Jerusalem: a composite city

…move to recognize it as Israeli capital violates its spirit

Dr. Javid Iqbal
Srinagar, Publish Date: Dec 11 2017 10:37PM | Updated Date: Dec 11 2017 10:37PM
Jerusalem: a composite cityFile Photo

As Caliph Omar Farooq (RA) stood on the steps of a Christian cathedral in Jerusalem, he heard Azan—call to prayer. The Christian bishops asked him to pray, where he stood. The great caliph refused, making out that were he to pray where he stood, Muslims in epochs to come would claim it as their own—a sacred place. It needs to be taken note of that Caliph Omar (RA) took the high moral ground at a time when Muslims had conquered Jerusalem, yet they did not take people of other faiths as vanquished. It was the benevolent spirit displayed in abundance that spread the Islamic faith far and wide.  Omar Farooq (RA) in doing what he did was conscious of potential inter-faith conflicts. The event worth recording in letters of gold should serve as the guiding principle of how to manage the composite city. 

President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as Israeli capital last week would hardly be expected to know that. The counsels of US president fed by Judeo-Christian theological and cultural ethos do not want to take cognizance of what lies beyond it. Any other faith beyond the Judeo-Christian realm, any other cultural grounding may remain subservient to it. It is a refrain of hegemony, of might is right that has overtaken the one lording over the oval office in Washington, as well as its henchman-Benjamin Netanyahu, lording over Jerusalem. The small men that they are, they stand exposed as dwarfs compared to how Caliph Omar Farooq (RA) behaved in the heyday of Muslims. In fact no comparison is warranted, it is uncalled for. The Caliph stands tall, towering above other rulers down the historical epochs.  

It is clear as daylight that Caliph Omar Farooq (RA) wanted Jerusalem to remain a composite city—a city to be shared by people of the book—stakeholders of Abrahamic faith. And, until early decades of 20th century, it was a city shared by the Muslim, the Christian and the Sephardic (Middle-eastern Jew) until Zionists thought otherwise. Ashkenazics—the European Jews came into play invoking the united Israeli kingdom of David and Solomon. The ‘Star of David’ became their insignia. Arthur James Balfour put the stamp of colonial forces over it in 1917. On November 2, 1917 Balfour passed on the colonial charter in a communique to Walter Rothschild, a leader of British Jewish community. The charter got engraved as Balfour Declaration. It was passed to Zionist federation of Great Britain and Ireland. On November the 9th 1917 the colonial commitment of Britain was disclosed to the press. Zionists then worked on the declaration, eventually colonizing Palestine. Arthur Balfour believed to have a detached view of life and philosophical approach originated an argument against believing that human reason could determine truth. He is quoted to have said: “Nothing matters very much and few things matter at all”. Ruling in favour of colonizing Palestine, what did not matter to him was the composite ethos of Palestine nurtured by the Muslim, the Christian and the Sephardic. White supremacy mattered more than any other consideration. Colonial mind-set prevailed. 

Taking cue from Balfour and his declaration, another white supremacist and supported of colonists of Zion—Donald Trump has put a seal on Jerusalem being Jewish. And, just as Arthur Balfour did, he is offering sops to Palestinians, and to his Arab chums as well. Trump has the cheek to relate that his decision marked the start of a “new approach” to solving the thorny conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. And, he endorsed “two-state solution” for Israel and the Palestinians, adding with a tongue in cheek-- provided both sides agree to it. Didn’t Balfour offer a similar sop in his communique to Lord Rothschild in relating that, ‘’nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine?’’ This followed the colonial commitment, ‘’His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endevours to facilitate the achievement of this object.’’ Balafour’s declaration was as contradictory, as Trump declaring Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel and talking of “two-state solution.’’ Such a solution has already been trumped by Israel, since it was first proposed in Oslo, way back in 1993.   

Donald Trump can afford to ignore the warnings of his Middle-eastern chums—ones like the western pet—Sisi of Egypt or Saudi monarch King Salman, reported to have told Trump over the phone that an embassy relocation or recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would “constitute a flagrant provocation of Muslims all over the world” due to the great status of Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque. It might end up in a whimper for a few days and the spineless middle-eastern leaders will start yet again—kowtowing to Americans.  Trump was merely giving effect to 1995 US law, entailing that Washington’s embassy in Israel must be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as demanded by the Jewish state. Arab leaders never had the spine to object to such a provision being enacted.  US presidents one after another over two decades have signed a six monthly waiver to hold off shifting of capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, just to keep Arabs in good humour. Trump seems to have trumped the routine, safe in the belief that he could live with it. 

               

Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]

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