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Let Jerusalem belong to all humanity

Comment:Our beloved city has been a battleground for more than 6,000 years and it is time for peace

Gulf News

I do not know why they call Jerusalem the city of peace. It has always been a city of war and bloodshed. Its history speaks of violence. Its history says enemies have fought on its lands. Jerusalem has been conquered repeatedly over its 6,000-year-old history.

Let us take a walk down Jerusalem through the ages.

Historians say the first human settlements in Jerusalem were during the Early Bronze Age around 3500 BC. Pagan tribes inhabited the city in the land called Canaan. According to the Bible, the last Canaanites to rule the city were the Jebusites. King David conquered Jerusalem around 1000 BC. His son, Solomon, built the first holy Temple about 40 years later. The Israelites fought several wars against another Canaanite tribe called the Philistines who lived along the southern coastline.

Trump dared, so what are we going to do?

The land was never stable. Every few decades saw upheavals and conquests. In 721 BC, the Assyrians conquered a part of the land of Israel called Samaria. Jewish refugees had to escape to Jerusalem. Twenty years later, the Assyrian ruler Sennacherib laid siege on Jerusalem. The Jews were harassed by Babylonian troops, who were tamed by Cyrus of Persia around 539 BC. He took charge of Jerusalem, but allowed Jews to come back to Jerusalem. They built the Second Temple.

The great conqueror of Macedonia, Alexander, also set eyes on Jerusalem and he coveted the city in 332 BC. The Jews revolted and rid themselves of Greek influence only to be subjugated by the Romans. The Roman general Pompey laid siege to Jerusalem in 63 BC. Twenty-six years later, Roman King Herod renovated the Second Temple. He built walls, one of which has survived remains today and is known as the Al Buraq Wall.

According to Christianity, Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem around 30 AD. Violence would grip Jerusalem again in 40 years when the Jews rose against the Romans, only to have their temples destroyed. The Romans then rebuilt Jerusalem as a city of their own. In 335 AD, Roman Emperor Constantine constructed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Christians believe Jesus was buried and then rose.

The history of Jerusalem over the next few years speaks of more wars, more blood and more intrigue. The Persians captured Jerusalem in 614 AD, but in 15 years, the Byzantine Christians marched against them and retook the city. Caliph Omar Bin Khattab entered the city in 637 AD to accept the surrender of Byzantine ruler, Sophronius. There was peace finally in the land. It could breathe easy. Jews were allowed back into the city and they could pray at their temples.

But this is Jerusalem. The Christian Crusaders came knocking in the 11th century, wanting to possess Jerusalem. And over the next two centuries, it became a battleground. Salah Al Deen liberated Jerusalem from the Crusaders, who then repossessed the city. The Ottomans descended on Jerusalem in the 16th century. The British arrived in 1917 during the First World War. The Balfour Declaration laid down a home for Jewish people. Thirty-one years later, Jerusalem’s history would change. In 1948, the state of Israel was born. And 19 years later, Israel captured East Jerusalem and annexed it, granting Palestinians permanent resident status, but not citizenship.

2017: United States President Donald Trump decides to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, sparking violent protests.

Where is the peace?

Muslims might argue that the only peace Jerusalem savoured was during the era of Caliph Omar Bin Khattab. Other than that period, Jerusalem has never enjoyed peace. It has been bathed in blood and hatred. And now Trump has jumped into this cauldron of hate, violence and blood. He has put his stamp on the misery of Beloved Jerusalem.

The response from Arabs, Muslims and Christians was to shun Trump’s stupid decision. They have now called for a separate Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as the capital. This means that Jerusalem will be divided into East and West — one half for the Israelis and the other half for Palestinians. This solution is intensely flammable. It will serve no purpose. It will bring no peace. It will only build walls between nations and religions. There might be temporary peace. But there never will be everlasting peace.

Israel, of course, will refuse such a solution because they live with religious illusions and beliefs that their holy sites are buried in old Jerusalem. So they dig. They have been digging for years, threatening structures holy to Muslims and Christians.

It’s been many, many years of digging, but until today, the Israelis are yet to find a single trace of anything holy to them. In fact, there is nothing under the soil of Jerusalem except their false beliefs inherited from books and stories. There is no material evidence. But that is something the Israelis do not want to accept or come to terms with it. It’s as if they have been living in denial and will continue to do so.

Only stupid people will believe and support them. Trump is not one of them.

So what is the solution for this city of peace? How can it become a haven of peace? Jerusalem belongs to the three Abrahamic religions: Islam, Christianity and Judaism. So let it be a symbol of peace not controlled by any one religion as Israel is trying to do.

Is there a possibility that Jerusalem, our beloved city, will not belong to any of these three religions? Let Jerusalem belong to all humanity. Let Jerusalem be an international city, open to people of all faiths. The United Nations should form a committee that must govern and administer Jerusalem.

Let Jerusalem become a symbol of peace. Let her history, from now on, be bathed in peace. We cannot erase the blood. But we can bring peace. As John Lennon said: Imagine ...

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