And We said after Pharaoh to the Children of Israel, “Dwell in the land, and when there comes the promise of the Hereafter, We will bring you forth in [one] gathering. – Quran 17:104
Any Muslim who believes in the Quran also believes in that Islamic verse. In this verse and in several other verses, Quran acknowledges the historical ties of Jewish people with the land of Israel. Palestinians and many modern Muslims today, however, reject the Jewish historical ties with the land of Israel. Palestinians in particular have spent last few decades denying those ties, domestically and internationally. Several Palestinian-backed resolutions at UN have sought to do exactly that. On the other hand, Israel has never denied the Muslim and Christian connection to Israel. Israel has always allowed easy access to Muslims and Christians to the holy sites in Jerusalem. Even Muslims from countries that don’t recognize Israel and have no diplomatic relations can easily visit Jerusalem. Al-Aqsa today stands in all its glory where Muslims are allowed to pray and gather as a community. Palestinians often use these privileges to attack Israeli police and IDF. Palestinians have long used Al-Aqsa to hide weapons and to stage riots. Despite that, Israel continues to allow easy access to Palestinians for Al-Aqsa.
The 1947 UN Partition Plan recommended “the creation of a special international regime in the City of Jerusalem, constituting it as a corpus separatum under the administration of the UN.” The international regime was to remain in force for a period of ten years, whereupon a referendum was to be held in which the residents were to decide the future regime of their city. That never happened because Arabs decided to wage collective war on Israel the day it was officially created. This was the Israel that didn’t have a proper army and had no air force or navy. Israeli defense only consisted of lightly armed militias. Egyptian generals famously told their government that the invasion of the newly created state of Israel will be “a parade without any risks” and Egyptian/Arab armies will capture Tel Aviv “in two weeks”. Those were their pompous words. Egypt, Iraq, and Syria all possessed modern armies and air forces. Egypt and Syria had tanks, and all had some modern artillery. Initially, the Haganah had no heavy machine guns, artillery, armoured vehicles, anti-tank or anti-aircraft weapons, nor military aircraft or tanks. The four Arab armies that led the invasion were far stronger than the Haganah formations they initially encountered. This was the time when Israel was at its weakest. Arab countries waging war, ie., Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Yemen were backed by many foreign volunteers, including from Pakistan and Sudan. This was the ultimate battle of David vs Goliath. The British intelligence and the CIA believed that Arabs would easily win the war.
And yet Israel won.
And sure enough, like the sore losers they are, Arabs refused to make peace after the defeat and instead chose to continue their opposition to Israel. Because of the 1948 war, Arabs lost land – including West Jerusalem, to Israel that wasn’t supposed to be Israel’s under the UN Partition Plan. Arabs and Arabs alone are to be blamed for that.
After the war was over, Israel declared West Jerusalem its capital city. Jordan formally annexed East Jerusalem in 1950, subjecting it to Jordanian law, and in 1953 declared it the “second capital” of Jordan. Only the United Kingdom and Pakistan formally recognized Jordanian annexation. Following that, Jordan embarked on an Islamization campaign in East Jerusalem that saw Jews of East Jerusalem expelled and restrictions imposed on Christians. Many Jewish holy sites were destroyed or desecrated in an attempt to deny the Jewish connection with Jerusalem.
In 1967, Arabs launched another war on Israel. Israel pleaded with Jordan not to attack Israel or take part in the war but Jordan attacked West Jerusalem, that was under Israeli control and was Israel’s capital, on the second day of war. This time too, Arabs had the strength on their side. Israel, a tiny country, was being attacked by Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq who were backed by Pakistan, Tunisia, Algeria, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia. Moreover, Arab states were backed by Soviet Union, which played an important indirect role in the war.
And yet Israel won again and defeated the Arabs within 6 days. Arabs lost East Jerusalem, the Golan, Sinai (which was later returned to Egypt by Israel as part of a peace deal) and West Bank to Israel in the war. Arabs and Arabs alone are to be blamed for that.
When Israel took over East Jerusalem, it restored easy access for Muslims and Christians to the holy sites. The Al Aqsa from that day to this day is mainly controlled by a Jordan backed Islamic Waqf.
After unifying West and East Jerusalem, Israel declared the united Jerusalem its capital. Under Israel, the tourism to Jerusalem increased and religious rights of all faiths are protected. On the other hand, we have seen what ISIS did to holy sites in Iraq and Syria. We have also seen how Islamic history has been erased under the Muslim rulers of Saudi Arabia. In comparison, Israel is a blessing for Muslims. Israel protects holy sites of Islam, including Al-Aqsa, and guarantees easy access to even those who would prefer to see Israel destroyed. Can we expect the same from Arabs and Muslims today? Surely not. The compassion advocated by Islam is nowhere to be found in Muslims today. Take a look at how many Jews live in the countries that have waged war against Israel. Now take a look at how many Muslims exist today in Israel who are Israeli citizens and enjoy equal rights, same as Jews and Christians, in the state of Israel.
For far too long Palestinians have been pampered by Arab and Muslim states and it was that pampering that compelled the corrupt Palestinian leaders to forsake their own people and continue to wage war on Israel. That pampering is over now. Despite the condemnations you see today from Saudi Arabia, Emiratis, Egyptians against Israel on Jerusalem, the fact is the leaderships of these and other Arab countries have become wary of fully backing the Palestinian cause at the expense of their own national interests. They also know that their national interests reside in good relations with Israel. So what you see today are condemnations for domestic consumption but even Arab leaders understand that as Iran is devouring Arab states one by one, it is time for Arabs to bury the Palestinian hatchet.
Let’s be very clear: there is simply no way Israel will give up Jerusalem. Even East Jerusalem is a strict NO-NO for most Israelis today. And it’s not mainly because of its holy status but because of the security threats Israel may face if East Jerusalem is ruled by Palestinians. The Jordanian annexation is still fresh in the minds of Israelis, who remember all too well how Jews were expelled by Jordan from East Jerusalem. Leaving Gaza brought Israelis a rain of rockets and multiple wars with Hamas and other smaller Jihadist groups that have grown since 2005 in Gaza. That was an experience that still haunts Israelis. To evacuate Gaza, Israeli Army had to force Jewish residents to leave and had to demolish their homes. It was a very difficult time for Israelis. It was one of those rare occasions when we saw Israeli Army manhandling Israeli Jews who did not want to leave their homes in Gaza. All of it was done by Israel in hope for peace, which never came.
Following President Trump’s announcement, the question of Jerusalem is settled. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Arabs must now live with that. Palestinians must now live with that. Those who say President Trump’s announcement is an insult to Muslims should always remember the real insult to Muslims was losing Jerusalem to Israel in the first place despite having odds in the favor of Muslims and then refusing to admit defeat to this day. That is not the sign of a great civilization. A great civilization doesn’t fight foolish wars, does not back down from admitting its defeat and does not feel shy from taking lessons from or appreciate those it considers an enemy. Jerusalem as Israeli capital does not mean in any way that Muslims will be deprived of religious rights in Jerusalem or that Al-Aqsa will be taken over or demolished by Israel, a lie Islamists have peddled about Jews since even before the creation of Israel. Israeli law explicitly protects holy sites of all religions and any act of aggression against any holy site itself is unconstitutional and illegal in Israel. al-Aqsa also happens to be a great source of tourism for Israel. A good portion of Israeli tourist industry relies on Al-Aqsa related tourism. On other hand, one cannot imagine what will happen to Al-Aqsa if it were to fall into the hands of Hamas or ISIS. After all, they’re not very far from Al-Aqsa. Hamas rules in Gaza while ISIS operates in Egypt’s Sinai. If we are to believe ISIS propaganda, ISIS appears to have some support in Jerusalem. Israel recently dismantled an ISIS cell in East Jerusalem and ISIS also recently claimed a terror attack in Jerusalem. Israel is the only country that is capable to tackle these threats and protect the holy sites in Jerusalem.
In stark contrast to those who were warning of an apocalypse before and after President Trump’s announcement, I actually see this as a great opportunity for Arabs and Muslims to work towards a real peace deal with Israel and discourage Palestinians from engaging in violence. It’s time for Palestinians to abandon the pipedream of expelling Jews from “river to the sea” and instead focus on striking a real peace deal with Israel for their own Palestinian state. If there’s anything Arabs should have learned from the past by now, it is: don’t make wars you can’t win. Every drop of blood spilled on the Palestinian and Israeli side in any new wave of violence will be on Arab and Muslim leaders. Now is the time for Arab leaders to show us that they really are the moderates they keep telling us they are.