Jerusalem is both at the heart of the Jewish religion and is the capital city of Israel. Jews have maintained a presence in Jerusalem ever since King David established the city as his capital nearly 3,000 years ago. And in modern times, since the eastern section of Jerusalem came under its rule in 1967, Israel has sought to negotiate permanent peace with its neighbors, and all faiths have enjoyed unfettered access to their houses of worship in Jerusalem.
Now a two-part campaign is afoot to inflame the Arab and Muslim worlds about the future of Jerusalem, and to force the issue onto the agenda of the international community.
First, the recent Arab League-sponsored International Conference on Jerusalem that took place in Qatar opened with host Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani’s strong warning: “We must act quickly to stop the Judaization of Jerusalem.” The delegates unanimously approved the emir’s suggestion to insist on a UN probe of Israel’s actions there.
Further, another speaker at the conference, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, denounced both alleged Israeli attempts to establish historically false Jewish claims to Jerusalem, and a nefarious excavation plan—existing nowhere outside his own imagination—to replace the Al-Aqsa mosque with a Jewish temple.
For good measure, seeking to attach a scholarly veneer to the proceedings, conference organizers designated a committee of archaeologists and historians to determine whether there is any legitimacy to Jewish claims to Jerusalem. Surely no one in Qatar was surprised to hear the committee’s finding that the idea of Palestine as the promised land of the Jews is a Zionist “trick” with no factual basis.
Finally, Abbas castigated the so-called “Apartheid wall”—actually a complex of barriers that have effectively prevented suicide-bomb attacks on Israelis—and complained of ethnic cleansing practiced against local Palestinians. The shockingly false claims of this conference echo the shockingly false claims which the Nazis touted in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
The second stage of the anti-Israel campaign will be a Global March to Jerusalem on March 30. For Global March organizers, historical facts are not important. Their website shows a map of “Palestine” that does not acknowledge the State of Israel, and a list of supporters that includes former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and even a gaggle of Jewish anti-Zionists.
The plan of the Global March is for one million activists from all over the world to converge from all directions and attempt to cross Israel’s border to enter Jerusalem. At the same time others will show support by rallying outside Israeli embassies around the world. Organizers say the march will be nonviolent, but the Israeli police can hardly be expected to look on passively as hostile demonstrators try illegally to cross the border.
The main purpose of the exercise, thus, is to induce Israelis to fire on “peaceful” protestors, showing the world the alleged bloodthirsty policies of the Zionist state. This would help President Abbas reinvigorate his so-far futile efforts to get the international community to take up the cause of Palestinian independence, and enable him to continue avoiding direct negotiations with Israel.
The Global March will also serve Iranian and Syrian interests. Iran’s assurance that it will send tens of thousands to Jerusalem shows that Tehran is eager to distract world attention from its nuclear program. And the Syrian government, even as it spills the blood of its own people, will send a contingent to its border with Israel on March 30 as a convenient way to channel peoples’ grievances away from the presidential palace.
The Global March serves no constructive purpose, and can only embolden forces that would further destabilize the Middle East. It should be shunned and condemned by all those who truly seek peace.