WHO BELONGS TO JERUSALEM?
By Fr. labib Kobti
April 12, 2000

A) INTRODUCTION

1) Based on history, who can claim Jerusalem as their city?
2) Based on history and legality, who can claim Jerusalem as their Capital?

One thousand years before Christ, David occupied Jerusalem which was Jebusites, forefathers of the Palestinians.

The Occupier adopted the language of the country and lived in peace with the real inhabitants of the Country. David purchased and did not confiscate the Arauna where he built his palace.

Today some people pretend as: "God's miracle", the return of the Jews to Palestine. But the God of the Bible is the God of Righteousness and not a Real Estate agent. The Palestinians, as descendants of the Jebusites-Cananites also, we can say, with the same logic of "God's miracle" have kept a continuous and uninterrupted presence in their lands for thousands of years and have fought for their independence and rights against many invasions between them the invasion of the sons of David.

If history will show us that Jerusalem was destroyed by different conquerors and lastly by the Romans before even the existence of the Arabs,
And If History will tell us that for about 600 years the Jewish Temple who was destroyed by the Romans became a pagan spot that lost its mission as the place of worship of the One God,
And if history will confirm to us that the Christians have given back to Jerusalem its name and that Islam was the religion that restored to the Temple Mount its mission to be the place of the One God,
How could the Jews pretend that this place is theirs, when the Christians build the City on a Roman City called Alia Capitolina and when the Arab Muslims had built the mosques on Roman ruins and not on the Jewish Temple ruins?

I have worked an article some time ago that spoke about the ancient History of Jerusalem. You can find it on: http://www.al-bushra.org/latpatra/love.htm.

On the following article, I am interested to find out the history of the people who inhabited Jerusalem for the last 2000 years, as we celebrate Great Jubilee 2000, ask some questions and conclude with some thoughts.

B) 2000 YEARS OF JERUSALEM HISTORY

On the Year AD 70 the Romans under Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple of Jerusalem that was built by King Herod the Great of Judea. (Herod was born in southern Palestine, of Arab origin on both sides. His father, Antipater (d. 43 BC), was made procurator of Judea by Julius Caesar in 47 BC; Pompey the Great had previously deposed the Hasmonaean dynasty. Over Hasmonaean opposition, the Roman Senate recognized Herod as king in 39 BC, but his actual rule began two years later. He then sought to consolidate his position with the Jews by marrying Mariamne (c. 57-29 BC), a princess of the Hasmonaean line, whom he later put to death. Read that on: http://www.fwkc.com/encyclopedia/low/articles/h/h011000824f.html).

On the year AD 135 Hadrian the Roman emperor swept away what it could remain of the ruined Temple and created a new City over the ruins of Jerusalem and called it Alia Capitolina on his honor, Hadrian, whose clan name was Aelius and Capitolina for the Capitoline Triad gods: Jupiter, Juno and Minerva.

Jerusalem lost its name. Alia Capitolina became a pagan city. A sanctuary to Jupiter was built over the ruins of the Jewish temple in the Temple Mount by Emperor Antonius Pius (138-161). Numerous statues of Roman gods were erected all over Alia Capitolina. Jews, because of the Second Jewish Revolt (AD 132-135 Bar Kokhba rebellion), were forbidden to live or even enter the city.

The Romans brought large foreign population to inhabit Alia Capitolina. The population of the city was then a mixture of the non-Jewish people that have inhabited the city for centuries from Cananite-Jebusite origine and from foreigners imported people by the Romans from different origins.

Jerusalem lost its name and its mission to be the Center of the One God after the destruction of the Jewish Temple. Jesus Christ have predicted the destruction of the city about 40 years before its distraction. Luke 21:5-6; Mark 12:1-4; Matthew 24:1-3

The Roman name Alia Capitolina was used for Jerusalem. With Emperor Constantine who in 315 with the edit of Milan stopped the persecution of the Christians, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.Alia Capitolina remained the name of the city. Constantinople became the new Capital of the Roman empire in AD 330.

Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine build three basilicas in Jerusalem around AD 325-335: the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher at the place of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Basilica of the Holy Spirit on Mont. Zion and the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem. On the year AD 450 under the emperor Valentine the walls of the city were restored. Costantine destroyed the pagan temples and left the temple mount in ruins with the Roman temples.

Jerusalem regained somehow its origin mission to be the city that worships the One God. The Romano-Bizantine Empire destroyed the sanctuary of Jupiter on the Temple Mount and abandoned the place. Christianity avoided the Temple Mount as a place accursed. Jerusalem became mainly then a Christian City.

From 632-636 AD, Arab Muslims invaded Syria and the Holy Land that was inhabited by Arab, Syrian, Greek and Roman Christians and others.

Caliph Omar received the keys of the City of Jerusalem from the Patriarch of the City Sophronius. The Al-Uhda al-Umariyya (The Caliph Omar's statement that he gave to the Christians of the City) addresses the people of the City as the People of Alia and not of "Urusalem." The statement could not be a genuine document as say some historians, but as an old historical document it says a lot.

The question is why the Al-Uhda calls the people with the ancient name of Alia and not of Jerusalem restored to the city with the Christian era?  Does this mean that the name of the city did not change for more than 300 years after the Christian era? Or does the city had two names: Jerusalem and Alia Capitolina?

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem became for centuries as a garbage dumpsites. It was cleaned by Caliph Omar Ben Al-Khattab and his associates. Caliph 'Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan built on the Temple Mount between AD 685-691 the Dome of the Rock. Arab Muslims gave back to the city then its authentic mission as the City of the ONE GOD. In fact, Muslims regarded Al-Quds as the first direction of prayer and the third holy place, after Mecca and Medina. Al-Aqsa mosque was built later in the early 8th century.

The Muslims  retained the Roman name Aelia until the tenth century when they changed the name to Al-Quds or "Beit al-Maqdis" a literal translation of the Hebrew name "Beit Hamiqdash", meaning the Temple. They, I mean the Arab Muslims, allowed the Jews to come back to Jerusalem on 638. A small number of Jews returned, in fact, back to the City and lived side by side with the Population of Jerusalem formed by a majority of Christians from different origins: Cananites, Arabs, Greek, Romans, Syrian, Egyptian, etc., and a minority of Muslims.

The majority of the Jews at that time were living side by side in different parts of what will become the Arab countries: Iraq, Marrocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon without any problem. When others were living in Europe. They were wealthy and occupied important positions in the civil and political life of these countries.

In the year 1099 with the Crusades (who invaded the Holy Land), Jerusalem became the capital of a Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, they restored the walls of the city. Jerusalem became a capital of a kingdom for about 88 years.
Jerusalem regained its old name "Urushalim",  in fact the name "Urushalim" is a word of Cananite-Amorite derivation; the prefix URU, meaning "founded by or house of" and the suffix "salem" or "shalem" being the name of a Cananite-Amorite deity. The City was built by the Cananites 5000 years before the arrival of Abraham to the Holy Land.

Saladin's armies recaptured Jerusalem in 1187. Saladin restored the walls of the city in the year 1192. Jerusalem will have since then tow names: Jerusalem and Beit-Almakdis, or Al-Quds al Sharif.
The walls were also restored under the Muslims on 1229 and 1243. The actual walls were restored by the Ottoman Solomon the Magnificent in 1536.

Al-Quds, Jerusalem was then until 1948 inhabited by Arab Palestinians (Muslims and Christians), and Jews. The old city was divided into sectors: Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Armenian.

In 1948 the Jewish were expelled from East Jerusalem and the Old City under the Jordanians, when Arabs Palestinians were expelled by the Israelis from West Jerusalem, the socalled the new City.

On 1967 Jews captured East Jerusalem and the Old City. The City was since then considered as an Occupied Territories by the UN  Resolutions 242 and 338 and as "Corpus Separatus" by the International Law.

The new occupier, Israel started to expel the Palestinians (Christians and Muslims) from East Jerusalem using different kind of methods: confiscating of houses and lands, prohibiting the restoration of Palestinian houses in the City, not allowing the building of new Arab homes or any extensions of homes due to natural increase of the Palestinian family, confiscation of Palestinian Ids, beside other ways of expulsion.

The Christian community was the most who suffered from that policy going down in number to about 5,000 Christians from about 50,000.

C) SOME QUESTIONS

1) If  history tells us that Jerusalem have lost its name for 600 years and became a pagan Roman City called Alia Capitolina,
And if the Christians first and then the Arab Muslims then have built Jerusalem over the ruins of a Roman City: Alia Capitolina,
And if the Christians have given back to Jerusalem its original name "Urushalim" and then the Arab Muslims returned to her the old Jewish name "Beit-Hamiqdash", Bait AlMaqdis, Al-Quds,
How then the Israelis claim an exclusive rights on Jerusalem as their Eternal Capital? What are the historical facts that give them the right to claim such thing?

2) If history shows us that the Jewish Temple was destroyed by the Romans before even the existence of Islam,
And If History tells us that for about 600 years the Jewish Temple on Temple Mount became a pagan Roman spot that lost its mission to be the place of worship of the One God,
And if history assures us that the Christians returned to the City to become again the place of the worship of the one God. And then Islam was the religion that restored to the Temple Mount its mission to be the place of the One God,
How could the Jews pretend that this place is theirs, when the Muslims did build their mosques on Roman ruins and pagan spot and not on the Jewish Temple ruins?

3) If history shows us that the Jews have conquered Jerusalem and governed the city  for about 1% of the City's history of 5.000 to 6.000 years (some historians speak of 5,000 years others of 6,000),
And if history tells us that the Jews did not build for the last 2000 years the city of Jerusalem or its walls, and all that have been build or restored or extended by the Romans, the Christians and then by the Muslims,
And if history assures us that you can find more Roman, Christian and Muslim archeological sites in Jerusalem than Jewish sites in the City and surrounding of the City,
How could the Israelis pretend that they have all the history on their side and claim all Jerusalem?

4) In fact history tells us that at the time of David Jerusalem was a very small city (less than the third of today Old City of Jerusalem) that extends on the Ophel. At the Time of Jesus Christ, under Roman occupation, Jerusalem was a bigger city but about the half of today Old City of Jerusalem.

How can the Israelis pretend that all what the Romans, the Christians and the Muslims have built and the extension of Jerusalem belong exclusively to them?

5) If all the Nations who passed by Jerusalem are conquerors,
And if today International Law and the peace process affirms clearly and simply: "You occupied Palestine by force. O.K, this does not mean that you have right on what you have occupied,"
And if I have right because I am the stronger than you and I can do what I want and impose what I desire,
Why then Palestinians cannot have Palestine by force? Why Palestinians are deprived to their natural rights to defend their natural rights on the City and Palestine?

I affirm that I am not calling for violence. I am a peacemaker, I call on nonviolence resistance. But I am asking here valid point on human rights to defend one's rights.

Today peace process: Land for Peace should give equal rights to the five components of the Holy Land: Two people: Palestinians and Israelis, three religions: Jews, Christians and Muslims, if we want a real peace to the Holy Land.
The brokers of the peace process should not have double standard. The brokers should not help the military hegemony of one side against the natural rights of the other side.

D) CONCLUSION

1) Some statists speak that Arab Palestinians will become the majority in the Holy Land in the years 2010-2015.

Will then the Palestinians accept the conditions of their lives imposed on them by the Israelis?

What about the year 2025 or 2050 or 2100?

2) I think that the survival of Israel and the peace in the Middle East should pass through the recognition of the basic Palestinian Human rights and it should be done now and not tomorrow!

I think that if Israel wants really the security of her children of tomorrow, Israel should secure the basic security of the Palestinian children of today and not of tomorrow!

3) The Holy Land had lived 2000 years of wars, because some people had pretended the right of possessing exclusively something that belongs equally to others. Others came back to get their rights or pretended rights using violence, as it is the case of today, and claiming exclusive rights.

History will always repeat itself. Unless basic human rights for all parties is recognized equally and respected, violence by all means will continue. The others who lost unjustly their rights will nourish violence to the day they can take back what they have lost and have been subjected to for years by others.

They will nourish violence also against anybody who did not help them to get sooner their rights, but brokered biased stands and kept silence on their truthful and rightful rights. The rights of justice that have been recognized by the UN and the International Law.

4) "Time works for the oppressed and does not work for the oppressor. Peace and security in our country cannot prevail unless they are established on justice. We believe that God is the God of justice and righteousness. God does not accept oppression, but calls on all of us as members of one human family, Arabs and Jews, to make justice and to love righteousness. God does not accept the domination of the powerful or their arrogance. Our faith assures us that any effort by the governing authority to impose peace in our country, which is not established on justice and righteousness will lead to failure and disaster." Statement of the Christians Leaders of Jerusalem, September 29, 1996
 

Fr. Labib Kobti
Al-Bushra
 April 12, 2000

Some quotes and references:

1) "When Caliph Umar took possession of the holy city of Jerusalem, he ensured
that the Christians remain in secure possession of their holy places and
enjoy full religious liberty.  Umar also invited the Jews, who had always
been forbidden to reside permanently in Jerusalem while it was under
Christian rule, to return to the holy city.  Seventy families from Tiberias
came to settle in Jerusalem, establishing a quarter for themselves beside
the Muslim community at the foot of their old Temple Mount.  Umar also
purified the site of the ancient Jewish Temple, which had remained in ruins
for nearly six centuries.  Umar built a simple wooden mosque at the southern
end of the cleared platform, where al-Aqsa Mosque now stands.  For this
piety, some Jews hailed the Muslims during the seventh century as the
precursors of the Messiah."  (Karen Armstrong, Journal of Palestine Studies,
The Holiness of Jerusalem, Volume XXVII, Number 3, Spring 1998, p. 15)

2) Al-Ahram Weekly
30 March - 5 April 2000
http://www.ahram.org.eg/weekly/2000/475/fr3.htm

A UN REPORT says that Israeli residency policy for east Jerusalem
"dismembers" Palestinian families. It also charges that Israeli occupation
practices adversely affect the natural environment of the occupied
Palestinian territories, including the degradation of the infrastructure and
depletion of natural resources in an irreversible method. The 20-page
report, presented on Tuesday to the UN Human Rights Commission, Giorgio
Giacomelli, an Italian expert, cited widespread abuses by Israeli
authorities and said that between 1967 and 1999 Israel cancelled the
identity cards of 6,264 Palestinians in Jerusalem, affecting more than
25,000 people, including family members. Palestinians are also subject to
discrimination, double standards and actions disrupting their society
throughout the territories occupied by Israel, AP quoted the report as
saying. Giacomelli regretted a lack of cooperation by the Israelis in
preparing his report and called for international monitoring and protection
of Palestinians.