Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Facts, not fiction, about Jerusalem.

Even in this world of supposedly instant communication, fact and fiction often become tangled. And in the Middle East such mingling of the truth and lies seems to be an every-day occurrence.
Just this week, the Iraq and Iran situation became cloudier with miscommunications between George Bush's White House and the generals in the field in that "hell-hole" known as Baghdad.
And another quagmire has to be Jerusalem, and the on-going construction work at the Temple Mount's Mugrabi Gate.
As a former Middle East reporter, based in that contentious city to three religions -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- the "war" has been ongoing. It could escalate this weekend with Muslims expected to voice more than just their opinion as to has the right to hold sway over Jerusalem. This despite a supposed agreement with Turkey to send in a technical inspection team after a meeting between Israeli PM Ehud Olmert and Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
As I've written in the past, much of mankind's future will be determined in the Israeli city, and not in Washington or Moscow or Tehran.
When I went searching through my Middle East files I discovered the viewpoints of an expert, Steven Shamrak, who offered explanations for just who has rightful ownership to The Land.
* 1. Nationhood and Jerusalem -- Israel became a nation in the 14th century B.C.E., some 2,000 years before the rise of Islam.
* 2. Since 1272 B.C.E. the Jews have had dominion over the land for up to 1,000 years with a continuous Jewish presence in the land for the past 3,300 years.
* 3. The only Arab dominion since the Arab invasion and conquest in 635 C.E. lasted no more than 22 years.
* 4. King David founded the city; Muhammad never came to Jerusalem.
* 5. Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital for more than 3,000 years. It has never been the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity.
* 6. Jerusalem is mentioned more than 700 times in the Jewish Holy Scriptures, known as the Tanach. It's not mentioned in the Koran.
*7. Jews pray facing Jerusalem while Muslims pray facing Mecca.
* 8. In 1854, a reporter for the New York Tribune, Karl Marx, yes that Karl Marx, wrote that Jews made up two-thirds of the city's population.
* 9. When Mark Twain toured "Palestine" in 1867, he had this to say: "A desolate country whose soil is rich enough but is given over wholly to weeds. A silent, mournful expanse. We never saw a human."
* 10. An official Ottoman Turk census in 1882 showed only 141,000 Muslims (Arab and non-Arab) in the entire Land of Israel.
* 11. In 1906, Karl Baedeker's travel guide showed Jerusalem's population of 60,000 of which there were 40,000 Jews; 13,000 Christians and 7,000 Muslims.
* 12. As the Jews came and drained the swamps and made the deserts bloom, Arabs followed. They came for jobs, for prosperity, for freedom. And, they came in large numbers.
* 13. In 1922, with what was widely acknowledged as the illegal separation of Transjordan, the Jews were forbidden to settle on almost 77 per cent of "Palestine," while Arab settlement went unrestricted and encouraged by British mandatory authority.
* 14. Prior to the Second World War, Mojli Amin, a member of the Arab Defense Committee for "Palestine," proposed the idea "that all the Arabs of 'Palestine' will leave and be divided up amongst the neighboring Arab countries. In exchange for this, all the Jews living in Arab countries will leave and come to Palestine."
* 15. Did you know that Saudi Arabia was not created until 1913, Lebanon until 1920? Iraq did not exist as a nation until 1932, Syria until 1941; the borders were established in 1946 and Kuwait in 1961.
While these cover 15 of the 29 truths, Shamrak also offered these points:
* Israel is a front-line defense in the war between Islamic expansionism and Western democracies.
* UN anti-Israel bias and double-standard is applied to Israel by international community.
* Jewish people have the right to live in peace on all the land of their ancestors.
* Israel is the only Jewish state.
* There are 60 Muslim countries, including 22 Arab ones. They have enough land to accommodate all Arabs.
* Negotiation will not stop terrorism. It only makes it stronger.
Shamrak, in my opinion, makes valid points concerning Israel, which faces another temptuous and volatile weekend as the entire world watches.

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