Jerusalem of Gold: Karaite Perspectives
No other city in the world can inspire such debate, elevate emotions, be the centre of conflict and conflagaration at the mere mention of its name; Jerusalem. And yet the worst of the conflicts would appear to be between those that care so much about it and those that have cared so little. In the Old Testament, the Tanach, Jerusalem is called upon by it Jewish readers 667 times. Even in the Christian Gospels it is metnioned 144 times. But in the Qu'ran, the Holy Book of Islam it is not even mentioned once. Let me repeat that again in case you didn't catch it, 'not even once.' Oh yes, there is a mention of Al-Quds, some holy place to the west where Mohammed flew off into the night upon his winged horse, but I would have to say that the likelihood of Al-Quds being Jerusalem ranks in the percentile scale as high as my belief in winged horses. Even after the conquest of Jerusalem by Caliph Omar in 638, it meant as much to him as it did to any other Muslim, which could be seen by his benevolent act of handing it back to the Jews of the city after his shamed the Christian Patriarch of the city for turning the Temple Mount into a garbage dump. (See http://hubpages.com/hub/A-Temple-Of-Stone for further details). It meant so much to Islam that they would turn their backs on the Holy City of the Jews each time they prayed to Mecca. Though they will pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, you don't see Jerusalem on the pilgrimage itinerary. In all the time that the Muslims occupied Judea, not once did they ever declare Jerusalem to be the capital of an Islamic state. Not even in 1964 when the PLO sat down in a hotel on the Mount of Olives and declared itself as an established organisation did they even consider proclaiming the city as the capital of some future state. Look at the year! Three years before the liberation of East Jerusalem from Jordanian control. In their entire foundation document the city of Jerusalem is not even mentiioned once. That's how little it meant to them, until now.
If Jerusalem, as they say, is so important and key to Islam, then how is it that for 1300 years it meant so little to them? How is it that suddenly in 1994, Yasser Arafat could pronounce Jerusalem the holiest city of Islam, in direct contrast to their entire history and traditions of Islam? How is it that despite this apparent lack of concern or interest for thirteen centuries, the Arab world is now able to convince the Western World that Israel has taken from them this most precious jewel of Islam that never was? And how is it that there now stands an American President in the capital cities of the world, calling for a united front to force Israel to give back to the Arab world a city they never loved, never cherished, and never even bothered to mention even once in their Holy book?
It is simple to answer. These are the people that the prophets spoke of when they said they will come from the four corners of the world and set themselves against Jerusalem. Though we think of these prophecies in terms of weapons of mass destruction, missles falling upon the Temple Mount, wholesale slaughter of the innocents, we forget that there is more than one way for the world to set itself against Jerusalem. Decisions made in world courts can be just as deadly as any Jihadist with C4 strapped around their bodies. Trade embargos can starve and kill just as easily as any missle falling upon a populated area. Abandonment by what were once friends can reestablish the specter of concentration camps and Nazi ovens as quickly as they were constructed by the Nazis in the 1940s. Whether we recongise it or not, we are in the times that the prophets spoke of. What the Arab world could not achieve in direct conflict they have succeeded in doing through the back rooms and pleasure palaces of the rich and politically minded. They realized that they had the resources to seduce the westerners and have done so admirably. In some ways it is ironic. That which the spawns of Antisemitism have always accused the Jews of performing, ie. the ownership of corporations, control of the banks, monopolization of critical resources, the forcing of their customs upon the Christian world, is exactly what is currently underway as the wealthy Middle Eastern countries flex their muscles and hardly an outcry can be heard. Who will shed the tears for Jerusalem, who will shed the tears for the world when it is too late to correct the mistakes of greed and power?
The Jews will, that is for certain. We have done so ever since the destruction of our capital by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BCE. Since the Romans destroyed it in 70 AD. We did so when Trajan and then Hadrian banned us from walking on the mount because of our revolt in 117 AD. We did so when the crusaders locked us in our synagogues and set them ablaze. Since time immemorial we have done so, and each year we recite, "Next Year in Jerusalem" at our Passover seders and we will never forget our holy city as recorded so beautifully and romantically recorded in Psalm 137. Yerushalayim Shel Zahav, our city of gold, our eternal city given to us and blessed by God. Let all those that have set themselve against the city of the Jews realize that in so doing they have also set themselves against God. Let them defend themselves in that higher court and see how they fare!
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