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Jerusalem - The Heart and Soul of the Jewish People

Dear Christian Leader,

On Sunday, May 29th, Israel celebrated Jerusalem Day. This year's celebration marked the 55th anniversary of the day Jerusalem was reunited under Israeli sovereignty after it had been illegally occupied by Jordanian forces for 19 years since the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.

The reunification of Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty occurred during the Six-Day War (June 5-10, 1967), which was initiated by the nations of Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq in another failed attempt to wipe Israel off the map. The combined Arab forces that surrounded Israel in 1967 were composed of approximately 465,000 troops, more than 2,800 tanks and 800 aircraft.

In spite of these overwhelming odds, Israel not only defeated its enemies' attempt to destroy the Jewish State, but Israeli forces reclaimed Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. When they gained control of the Temple Mount, the declaration, "Har Habayit Beyadenu!" - "The Temple Mount is in our hands!" - truly reverberated throughout the Jewish world.

This is because Jerusalem has been the heart and soul of the Jewish people ever since King David established it as the capital of the Jewish homeland some 3,000 years ago. Through over 2,000 years of exile, Jerusalem continued to be central to Jewish faith and tradition. No matter where they are in the world, Jews face in the direction of Jerusalem to pray and their prayers are filled with references to Jerusalem.

So, in 1967, it was quite a joyous occasion when Israeli forces defeated the occupying Jordanian legion and secured the city of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. Israeli officials including Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Rabin joined the soldiers at the Western Wall in recognition of this significant historical event. After over 2,000 years, the Jews once again had control of their holiest site, the Temple Mount, and their capital city, Jerusalem.

The annual celebration of the reunification of Jerusalem is an exuberant one, in which thousands march through the city with Israeli flags. This year, some 16,000 marchers gathered on the Western Wall Plaza in the Old City for the 55th anniversary celebration. 

During Israel's War for Independence in 1948, Jerusalem was surrounded by a coalition of Arab armies that attacked the new Jewish State with the intent to destroy it. The Arabs bombarded the city and synagogues - some of which dated back to the 13th century - were destroyed. The Jewish Quarter of the Old City was completely ethnically cleansed, as every Jew was either killed or forced to leave. This is what happened to Jewish life when Jerusalem was not under Israeli sovereignty, and it is one of the most important reasons Jerusalem must always be under Jewish control.

Jerusalem also needs to be under Jewish control for the sake of preserving thousands of years of Jewish history. This is a constant battle, both ideologically and physically, as Arabs routinely deny the ancient Jewish connection to the land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem, and actively destroy archaeological evidence that demonstrates Jewish history. Please read the following article by Dr. Alex Groban, senior resident scholar at the John C. Danforth Society and a member of the Council of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, for an excellent discussion of Arab efforts to delegitimize the existence of Israel.

Inventing Palestinian Arab History, Destroying Biblical Evidence
What more inventive way can there be to delegitimize the Jewish state?
Especially since the Bible clearly says whose land it is.
And where the Temples stood.

by Dr. Alex Groban

In the face of clear historical evidence, Arabs often deny the Jewish historical connection to the land, especially the city of Jerusalem. They do this rhetorically and have used heavy equipment to destroy archeological sites of immense importance. “Today, both the U.N. and Palestinian leadership are seeking to erase the Jewish and Christian heritage of Jerusalem,” asserted Ze’ev Orenstein, director of International Affairs for the City of David, an archeological site for ancient Jerusalem in a report to Fox News.

“The Palestinian Authority has undertaken a very carefully and purposefully orchestrated program of historical revisionism, in an attempt to blur and eventually erase the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel,” according to Naomi Kahn, Regavim’s international spokesperson. “Because Judea and Samaria are the cradle of Jewish history, these areas are quite naturally the focal points of this insidious campaign.”

Journalist David Sidman reported the Palestinian Authority (PA) paved a new road adjacent to the altar of Joshua on Mt. Ebal, north of Shechem in Samaria. Stones that are part of one of the sides of an ancient fence were destroyed. Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan said that “Joshua’s altar isn’t the only archaeological site being demolished: “From the National Park of Ancient Samaria through Tel Aroma to the altar of Joshua son of Nun, it is shocking to see how the Palestinian Authority brazenly destroys the archeological sites dear to all mankind.”

Among the purveyors of the big lie is Nadia Abu El-Haj, a professor of anthropology at Barnard College. She argues that Israeli archeologists use their craft to substantiate Israel's right to establish a Jewish national homeland in a land where in denial of history, she has convinced herself that Jews never lived. "There never was an actual metropole [mother city] for Jewish settlers in Palestine...the projects of settlement and of nation-building developed at one and the same time on a single colonial terrain."

Justification for Arab Attacks on Religious sites

Arab rioters in Nablus (Shechem) vandalized the Tomb of Joseph on the night of April 9, 2022 and came back the next day to destroy whatever they were unable initially to demolish.

On October 7, 2000, an Arab mob set fire to Torah scrolls, prayer books and other religious objects at Joseph's Tomb. They used hammers, crowbars and pickaxes to destroy the stone building and the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva located at the site, and brutally murdered Rabbi Hillel Lieberman, the American-born teacher at the yeshiva, while on his way to try to prevent more destruction. They then turned the tomb into a mosque. "In destroying the tomb, Palestinian demonstrators eradicated one 'fact on the ground."

In contrast with her reaction to the wanton and gratuitous destruction of Joseph's Tomb in October 2000, which she excused, Abu El-Haj neglects to discuss the ongoing efforts of the Arabs to destroy Temple Mount antiquities, and the repeated Arab sniping on Rachel's tomb, Judaism's third holiest site, according to Mark-Ami El of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Denying The Right of Israel to Exist

Abu El-Haj’s target is not the alleged transgressions of Israeli archeologists, but the very "existence of Israel." The deliberate damage inflicted by the Waqf to the antiquities on the Temple Mount is designed to change the 36-acre compound into ‘an exclusive Muslim preserve by obliterating any remains or trace of the Jewish past. Muslims even assert that the area is the site of an ancient mosque from the era of Adam and Eve. As such, in 1996 the Western Hulda Gate passageway and Solomon's Stables, two ancient underground Second Temple buildings, were converted into mosques able to accommodate 10,000 people.

After September 2000, Ami-El said, the Muslim Waqf prohibited the Israel Antiquities Authority from having any archeological oversight of the Temple Mount and even banned them from entering the area. In the process of completing underground mosques, 13,000 tons of rubble was removed from the Temple Mount, including relics from the First and Second Temple periods. In February and March 2001, an arched structure was demolished by bulldozers.

William G. Dever, an American archaeologist and biblical scholar, said archeologists have been using the evidence found in archeological excavations as another means to validate Israel's claim to a Jewish presence in the land from the time of Joshua bin-Nun (1354 BCE-1244 BCE) to the Arab conquest in the 7th century. For Abu El-Haj, this undertaking is essentially an attempt to establish "material signs of an ancient and supposedly uninterrupted occupancy of the Jewish national home and nation..."

Keith W. Whitelam, a professor of religious studies, claims that "Western scholarship...invented ancient Israel and silenced Palestinian history."

During the British Mandate (1920-1948), Harrington said, the Zionists wanted to increase "national consciousness and strengthen Israeli ties to Israel and they were settling." As Norman Bentwich, the first Attorney General of Mandatory Palestine, observed, "Wherever you plant your foot in that land you tread on history. A hundred years ago Palestine was largely deserted and derelict." Aside from the holy cities of Jerusalem, Hebron, Bethlehem, Nazareth and Tiberias, which were visited by pilgrims, and except for a number of Biblical sites such as Gaza, Ascalon, Jericho, Shiloh, and the graves of the righteous, most of the locations referred to in the Torah had not been identified.

The Destruction Continues

Yisrael Medad, a historian of Zionism and political commentator notes that "Israel has yielded and surrendered on a number of issues over the past half century [to the Waqf, a Muslim religious or charitable foundation overseeing the Temple Mount]—any form of Jewish congregational prayer, refusing to engage in archaeology excavations, permitting the Waqf to destroy archaeological artifacts, to deface Jewish historical remains, to issue outlandishly inciteful and antisemitic statements by Waqf {Muslim religious or charitable foundation} officials.

He concludes that "by exhibiting lack of respect, being unwilling to coexist, refusing to compromise while denying and falsifying history and religious attachment, and by continuing to separate Judaism and Jews from Jerusalem by speaking only in terms of Islam and Christianity, those senior elements in the Palestinian Authority apparatus have proven and continue to prove that the understanding and goodwill necessary for an eventual overall peace arrangement is still far away."

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