, Jerusalem�s northernmost district. Cut
to specification, the imposing stones represent one of several preparations by
the Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful Movement�s to erect a Third Temple
on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount.
Since the Islamic Wafq owns and controls all the property on
the Haram al-Sharif, by what means can these stones be transferred to the
Temple Mount and how can a temple be constructed there? Not by any legal means.
The stones are a provocation, which the Israel government
refuses to halt. Neglect and passivity lead to a belief that an eventual Muslim
reaction to the increasing provocations will give Israel an excuse to seize
total control of the Holy Basin -- the ultimate of the properties that Israel
intends to incorporate into a greater Jerusalem.
For decades, Israeli authorities have spoken of a united
Jerusalem -- suggesting a spiritual quality to its message -- as if Israel
wants the home for the three monotheistic faiths to be solid and stable. By
being guided from one central authority, a united Jerusalem also offers a
preservation of a common and ancient heritage. However, by stressing the word
�unification,� Israel disguises the lack of a sufficiently supporting and
verifiable historical narrative that could bolster its thrust to incorporate
all of an artificially created greater Jerusalem into its boundaries. Coupled
with inconsistencies and contradictions, Israel�s eagerness to create a greater
Jerusalem under its total control becomes suspect. The intensive concentration on
a �united� Jerusalem reveals a hidden agenda that debases Jerusalem�s religious
ingathering and heightens division, hatred and strife.
Examine the Holy Basin. The Holy Basin contains well-marked
Christian and Muslim institutions and holy places that have had historical
placement for millenniums. Although people of the Jewish faith had major
presence in Jerusalem during the centuries of Biblical Jerusalem, which
included rule by King Hezekiah and control by the Hasmonean dynasties, their
control and presence were interrupted for two millennia. Extensive commentary
has enabled the two thousand years of lack of control and presence to seem as
if it never happened and that today is only a short time from the years of
Hezekiah. Some remains of Jewish dwellings and ritual baths can be found, but
few if any major Jewish monuments, buildings or institutions from the Biblical
era exist in the �Old City� of today�s Jerusalem. The often cited Western Wall
is the supporting wall for Herod�s platform and is not directly related to the
Second Temple. No remains of the Jewish Temple have been located in Jerusalem
-- not even a rock.
According to Karen Armstrong, Jerusalem, Jews did not pray at the Western Wall until the Mamluks
in the 15th century allowed them to move their congregations from a dangerous
Mount of Olives and pray daily at the Wall. At that time, she estimates that
there may have been no more than 70 Jewish families in Jerusalem. After the
Ottomans replaced the Mamluks, Suleiman the Magnificent issued a formal edict
in the 16th century that permitted Jews to have a place of prayer at the
The only remaining major symbol of Jewish presence in
Jerusalem�s Holy City is the Jewish quarter, which Israel cleared of Arabs and
rebuilt after 1967. During its clearing operations, Israel demolished the
Maghribi Quarter adjacent to the Western Wall, destroyed the al-Buraq Mosque
and the Tomb of the Sheikh al-Afdhaliyyah, and displaced about 175 Arab
Although the Jewish population in previous centuries
comprised a large segment of the Old City (estimates have 7,000 Jews during the
mid-19th century), the Jews gradually left the Old City and migrated to new
neighborhoods in West Jerusalem, leaving only about 2,000 Jews in the Old City.
Jordanian control after the 1948 war reduced the number to nil. By 2009, the
population of the Jewish quarter in the Old City had grown to 3,000, or 9
percent of the Old City�s population. The Christian, Armenian and Muslim
populations are the principal constituents and their quarters contain almost
the entire Old City commerce.
In an attempt to attach ancient Israel to present day
Jerusalem, Israeli authorities continue the attachment of spurious labels to
Holy Basin landmarks, while claiming the falsification is due to the
Byzantines, who got it all wrong.
King David�s Tower�s earliest remains were constructed
several hundred years after the Bible dates David�s reign. It is a now an
obvious Islamic minaret.
King David�s Citadel earliest remains are from the Hasmonean
period (200 B. C. E.). The Citadel was entirely rebuilt by the Ottomans between
1537 and 1541.
King David�s tomb, located in the Dormition Abbey, is a
cloth-covered cenotaph (no remains) that honors King David. It�s only an
unverified guess that the casket is related to David.
The Pools of Solomon, located in a village near Bethlehem,
are considered to be part of a Roman construction during the reign of Herod the
Great. The pools supplied water to an aqueduct that carried the water to
Bethlehem and to Jerusalem.
The Stables of Solomon, under the Temple Mount, are assumed
to be a construction of vaults that King Herod built in order to extend the
Temple Mount platform.
Absalom�s Tomb is an obvious Greek sculptured edifice and
therefore cannot be the tomb of David�s son.
The City of David contains artifacts that date before and
during David�s time. However, some archaeologists maintain there is an
insufficient number of artifacts to conclude any Israelite presence, including
that of King David, before the late ninth century. In any case any Israelite
presence must have been in a small and unfortified settlement.
The Jerusalem Archaeological Park within the Old City,
together with the Davidson Exhibition and Virtual Reconstruction Center also
tell the story. Promising to reveal much of a Hebrew civilization, the museums
shed little light on its subject. The Davidson Center highlights a coin
exhibition, Jerusalem bowls and stone vessels.
The Archeological Park in the Old City contains among many
artifacts, Herodian structures, ritual baths, a floor of an Umayyad palace, a
Roman road, Ottoman gates, and the fa�ade of what is termed Robinson�s arch, an
assumed Herodian entryway to the Temple Mount. The exhibitions don�t reveal
many, if any, ancient Hebrew structures or institutions of special
Reliable archaeologists, after examining excavations that
contain pottery shards and buildings, concluded that archaeological finds don�t
substantiate the biblical history of Jerusalem and its importance during the
eras of a united Jewish kingdom under David and Solomon.
Margaret Steiner in an article, titled It�s Not There: Archaeology Proves a Negative, in the Biblical
Archaeology Review, July/August, 1998, states: � . . . from the tenth century B.
C. E. there is no archaeological evidence that many people actually lived in
Jerusalem, only that it was some kind of public administrative center . . . We
are left with nothing that indicates a city was here during their supposed
reigns (of David and Solomon) . . . It seems unlikely, however, that this
Jerusalem was the capital of a large state, the United monarchy, as described
in Biblical texts.�
West Jerusalem is another matter. With banditry prolific and
Old City gates being closed before nightfall, living outside the city gates did
not appeal to the population. Wealthy philanthropist Moses Montefiore wanted to
attract the Jewish population to new surroundings and he constructed the first
Jewish community outside of the Old City -- Yemin Moshe�s first houses were
completed in 1860. From that time, Jewish presence played a role in creating a
West Jerusalem. Other institutions, Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Russian Orthodox
and Muslim soon ventured forth and owned much property in the evolving West
In 1948, After the Israeli army seized absolute control of
West Jerusalem, the new Israeli government confiscated all West Jerusalem
property owned by Muslim institutions. Reason -- enemy property. Few Muslims
and no mosques remain in today�s West Jerusalem.
One contradiction. By attacking and ethnically cleansing the
Christian Arab communities of Deir Yassin and Ein Kerem, Israeli forces
characterized Christian Palestinians as an enemy. Nevertheless, Israel did not
confiscate Christian properties, many of which are apparent in West Jerusalem.
The Greek Orthodox Church owns extensive properties in West Jerusalem, many
marked by its �TΦ� (Tau + Phi) symbol, interpreted as the word �Sepulchre.�
Another contradiction. Israel has cared for the Jewish
cemetery on the Mount of Olives and expanded it as a heritage site. Part of the
famous Muslim Mamilla cemetery in West Jerusalem has been classified as refugee
property and is being prepared to be demolished for the new Museum of
East Jerusalem reveals more contradictions. The repeated
warning by Israeli leaders that co-existence is not feasible and that it is
necessary to separate the Jewish and Palestinian communities is contradicted by
Israel�s desire to incorporate East Jerusalem into Israel. Incorporation means
accepting somewhere between 160,000 and 225,000 Palestinians into a Jewish
state. Or does it? Whereas the older historical Jewish neighborhoods in West
Jerusalem have their character meticulously maintained or are rebuilt in their
original style, the older Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem are entirely
neglected (all of Arab East Jerusalem is neglected) or destroyed. How much
deterioration and destruction can Palestinians absorb before they decide to
Construction of Jewish homes in East Jerusalem Arab
neighborhoods proceeds and destruction of Arab homes, either declared illegally
constructed or illegally purchased, continues. On 44 dunums of lands
confiscated from Palestinian families, a private company has constructed the
gated community of Nof Zion, and conveniently separated Palestinian Jabal Al
Mukabir from other parts of East Jerusalem. No Arabs need apply. The million
dollar condominiums are advertised for American investors.
The Israeli ministry of Interior has approved a plan to
demolish a kindergarten and wholesale market in East Jerusalem�s Wadi Joz
neighborhood in order to construct a new hotel close to the Old City and near
the Rockefeller Museum. The result will be the destruction of an Arab
neighborhood and its replacement by Jewish interests, which will one day join
other Jewish interests.
These are only two examples of a master plan to replace the
centuries old Arab presence in East Jerusalem with a modern Jewish presence.
The ancient Arab presence in an ancient land is further subdivided by the
Separation Wall, which runs through the East Jerusalem landscape and detaches
East Jerusalem from the West Bank, making it unlikely for a Palestinian state
to have its capital in East Jerusalem. The master plan extends the boundaries
of Jerusalem to include the large Israeli settlement (city) of Maale Adumim.
Between Maale Adumim and East Jerusalem, Israel proposes to construct the E1
corridor, which joins settlements in a ring and adds to the separation of East
Jerusalem from the West Bank. The E1 corridor will divide the northern and
southern West Bank and will impede direct transit between Palestine Bethlehem,
which is south of E1 and Palestine Ramallah, which is north of E1. Construction
of the E1 corridor, portions of which are owned by Palestinians, could prevent
the formation of a viable Palestinian state.
So, if Israel is destroying Jerusalem�s heritage and
subjugating its spiritual meaning, why does Israel want to unify Jerusalem?
Israel�s Hidden Agenda
Israel is a physically small and relatively new country with
an eager population and big ambitions. It needs more prestige and wants to be
viewed as a power broker on the world stage. To gain those perspectives Israel
needs a capital city that commands respect, contains ancient traditions and is
recognized as one of the world�s most important and leading cities. Almost all
of the world�s principal nations, from Egypt to Germany to Great Britain, have
capitals that are great cities of the world. To assure its objectives, Israel
wants an oversized Jerusalem that contains the Holy City.
That�s not all.
Jerusalem has significant tourism that can be expanded. It
can provide new commercial opportunities as an entry to all of the Middle East.
An indivisible Jerusalem under Israeli control is worth a lot of shekels.
Israel competes with the United States as the focus of the
Jewish people. It needs a unique Jerusalem to gain recognition as the home of
By controlling all of the holy sites, Israel commands
attention from Moslem and Christian leaders. These leaders will be forced to
talk with Israel and Israel will have a bargaining advantage in disputes.
Whatever Israel gains, the Palestinians are denied. Even if
Israel agrees to the establishment of a Palestinian state, it will direct its
policies to limit the effectiveness of that state. Since East Jerusalem and its
holy sites greatly benefit a Palestinian economy and increase Palestine
legitimacy, Israel will do everything to prevent East Jerusalem being ceded to
the new state of Palestine. An �indivisible� Jerusalem is part of that effort.
West Jerusalem only gives Israel a North/South capital. An
indivisible Jerusalem gives Israel a forward look towards an East/West capital
or a centralized capital of the land of previous biblical Jewish tribes.
The Zionist socialist ideals and the cooperative Kibbutzim
received support and sympathy from idealistic world peoples for many years.
Israel�s attachment to the Holocaust tragedy extended that sympathy and support
to more of the world. With the end of the Zionist dream, the decline of kibbutz
life and the over-popularizing of the Holocaust, Israel needs a new symbol of
identity that captures world attention.
If Israel has legitimate claims to Jerusalem, then those
claims should be heard and discussed in a proper forum. However, that is not
the process forthcoming. The process has the Israeli government using illegal
and illegitimate procedures, as well as deceitful and hypocritical methods to
force its agenda. Israel is not presenting its case but is exerting its powers
to trample all legal, moral and historical considerations.
In the Museum of the Citadel of David is an inscription: The land of Israel is in the center of the
world and Jerusalem is the center of the land of Israel.
This self-praise was echoed at a West Jerusalem coffee house
in a conversation with several Israelis. A youthful Israeli abruptly sat at the
table and entered the conversation with the words: �All the world looks to
Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the center of the world and Jerusalem is the capital of
Israel. Everyone needs Jerusalem and they will need to talk with Israel.�
And that is why Israel desperately wants its greater
Dan Lieberman is
the editor of Alternative Insight, a monthly web based newsletter. Dan has
written many articles on the Middle East conflict, which have circulated on
websites and media throughout the world. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.