The Islamization of Jerusalem

We are often told of how Israel’s Jewish authorities are trying to “Judaize” Jerusalem, an assertion that suggests the Jews had no previous attachment to the city.

By Ryan Jones |
Photo: Sliman Khader/FLASH90

It never ceases to amaze how even today, with the vast knowledge of the world’s history just a Google search away, it remains as easy as ever to propagate blatant revisions with almost no factual backing. Most people are either too lazy to look up, or simply don’t want to know, the truth.

In this case, the truth is, in fact, the exact opposite of what Israel’s detractors are claiming. The City of Jerusalem has undergone a forced transformation, but it was not a process of “Judaiziation.” It was an “Islamization.”

The truth, as attested to by physical archaeological evidence and numerous third-party sources, is that the Jews have had a near continuous presence in Jerusalem since the destruction of the Second Temple. The same Second Jewish Temple that the most widely-read book on the planet (the Bible) confirms existed in Jerusalem centuries before the advent of Islam and the Muslim conquests. And that continuous Jewish presence once again became a majority about 200 years ago. It has been so ever since.

So, how is it that today so many genuinely believe Jerusalem is and always was an Arab Muslim city that is now being subdued by the Jews?

It began in earnest in 1929, when Muslim mobs inflamed by their religious leaders started killing Jews and looting (or burning) their possessions. Another round of violence, this one far more severe, erupted between 1936- 1939, forcing most of the Jews living on the eastern side of the city, including the Old City, to flee for their lives.

All but the small section now known as the Jewish Quarter was cleansed of its Jewish population. A decade later, during Israel’s War of Independence, Jordan finished the job by expelling all remaining Jews from the heart of Jerusalem. Just like that, the Jewish majority, at least in the Old City, had been erased. The Muslims took swift and effective advantage of the situation.

All visible traces of a Jewish connection were destroyed, including synagogues and tombstones. It was time to establish a new reality in eastern Jerusalem, a revision of history. And one that an antisemitic international community was all too eager to adopt.

Nor did it stop with the Jews. The modern Islamization of Jerusalem affected local Christians, too. But they, unlike the Jews, weren’t expelled. They were doomed to live as second-class citizens under Muslim rule.

As Israeli expert Dr. Guy Bechor explained, after annexing the eastern half of Jerusalem, the Jordanian authorities forbade local Christians from purchasing property. Then, they forced all Christian schools to begin teaching the Koran, and forbade the use of any language but Arabic. Most of the Christians living in the Old City at the time were Armenians, and many did not speak Arabic. Every effort was made to disrupt Christian prayer services. The city’s Christian character, like its Jewish one, had to be subjugated, if not erased entirely.

But the scheme has failed.

The Jews did not slink away, as the Muslims assumed they would. Yes, they fled homes and abandoned property under extreme duress, but they didn’t go far. Western Jewish Jerusalem flourished, quickly eclipsing its eastern half, the effects of which are still strongly felt today by those who bemoan the inequality in the city. But it is an inequality born of a stubborn refusal to accept the Jewish connection to this city. It is only in the hands of Jews that Jerusalem has ever prospered. Many of the city’s Arab residents realize that, and are unwilling to repeat the mistakes of the past century. That’s why so many have told Israel Today that they reject Palestinian rule in eastern Jerusalem, and prefer to remain under Israeli sovereignty.

Winston Churchill, recognizing that no other people could possibly return Jerusalem to its proper glory, once made a remark to British diplomat Evelyn Shuckburgh that today’s world leaders would do well to heed: “You ought to let the Jews have Jerusalem; it was they who made it famous.”

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