The connection between Jerusalem and politics is expressed in another way: everyone knows that the source of the disagreement between the Shi’ites and the Sunnis is the political question of who was the legitimate Caliph in the middle of the seventh century: ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, the fourth caliph, or Mu’awiya bin Abi Sufyan, the ruler of Damascus, who rebelled against ‘Ali and became the fifth Caliph. Mu’awiya is the first Caliph from the Umayyads, and it was Yazid, his son, who sanctified Jerusalem as an alternative place to do the Hajj pilgrimage. Yazid was also the one who had Husein bin ‘Ali decapitated and therefore the Shi’ites – supporters of ‘Ali and his descendants – see the Umayyads as their eternal enemies, and their deeds as illegitimate. Therefore, the holiness of Jerusalem was not accepted by the Shi’ites and their third holiest place is the city of Najaf, in southern Iraq, ‘Ali’s burial site. Today, politics plays a role here as well: the leaders of Iran and the Shi’ite Hizballah can not remain behind when the subject is Israel, so they jump on the bandwagon “To liberate Jerusalem from the impurity of the Zionists”, despite the fact that according to Shi’ite tradition Jerusalem has no status as a holy place.
The historical reality of Jerusalem also stands before the leaders of the State of Israel: On one hand – it is the city that is central to the Jewish faith since King David until today, the center of Jewish ritual and religious life, the Jewish capital for approximately 3000 years and the center of the longing, hopes and prayers of Jews from the four corners of the Earth. On the other hand it is the city that Islam has adopted precisely because it is holy to others, and a city whose Islamic “holiness” stems from a problem of Islamic political legitimacy in the Islamic Empire, since the days of Muhammad until our times.
The question that confronts us today is whether Judaism and Christianity will submit to the Islamic religious narrative, which invalidates Judaism and Christianity, and appropriates their holiness, their prophets and their “founding fathers” unto itself, or will they stand up for their rights to be living and thriving religions, that adhere to their holy places and. Or will Jews and Christians behave submissively towards the desert tribes who, after conquering the Land of Israel geographically, have been trying for last 1400 years to overthrow the history and theology of its people.
All to whom Jerusalem is dear must raise their voices and demand that Israel’s government not sell off the holy city for the delusion of peace with those who don’t see Jews as having any right to their country. Jerusalem is not just another parcel of land or a building that belongs to the State of Israel, but the heart of hearts of the entire Jewish and Christian peoples worldwide. In practice this means that if it is necessary to build a bridge then Israel must build it and pay no heed to those who wish to undermine the Jews’ rights and sovereignty.
There will be real peace in the Middle East if, and only if Muslims will recognize the right of Jews to live with full sovereignty in the land of Israel and in its holy, historic capital.
Translated from Hebrew by Sally.
Dr. Mordechai Kedar