September/October 2000

Myths of the Middle East

by Joseph Farah

I've been quiet since Israel erupted in fighting spurred by disputes over the Temple Mount.

Until now, I haven't even bothered to say, "See, I told you so." But I can't resist any longer. I feel compelled to remind you of the column I wrote just a couple weeks before the latest uprising. Yeah, folks, I predicted it. That's OK. Hold your applause.

After all, I wish I had been wrong. More than 80 people have been killed since the current fighting in and around Jerusalem began. And for what?

If you believe what you read in most news sources, Palestinians want a homeland and Muslims want control over sites they consider holy. Simple, right?

Well, as an Arab-American journalist who has spent some time in the Middle East dodging more than my share of rocks and mortar shells, I've got to tell you that these are just phony excuses for the rioting, trouble-making and land-grabbing.

Isn't it interesting that prior to the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, there was no serious movement for a Palestinian homeland?

"Well, Farah," you might say, "that was before the Israelis seized the West Bank and Old Jerusalem."

That's true. In the Six-Day War, Israel captured Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem. But they didn't capture these territories from Yasser Arafat. They captured them from Jordan's King Hussein. I can't help but wonder why all these Palestinians suddenly discovered their national identity after Israel won the war.

The truth is that Palestine is no more real than Never-Never Land. The first time the name was used was in 70 A.D. when the Romans committed genocide against the Jews, smashed the Temple and declared the land of Israel would be no more. From then on, the Romans promised, it would be known as Palestine. The name was derived from the Philistines, a Goliathian people conquered by the Jews centuries earlier. It was a way for the Romans to add insult to injury. They also tried to change the name of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina, but that had even less staying power.

Palestine has never existed -- before or since -- as an autonomous entity. It was ruled alternately by Rome, by Islamic and Christian crusaders, by the Ottoman Empire and, briefly, by the British after World War I. The British agreed to restore at least part of the land to the Jewish people as their homeland.

There is no language known as Palestinian. There is no distinct Palestinian culture. There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians. Palestinians are Arabs, indistinguishable from Jordanians (another recent invention), Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, etc. Keep in mind that the Arabs control 99.9 percent of the Middle East lands. Israel represents one-tenth of 1 percent of the landmass.

But that's too much for the Arabs. They want it all. And that is ultimately what the fighting in Israel is about today. Greed. Pride. Envy. Covetousness. No matter how many land concessions the Israelis make, it will never be enough.

What about Islam's holy sites? There are none in Jerusalem.

Shocked? You should be. I don't expect you will ever hear this brutal truth from anyone else in the international media. It's just not politically correct.

I know what you're going to say: "Farah, the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem represent Islam's third most holy sites."

Not true. In fact, the Koran says nothing about Jerusalem. It mentions Mecca hundreds of times. It mentions Medina countless times. It never mentions Jerusalem. With good reason. There is no historical evidence to suggest Mohammed ever visited Jerusalem.

So how did Jerusalem become the third holiest site of Islam? Muslims today cite a vague passage in the Koran, the seventeenth Sura, entitled "The Night Journey." It relates that in a dream or a vision Mohammed was carried by night "from the sacred temple to the temple that is most remote, whose precinct we have blessed, that we might show him our signs. ..." In the seventh century, some Muslims identified the two temples mentioned in this verse as being in Mecca and Jerusalem. And that's as close as Islam's connection with Jerusalem gets -- myth, fantasy, wishful thinking. Meanwhile, Jews can trace their roots in Jerusalem back to the days of Abraham.

The latest round of violence in Israel erupted when Likud Party leader Ariel Sharon tried to visit the Temple Mount, the foundation of the Temple built by Solomon. It is the holiest site for Jews. Sharon and his entourage were met with stones and threats. I know what it's like. I've been there. Can you imagine what it is like for Jews to be threatened, stoned and physically kept out of the holiest site in Judaism?

So what's the solution to the Middle East mayhem? Well, frankly, I don't think there is a man-made solution to the violence. But, if there is one, it needs to begin with truth. Pretending will only lead to more chaos. Treating a 5,000-year-old birthright backed by overwhelming historical and archaeological evidence equally with illegitimate claims, wishes and wants gives diplomacy and peacekeeping a bad name.

© 2000 WorldNetDaily.com

Jerusalem: The burdensome stone

by Joseph Farah

    And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.
    -- Zechariah 12:3

The most explosive, fought-over, disputed piece of real estate in the world is about to get even hotter.

Israel's top rabbis tabled discussion recently of a proposal to build a synagogue on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The hill where two holy Jewish temples once stood is now the site of the Dome of the Rock shrine and the Al Aqsa Mosque, said by Muslims to be the third holiest place in Islam.

Ikrema Sabri, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, warned that building a synagogue on the hill would set off major chaos in the region and start a war "that only God knows where it would lead."

If Jerusalem is a burdensome stone for the whole world, as the prophet Zechariah wrote, then the Temple Mount is the most likely place where the stones start getting thrown.

The Jews argue with one another over whether they should be permitted to enter the Temple Mount without fearing stumbling into the "holy of holies" without proper ritual purity. The Arabs are unequivocal that the Jews should not be permitted, claiming this as their turf inside the Jews' own holiest site.

Last week thousands of Jews gathered at the Western Wall, the last remaining part of the Second Temple compound, destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. The First Temple, King Solomon's, was destroyed in 586 BC. Jewish tradition has it that the structures both fell, more than 600 years apart, on the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av.

Jews chanted from the Book of Lamentations. A group called Women in Green, which opposes any concessions to the Arabs, led a march around the walls of the Old City. Clashes broke out between Jews and Muslims near the Temple Mount.

No wonder Bill Clinton had so much trouble establishing the framework for a Middle East peace treaty at Camp David recently. He's lucky, according to Zechariah, that he didn't get torn to pieces for this involvement. The stumbling block to peace in the Middle East has been, is and will remain the fate of Jerusalem. The Jews will never give it up without a fight -- and neither will the Arabs. Common sense tells us that -- as does the Bible.

But that doesn't stop the politicians from trying.

Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak warned Saturday that a compromise over Jerusalem would lead to uncontrollable violence in the Middle East and said no Arab or Muslim can relinquish rights to east Jerusalem and its holy sites.

"Any compromise over Jerusalem will cause the region to explode in a way that cannot be put under control and terrorism will rise again," Mubarak said. "No single person in the Arab or Islamic world can squander east Jerusalem or Al Aqsa mosque. In this context, even (Yasser) Arafat himself will not dare to sign a deal to give up these Muslim sanctities."

But there is danger in no compromise, too.

Palestinians have announced plans to declare an independent state Sept. 13, with east Jerusalem as the capital. Even the most conciliatory Jews in Israel agree that Jerusalem must remain the state's "eternal" capital.

Things are going to get worse in the Middle East -- a lot worse -- before they get better. According to Zechariah, again, Jerusalem will be divided.

"A day of the LORD is coming when your plunder will be divided among you," it says in Zechariah 14:1,2. "I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city."

Interesting, given the division of the city is one of the "solutions" being proposed by world leaders.

And then what?

"Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle," Zechariah continues. "On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost. It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime -- a day known to the LORD. When evening comes, there will be light. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter. The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name."

Fantasy? Fairy tale? Or could it be that this Bible, containing so much wisdom, so much truth and so much fulfilled prophecy, is giving us a clear picture of our immediate future?

Israel Report September/October 2000 {} Home Page
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