Thursday, October 25, 2007

Myths of the Middle East

This is a great article by Joseph Farah which I read about seven years ago.
I realize that even though I know this, most people around me don't. This is a good point to start discussions. Separate truth from myth. It's so simple.
The whole article is so great, I'll have to quote it entirely.

Myths of the Middle East

Posted: October 11, 2000
1:00 a.m. Eastern

I've been quiet since Israel erupted in fighting spurred by disputes over the
Temple Mount.

Until now, I haven't even bothered to say, "See, I told you so." But I can't resist any longer. I feel compelled to remind you of the column I wrote just a couple weeks before the latest uprising. Yeah, folks, I predicted it. That's OK. Hold your applause.

After all, I wish I had been wrong. More than 80 people have been killed since the current fighting in and around Jerusalem began. And for what?

If you believe what you read in most news sources, Palestinians want a homeland and Muslims want control over sites they consider holy. Simple, right?

Well, as an Arab-American journalist who has spent some time in the Middle East dodging more than my share of rocks and mortar shells, I've got to tell you that these are just phony excuses for the rioting, trouble-making and land-grabbing.

Isn't it interesting that prior to the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, there was no serious
movement for a Palestinian homeland?

"Well, Farah," you might say, "that was before the Israelis seized the West Bank and Old Jerusalem."

That's true. In the Six-Day War, Israel captured Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem. But they didn't capture these territories from Yasser Arafat. They captured them from Jordan's King Hussein. I can't help but wonder why all these Palestinians suddenly discovered their national identity after Israel won the war.

The truth is that Palestine is no more real than Never-Never Land. The first time the name was used was in 70 A.D. when the Romans committed genocide against the Jews, smashed the Temple and declared the land of Israel would be no more. From then on, the Romans promised, it would be known as Palestine. The name was derived from the Philistines, a Goliathian people conquered by the Jews centuries earlier. It was a way for the Romans to add insult to injury. They also tried to change the name of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina, but that had even less staying power.

Palestine has never existed -- before or since -- as an autonomous entity. It was ruled alternately by Rome, by Islamic and Christian crusaders, by the Ottoman Empire and, briefly, by the British after World War I. The British agreed to restore at least part of the land to the Jewish people as their homeland.

There is no language known as Palestinian. There is no distinct Palestinian culture. There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians. Palestinians are Arabs, indistinguishable from Jordanians (another recent invention), Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, etc. Keep in mind that the Arabs control 99.9 percent of the Middle East lands. Israel represents one-tenth of 1 percent of the landmass.

But that's too much for the Arabs. They want it all. And that is ultimately what the
fighting in Israel is about today. Greed. Pride. Envy. Covetousness. No matter how many land concessions the Israelis make, it will never be enough.

What about Islam's holy sites? There are none in Jerusalem.

Shocked? You should be. I don't expect you will ever hear this brutal truth from anyone else in the international media. It's just not politically correct.

I know what you're going to say: "Farah, the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem represent Islam's third most holy sites."

Not true. In fact, the Koran says nothing about Jerusalem. It mentions Mecca hundreds of times. It mentions Medina countless times. It never mentions Jerusalem. With good reason. There is no historical evidence to suggest Mohammed
ever visited Jerusalem.

So how did Jerusalem become the third holiest site of Islam? Muslims today cite a vague passage in the Koran, the seventeenth Sura, entitled "The Night Journey." It relates that in a dream or a vision Mohammed was carried by night "from the sacred temple to the temple that is most remote, whose precinct we have blessed, that we might show him our signs. ..." In the seventh century, some Muslims identified the two temples mentioned in this verse as being in Mecca and Jerusalem. And that's as close as Islam's connection with Jerusalem gets -- myth, fantasy, wishful thinking. Meanwhile, Jews can trace their roots in Jerusalem back to the days of Abraham.

The latest round of violence in Israel erupted when Likud Party leader Ariel Sharon
tried to visit the Temple Mount, the foundation of the Temple built by Solomon. It is the holiest site for Jews. Sharon and his entourage were met with stones and threats. I know what it's like. I've been there. Can you imagine what it is like for Jews to be threatened, stoned and physically kept out of the holiest site in Judaism?

So what's the solution to the Middle East mayhem? Well, frankly, I don't think there is a man-made solution to the violence. But, if there is one, it needs to begin with truth. Pretending will only lead to more chaos. Treating a 5,000-year-old birthright backed by overwhelming historical and archaeological evidence equally with illegitimate claims, wishes and wants gives diplomacy and peacekeeping a bad name.

There's a nice joke I heard once, about Benjamin Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat.

Bibi and Arafat met at Camp something with Cinton.
As Clinton and Arafat sat down, Bibi remained standing and said "Before we start any negotiation, I would like to say that this is all your fault Yasser. Three thousand years ago, in the Negev desert, there was a Jew called Herschele who took a quick dip in an oasis he came across. While he was enjoying the fresh water, a Palestinian came and stole his clothes! This how this whole conflict started Yasser, because a Palestinian stole an innocent Jew's clothes!"
Arafat was completely taken aback. He began stuttering "B-b-but that's not true! You are lying! This is impossible!"
Bibi asked "Why is this impossible Yasser?"
Arafat replied "Because there were no Palestinians here in the desert three thousand years ago!".
Bibi finally sat down, saying "Good. Now that we agree on that subject, we can start the negotiations."

Will repeating a lie often enough change the truth?

So two months later and still no Internet at home. This doesn't mean that I haven't got loads and loads to say.

I'll start with this headline that I saw today on Jpost: 'Western Wall was never part of temple'

This is a claim that was already repeated by Yasser Arafat, most notoriously during the failed Camp David talks in the summer of 2000. If I remember correctly, he stated that the Western Wall was never holy for Jews, the only thing it had of importance was that Mohammed tied his donkey to that wall on his way to Al-Aksa. Baloney.
Jerusalem is never mentioned in the Quran, while it is mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible.

"The wall is not part of the Jewish temple. It is just the western wall of the
mosque," he said. "There is not a single stone with any relation at all to the
history of the Hebrews."

No one claims the wall used to be part of the Jewish temple (other than some ignorant journalists). The Temple was built on a flat surface. But that area is called Temple mount, which means that there are mountains there. So before building the temple, they built a flat surface. The Western Wall is one of the supporting walls of that flat surface. Not a remainder of the Temple. Both temples have been completely destroyed. Jews are not supposed to step where the Temple used to be until a new one is built, so this is the closest Jews can get to the Temple.
That there is not a single stone with any relation to Jewish history is ridiculous. The Wakf has repeatedly dug up old archaeological remains of Judaism and destroyed them.
If they destroyed them, it means they existed, no?
But obviously, if the Wakf took the time and effort to destroy old archaeological proof of Jewish presence preceding Muslim presence, it's because they want to convince everyone that Jews didn't exist there before. That Jerusalem was never important to the Jews, only to the Muslims, and that from forever and always.

"Zionism tries to trick the Jews claiming that this was part of a Jewish temple,
but they dug there and they found nothing," Sabri added.

Wrong again.
It's the other way around you see. Islamists try (and have succeeded) to convince the Muslim masses that Jerusalem is of massive importance to their religion, but in fact it is not. It is never mentioned in the Quran. The only thing coming vaguely close is Mohammed's dream in which he drifts to "the furthest mosque" (Al-Quds). He never really stepped in Jerusalem, and nothing really links that location in his dream (which he had in the 7th century) to the Temple mount, where King Solomon built the first Temple in 10th century BC.

How can you negotiate with people like this about such an important subject when you can't even agree on the truth?
How can we ever agree on what the truth is when for years they have been destroying evidence to our truth?
Why would anyone believe that they actually want anything closely resembling peace with us?