"OLD LIES ABOUT JERUSALEM"
(submitted to The Wall Street Journal)
1999 May 21
The Wall Street Journal
200 Liberty Street
New York, NY 10281
The word "truths" in the title of Elliot Schubert's letter to the editor (May 14, 1999, "Some Old Truths About Jerusalem") is terribly misplaced. He says that Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Qur'an, overlooks both the reference to it as the portal to the heavens used by the Prophet Muhammad to ascend to the presence of God in a surah (chapter) of the Qur'an named for that event and the numerous laudatory references in the Qur'an to the kings Solomon and David who reigned in that capital. He asks, if "the Israeli authorities have tried to reduce the Arab Palestinian presence," then why has the Muslim population has increased? The answer is the high Muslim birthrate that exceeds the level of Israeli expulsions. The Israeli policy has been much more successful in reducing the Christian population. In 1996 the World Methodist Council noted that "Christianity is dying in the land of Jesus through economic, social and political pressures which have greatly dimished the numbers of Christians in the Holy Land." This decline can be clearly seen in Jerusalem where the Christian population has fallen from over 29,000 in 1944 to 11,000 today.
Even the technically correct assertion that the Arabs refused Jews entrance to the holy sites from 1948-1967 is misleading in that it seeks to give the impression that this refusal was religiously motivated when in fact it was a politically motivated response to the Israeli expulsion of Palestinian Muslims and Christians from not only their holy places but their homes. Muslims also controlled Jerusalem from 638 until 1917 (except for a brief interlude during the Crusades). They not only allowed Jews access to their holy sites but allowed Jews back to live in the city after they had been expelled by the Romans and then the Crusaders. The Caliph Umar personally lead the cleaning and sanctifying of the Harim-ash-Sharif (a/k/a the "Temple Mount") after the Byzantines had used it for a garbage dump. Like the claim that maintaining the illegal Israeli occupation of Jerusalem is pre-requisite for Jewish access to the holy shrines, the denial of the significance of Jerusalem to Muslims is unjustified and untenable.
Finally, I think it is important to note that in any case, Israel's annextaion of Jerusalem is illegal, never recognized by any international body. Let that truth not be forgotten.
Imad A. Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute