■ The Orbiting Eye provides the facts you need to understand the Jerusalem crisis.
Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel in the eyes of anyone but Israel and the US government. It is certainly not the capital of Israel because an ignorant, bumptious, boorish American president says it is. In reality it is a stolen, occupied city, a Palestinian city, the western half seized by main force in 1948 and the eastern half seized by main force in 1967.
By the 1880s the Jewish population of Palestine was probably about 15,000, much of it non-Zionist, out of a total population of half a million. Early in the 20th century the Zionists approached, in turn, the Ottoman sultan, the German Kaiser (below) and the Russian government seeking support for their colonisation of Palestine. All said no. The Ottoman sultan, Abdulhamid (right), passed on the message that Palestine was the possession of the Ottoman state and people and was not his to give away.
Then the Zionists approached the British, who saw advantage in implanting a European colony right at the heart of the Middle East: it would serve their strategic and commercial interests when the Ottoman Empire finally collapsed.
By 1918, following the onset of Zionist colonisation, the Jewish population was about 60,000 out of 600,000. By 1947, thanks to mass immigration during the 1930s, the Jewish population had increased to about half a million European settlers against about 1.2 million Palestinians. However, while the number of colonists had increased, their ability to secure legal title to Palestinian land had not. By 1947 purchases by Zionist agencies still amounted to less than 6 per cent of Palestine.
The partition plan of November 1947 was imposed on the United Nations General Assembly by the US. Without pressure from the White House on susceptible delegations it never would have passed. It completely violated the principle of self-determination declared in the wake of the First World War and reinforced after the second, allocating, furthermore, most of Palestine (54 per cent) to the minority, European colonial settlers. Naturally the Palestinians and Arab governments rejected it.
Under the partition resolution Jerusalem was to be placed under international administration as a corpus separatum. Although immigrating Zionist settlers had changed the demographic balance, two thirds of the west Jerusalem area and virtually all of east Jerusalem remained the property of Muslim or Christian Palestinians. All the fine old stone houses were theirs, built by Palestinian artisans along with the stone walls and cobbled streets. There was no Jewish ‘quarter’ as such in east Jerusalem. There was only a tiny non-Zionist Jewish community, living under the protection of Arab and Ottoman Muslim rulers over centuries.
Dominating the city skyline is the Haram al Sharif (the ‘noble compound’) containing the Aqsa (‘the farthest’) mosque and the Qubbat al Sakhra (‘dome of the rock’) shrine. The compound is supposed to be the site of the second temple, destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD after a Jewish revolt and it remains instructive that in the half century Zionist archaeologists have been digging furiously under and around the compound, they have found not a tittle of evidence that the temple was ever there. If it was, it can have been nothing like the massive structure described in the Bible. The ruins of far older buildings remain standing to the present day. Siege of Jerusalem 1099: 13th-century miniature.
The war of 1948 was not a war of independence but a war of colonial conquest of the indigenous people. The closest parallel is with the Rhodesian white settler ‘unilateral declaration of independence’ of the 1960s. It was a war the Zionists had to wage. A peaceful partition under the auspices of the UN could not be allowed: only through war could the Zionist settlers take the land and get rid of the people. Without their removal there could have been no ‘Jewish state’, no ‘the only democracy in the Middle East,’ no ‘the most moral army in the world.’
By 1949 the Zionists had seized a further 24 per cent of Palestine and had driven 700,000–800,000 Palestinians out of their homeland. During the war or soon after they also destroyed close to 500 Palestinian villages or hamlets, plundering those that remained, down to the carpets, furniture and fittings in the houses, before handing over all stolen property, including a vast mass of agricultural land, to the so-called ‘custodian of absentee property’ so it could be distributed among Zionist colonists. Palestinians who had not been driven out of their homeland but had fled the fighting were not allowed to return to their homes. They were classified as ‘present’ absentees; their property was stolen, too.
Many of the fine old stone houses of Jerusalem were expropriated by the Zionist political elites. On taking the rest of the city in 1967, one of the Zionists’ first acts was to destroy the mediaeval Magharibah (North African) quarter around the Haram al Sharif, built for Muslim pilgrims by a descendant of the illustrious warrior statesman Salah al Din al Ayyubi – ‘Saladin’ as he is known in the west. Jerusalem was expanded by building on more Palestinian land.
The conquest of Palestine involved remapping and renaming, with the intention of consigning Palestine completely to history so that no one would know it had ever existed. Along with this has come a continuing stream of untruths about Jerusalem propagated by the state and by the tourist guides. The claim that Jerusalem has been Israel’s capital for 3000 years is plain nonsense. There is no ‘David’s tower’ in Jerusalem: it is the minaret of a Mamluk mosque.
Virtually none of the Zionist settlers arriving in Palestine in the early 20th century could claim a living connection with the land. The great majority were ‘returning’ to a land which they had not visited and in which none of their forebears had ever lived. The living connection with Palestine rested with the non-Zionist Jewish communities and the Palestinian Christians and Muslims. By ownership and collective inheritance the land was theirs.
Israel has never admitted wrongdoing and over seven decades has shown itself congenitally incapable of making peace. The idea that the Trump declaration has ‘ended the peace process’ is nonsensical because there is no peace process: there is only a war process, fought on the battlefield by missiles, tanks and planes or fought off the battlefield, politically, behind the façade of a ‘peace process’. The Trump declaration has at least destroyed any illusions people might still have. Whatever their other differences, Jerusalem is the same red line for Arab Muslims and Arab Christians, Sunni and Shia, Alawi and Wahhabi. Indeed, it has united Islam. Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock
The Zionists share with the Christian Crusaders of the 11th century the distinction of inflicting on Jerusalem the greatest violence in the city’s history since the rise of Islam. Palestine was peaceful under Arabs, Mamluks and the long period of Ottoman rule – more than 400 years.
In the 11th century the Crusaders massacred Jerusalem’s Jews and Muslims or drove them out of the city. When the Europeans were finally defeated towards the end of the 12th century, peace returned to Palestine, to be violently disrupted again in the 20th century when the Zionist colonists arrived under the protection of the British.
The Zionists have done to Palestinian Muslims and Christians what the Crusaders did to the Muslims and the Jews. They have massacred them, they have driven them out of their homeland and they have stolen everything they owned. While killing or terrorising them they have fought a racist demographic war employing all the pseudo-legal means at their disposal. They have no interest in sharing Palestine or Jerusalem. They want it all and every Palestinian, man, woman or child, is the enemy.
Israel has set itself against the world. Its path in history has been one of war, massacre, assassination, theft and dispossession. Unlike white minority South Africa, it shows no signs of being willing to change course. Over the years it has become more extreme. The one option that could have guaranteed its future – peace – it has consistently refused to pick up.
The day may come when it will bring on a war which it cannot win without using its nuclear weapons. If this happens the planet may be plunged into one of the gravest wars in its recorded history. These are the realities behind the ignorant commentary filling the Australian media.