The Moslem "claim" to Jerusalem is based on what is written in the Koran, which although Jerusalem is not mentioned even once, nevertheless talks (in Sura 17:1) of the "Furthest Mosque": "Glory be unto Allah who did take his servant for a journey at night from the Sacred Mosque to the Furthest Mosque." But is there any foundation to the Moslem argument that this "Furthest Mosque" (Al-Masujidi al-Aqtza) refers to what is today called the Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem? The answer is, none whatsoever.
In the days of Mohammed, who died in 632 of the Common Era, Jerusalem was a Christian city within the Byzantine Empire. Jerusalem was captured by Khalif Omar only in 638, six years after Mohammed's death. Throughout all this time there were only churches in Jerusalem, and a church stood on the Temple Mount, called the Church of Saint Mary of Justinian, built in the Byzantine architectural style.
The Aksa Mosque was built 20 years after the Dome of the Rock, which was built in 691-692 by Khalif Abd El Malik. The name "Omar Mosque" is therefore false. In or around 711, or about 80 years after Mohammed died, Malik's son, Abd El-Wahd--who ruled from 705-715--reconstructed the Christian-Byzantine Church of St. Mary and converted it into a mosque. He left the structure as it was, a typical Byzantine "basilica" with a row of pillars on either side of the rectangular "ship" in the center. All he added was an onion-like dome on top of the building to make it look like a mosque. He then named it El-Aksa, so it would sound like the one mentioned in the Koran.
Therefore it is crystal clear that Mohammed could never have had this mosque in mind when he compiled the Koran, since it did not exist for another three generations after his death. Rather, as many scholars long ago established, it is logical that Mohammed intended the mosque in Mecca as the "Sacred Mosque," and the mosque in Medina as the "Furthest Mosque." So much for the Moslem claim based on the Aksa Mosque.
With this understood, it is no wonder that Mohammed issued a strict prohibition against facing Jerusalem in prayer, a practice that had been tolerated only for some months in order to lure Jews to convert to Islam. When that effort failed, Mohammed put an abrupt stop to it on February 12, 624. Jerusalem simply never held any sanctity for the Moslems themselves, but only for the Jews in their domain.
This article was originally published in the Algemeiner Journal, August 19, 1994.
A political process is also ideological, connected to the cultural framework of a society. Unfortunately, the Oslo process illustrates the perversion of politics by a faulty and dangerous ideology. It marked a watershed in the history of Zionism and the Jewish state, irrevocably reversing the ideological foundations of the state: the right to the Land of Israel, the existential need of the Jewish people for a Jewish state, and the culmination of Jewish history in the creation of the state of Israel.
The Jewish people's existential need for a state meant postponing another prime goal: peace with the Arabs. Vladimir Jabotinsky formulated this principle in the 1920s in his essay "The Iron Wall:" "The only way to unity is an Iron Wall, that is to say strengthening of a power in Eretz-Israel unapproachable to Arab influence; and that is just what the Arabs are fighting against. In other words: the only way for us to attain an agreement in the future is to refuse definitely any attempts whatsoever to reach an agreement in the present."
At the core of the Arab-Jewish, or Arab-Israeli conflict, is the struggle between two nations, a struggle between two rights to the land. "One of the two," wrote Jabotinsky, "Zionism is either morally just or morally unjust...And if Zionism is just, one is bound to exact that right to the maximum, disregarding the agreement of anyone else." This belief in the rightness of Zionism and the existence of Israel was shattered with Oslo. There is no doubt that Rabin retained his devotion to the country for which he fought. However, by signing an agreement with a Palestinian leadership which never relinquished the right of its people to the entire territory of Eretz-Israel and never ceased to view its national saga as that of dispossession by Israelis, the Israeli government undercut the vital Zionist conviction of the Jewish right to the land.
Ideologies inform political decisions. Once the government acquiesced in the notion that Israel was born in sin, that it had evicted a people from its land, it is no wonder that its political actions became so demeaning. It is little wonder that each Israeli government since Oslo has crossed one red line after another, giving up the most vital areas to Arafat, even being willing to compromise on the Jerusalem and refugee issues.
The ideology underlying Oslo transforms
the parts of Eretz Israel most significant for Jews into
an aggressive anti-Israel Palestinian state, not only
jeopardizing the physical existence of the Jewish state,
but burying the very idea on which it was predicated.
Uri Savir, one of the chief Israeli negotiators and
initiators of Oslo, in his book The Process: 1,100 Days
that Changed the Middle East, writes of the delight with which
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Outpost - 8 - November 2000