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May 10, 1985 - Image 38

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-05-10

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38

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Friday, May 10, 1985

ANALYSIS

Jerusalem Not Holy City
To Arabs, Professor Says

BY CARL ALPERT
Special to The Jewish News

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All the assumptions on how
much territory Israel should
surrender to the Arabs, and
how far the Arabs are willing
to go in return for genuine
peace, will founder on one
small geographic point. The
fundamental question is not
the Golan Heights, nor Gaza,
nor dozens of square miles in
Judea and Samaria — but Jeru-
salem.
While the problem may be
brushed aside for the time
being, the Arabs have made it
unmistakably clear that real
peace or accommodation with
Israel is impossible until the
holy city of Jerusalem is re-
turned to Islamic control. This
is the battle cry in Teheran
and the entire Arab world. It
is well that Israel, and optimis-
tic Jews everywhere, nurture
no illusions on the subject, nor
' be quick to make broad conces-
sions to other fronts.
Hence, the Israel Academic
Committee on the Middle East
renders a service when it dis-
seminates the view by Prof.
Moshe Sharon of the impor-
tance that Jerusalem really
plays in Moslem tradition. "No
one will contest the absolute
holiness of Mecca and Medina
to Islam," Sharon points out,
but nothing substantiates any
similar role for Jerusalem. In-
deed, when pious believers
here face Mecca in their daily
prayers, and crouch over
touching their heads to the
ground, they are in effect
physically directing their back-
sides to Jerusalem.
No mention is made of Jeru-
salem in the Koran. But when
political expediency required,
in ancient times as in the 20th
century, the city is suddenly
and artificially linked with
basic tenets of faith. The Mos-
lem claim to Jerusalem is sus-
pect, characterized by dialectic
reasoning which would do jus-
tice to Marxist logicians or Tal-
mudic pilpulists. It has its
roots in the nature of - the
Islamic religion.
To the devout Moslem, his
religion is not simply another
faith, but the only faith. It is
exclusive. In such case, how —
does one explain away the
existence of Judaism and
Christianity? Very simple!
These two are in essence early
stages of Islam, and when
Mohammed led the faithful to
their new sanctities, they laid
claim to these two early roots
of spiritual , development.
Abraham and Moses, David
and Solomon, all of whom
appear in the Koran, are true
Moslem prophets. Any other
claimants to these personali-
ties are in effect seeking to
subvert Islam and .deny its
historical beginnings.
Abraham is one key figure,
an ancestor of Mohammed.
Tradition has it that he built
the Ka'ba, the most venerated
sanctuary of Islam, in Mecca.

And since it was Abraham who
sanctified the Moriah hill in
Jerusalem where he offered to
sacrifice his son, Isaac, the
Moslem claim to the city is
thus "confirmed." Further-
more, David and Solomon, also
recognized as Koranic proph-
ets, were associated with the
city, strengthening the Islamic
rights there.
In short, as Prof. Sharon em-
phasizes, "being the only pure
religion, (Islam) regards itself
as the sole heir to the religions
which preceded it, including
their holy places; this inherit-
ance is regarded as both final
and exclusive."
Whenever the city was
safely in Moslem hands, it was
seldom mentioned. "Religious-
ly speaking, it fell into obliv-
ion. ' Insofar as Islamic
"holiness" is concerned,
Jerusalem is in reality no more
important than any other large
city with a Moslem population.
"Strong Jewish and Chris-
tian arguments subsequently
forced the Islamic establish-
ment to base their claim on a
pure Moslem sanctity to the
city," rather than on "in-
herited" Jewish tradition.
Thus the story was promoted
that Masjid al-Aqsa, to which
Mohammed apparently jour-
neyed one night, was in real-
ity Jerusalem. On this basis
the Islamic claim to the city as
a holy site was finally and
firmly established in Moslem
eyes.
There are undisputed histor-
ical grounds for Christianity's
association with Jerusalem.
The centrality of Jerusalem to
Judaism and to the Jewish peo-
ple is likewise beyond ques-
tion. Yet only Islam, whose
claim is based on the flimsiest
of evidence, seeks to make
Jerusalem exclusively its own.
Jews have already had their
experience of what such exclu-
sivity meant during the years
of Jordanian rule there. And
Christians will know from
observation of events in Tehe-
ran what Moslem exclusive-
ness means.

Carter Slams
Hate Articles

New York — Former President
Jimmy Carter last week con-
demned the publication of anti-
Semitic articles by a Saudi Ara-
bian newspaper in 1984.
In a letter to Abraham Foxman,
associate national director of the
Anti-Defamation League of B'nai
B'rith (ADL), Carter said that "it
is alarming that anyone any-
where would choose to circulate
anti-Semitic slander." The former
president was referring to a series
of articles published last year in
the Saudi Gazette which uses
arguments from the anti-Semitic
tract, Protocols of the Elders of
Zion.

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