Despite the fact that the Senate recently voted unanimously to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel — a bill co-sponsored by 17 senators, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) — media and religious figures have emerged from the woodwork to condemn the Trump administration for the supposedly precipitous step of announcing just that fact. And it is a fact: Jerusalem has always been and will always be the eternal capital of the Jewish people and Israel, the site of the Temple Mount and the place where Jacob was informed by God, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying… All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.”
The president’s decision to verify what Congress has made law since 1995, and to recognize a reality that’s been true for several thousand years, shouldn’t be all that controversial. But it is, largely thanks to misinformation put out by enemies of Israel, who suggest that to say true things amounts to provocation of violence.
Here’s the reality: recognizing the unification of Jerusalem under Israeli authority isn’t what causes violence between Israel and its neighboring Muslim enemies. It’s the anti-Semitic religious fervor of Israel’s neighboring Muslim enemies. That’s been true since before there was a State of Israel, and before Israel controlled Jerusalem.
Here’s a brief history of violence and Jerusalem.
1929. Conflict began in British Mandate Palestine after Jews made the “provocative” move of bringing chairs for the elderly and the infirm to the Western Wall for prayer purposes. In October 1928, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem decided to build atop the Temple Mount, and purposefully led mules through the Western Wall area, excreting in the holy area to spite the Jews. All of this led to a Jewish march to the wall in August 1929. The next day, Muslims marched to the wall to show their sovereignty, even though the Western Wall isn’t holy to Muslims. The following day, Arabs stabbed a Jew to death in the city. By August 23, Muslims were rioting across Jerusalem. 17 Jews were murdered and a hospital was attacked in the city in Jerusalem itself. In Hebron, Arabs massacred more than 60 Jews.
The British Shaw report described the events thusly: “Arabs in Hebron made a most ferocious attack on the Jewish ghetto and on isolated Jewish houses lying outside the crowded quarters of the town. More than 60 Jews – including many women and children – were murdered and more than 50 were wounded.” Remember, this was long before Israel existed or Jerusalem was in Jewish hands. There were also anti-Jewish riots in 1920 and in the 1930s.
1948. Israel’s creation was supposed to lead to a peaceful coexistence in Jerusalem. Instead, Arabs cut off all roads to Jerusalem and prevented Jews from reaching the city, blockading the inhabitants inside. Thousands of Israelis died attempting to reach their brethren in Jerusalem. The outcome: the split of the city between West Jerusalem, which did not include the Western Wall, and East Jerusalem, controlled by Jordan. Under Muslim rule, Jews were not able to visit Jewish holy sites; under Jewish rule, Muslims were. Muslims used gravestones from the Jewish cemetery Mount of Olives to pave their roads. During this period, while East Jerusalem was fully controlled by Muslims, the Palestine Liberation Organization (later the Palestinian Authority) was formed. It openly stated that its goal was the destruction of the State of Israel. Remember, this is before Israel controlled Jerusalem.
1967. Israel wins control of Jerusalem and unifies the city. Muslims are not just granted access to holy sites, the Islamic Waqf is given full control over the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. Jews are still forbidden from praying at the Temple Mount to this day, despite Israel’s sovereignty over the site.
1993. In the Oslo Accords, Israel agreed to negotiate with the terrorist Palestinian Authority over a future Palestinian state. In return, the PA stated that it would acknowledge Israel’s right to exist (it never has) and cease violence (it never has). The Oslo Accords never made any statement about transfer of Jerusalem to Muslim rule. Despite that fact, the number of terrorist attacks on Israel dramatically increased in the aftermath of Oslo, with 27 Israelis murdered in October 1994 alone through Muslim terrorism.
2000. At the Camp David summit, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, of the Labor Party, offered Palestinian terrorist leader Yasser Arafat control over East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount itself. That’s according to Bill Clinton. Arafat refused the deal and walked away from the table without a counteroffer, then used Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount as a pretext to begin a terrorist wave that would result in the deaths of hundreds of Jews from terrorism (I was in Israel during the Second Intifada, and remember walking by the remains of murdered Jews in a Sbarro pizzeria).
2008. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered new Palestinian terrorist dictator Mahmoud Abbas — a man who was working hand in glove with Palestinian terrorist group Hamas — international control of Jerusalem’s Old City, which includes the holy sites. Olmert stated, “Remember my words, it will be 50 years before there will be another Israeli prime minister that will offer you what I am offering you now. Don’t miss this opportunity.” Olmert also offered near-complete withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, with retention of just 6.3% of the territory for existing settlement blocs, and even agreed to hand over Israeli land equivalent to 5.8% of the territory, as well as a land bridge between Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip. Abbas turned it down, and launched another round of violence instead in coordination with Hamas in Gaza. Incessant Muslim terrorism against Jews in Jerusalem has not ceased.
So no, sovereignty over Jerusalem has nothing to do with increased Muslim violence. Muslims in the region will not tolerate Israel’s existence; Jerusalem is just a convenient proxy issue for that inconvenient fact. Muslims launched violence against Jews in Jerusalem for the sin of visiting Jewish holy sites long before Israel existed; they pushed for Israel’s annihilation long before Israel had control over Jerusalem; they have turned down multiple peace offers including division of Jerusalem and opted for violence instead.
Don’t believe the lie that anti-Semitic Muslim regimes and populations require the pretext of Israeli sovereignty over the eternal capital of the Jewish people in order to excuse violence. They don’t, and they never have.