By Marvin Hier
President Donald Trump‘s recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel has focused new attention on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Aided by the usual UN resolutions and ignoring the terrorists while condemning Israel, many people, especially Millennials, have now bought into the myth that Jerusalem and even other parts of Israel, were stolen from the Palestinians.
Putting aside Israel’s unchallenged 3,500-year biblical history and attachment to the Holy Land, let’s debunk some of these myths with some lesser-known contemporary facts.
When World War I broke out, the Arab countries sided with the Germans and the Ottoman Turks who then controlled Palestine against Great Britain and the United States.
Despite that, when the war ended, England still rewarded the Arabs with a gift of eighty percent of Palestine, to be renamed Transjordan as an exclusive Arab State excluding any Jews.
The remaining one-fifth, an area of some 45,000 square miles, was to be divided between Jews and Arabs with governance based entirely on who was in the majority.
Meanwhile, well before the Balfour Declaration’s call in November 1917 for the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine, some 90,000 Jews were already living and working in kibbutzim and Jewish cities such as Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Safad where, by far, they constituted the majority.
In fact, at that time the Arab world showed no interest at all in Jerusalem or the Al-Aqsa holy site. Almost none of the Arab leaders ever bothered to visit the Holy City, even after the city fell into Jordanian hands following the 1948 war with Israel.
On the other hand, it would be difficult to find a Jewish leader anywhere who has not visited the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism.
So why then, is Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas kicking up such a storm over the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel when he certainly knows that that the future American Embassy will be built in West Jerusalem?
Because even a weak leader like Abbas can read the tea leaves. He knows very well that no Israeli government from the right-wing Likud to the left-wing Labor party will ever cede sovereignty over the Old City to the Palestinians or the international community for some very good reasons!
First, because Israel has learned from history that divided cities have never worked. It was a disaster in larger cities like Berlin and Vienna, cities 360 and 140 square miles respectively, when the World War II Allies tried this following the collapse of Nazism. How in the world is it going to work in the old city of Jerusalem an area of only 2.5 square miles?
More importantly, unlike Berlin and Vienna where the SS and Gestapo were completely demolished, the old city of Jerusalem is riddled with fanatics and terrorist groups of all persuasions, like Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, ever eager to unleash their dream of bringing on Armageddon by igniting a world war of religions!
Abbas knows that no Israeli government, or any government for that matter, would ever be foolish enough or willing to take that risk by placing their destiny in his hands.
Even a well known Saudi scholar, Abdulhameed Hakeem, head of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jedda, warned the Arab world last week, “The Arab mind must liberate itself from the legacy of Nasser and the legacy of both Sunni and Shi’a sects, which has instilled for political interests the culture of Jew-hatred and denial of their historic right in the region.”
That is why, out of desperation, Abbas is back to his old tricks and taking his roadshow abroad, again in search of naive politicians hoping to ensnare and convince them to, once again, sign on to his futile promises at the risk of compromising the survival of the Middle East’s only democracy and the world’s only Jewish State!
Rabbi Marvin Hier is the Founder and Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.