Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Al-Qaeda has infiltrated Gaza with help of Hamas, says Abbas

By James Hider


Al-Qaeda militants have infiltrated the Palestinian territories with help from Hamas, according to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President.

The charges are the most serious yet in the war of words between Mr Abbas, who controls the West Bank, and Hamas, whose Islamist guerrillas expelled his Fatah-dominated security force from the Gaza Strip last summer.

"Al-Qaeda is present in Gaza and I'm convinced that they [Hamas] are their allies," said Mr Abbas in an interview with al-Hayat, a London-based Arabic newspaper. "I can say without doubt that al-Qaeda is present in the Palestinian territories and that this presence, especially in Gaza, is facilitated by Hamas."

Israel has long accused al-Qaeda of infiltrating the Palestinian territories. The Israeli army's intelligence chief said this week that more al-Qaeda members had entered the Gaza Strip after Hamas blew up the wall on the Egyptian border in January.

Mr Abbas's comments were the first time that such a senior Palestinian statesman has added his weight to the charges.

The accusation came as Hamas fired rockets into a southern Israeli college campus yesterday, killing an Israeli man. Israeli forces carried out a series of strikes in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, killing at least seven suspected militants, including several Hamas senior commanders. Last night Israeli jets struck the offices of Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas Prime Minister, and the nearby premises of his interior ministry. He was not there at the time.

Hamas, a nationalist Islamist organisation whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel, has been at pains to distance itself publicly from the fanatical al-Qaeda. "There is no truth in these allegations," said Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman, in turn accusing Mr Abbas - regarded as an Israeli stooge for his faltering peace negotiations with Jerusalem - of "seeking to mobilise international opinion against Hamas".

Last year a group calling itself the Army of Islam kidnapped Alan Johnston, a BBC reporter, in Gaza and held him for more than three months while claiming to have links to Osama bin Laden's organisation. The kidnapping took place before Hamas seized control in June, and the Islamist organisation - which had previously conducted anti-Israeli operations with the Army of Islam - forced it to release Johnston.

Hamas said that the Army of Islam had been financed by Muhammad Dahlan, the hated Fatah security chief in Gaza, who is close to Mr Abbas.

In January, another group calling itself the Army of Believers, Al-Qaeda in Palestine Organisation, ransacked the private American International School. A Christian bookseller was also recently murdered in Gaza, while a gunman shot up a YMCA centre. Western journalists have been alerted to possible kidnap threats.

Some independent analysts believe that al-Qaeda - losing ground in Iraq as local Sunni insurgents reject its ultra-violent tactics - may be seeking to establish itself in new areas. Osama bin Laden said that he was focusing on the protracted Israel-Palestinian conflict in comments disseminated on a jihadist website in December. "We will not recognise a state for the Jews, not even one inch of the land of Palestine. Blood calls for more blood and demolishing calls for further demolishing," bin Laden said.

The man believed to be the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, this month described Israel as an "evil germ that has infected the body of the Umma [Islamic motherland] and must be extracted".

James Hider

 

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


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Disproportionate in Gaza

By Denis MacEoin

It has started all over again. Israel fights back against Hamas aggression, and everybody cries 'disproportionate'. There's a body count, and it turns out that the Israelis have killed far more Palestinians than the Palestinians have killed Israelis. Apparently this means Israel has been disproportionate.

But war isn't about exact body counts. Most of the dead Palestinians have been Hamas fighters. If more soldiers on one side die than on the other, isn't that what is supposed to happen in war? As for the genuinely unfortunate Palestinian civilians who have been killed, won't anyone own up to the fact that their lives were put at risk by Hamas fighters hiding within the civilian population? That's illegal under international law, so let's be brutally honest and say that Hamas, not Israel, is guilty of war crimes here. Not so many Israelis get killed, because IDF troops are based away from civilian centres. And don't pretend Hamas are mere 'militants': when they fire rockets or send in suicide bombers, they target the civilian population. Another war crime.

Some sort of madness seems to grip people at a time like this. Israel pulls out of Gaza, apparently something the people of Gaza wanted. What does Hamas do? It takes control of Gaza by brute force, then it uses proxies to fire barrage after barrage of rockets into southern Israel. The pro-Palestinian brigade sneer that these 'home-made' rockets are of little consequence. I notice that none of these people have ever volunteered to live in Sderot (or Ashkelon) in order to drive that point home. If the Scots were firing similar rockets into Berwick, do you honestly believe the UK government would sit back for years and do almost nothing, as the Israeli government has done?

The real disproportion here lies with Hamas, Fatah, and their allies, in their complete refusal to abide by any of the norms of modern international law or the principles of the United Nations. Here's an early passage from the 1988 Hamas Charter:

'The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgement Day. This being so, who could claim to have the right to represent Moslem generations till Judgement Day?

'This is the law governing the land of Palestine in the Islamic Sharia (law) and the same goes for any land the Moslems have conquered by force, because during the times of (Islamic) conquests, the Moslems consecrated these lands to Moslem generations till the Day of Judgement.'

The Day of Judgement? How on earth does that fit into the concept of the Westphalian state and the rule of international law? In 1948, when Israel was established by a majority vote of the UN, the Arabs simply defied that vote and sent armies against the new country with the intent of obliterating it. These countries wanted all the advantages that came from membership in the UN, but the moment that body voted democratically to create Israel, they turned their backs and have continued to turn their backs to the present day. Proportionate? Far from it.

The consequence for the Palestinians has been horrific. Instead of enjoying the state they were given in 1948, instead of cooperating with Israel to create mutual prosperity, they and their allies fought yet more wars, while they launched wave after wave of terrorism against the Jewish state. Some people call them resistance fighters, but that's an unforgivable response to such actions. There's nothing to resist, in that Israel is always willing to make peace the moment the violence against it stops. It has been saying so for 60 years and, to be honest, it's bloody obvious. Why would anyone prefer war. Some people don't believe that; but the Palestinians haven't once put it to the test. Why not? Because they think religious motives ('the Day of Judgement') are a valid excuse for killing innocent civilians in the 21st century?

When Israeli children are killed by rockets or suicide bombers, the people of Gaza and the West Bank hand out sweets to passers by and rejoice. When Palestinian children die in the course of an attack, no-one in Israel celebrates. When Palestinian children are wounded, they are taken to Israel and treated in Israeli hospitals. While rockets have been raining on Sderot, Israel has been providing Gaza with 90% of its electricity, with food, medicine, fuel and other necessities. What other country has shown so much compassion to an enemy plotting to destroy it? There is no proportion in any of these things, yet they build a very different picture to that given in the media, of Israel as a marauding tyrant, taking disproportionate revenge.

We all want peace. But that will not come so long as Hamas struggle for the unrealizable and for the coming of Judgement Day.

Denis MacEoin

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Lies That Kill

by Carlos

There are lies, there are damn lies, and there are lies that kill.
 
And sometimes the deadliest lies gain power by exploiting little bits of truth.
 
Saree Makdisi is a professor of English literature at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a frequent writer on Palestinian issues. In a PBS NewsHour television interview he said that the Palestinian rocket strikes on cities in southern Israel are "illegal and immoral." That gives him some credibility. But then he went on to say:

It's important to be able to understand what they're coming from and what they're in response to.

The important thing is to understand where the rocket attacks are coming from and what needs to be done to stop them, which is to stop a 41-year-old illegal occupation.

The rocket attacks are in response to an ongoing situation. The situation is determined by the occupation. If the occupation stops, everything else will stop, as well.

In other words, the rocket attacks are immoral, but there is good reason for them. This is a clear contradiction. If there were a good and justifiable reason for the attacks, they would not be immoral. Makdisi wants to have it both ways.
 
Let us examine Makdisi's good reason for the rocket attacks against Israel. He says it's the "occupation." That is the Palestinian mantra used to excuse every Palestinian atrocity, and it has worked. But there's a problem: Gaza is no longer occupied. There are no more Israeli settlements in Gaza, and no Israelis live there anymore. This has been true for almost three years. Yet Makdisi insists that Gaza is "occupied."
 
Here is his reasoning:

[Hamas] is not actually in full control of Gaza. Gaza, according to international law, is still under Israeli occupation, because Israel controls the borders, the air space, territorial waters, and all access to Gaza, essentially.

These days "international law" seems to be whatever anyone says it is. "Occupation" still means to occupy, to have your people on the ground where others don't think they belong. As to the borders and territorial waters, it is not just Israel who has a say in what goes on there. The Egyptians also exercise quite a measure of control. In fact, when Palestinians in Gaza destroyed sections of the border with Egypt and many Palestinian civilians crossed over, Egyptian security forces came at them with clubs, tear gas, water cannons, and attack dogs. Then Egypt resealed the border.
 
So is Egypt occupying Gaza?
 
Makdisi's illogical exercise brings up another important question: Why the need to control the Palestinian border in the first place?
 
The answer is clear: because the Palestinians have a nasty tendency to smuggle weapons across the border, and to use those weapons. After they broke through the border with Egypt, they came back with Iranian missiles that they launched at the Israeli city of Ashkelon. (In case it needs repeating, Ashkelon is not a settlement. It is a major city on the Israeli coast.)
 
But what is Makdisi's solution? "End the occupation," by which he means stop controlling the border, since there are no more Israelis in Gaza. So now according to Makdisi, Egypt and Israel are occupying Gaza since they both control parts of Gaza's border, and this "occupation" should stop. Well, we already know what would happen if it stopped and there were no controls at all on the borders. Palestinians would be smuggling weapons in without restraint, and the rocket fire on Israel would escalate. This is what Makdisi wants Israel to allow.
 
And since, by Makdisi's logic Egypt is also occupying Gaza, it would be gentlemanly of

him to direct at least some of his outrage towards Egypt. Why let Israel hog it all?

By the way, Makdisi should be very relieved to learn that today Israel opened its border to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, including over 160 trucks containing medical supplies and equipment. Another country would have laid siege to Gaza. But unlike Hamas, Israel is not trying to make civilians suffer. Now will Hamas ease its aggressive policies in response? Would anyone like to risk a little money on it?

Makdisi begins with a kernel of truth and turns it into a deadly lie. Following his prescription would not produce peace but would guarantee a dramatic increase in the violence, leading to many more deaths on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides. This is what results from the premise that Israel is responsible for every single aspect of Palestinian life, no matter what the Palestinians do, no matter how many schools and hospitals they target, and the Palestinians are responsible for nothing.
 
Unfortunately, it does not end here. The Palestinian lie, which Makdisi represents and which the Palestinians have apparently successfully sold to most of the world, threatens Israel's existence and the stability of the entire region - which means the stability of the entire world.
 
It is as much because of what the lie conceals as because of what it already has revealed. This is the deadly subtext: Hamas is taking a page from the playbook of its ally to the north, Hezbollah. Hezbollah has established a battery of rocket launching sites all along Israel's northern border, stocked with thousands of projectiles much more powerful than the Palestinian qassams. During the most recent Lebanon war Hezbollah devastated Israel's northern cities and inflicted serious damage as far as Haifa. For all of Israel's efforts during that war, and the pretense of the United Nations to do something about it, the threat is worse now than it was then. And while Hezbollah picks and chooses its times, and is no doubt waiting for an opportune moment to strike, Hamas is using some of those heavier weapons right now.
 
Since last Wednesday Palestinians have fired more than 200 rockets at Israel. These include at least 21 of the longer-range Katyusha-style rockets, which the Palestinians don't make themselves but smuggle from the outside. The use of these Katyushas is an ominous sign that Hamas is beginning to adopt the Hezbollah strategy.
 
"I have no doubt that the people who built Hezbollah's military machine are now building the military machine of Hamas," said Israeli spokesman Mark Regev. He also noted that the longer-range rockets used by both Hezbollah and Hamas were made in Iran, and that Iran gives Hamas both training and logistical support. Hamas is also using another cynical but effective Hezbollah tactic: launching attacks from civilian areas and even storing weapons in people's homes. This presents Israel with the "Sophie's choice" of either risking harm to Palestinian civilians or allowing its own civilians to be murdered at will. The Palestinians bank on world sympathy to make this tactic work, and it has.
 
Is this comparison to Hezbollah simply Jewish paranoia? Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum announced that, like Hezbollah, Hamas had "gone from the stone to the rocket." He added: "What we learned from Hezbollah is that resistance is a choice that can work." The course seems clear: Hamas is pursuing a Hezbollah strategy in Gaza.
 
And so Regev noted that if Israel does not do something about it now, it will one day wake up to find much of its population within range of far more powerful Hamas rockets. And Hamas will not wait for a war in Lebanon to use them.
 
Hamas is openly and unapologetically sworn to Israel's destruction. Can anyone seriously imagine that supporting Hamas while it is building its military capability will promote the peace that we all (except Hamas) want? Yet that is exactly what people are doing. Condemning Israel for trying to protect its citizens supports Hamas. It sends the terrorists a message that the more they persist and wait it out, and the more Palestinian casualties, the better their chance of prevailing. What does Hamas care? Martyrdom is, after all, a blessing, even when imposed on people without their consent. With over 100 Palestinian dead, Hamas staged a victory celebration.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, showing no more sense than his predecessor, said "I condemn the disproportionate and excessive use of force that has killed and injured so many civilians, including children." Yes, the death of civilians on either side is damnable, but why not also condemn, in terms just as strong, the aggression by Hamas that led up to this? Why not condemn, in terms just as strong, the deaths and injuries of Israeli civilians? Why not condemn the evil practice by Hamas of deliberately putting Palestinian as well as Israeli civilians in harm's way?
 
If the world waits until Israel fights back before it issues its condemnations, then one thing is certain. Hamas will take it as encouragement, will build up its arsenal and use it, and before we know it there will be a Lebanon war in Gaza. It is the same old story: the terrorists attack, Israel tries to stop the attacks, international pressure forces Israel to withdraw, the terrorists celebrate and claim they have won, they launch an even more devastating attack and the whole dance repeats itself. Only each time it gets worse and the stakes become even higher. Even the United States is guilty of this insane approach to the problem. How often must this cycle repeat before people come to their senses?
 
Strong international pressure must be put on Hamas to stop its war against Israel's citizens. Then Israel will have no excuse to intervene in Gaza, nor will it want to. And then the peace talks can continue. I don't expect Ban Ki-Moon to love Israel. But if he and all those who think like him don't acquire a sense of proportion, the day will come when the entire region will erupt in flames, and the self-righteous moralizers will be asking, "How did it ever come to this?" "What could we have done?"
 

 

 

 

 

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Gaza media wars and proportionality.

By Ami Isseroff

 

Almost everyone agrees that Israel is losing the infotainment media wars. I personally am very happy about this. I am happy not because I am a left-wing progressive Zionist, though I am also that. I am happy because I am an Israeli and a patriot. I am happy not because I am a "defeatist." Quite the opposite.

Every day, the media all over the world show terrible pictures of fighting in Gaza. A picture is worth a thousand words, 2,000 words for people who move their lips when they read. Terrible pictures and terrible statistics. One Israeli was killed by a rocket. 60, no 101, no 120 Hamas terrorists militants and associates were killed by Israel.

I hope it keeps going in the same way. Is that a cruel thing to say? Think about it. We Israelis did not chose this war with the Arabs of Gaza. They freely elected a government of genocidal war criminals in democratic elections, as we are reminded constantly. Then the genocidal war criminals took over all power illegally, because that is what genocidal war criminals have a tendency to do. They bombard our towns with rockets and smuggle in illegal weapons. They refuse to recognize our right to live in peace as a free people. I have nothing against innocent people in Gaza. The Arabs of Gaza may be sorry that they brought to power a government of genocidal war criminals, as all the polls show, but that is not relevant. The Germans were also sorry they brought Hitler to power, once it was clear that they were losing the war. Wars are only fun for warmongers when they are winning. I am sorry for every innocent person who is hurt in Gaza, for every home that is ruined for no reason by mistake. But imagine if it were the other way around? I would be much sorrier if all those homes were in Sderot or Ashqelon, and all those dead people had voted for a government that declared its determination to make peace.

Israel is losing the media wars not because, as hysterical op-ed columnists claim, we have an incompetent government of traitors who should be hanged and an incompetent and cowardly army. We are losing the media wars because we have the best army in the Middle East and perhaps, qualitatively, in the world. We are losing the media war because, while the people of Sderot and the rest of the Western Negev, some 250,000, are terrorized by little rockets that carry a few pounds of explosives, 1.5 million Gazans have to reckon with bombs carrying hundreds of pounds of explosives, with 175 mm howitzer shells and deadly accurate missiles. As long as we keep killing tens of Palestinian Arabs for every Israeli we have to be losing the picture book infotainment media wars.

The media wars are going precisely according to script. In the previous episode of Media Wars, I predicted about the Gaza media war:

The following stage is that Israel is forced to stop the operations, and the enemy declares a big victory.

.
We are now at the next stage. Hamas has declared a victory. Like the narrator in any serial TV melodrama, my predictive success is not due to prophetic abilities. BBC sends me the script in advance. It is not clear why the media are angry at Israel. Don't they sympathize with the underdog? That is the freely elected Palestinian government as we are told. Those are their policies and those are their victories. So what is the problem for BBC, the Guardian, the Independent, Reuters, and Al-Jazeera? They should be celebrating the victory with their admired friends, the Hamas. They should be showing all the happy faces of the Gazans celebrating their victory.

Pictures cannot show policies. They can't show what is in peoples' hearts and minds. Children look like children, whether they have been learning to love their neighbor, or whether they have been learning about the Hamas bunny that eats Jews. Women look like women. When they are in pain or dead, there is no way to know which woman would say with pride, "My son, the doctor gets so many pretty girlfriends," and which would say "My son, the Shihad suicide bomber got 72 virgins." There is no way of knowing who voted for a party that promised to work for peaceful coexistence with its neighbors, and who voted for a party that promised to wipe its neighbors off the face of the earth in order to bring about the end of days.

In this war, whoever kills the most people will lose the mindless infotainment media wars. Had there been camcorders and Internet in 1944, there is no doubt that pictures of the suffering civilians of the Third Reich would have been flashed around the world. Poor little Fritz in his crib, and Frieda knitting warm socks for her husband, the guard at the camp in Oswiencem, poor little Siegfried dead in his starchy and neat Hitler Jugend uniform, and poor Marlene in her dainty and spotless Bund Deutscher Madschen uniform, now stained by blood - all civilians. The kids were on a Strength Through Joy outing, you see.

The Nazis would have won the media wars hands down in 1944 and 1945. They were being pounded by overwhelming force. People would be just as sorry for them as they are for poor little Ahmed who died with his cuddly giant toy bunny that eats Jews, and Fatima, who died while dreaming of blowing herself up to liberate Jerusalem. All of them - the Germans and the Arabs of Gaza - were victims of monstrous regimes and monstrous societies. We can't blame a ten or fifteen year old kid for believing the hate they are taught by their elders. Perhaps many of those Germans who got killed by the bombs were socialists and pacifists who hated Hitler and Nazism, and perhaps many of the Arabs who will die - or even most - are wonderful people who want peace. We mustn't ever dehumanize or demonize the enemy. Heinrich, the guard at Bergen-Belsen, had a loving family and so does Ismail Haniyeh. Wars are made by ordinary people, and most of then are "innocent." The tragedy is that wars work that way. We did not start this war.

It is important however, that thinking people. now as then, remember what the war is about. The Hamas are an illegal government of a genocidal and racist militant terrorist organization that insists that they want to wipe out Israel and kill all the Jews. The Reuters news organization cannot be suspected of Zionist sympathies. They interviewed, and proudly quoted, a Hamas militant terrorist who had this to say:

"In the end, Israel will have to agree to our terms. There is no alternative to returning all of our Palestine."

That is the Hamas manifesto. What talks can one have with such a group, and what compromise, and what coexistence? What choice is there other than to fight these people? Who can return to the Arabs of Palestine what was never theirs? They never ruled Palestine since the time of the early Caliphs. Imagine if a Zionist had made such a statement - that all of the land of Israel must be "returned" to the Jewish people. The Zionist would be on much firmer historical ground, but Reuters would no doubt portray him as a fanatic. The unconsciously ironic Reuters headline for this encomium to terrorism was Inspired by God, Hamas fighters battle on. The "god" of Reuters inspires people to be terrorists.

Everyone who reads or sees or hears about Gaza must remember what it is all about. The Hamas is an illegal government of genocidal, racist terrorists. Their medium term goal is to wipe out Israel and murder or subjugate the Jews of Israel in an Islamic apartheid regime. They are a branch of the Muslim brothers. Their long term goal is to institute a caliphate in the Middle East. The short term goals of Hamas, the goals of these rocket attacks, are to sabotage the peace process and unseat the Palestinian Authority government.

When the BBC reports, "1 Israeli killed by Qassam, 120 Palestinians killed by IDF" they think they are reporting war crimes of the Zionist war criminals and "disproportionate response." When the BBC reported, "1 Londoner killed by V-II, 500 Germans killed in RAF night raids" it was treated as a great victory, was it not?

Ami Isseroff


Copyright
- Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Muslim Claim to Jerusalem Part I

by Daniel Pipes

1st part of 4

The Camp David II summit and the "Aqsa intifada" that followed have confirmed what everyone had long known: Jerusalem is the knottiest issue facing Arab and Israeli negotiators.

In part, the problem is practical: the Palestinians insist that the capital of Israel serve as the capital of their future state too, something Israelis are loathe to accept. But mostly, the problem is religious: the ancient city has sacred associations for Jews and Muslims alike (and Christians too, of course; but Christians today no longer make an independent political claim to Jerusalem), and both insist on sovereignty over their overlapping sacred areas.

In Jerusalem, theological and historical claims matter; they are the functional equivalent to the deed to the city and have direct operational consequences. Jewish and Muslim connections to the city therefore require evaluation.

Comparing Religious Claims

The Jewish connection to Jerusalem is an ancient and powerful one. Judaism made Jerusalem a holy city over three thousand years ago and through all that time Jews remained steadfast to it. Jews pray in its direction, mention its name constantly in prayers, close the Passover service with the wistful statement "Next year in Jerusalem," and recall the city in the blessing at the end of each meal. The destruction of the Temple looms very large in Jewish consciousness; remembrance takes such forms as a special day of mourning, houses left partially unfinished, a woman's makeup or jewelry left incomplete, and a glass smashed during the wedding ceremony. In addition, Jerusalem has had a prominent historical role, is the only capital of a Jewish state, and is the only city with a Jewish majority during the whole of the past century. In the words of its current mayor, Jerusalem represents "the purist expression of all that Jews prayed for, dreamed of, cried for, and died for in the two thousand years since the destruction of the Second Temple."1

What about Muslims? Where does Jerusalem fit in Islam and Muslim history? It is not the place to which they pray, is not once mentioned by name in prayers, and it is connected to no mundane events in Muhammad's life. The city never served as capital of a sovereign Muslim state, and it never became a cultural or scholarly center. Little of political import by Muslims was initiated there.

One comparison makes this point most clearly: Jerusalem appears in the Jewish Bible 669 times and Zion (which usually means Jerusalem, sometimes the Land of Israel) 154 times, or 823 times in all. The Christian Bible mentions Jerusalem 154 times and Zion 7 times. In contrast, the columnist Moshe Kohn notes, Jerusalem and Zion appear as frequently in the Qur'an "as they do in the Hindu Bhagavad-Gita, the Taoist Tao-Te Ching, the Buddhist Dhamapada and the Zoroastrian Zend Avesta"—which is to say, not once.2

The city being of such evidently minor religious importance, why does it now loom so large for Muslims, to the point that a Muslim Zionism seems to be in the making across the Muslim world? Why do Palestinian demonstrators take to the streets shouting "We will sacrifice our blood and souls for you, Jerusalem"3 and their brethren in Jordan yell "We sacrifice our blood and soul for Al-Aqsa"?4 Why does King Fahd of Saudi Arabia call on Muslim states to protect "the holy city [that] belongs to all Muslims across the world"?5 Why did two surveys of American Muslims find Jerusalem their most pressing foreign policy issue?6

Because of politics. An historical survey shows that the stature of the city, and the emotions surrounding it, inevitably rises for Muslims when Jerusalem has political significance. Conversely, when the utility of Jerusalem expires, so does its status and the passions about it. This pattern first emerged during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad in the early seventh century. Since then, it has been repeated on five occasions: in the late seventh century, in the twelfth century Countercrusade, in the thirteenth century Crusades, during the era of British rule (1917-48), and since Israel took the city in 1967. The consistency that emerges in such a long period provides an important perspective on the current confrontation.

I. The Prophet Muhammad

According to the Arabic-literary sources, Muhammad in a.d. 622 fled his home town of Mecca for Medina, a city with a substantial Jewish population. On arrival in Medina, if not slightly earlier, the Qur'an adopted a number of practices friendly to Jews: a Yom Kippur-like fast, a synagogue-like place of prayer, permission to eat kosher food, and approval to marry Jewish women. Most important, the Qur'an repudiated the pre-Islamic practice of the Meccans to pray toward the Ka'ba, the small stone structure at the center of the main mosque in Mecca. Instead, it adopted the Judaic practice of facing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during prayer. (Actually, the Qur'an only mentions the direction as "Syria"; other information makes it clear that Jerusalem is meant.)

This, the first qibla (direction of prayer) of Islam, did not last long. The Jews criticized the new faith and rejected the friendly Islamic gestures; not long after, the Qur'an broke with them, probably in early 624. The explanation of this change comes in a Qur'anic verse instructing the faithful no longer to pray toward Syria but instead toward Mecca. The passage (2:142-52) begins by anticipating questions about this abrupt change:

The Fools among the people will say: "What has turned them [the Muslims] from the qibla to which they were always used?"

God then provides the answer:

We appointed the qibla that to which you was used, only to test those who followed the Messenger [Muhammad] from those who would turn on their heels [on Islam].

In other words, the new qibla served as a way to distinguish Muslims from Jews. From now on, Mecca would be the direction of prayer:

now shall we turn you to a qibla that shall please you. Then turn your face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque [in Mecca]. Wherever you are, turn your faces in that direction.

The Qur'an then reiterates the point about no longer paying attention to Jews:

Even if you were to bring all the signs to the people of the Book [i.e., Jews], they would not follow your qibla.

Muslims subsequently accepted the point implicit to the Qur'anic explanation, that the adoption of Jerusalem as qibla was a tactical move to win Jewish converts. "He chose the Holy House in Jerusalem in order that the People of the Book [i.e., Jews] would be conciliated," notes At-Tabari, an early Muslim commentator on the Qur'an, "and the Jews were glad."7 Modern historians agree: W. Montgomery Watt, a leading biographer of Muhammad, interprets the prophet's "far-reaching concessions to Jewish feeling" in the light of two motives, one of which was "the desire for a reconciliation with the Jews."8

After the Qur'an repudiated Jerusalem, so did the Muslims: the first description of the town under Muslim rule comes from the visiting Bishop Arculf, a Gallic pilgrim, in 680, who reported seeing "an oblong house of prayer, which they [the Muslims] pieced together with upright plans and large beams over some ruined remains."9 Not for the last time, safely under Muslim control, Jerusalem became a backwater.10

This episode set the mold that would be repeated many times over succeeding centuries: Muslims take interest religiously in Jerusalem because of pressing but temporary concerns. Then, when those concerns lapse, so does the focus on Jerusalem, and the city's standing greatly diminishes.

II. Umayyads

The second round of interest in Jerusalem occurred during the rule of the Damascus-based Umayyad dynasty (661-750). A dissident leader in Mecca, 'Abdullah b. az-Zubayr began a revolt against the Umayyads in 680 that lasted until his death in 692; while fighting him, Umayyad rulers sought to aggrandize Syria at the expense of Arabia (and perhaps also to help recruit an army against the Byzantine Empire). They took some steps to sanctify Damascus, but mostly their campaign involved what Amikam Elad of the Hebrew University calls an "enormous" effort "to exalt and to glorify" Jerusalem.11 They may even have hoped to make it the equal of Mecca.

The first Umayyad ruler, Mu'awiya, chose Jerusalem as the place where he ascended to the caliphate; he and his successors engaged in a construction program – religious edifices, a palace, and roads – in the city. The Umayyads possibly had plans to make Jerusalem their political and administrative capital; indeed, Elad finds that they in effect treated it as such. But Jerusalem is primarily a city of faith, and, as the Israeli scholar Izhak Hasson explains, the "Umayyad regime was interested in ascribing an Islamic aura to its stronghold and center."12 Toward this end (as well as to assert Islam's presence in its competition with Christianity), the Umayyad caliph built Islam's first grand structure, the Dome of the Rock, right on the spot of the Jewish Temple, in 688-91.13 This remarkable building is not just the first monumental sacred building of Islam but also the only one that still stands today in roughly its original form.

The next Umayyad step was subtle and complex, and requires a pause to note a passage of the Qur'an (17:1) describing the Prophet Muhammad's Night Journey to heaven (isra'):

Glory to He who took His servant by night from the Sacred Mosque to the furthest mosque. (Subhana allathina asra bi-'abdihi laylatan min al-masjidi al-harami ila al-masjidi al-aqsa.)

When this Qur'anic passage was first revealed, in about 621, a place called the Sacred Mosque already existed in Mecca. In contrast, the "furthest mosque" was a turn of phrase, not a place. Some early Muslims understood it as metaphorical or as a place in heaven.14 And if the "furthest mosque" did exist on earth, Palestine would seem an unlikely location, for many reasons. Some of them:

Elsewhere in the Qur'an (30:1), Palestine is called "the closest land" (adna al-ard).

Palestine had not yet been conquered by the Muslims and contained not a single mosque.

The "furthest mosque" was apparently identified with places inside Arabia: either Medina15 or a town called Ji'rana, about ten miles from Mecca, which the Prophet visited in 630.16

The earliest Muslim accounts of Jerusalem, such as the description of Caliph 'Umar's reported visit to the city just after the Muslims conquest in 638, nowhere identify the Temple Mount with the "furthest mosque" of the Qur'an.

The Qur'anic inscriptions that make up a 240-meter mosaic frieze inside the Dome of the Rock do not include Qur'an 17:1 and the story of the Night Journey, suggesting that as late as 692 the idea of Jerusalem as the lift-off for the Night Journey had not yet been established. (Indeed, the first extant inscriptions of Qur'an 17:1 in Jerusalem date from the eleventh century.)

Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiya (638-700), a close relative of the Prophet Muhammad, is quoted denigrating the notion that the prophet ever set foot on the Rock in Jerusalem; "these damned Syrians," by which he means the Umayyads, "pretend that God put His foot on the Rock in Jerusalem, though [only] one person ever put his foot on the rock, namely Abraham."17

Then, in 715, to build up the prestige of their dominions, the Umayyads did a most clever thing: they built a second mosque in Jerusalem, again on the Temple Mount, and called this one the Furthest Mosque (al-masjid al-aqsa, Al-Aqsa Mosque). With this, the Umayyads retroactively gave the city a role in Muhammad's life. This association of Jerusalem with al-masjid al-aqsa fit into a wider Muslim tendency to identify place names found in the Qur'an: "wherever the Koran mentions a name of an event, stories were invented to give the impression that somehow, somewhere, someone, knew what they were about."18

Despite all logic (how can a mosque built nearly a century after the Qur'an was received establish what the Qur'an meant?), building an actual Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Palestinian historian A. L. Tibawi writes, "gave reality to the figurative name used in the Koran."19 It also had the hugely important effect of inserting Jerusalem post hoc into the Qur'an and making it more central to Islam. Also, other changes resulted. Several Qur'anic passages were re-interpreted to refer to this city.20 Jerusalem came to be seen as the site of the Last Judgment. The Umayyads cast aside the non-religious Roman name for the city, Aelia Capitolina (in Arabic, Iliya) and replaced it with Jewish-style names, either Al-Quds (The Holy) or Bayt al-Maqdis (The Temple). They sponsored a form of literature praising the "virtues of Jerusalem," a genre one author is tempted to call "Zionist."21 Accounts of the prophet's sayings or doings (Arabic: hadiths, often translated into English as "Traditions") favorable to Jerusalem emerged at this time, some of them equating the city with Mecca.22 There was even an effort to move the pilgrimage (hajj) from Mecca to Jerusalem.

Scholars agree that the Umayyads' motivation to assert a Muslim presence in the sacred city had a strictly utilitarian purpose. The Iraqi historian Abdul Aziz Duri finds "political reasons" behind their actions.23 Hasson concurs:

The construction of the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosque, the rituals instituted by the Umayyads on the Temple Mount and the dissemination of Islamic-oriented Traditions regarding the sanctity of the site, all point to the political motives which underlay the glorification of Jerusalem among the Muslims.24

Thus did a politically-inspired Umayyad building program lead to the Islamic sanctification of Jerusalem.

Daniel Pipes

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

The Muslim Claim to Jerusalem Part II

By Daniel Pipes

2nd part of 4

Abbasid Rule

Then, with the Umayyad demise in 750 and the move of the caliph's capital to Baghdad, "imperial patronage became negligible"25 and Jerusalem fell into near-obscurity. For the next three and a half centuries, books praising this city lost favor and the construction of glorious buildings not only came to an end but existing ones fell apart (the dome over the rock collapsed in 1016). Gold was stripped off the dome to pay for Al-Aqsa repair work. City walls collapsed. Worse, the rulers of the new dynasty bled Jerusalem and its region country through what F. E. Peters of New York University calls "their rapacity and their careless indifference."26 The city declined to the point of becoming a shambles. "Learned men are few, and the Christians numerous," bemoaned a tenth-century Muslim native of Jerusalem.27 Only mystics continued to visit the city.

In a typical put-down, another tenth-century author described the city as "a provincial town attached to Ramla,"28 a reference to the tiny, insignificant town serving as Palestine's administrative center. Elad characterizes Jerusalem in the early centuries of Muslim rule as "an outlying city of diminished importance."29 The great historian S. D. Goitein notes that the geographical dictionary of al-Yaqut mentions Basra 170 times, Damascus 100 times, and Jerusalem only once, and that one time in passing. He concludes from this and other evidence that, in its first six centuries of Muslim rule, "Jerusalem mostly lived the life of an out-of-the-way provincial town, delivered to the exactions of rapacious officials and notables, often also to tribulations at the hands of seditious fellahin [peasants] or nomads ... . Jerusalem certainly could not boast of excellence in the sciences of Islam or any other fields."30

By the early tenth century, notes Peters, Muslim rule over Jerusalem had an "almost casual" quality with "no particular political significance."31 Later too: Al-Ghazali, sometimes called the "Thomas Aquinas of Islam," visited Jerusalem in 1096 but not once refers to the Crusaders heading his way.

III. Early Crusades

The Crusader conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 initially aroused a very mild Muslim response. The Franks did not rate much attention; Arabic literature written in Crusader-occupied towns tended not even to mention them . Thus, "calls to jihad at first fell upon deaf ears," writes Robert Irwin, formerly of the University of St Andrews in Scotland.32 Emmanuel Sivan of the Hebrew University adds that "one does not detect either shock or a sense of religious loss and humiliation."33

Only as the effort to retake Jerusalem grew serious in about 1150 did Muslim leaders seek to rouse jihad sentiments through the heightening of emotions about Jerusalem. Using the means at their disposal (hadiths, "virtues of Jerusalem" books, poetry), their propagandists stressed the sanctity of Jerusalem and the urgency of its return to Muslim rule. Newly-minted hadiths made Jerusalem ever-more critical to the Islamic faith; one of them put words into the Prophet Muhammad's mouth saying that, after his own death, Jerusalem's falling to the infidels is the second greatest catastrophe facing Islam. Whereas not a single "virtues of Jerusalem" volume appeared in the period 1100-50, very many came out in the subsequent half century. In the 1160s, Sivan notes, "al-Quds propaganda blossomed"; and when Saladin (Salah ad-Din) led the Muslims to victory over Jerusalem in 1187, the "propaganda campaign ... attained its paroxysm."34 In a letter to his Crusader opponent, Saladin wrote that the city "is to us as it is to you. It is even more important to us."35

The glow of the reconquest remained bright for several decades thereafter; for example, Saladin's descendants (known as the Ayyubid dynasty, which ruled until 1250) went on a great building and restoration program in Jerusalem, thereby imbuing the city with a more Muslim character. Until this point, Islamic Jerusalem had consisted only of the shrines on the Temple Mount; now, for the first time, specifically Islamic buildings (Sufi convents, schools) were built in the surrounding city. Also, it was at this time, Oleg Grabar of Princeton's Institute of Advanced Study notes, that the Dome of the Rock came to be seen as the exact place where Muhammad's ascension to heaven (mi'raj) took place during his Night Journey:36 if the "furthest mosque" is in Jerusalem, then Muhammad's Night Journey and his subsequent visit to heaven logically took place on the Temple Mount—indeed, on the very rock from which Jesus was thought to have ascended to heaven.

IV. Ayyubids

But once safely back in Muslim hands, interest in Jerusalem again dropped; "the simple fact soon emerged that al-Quds was not essential to the security of an empire based in Egypt or Syria. Accordingly, in times of political or military crisis, the city proved to be expendable," writes Donald P. Little of McGill University.37 In particular, in 1219, when the Europeans attacked Egypt in the Fifth Crusade, a grandson of Saladin named al-Mu'azzam decided to raze the walls around Jerusalem, fearing that were the Franks to take the city with walls, "they will kill all whom they find there and will have the fate of Damascus and lands of Islam in their hands."38 Pulling down Jerusalem's fortifications had the effect of prompting a mass exodus from the city and its steep decline.

Also at this time, the Muslim ruler of Egypt and Palestine, al-Kamil (another of Saladin's grandsons and the brother of al-Mu'azzam), offered to trade Jerusalem to the Europeans if only the latter would leave Egypt, but he had no takers. Ten years later, in 1229, just such a deal was reached when al-Kamil did cede Jerusalem to Emperor Friedrich II; in return, the German leader promised military aid to al-Kamil against al-Mu'azzam, now a rival king. Al-Kamil insisted that the Temple Mount remain in Muslim hands and "all the practices of Islam"39 continued to be exercised there, a condition Friedrich complied with. Referring to his deal with Frederick, al-Kamil wrote in a remarkably revealing description of Jerusalem, "I conceded to the Franks only ruined churches and houses."40 In other words, the city that had been heroically regained by Saladin in 1187 was voluntarily traded away by his grandson just forty-two years later.

On learning that Jerusalem was back in Christian hands, Muslims felt predictably intense emotions. An Egyptian historian later wrote that the loss of the city "was a great misfortune for the Muslims, and much reproach was put upon al-Kamil, and many were the revilings of him in all the lands."41 By 1239, another Ayyubid ruler, an-Nasir Da'ud, managed to expel the Franks from the city.

But then he too ceded it right back to the Crusaders in return for help against one of his relatives. This time, the Christians were less respectful of the Islamic sanctuaries and turned the Temple Mount mosques into churches.

Their intrusion did not last long; by 1244 the invasion of Palestine by troops from Central Asia brought Jerusalem again under the rule of an Ayyubid; and henceforth the city remained safely under Muslim rule for nearly seven centuries. Jerusalem remained but a pawn in the Realpolitik of the times, as explained in a letter from a later Ayyubid ruler, as-Salih Ayyub, to his son: if the Crusaders threaten you in Cairo, he wrote, and they demand from you the coast of Palestine and Jerusalem, "give these places to them without delay on condition they have no foothold in Egypt."42

The psychology at work here bears note: that Christian knights traveled from distant lands to make Jerusalem their capital made the city more valuable in Muslim eyes too. "It was a city strongly coveted by the enemies of the faith, and thus became, in a sort of mirror-image syndrome, dear to Muslim hearts,"43 Sivan explains. And so fractured opinions coalesced into a powerful sensibility; political exigency caused Muslims ever after to see Jerusalem as the third most holy city of Islam (thalith al-masajid).

Mamluk and Ottoman Rule

During the Mamluk era (1250-1516), Jerusalem lapsed further into its usual obscurity – capital of no dynasty, economic laggard, cultural backwater—though its new-found prestige as an Islamic site remained intact. Also, Jerusalem became a favorite place to exile political leaders, due to its proximity to Egypt and its lack of walls, razed in 1219 and not rebuilt for over three centuries, making Jerusalem easy prey for marauders. These notables endowed religious institutions, especially religious schools, which in the aggregate had the effect of re-establishing Islam in the city. But a general lack of interest translated into decline and impoverishment. Many of the grand buildings, including the Temple Mount sanctuaries, were abandoned and became dilapidated as the city became depopulated. A fourteenth-century author bemoaned the paucity of Muslims visiting Jerusalem.44 The Mamluks so devastated Jerusalem that the town's entire population at the end of their rule amounted to a miserable 4,000 souls.

The Ottoman period (1516-1917) got off to an excellent start when Süleyman the Magnificent rebuilt the city walls in 1537-41 and lavished money in Jerusalem (for example, assuring its water supply), but things then quickly reverted to type. Jerusalem now suffered from the indignity of being treated as a tax farm for non-resident, one-year (and very rapacious) officials. "After having exhausted Jerusalem, the pasha left," observed the French traveler François-René Chateaubriand in 1806. At times, this rapaciousness prompted uprisings. The Turkish authorities also raised funds for themselves by gouging European visitors; in general, this allowed them to make fewer efforts in Jerusalem than in other cities to promote the city's economy. The tax rolls show soap as its only export. So insignificant was Jerusalem, it was sometimes a mere appendage to the governorship of Nablus or Gaza. Nor was scholarship cultivated: in 1670, a traveler reported that standards had dropped so low that even the preacher at Al-Aqsa Mosque spoke a low standard of literary Arabic. The many religious schools of an earlier era disappeared. By 1806, the population had again dropped, this time to under 9,000 residents.

Muslims during this long era could afford to ignore Jerusalem, writes the historian James Parkes, because the city "was something that was there, and it never occurred to a Muslim that it would not always be there," safely under Muslim rule.45 Innumerable reports during these centuries from Western pilgrims, tourists, and diplomats in Jerusalem told of the city's execrable condition. George Sandys in 1611 found that "Much lies waste; the old buildings (except a few) all ruined, the new contemptible." Constantin Volney, one of the most scientific of observers, noted in 1784 Jerusalem's "destroyed walls, its debris-filled moat, its city circuit choked with ruins." "What desolation and misery!" wrote Chateaubriand. Gustav Flaubert of Madame Bovary fame visited in 1850 and found "Ruins everywhere, and everywhere the odor of graves. It seems as if the Lord's curse hovers over the city. The Holy City of three religions is rotting away from boredom, desertion, and neglect." "Hapless are the favorites of heaven," commented Herman Melville in 1857. Mark Twain in 1867 found that Jerusalem "has lost all its ancient grandeur, and is become a pauper village."

The British government recognized the minimal Muslim interest in Jerusalem during World War I. In negotiations with Sharif Husayn of Mecca in 1915-16 over the terms of the Arab revolt against the Ottomans, London decided not to include Jerusalem in territories to be assigned to the Arabs because, as the chief British negotiator, Henry McMahon, put it, "there was no place … of sufficient importance … further south" of Damascus "to which the Arabs attached vital importance."46

True to this spirit, the Turkish overlords of Jerusalem abandoned Jerusalem rather than fight for it in 1917, evacuating it just in advance of the British troops. One account indicates they were even prepared to destroy the holy city. Jamal Pasha, the Ottoman commander-in-chief, instructed his Austrian allies to "blow Jerusalem to hell" should the British enter the city. The Austrians therefore had their guns trained on the Dome of the Rock, with enough ammunition to keep up two full days of intensive bombardment. According to Pierre van Paasen, a journalist, that the dome still exists today is due to a Jewish artillery captain in the Austrian army, Marek Schwartz, who rather than respond to the approaching British troops with a barrage on the Islamic holy places, "quietly spiked his own guns and walked into the British lines."47

V. British Rule

In modern times, notes the Israeli scholar Hava Lazarus-Yafeh, Jerusalem "became the focus of religious and political Arab activity only at the beginning of the [twentieth] century." She ascribes the change mainly to "the renewed Jewish activity in the city and Judaism's claims on the Western Wailing Wall."48 British rule over city, lasting from 1917 to 1948, then galvanized a renewed passion for Jerusalem. Arab politicians made Jerusalem a prominent destination during the British Mandatory period. Iraqi leaders frequently turned up in Jerusalem, demonstrably praying at Al-Aqsa and giving emotional speeches. Most famously, King Faysal of Iraq visited the city and made a ceremonial entrance to the Temple Mount using the same gate as did Caliph 'Umar when the city was first conquered in 638. Iraqi involvement also included raising funds for an Islamic university in Jerusalem, and setting up a consulate and an information office there.

The Palestinian leader (and mufti of Jerusalem) Hajj Amin al-Husayni made the Temple Mount central to his anti-Zionist political efforts. Husayni brought a contingent of Muslim notables to Jerusalem in 1931 for an international congress to mobilize global Muslim opinion on behalf of the Palestinians. He also exploited the draw of the Islamic holy places in Jerusalem to find international Muslim support for his campaign against Zionism. For example, he engaged in fundraising in several Arab countries to restore the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa, sometimes by sending out pictures of the Dome of the Rock under a Star of David; his efforts did succeed in procuring the funds to restore these monuments to their former glory.

Perhaps most indicative of the change in mood was the claim that the Prophet Muhammad had tethered his horse to the western wall of the Temple Mount. As established by Shmuel Berkowitz,49 Muslim scholars over the centuries had variously theorized about the prophet tying horse to the eastern or southern walls—but not one of them before the Muslim-Jewish clashes at the Western Wall in 1929 ever associated this incident with the western side. Once again, politics drove Muslim piousness regarding Jerusalem.

Jordanian Rule

Sandwiched between British and Israeli eras, Jordanian rule over Jerusalem in 1948-67 offers a useful control case; true to form, when Muslims took the Old City (which contains the sanctuaries) they noticeably lost interest in it. An initial excitement stirred when the Jordanian forces captured the walled city in 1948 -- as evidenced by the Coptic bishop's crowning King 'Abdullah as "King of Jerusalem" in November of that year—but then the usual ennui set in. The Hashemites had little affection for Jerusalem, where some of their worst enemies lived and where 'Abdullah was assassinated in 1951. In fact, the Hashemites made a concerted effort to diminish the holy city's importance in favor of their capital, Amman. Jerusalem had served as the British administrative capital, but now all government offices there (save tourism) were shut down; Jerusalem no longer had authority even over other parts of the West Bank. The Jordanians also closed some local institutions (e.g., the Arab Higher Committee, the Supreme Muslim Council) and moved others to Amman (the treasury of the waqf, or religious endowment).

Jordanian efforts succeeded: once again, Arab Jerusalem became an isolated provincial town, less important than Nablus. The economy so stagnated that many thousands of Arab Jerusalemites left the town: while the population of Amman increased five-fold in the period 1948-67, that of Jerusalem grew by just 50 percent. To take out a bank loan meant traveling to Amman. Amman had the privilege of hosting the country's first university and the royal family's many residences. Jerusalem Arabs knew full well what was going on, as evidenced by one notable's complaint about the royal residences: "those palaces should have been built in Jerusalem, but were removed from here, so that Jerusalem would remain not a city, but a kind of village."50 East Jerusalem's Municipal Counsel twice formally complained of the Jordanian authorities' discrimination against their city.

Perhaps most insulting of all was the decline in Jerusalem's religious standing. Mosques lacked sufficient funds. Jordanian radio broadcast the Friday prayers not from Al-Aqsa Mosque but from an upstart mosque in Amman. (Ironically, Radio Israel began broadcasting services from Al-Aqsa immediately after the Israel victory in 1967.) This was part of a larger pattern, as the Jordanian authorities sought to benefit from the prestige of controlling Jerusalem even as they put the city down: Marshall Breger and Thomas Idinopulos note that although King 'Abdullah "styled himself a protector of the holy sites, he did little to promote the religious importance of Jerusalem to Muslims."51

Nor were Jordan's rulers alone in ignoring Jerusalem; the city virtually disappeared from the Arab diplomatic map. Malcolm Kerr's well-known study on inter-Arab relations during this period (The Arab Cold War) appears not once to mention the city.52 No foreign Arab leader came to Jerusalem during the nineteen years when Jordan controlled East Jerusalem, and King Husayn (r. 1952-99) himself only rarely visited. King Faysal of Saudi Arabia spoke often after 1967 of his yearning to pray in Jerusalem, yet he appears never to have bothered to pray there when he had the chance. Perhaps most remarkable is that the PLO's founding document, the Palestinian National Covenant of 1964, does not once mention Jerusalem or even allude to it.

Daniel Pipes

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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