Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Trump and Jerusalem
The media has been abuzz with reports that President-elect Donald Trump intends to honor his pre-election promise to act on the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act – whose implementation has been deferred by six monthly waivers invoked by successive presidents, most recently last week by President Obama – and move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Why has the Embassy Act, passed by massive majorities in the Senate (93-5) and House (374-37), remained a dead letter for 21 years? Fear of enraging the Arab street and the Muslim world, most of which has neither reconciled itself to Israel’s existence nor even the peoplehood of the Jews and thus the Jewish immemorial association and claim to the city, is the short answer.
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This clamor and fixation on Jerusalem, quite recent in Muslim history, has led many to conclude that Jerusalem is holy to Islam; therefore any US move ahead of a peace settlement is premature.
As it happens, however, it is a propaganda lie that Jerusalem is holy to Islam or central to Palestinian Arab life. Though possessing Muslim shrines, including the Dome of the Rock and al-Aksa mosques, the city itself holds no great significance for Islam, as history shows.
Jerusalem is not mentioned even once in the Koran, nor is it the direction in which Muslims turn to pray. References in the Koran and hadith to the ‘farthest mosque,’ an allusion to which al-Aksa Mosque is named, and which has sometimes been invoked to connect Islam to Jerusalem since its earliest days, clearly doesn’t refer to a mosque which didn’t exist in Muhammad’s day.
Indeed, the site of the biblical temples is called Temple Mount, not the Mosque Mount, and – in contrast to innumerable Palestinian Authority statements today – was acknowledged as such for decades in the Jerusalem Muslim Supreme Council’s publication, A Brief Guide to the Haram Al-Sharif,’ which states on p. 4 that ‘Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute.”
(After 1954, all such references to the biblical temples disappeared from this publication.) During the illegal annexation and rule of the historic eastern half of Jerusalem by Jordan (1948-67), Amman remained the country’s capital, not Jerusalem.
Under Jordanian rule, Jews were entirely driven out, the Old City’s 58 synagogues destroyed, and Jewish gravestones used to pave roads and latrines. Jewish access to the Western Wall was forbidden, in contravention of Article 8 of the 1949 Israeli/Jordanian armistice.
Indeed, the eastern half of the city became a backwater town, with infrastructure like water and sewerage scanty or non-existent, and its Christian population, denied the right to purchase church property in the city, also declined. No Arab ruler, other than Jordan’s King Hussein, ever visited. As Israeli elder statesman Abba Eban put it, “the secular delights of Beirut held more attraction.”
Significantly, neither the PLO’s National Charter nor the Fatah Covenant, drafted during Jordanian rule, even mention Jerusalem, let alone call for its establishment as a Palestinian capital.
This would never be obvious from the tenor and content of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim pronouncements on the city today, which are as emphatic as to the Arab, Muslim and Palestinian primacy of the city as they are in denying its Jewish provenance.
Conversely, Jerusalem, the capital of the biblical Jewish kingdoms, is the site of three millennia of Jewish habitation — hence the ‘Jerusalem 3000’ celebrations initiated by the government of Yitzhak Rabin.
The holiest of Judaism’s four holy cities, Jerusalem is mentioned 669 times in the Bible, and alluded to in countless prayers.
Major Jewish rituals, including the conclusion of the Passover Seder and Yom Kippur service, end with the age-old affirmation, “Next year in Jerusalem.”
Jerusalem is the only city in the world in which Jews have formed a majority since the 1880s. Today, in addition to being home to Judaism’s greatest sanctuaries, Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s government, the Knesset, the Supreme Court, the National Library and the Hebrew University. Its population is twothirds Jewish.
It is only under unified Israeli rule since 1967 that the city as a whole has been revitalized, enjoyed stunning growth and also, at last, full freedom of religion for its mosaic of faiths – precisely what would be threatened by its redivision, as is already obvious in the Christian exodus from Palestinian-controlled Gaza and Bethlehem.
Transferring the US Embassy to Jerusalem would acknowledge the reality of the city as Israel’s capital, and ultimately help consign to oblivion the fiction that Israel can be detached from it. Whatever the contours of any future peace settlement, there is no good reason for President-elect Trump to defer implementing the Jerusalem Embassy Act and move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
Accused = guilty in politically correct Britain
York Minster's bells fell silent on Christmas Day for the first time in more than 600 years after the bell-ringing team was disbanded following a row over the reinstatement of one of their group.
Visitors at the cathedral have been warned to expect a silent Christmas period after the Minster's 30-strong ringing group was sacked in October.
Ringers had refused to accept the decision not to reinstate a member who had been suspended following a police investigation into allegations of sex offences against children, which did not lead to a prosecution.
Another group of campanologists from Leeds were asked to fill the gap but reportedly refused to help out in solidarity with their sacked colleagues.
The member has not been named by the Minster's Chapter, but is understood to be David Potter - who was awarded an MBE for his services to bell-ringing and has never been convicted of any offence.
Mr Potter was the subject of a police investigation in 1999, which was reviewed again in 2014, but he was never charged.
The Chapter of York Minster ordered a detailed risk assessment of Mr Potter's activities and ruled he "presented an ongoing risk and that the potential severity of the risk meant they could not be reinstated".
It added that the bell ringers refused to accept the decision and so had to be disbanded.
Colin Byrne, a solicitor acting for Mr Potter, said in October: "Mr Potter has no cautions or convictions or any civil findings ever made against him.
"Issues surrounding the bell ringers and the Minster is a private and confidential matter between those two parties but the process that he has been subject to has shown a disregard for due process and equally the treatment of his fellow bell-ringers."
The Dean of York Minster, Vivienne Faull, and the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, who supported the decision, were both in attendance at the service on Christmas Day.
"Islamophobia" versus antisemitism
The Policy Exchange think-tank recently published a report on attitudes among British Muslims called Unsettled Belonging.
Among its many interesting observations, one in particular leapt out at me. No, it wasn’t that 43% of British Muslims support the introduction of some forms of sharia law in Britain. Nor that, despite this aspiration, more than half wanted to “fully integrate” with British society.
Nor that 7 per cent believed the Jews were responsible for 9/11, more than the 4 per cent who pinned it on al Qaeda (described by the authors as “slightly alarming”) but rather fewer that the 31% who thought the US government had perpetrated it (arguably even more alarming).
No, the bit that attracted my particular interest was this:
“There is undoubtedly a perception – expressed often in more anecdotal fashion – that Muslims face challenges posed by anti-Muslim bigotry and racism. It is striking that this issue did not loom as large in the quantitative survey. It is also notable how concerns about these problems were often relayed with reference to stories heard from friends, family, or via the media.”
None of this, it said, denied the reality of anti-Muslim abuse and discrimination. “But it does illustrate that often this is at least as much perceived as experienced. Here, as much as elsewhere, narrative is everything.”
Isn’t it just! Even when it bears scant relation to actual events. Or as we might otherwise call it, fiction.
For probe further and you find that, when asked about harassment on grounds of race, ethnicity or religion, only 6-7 per cent said it was a “big problem”, 14 per cent said it was a “slight problem” and a whopping 77 per cent on race/ethnicity and 79 per cent on religion said it was no problem at all.
The authors found this “somewhat surprising, given that there was a great deal of discussion in our focus groups about fears over personal security linked to anti-Muslim bigotry and harassment.”
This may be less surprising given that the authors also record a much greater concern about anti-Muslim harassment among the general population than among British Muslims.
Might it be, therefore, that British Muslims believe they are under more attack from the general population than they actually are largely because the general population itself tells them so?
Despite the authors’ manifest puzzlement, they hastily insist:
“Campaign groups such as Tell Mama have pointed to a significant increase in attacks and insults levelled against Muslims.”
And yet: “When pushed, focus group participants tended to say that they themselves had not experienced racism or Islamophobia; however, almost everyone had a story to which they could point, as examples of these phenomena.”
Curiouser and curiouser? Things get clearer when you look more carefully at these “hate crime” statistics. In its 2015 annual report, Tell Mama says it documented 437 anti-Muslim crimes or incidents that took place in person, a 200 per cent increase over the previous year.
There is no reason to doubt this rise. However, many of these incidents took place just after the atrocities in Paris in January and November, just as previous spikes in anti-Muslim incidents took place after 9/11 and the near-decapitation of Drummer Lee Rigby.
That doesn’t mean they are any less reprehensible — all unprovoked attacks are wrong, on Muslims or anyone else – just that they mostly occur specifically in response to Islamic terrorism rather than being a routine expression of intrinsic prejudice.
Moreover, the 437 figure has to be seen in the context of the size of Britain’s Muslim population, currently estimated at about 3 million.
Considering the intensity of public rage about Islamist aggression and the refusal by the Muslim world to take any responsibility for it, blaming it instead on “un-Islamic” or “anti-Islamic” forces, the number of hateful incidents against Muslims is thankfully remarkably low.
Now look at the number of attacks on Jews. Excluding social media abuse and threats, the Community Security Trust recorded 765 antisemitic incidents in 2015, with the highest number of violent assaults since 2011. Now put that 765 figure in the context of Britain’s Jewish population, estimated at around 270,000.
In other words, the rate of attacks on Jews proportionate to their population strength is vastly greater than the rate of attacks on Muslims – even though Jews have done nothing at all to provoke the general public.Narrative is not everything. Reality is.
Customer Leaves Restaurant Owner a Nastygram About His Christmas Music
A restaurant owner in Florida was recently shocked to find a nastygram left on a table by a disgruntled customer who didn't like his choice of Christmas music.
The Scrooge-like diner complained last week that the music was "offensive" and suggested that the owner of Michael's Tasting Room in St. Augustine "consider" playing less religiously themed "holiday music."
Pastor Tells Kids at Texas Mall: 'Santa Claus Does Not Exist'
The restaurant's owner, Michael Lugo, posted the note on Facebook commenting, "really, what is wrong with people?"
Via Fox News Insider:
Lugo said that though he is Christian he was not trying to force his religion on anyone, adding that it was "scary" that a note like that would be socially acceptable.
He posted the note on Facebook, a decision he said was to protect his staff.
The vast majority of the 855 comments are completely supportive of the restaurant owner and fed up with the politically correct cry-bully culture that encourages people to speak out so obnoxiously.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.