"Jerusalem - One City, Three Faiths"
By Karen Armstrong
A Critique By Sid Laibson - President - PRIMER
DELEGITIMIZING ISRAEL VIA JERUSALEMINTRODUCTION
The current Palestinian violence and deadly terrorism did not just happen. It's been actively brewing since the creation of Oslo in 1993. the message Arafat received during the past eight years has been crystal clear. Palestinian violence and terror induces intense negotiations, that is followed by agreements consisting of fresh new tangible "confidence building" concessions from Israel and some old warmed over previously ignored "promises" from Arafat. The international community that applauded the results played a major role in assuring the success of Arafat's strategy. the combined forces of the media, political leaders and scholars have effectively molded international opinion that steers the policies and actions of yasser Arafat. Without their support, Palestinian violence and terrorism would be short lived.
Karen Armstrong, a recognized scholar and author of "Jerusalem - One City, Three Faiths" (published in 1996) typifies the powerful role of international opinion makers in negatively molding public opinion. the intensity of Ms. Armstrong's bias permeates every chapter of her book. The enclosed essay, "Delegitimizing Israel Via Jerusalem" focused on this deep rooted bias. Unlike the usual broad brush stroked book reviews, this essay is structured in an easy to read form in the author's "own words" followed by brief comments. It is a point by point, chapter by chapter review of 428 pages of saturated bias.
"Jerusalem - One City, three Faiths" masquerades as an objective and historical view of Jerusalem's claim by three faiths - Judaism, Christianity and Islam. What initially appears to be an objective analysis of the history of Jerusalem's three faiths soon fades. Ms. Armstrong attempts to delegitimize the Jewish claim to Jerusalem while promoting the Palestinian Arab claim to the land. The text is filled with inaccuracies, egregious distortions, and revision of history. In the closing chapters, all pretext to objectivity evaporates with a scathing attack on Zionism and the State of Israel. Ms. Armstrong's historical development of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is laced with a deep rooted bias that undermines the underpinnings of Judaism.
- The Exodus is repeatedly referred to as a "myth", without comment or explanation. It is presented as fact an irrefutable axiom.
- God of the ancient Jews is spelled with a small "g".
- The Jews of ancient Jerusalem are characterized as a Jerusalem "cult" or Zion cult". The Menorah is a "cultic" instrument.
- The construction of the Temple by the House of David was an "act of conquest".
- Over the centuries (Jews) had "muddied" their faith with physical emblems such as "Torah and Temple".
"There were rumors that Jesus had risen that his disciples had visions of Jesus walking and talking as though he were alive."
"members of the Jesus sect performed miracles of healing."
"God (Jesus) revealed himself to his people."
Comment: Although there were "rumors" that Jesus had "risen" and that after resurrection there were "visions" that he "walked and talked" and "revealed" himself to his people, Ms. Armstrong does not characterize these events as "myths."
"Mohammed received revelations from Allah."
- "God (capital "G") spoke to the Arabs in their own language."
- "Islam is the religion of peace and unity."
- "Mohammed was praying (in Mecca) and was then carried to Jerusalem on Mohammad's heavenly steed."
- "God (capital "G") spoke to the Arabs in their own language."
Comment: There are no "mythical" characterization in the segment on Islam. Mohammed received "revelations" from God (capital "G") and was carried to Jerusalem on his heavenly steed. Islam is described as a religion of "peace and unity" and not "muddied" with mere "emblems"as the "Torah."
Chapter on "JIHAD"
The definition of JIHAD is "Holy War". Ms. Armstrong, however, adopts a rarely used definition "struggle", and devotes an entire chapter to JIHAD the "struggle". There is...
... "JIHAD for Jerusalem" a "struggle for social justice".
... "The building JIHAD" a "struggle to build in Jerusalem".
... The urgency in studying Muslim tradition a "JIHAD".
Chapter on "REVIVAL"
"In the 1820s the Arabs threw out all non-Arabs from Jerusalem an expression of Arab solidarity."
Comment: "Ethnic cleansing" is characterized as "Arab solidarity" -- an egregious distortion.
"Bronze age artifacts were found in Jerusalem pre-dating King David therefore, its not possible for Jews to claim the city because they were there first."
Comment: The Jewish claim to Jerusalem does not contradict or deny the existence of the "Bronze Age." Ms. Armstrong attempts to delegitimize the Jewish claim to Jerusalem with irrelevant archaeological discoveries. She ignores the Jewish Kingdoms and almost a millennium of Jewish sovereign control.
- "old biblical mythology"
Chapter on "ISRAEL"
This chapter peels away the transparent veneer of objectivity and impartiality. It reveals a raw anti-Israel bias.
- "Under the British and French Mandate, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria....appeared. Other things being equal, Palestine would probably have been an independent state and Jerusalem as its capital...Zionists created a Jewish state."
The distorted half-truth, that Zionists created a Jewish state, ignores the above narrative, and the prior history of Jewish involvement in the land.
"Ownership of Jerusalem was contested by Jews, Arabs, and the international community."
Comment: This distorted half-truth is misleading. Western Jerusalem is uncontested by all Jews and the international community. East Jerusalem is claimed by the Palestinian Arabs, and supported by the Arab world and segments of the international community. Most Jews, however, are in agreement that a unified Jerusalem should remain under Israeli control.
- " In 1967, Jewish military diplomatic maneuvers would carry the day."
Comment: What Jewish maneuvers carried what day? There is no mention that Arab maneuvers of expelling U.N. peace-keepers and amassing their troops on the borders in preparation for an attack against Israel precipitated the 1967 six day war.
- "Zionist leaders influenced British and American governments with a canny understanding of the diplomatic process In the end they got everything."
- "In 1948 the depossessed, uprooted, and wandering Jews were replaced by homeless, uprooted Palestinians".
- "Britain had long entertained the fantasy of returning Jews to Palestine."
- "Mufti's supporters invaded the Jewish oratory at the wall (Western)."
- "Why should they (Arabs) suffer loss of their country because of anti-Semitic crimes of Europe... an entirely valid and unanswerable question."
- "Palestinians lost their homeland been wiped off the maps suffered a form of annihilation -- their catastrophe."
"On 13 May 1967, the Soviets informed Syria that Israel is about to invade its territories probably misinformed. Egypt responded by a supposed threat to an ally by moving 100,000 troops to Sinai and closing the Gulf of Aqaba."
- "Three weeks before the start of the six-day war a Rabbi Zvi Kook, sobbed "It was a sin to leave these holy sites (Jerusalem, Hebron, Jericho) in the hands of the "goyem".
Chapter on "ZION?"
"They (Jordan) did their best ... 200 (Jordanians) died in the defense of the Holy City (Jerusalem)."
Comment: Again, the distorted lens of a history revisionist. Viewing Jordan as a defender of the Holy City against the Israeli invaders is a reversal of fact. Jordan attacked Israel and seized East Jerusalem in 1948. It was also Jordan who ignored the pleadings of Israel not to enter the war with Egypt and Syria. If Jordan heeded Israel's pleadings, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, would have remained under Jordanian control. No mention is made that during Jordan's 19 years of illegal annexation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Arabs destroyed and desecrated the Holy City's synagogues and toppled gravestones in Mt. Olive Cemetery. Many of the gravestones were used for roads, military barracks, and latrines. Indeed "in defense of the Holy City"?! Nor is there mention, that during Jordan's 19 year control of the Holy City, Jews were not permitted to enter East Jerusalem, or pray at its holiest site, the Western Wall. Today, Under Israeli control, people of all faiths are permitted to live and pray in Jerusalem.
"The conquest of the City (East Jerusalem) was a startling evocation of myths and legends that had nurtured Jews for centuries"
- "Israel the conqueror (six-day war) Arabs, beginning to be eliminated from Jerusalem."
- "Since the destruction of the temple, Jews relinquished notion of physically occupying Jerusalem "
- "There's a new Jewish passion for the holiness of Jerusalem because it was a "myth".
- " During the first 10 years after annexation the Israeli government seized 37,000 acres from Arabs...an art of conquest and destruction."
- "Hopes of the right soared when the new government (Likud) called for massive settlement of the West Bank but to their horror, Begin began to make peace with the Arab world."
- "Religious spirit emerged in Israel ... fostered not compassion but murderous hatred."
- "The might of the Israeli army could not be used indefinitely to batter into submission the mothers and children who took part in the intifada"
- "for the ultra orthodox and far right groups, a divided Jerusalem is a dead Jerusalem."
- "Since the 1967 conquest, there has been continued appropriation of Arab Land."
- "Todays Jerusalem is marked by huge new settlements which crouch around the city...Palestinians are not made welcome in Zion today."
- "Like the Israelis today, the Crusaders had founded a Kingdom that was a foreign enclave. The Crusaders shared Israel's passion for security."
- "The State of Israel, founded after the catastrophe of the Holocaust, had not always implemented policies of sweetness and lights."
- "Zionists had come to Palestine to establish a Homeland. . .where Jews would be safe from murderous "goyim" . Now Jews will kill one another for the sake of that land."
- "Jews experienced exile. . .this burden of suffering has now been passed by the State of Israel to the Palestinians. . .its not surprising that Palestinians have not always behaved in an exemplary manner. . .in the course of their own struggle for survival."
* * *
Jerusalem was never the declared capitol of a sovereign Muslim state. It was, however, the declared capitol of a sovereign Jewish state, that was conquered by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. and then by the Romans in C.E. Finally, after 2000 years of longing and waiting, a Jewish state was re-born in 1948, with Jerusalem once again its declared capitol. The Palestinian National Covenant of 1964 does not mention Jerusalem. Not until 1968, shortly after the 1967 six-day war, was Jerusalem politically identified in the PLO's constitution as the seat of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Jerusalem is not mentioned in The Koran nor recited in Muslim prayers. Conversely, the Holy City is revered in the Torah and frequently recited in Jewish prayers.
"JERUSALEM - ONE CITY THREE FAITHS" masquerades as an objective study of the historical, religious, and cultural roots of the three great religions. Distortions, untruths, half-truths, omissions, history revisionism all classic tools of a propagandist are shamelessly utilized by the author in an insidious attempt to delegitimize the Jewish claim to Jerusalem and erode the very foundation of its claim to the land of Israel.
It is a well known fact that if a lie is repeated frequently it will be accepted as truth. It will mold public opinion that steers public policy. Unchallenged, it can adversely effect Israel's future and survival.