Thursday, November 11, 2010

Two Interesting Articles

Michael Wiess at Foreign Policy has a fine description of the settlement project and why it's not remotely the reason there's no peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Alas, no one's listening.

Daniel Pipes has a long and well-footnoted article on Islam's historical connections and sometime lack of connections to Jerusalem. I"m not fully convinced how crucial this is, since no matter what Jerusalem's historical status in Islam has been, for the Palestinians it's the most important place they've got - even though I'm not in favor of giving it to them in the way most folks seem to suggest. Pipes rather demolishes the Arabs' claim to Jerusalem, but doesn't really deal with the Palestinian one. Anyway, I've not got the time to write about this today, nor about anything else, but follow the links and you'll learn stuff.


heplev said...

For German readers: The translation of this article is here and here.

Anonymous said...

I think providing those links is a really smart idea
I hope, when available and appropriate you'll not be shy to also link translations from you own website

heplev said...

@Silke - Nahost-Infos is my website.
abseits vom mainstream is "just" my blog.

Sylvia said...

OT: the kind of story you won't read about on Mondoweiss:

In a row over money, the captain of an Hope ship to Gaza broke anchor from the Libyan port of Derna while the vessel was still tied up, and sailed away with 10 blockade bursting activists, several Libyan police officers who happened to be on board at the time, and a senior port official, with Libyan Navy speedboats and helicopters on their tail

X said...

Both very enlightening articles!

I had no idea that the Qur'anic reference to Al-Aqsa originally had no association to Jerusalem. Whenever I've seen the Night Journey discussed, it was always stated as simple fact that the destination was Jerusalem.

Anonymous said...

I would also question how crucial the information in the Pipes article is. It is undoubtedly a fascinating subject, particularly to any student of religion. But unfortunately I see this article (and I've seen some others like it by people who move in similar intellectual circle to Pipes) as an attempt to question the legitimacy and genuineness of Muslims' attachment to Jerusalem. And in that regard, I don't think it really matters that Jerusalem's status was elevated partly due to as mundane a matter as a power struggle between Damascus and Mecca. It would be like wondering whether we really have to honor Christian's attachment to the 25th of December just because that date was chosen because it was a pagan holiday rather than any evidence Jesus was actually born that day: it's just not really relevant.

4infidels said...

The Palestinian claim on Jerusalem is the result of the importance of Jerusalem to the Jews and the fact that the city has religious significance to Christians and Muslims, so that it is a great way to convince Christians that the bigoted and brutal Israelis are disrespecting their holy sites and rile up the Muslims masses over the latest fabricated plan for the destruction of al-Aqsa Mosque.

If Jews considered Safed their holiest city, we would probably be reading articles how Safed is the eternal capital of the Palestinian people and no deal is possible without dividing Safed. Of course once Israel allows the Palestinians to make their capital in Jerusalem, we will then hear about their historic and emotional claims to Tel Aviv, Haifa, Ber Sheeva, etc., never mind that Tel Aviv was never an Arab city. These will be the next demands Israel must meet in order to restore Palestinian dignity and honor and world peace.

4infidels said...

I do think it is important to note that historically Arabs and Muslims have placed significance on Jerusalem based on non-Muslim interest or "occupation" of the city. The media constantly cite Jerusalem as "the third holiest city in all of Islam," and perhaps it is. But it certainly was not treated as important, as a place of reverence, until it fell under Jewish (or Crusader) rule. If Israel is being asked to cede part of Jerusalem for "peace," Arabs and Muslims, or Palestinians, don't get to make up a false history to legitimize their demands. There may be good reasons for reaching a compromise on Jerusalem, but let's not do it based on a lie...or we are opening the door for further fabricated claims that lead to demands against Israel.

Bottom line: any territory that was, for even one minute, under Muslim rule can never revert to infidel rule. That is what is at issue in the Arab-Israeli conflict and that is why the demands for Israel to cede Jerusalem will not bring peace, but further demands for giving up more territory until Israel is no more and the flag of Islam flies over all of Palestine, and then all of the world.

Anonymous said...

4infidels: I think this is a trickier issue than you admit in your comment. I'm not, of course, for accepting demands based on false historical evidence: if, for example, either Japan or China has fabricated historical evidence in regard to their dispute over the islands that have been in the news recently (can't recall their names), I think that would be important. But at a certain point, "false historical claims" become, to an extent, real. I don't think there's any evidence to believe that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is located on the spot where Jesus was crucified, but it's long past the point where that is really relevant: to millions of Christians, that is the spot. Similarly, I don't think there's any real reason to believe that the Mt. Sinai I stood on, is the historical Mt. Sinai, but again, so what? It's long past the point where there's any point, other than in an academic study of religion, of questioning Jerusalem's status as the third holiest site in Islam: it simply is now. And while I suppose you could argue that that is irrelevant to whether part of the city is given to the Palestinians, I think it does militate putting the full city under complete Israeli control. Again, there are lines: if Muslims suddenly discovered a fundamental religious significance to Tel Aviv, that wouldn't be a legitimate subject of debate. Jersulame, however, is a different case.

Anonymous said...

would you mind telling me when Jerusalem was first called the 3rd holiest city?

Since Christian Monks settled on Mount Sinai in the 3rd century CE I think it is fair to guess that they did it because of what they considered it to be or knew it to be.

Since I am told that Jerusalem isn't mentioned in the Koran the decision to make the city the THIRD holiest one must have been taken quite a bit later than the Christian declaration of Mount Sinai to be Mount Sinai (apologies to Jews, the Monks were just the first date that Google supplied and since Anon seems to argue from a Christian point of view I think it is fitting)

So when exactly was it declared holy and when did it acquire its ranking and why not ahead of Mekka or Medina if it is true that it is considered to be the place from which Mohammed ascended to heaven?


4infidels said...


You offer a well-reasoned argument, but you are missing my main point.

Here is the difference between the Christian view of the Holy Sepulchre and the Muslim view of Jerusalem. The Christian connection to that site is not being used to demand that Israel disappear from the face of the map. In the same way, Jews are not demanding that Mt. Sinai be always and forever under Jewish control.

The Islamic connection to Jerusalem has clearly been manipulated over time for political purposes. It seems to have little intrinsic value to Muslims aside from serving as a poltical rallying point at times of "foreign" encroachment.

No one had even heard of a "Palestinian people" prior to 1967 and now we are being told that there can never be peace unless their eternal capital of East Jerusalem is in their control? Well, East Jerusalem was in their control from 1948-1967 and they were still committed to destroying Israel and hardly treated Jerusalem as any more holy than they did in the Ottoman years.

Anonymous said...

Anon: Jerusalem was not under Pal Arab control from 48-67, it was under Jordanian control. In 1964, the PLO relinquished all claims to all the former mandate territory that was then under Jordanian, Egyptian and Syrian control. That's how important it was to them. ==