Later this month, Bibi Netanyahu will likely be reelected Israel’s prime minister. Covering his campaign, Reuters noted yesterday that Netanyahu’s theme is essentially “The whole world is against us”—which the news agency at once implicitly ridicules and confirms.
“The great danger to the world is not from Jews building in our ancestral capital in Jerusalem, it’s from nuclear weapons in Iran,” Netanyahu said on Monday in a speech in the holy city, to which both Israel and the Palestinians stake claims.
It’s worth noting that the Palestinian “claim” to Jerusalem began in 1967, as a construct of Yasser Arafat, after Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War reopened the city to all faiths but under Israeli control. Before, when Jerusalem was under the control of Jordan, ancient Jewish gravestones were made into paving stones and Jews were kept out.
On what grounds do the Palestinians stake their claim? Religion? Well, the Koran mentions Jerusalem exactly zero times. The Torah, on the other hand, cites it over 800 times, while Jewish synagogue services are oriented toward Jerusalem, which is the subject of every Passover seder’s concluding statement, “Next year in Jerusalem.”
So that leaves history as a cause. Let’s recap: Even after the Romans destroyed Solomon’s Temple, its second destruction, in 70 A.D., Jews were never not present in Jerusalem. Muslims captured the city in the 7th century, lost it to the Crusaders centuries later, then recaptured it, then lost it, and over the last millennium about a gillion entities have controlled it—none of them known colloquially or ethnically as Palestinians.
At this point, it’s tempting to stipulate that the “Palestinians” can raise Jerusalem as an issue when Egypt returns Alexandria to the Greeks, except that the “Palestinians” didn’t found Alexandria the way Jews founded Jerusalem. So never mind.
That this fiction of a legitimate Palestinian claim to Jerusalem continues to gain currency pretty much confirms Netanyahu’s theme, no?