Letters to the Editor
Published 12:00 am, Sunday, December 31, 2017
The reporting of a demonstration against President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel contained several false statements made by demonstrators.
To say “Palestine’s connection to the city dates back to before the creation of Israel” is incorrect.
Jerusalem was founded by King David as the capital of a Jewish state three thousand years ago. Jerusalem was liberated from the Syrian-Greek Seleucid empire by the Maccabees 2,100 years ago, as commemorated by the Jewish holiday of Chanukah.
Jerusalem was the capital of Judea when it was a province of the Roman Empire and Jerusalem was taken by the Romans to put down Jewish revolts. Jews have since prayed every day for the return of their capital. Jerusalem has been the capital of Jewish states and the focus of Jewish worship for over three thousand years. No other country or people ever had Jerusalem as its capital.
What is Palestine’s connection?
Not much. First, there is no country of Palestine and never has been. Second, when modern Israel was founded in 1948 culminating 75 years of effort by modern Zionists, the Palestinian Arabs did not regard themselves as a Palestinian nationality.
They rejected a partition that would have given them a lion’s share of the land. They and the neighboring Arab countries fought a war to destroy Israel, but they lost. Did they think to establish “Palestine” at that time in the parts of Judea and Samaria they held from 1948-1967? No. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was only founded in 1964, years after, not before, the creation of Israel. The first leader of the PLO, Yassir Arafat, was born in Egypt. Indeed most of the current “Palestinians” have recent family roots in Egypt and in lands that became Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon after World War I. Others have roots going back to the Arab conquest of the area in the 7th century. The Bible was written much earlier and mentions Jerusalem hundreds of times: the Koran has no reference to the city. Further the Koran has numerous passages about Jewish Kings and the land given to the Jews. It has no reference to the Palestinians.
Finally, the statement by Senator Blumenthal that “Trump’s announcement did nothing to advance these vital negotiations” is a slick way to avoid saying that the policy of non-recognition has been a complete failure that has not led to negotiations.
The new recognition policy doesn’t stop a peace process as that process has been dead for some time. Maybe the new policy will lead to a settlement in the context of a larger regional rapprochement between Israel and the Sunni Arab states. Before condemning it, why not wait and give peace a chance?