Uri Avnery on Jerusalem & Trump
Palestinians, and Arabs at large, do have deep feelings and convictions. They are a proud people. They still remember the times when Muslims were incomparably more advanced than the barbarian Europeans. To be treated like dirt by the US president and his Jewish entourage hurts them deeply, and may lead to a disturbance in our region that no Arab prince, hired by the USA, will be able to control.
THIS ESPECIALLY concerns Jerusalem. For Muslims, this is not just a town. It is their third holiest place, the spot from where the Prophet – peace be upon him – ascended to heaven. For a Muslim to give up Jerusalem is inconceivable.
The latest decisions of Trump concerning Jerusalem are – to put it mildly – idiotic. Arabs are furious, Israelis don’t really care, America’s Arab stooges, princes and all, are deeply worried. If disturbances erupt, they may well be swept away.
And what for? For one evening’s headline?
There is no subject in our region, and perhaps in the world – that is more delicate. Jerusalem is holy to three world religions, and one cannot argue with holiness.
In the past I have devoted much thought to this subject. I love Jerusalem (contrary to the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, who was disgusted by it and left it in a hurry after one single night). The early Zionists disliked the city as a symbol of all that is wrong and foul in Judaism.
Some twenty years ago I composed a manifesto, together with my late friend, Feisal al-Husseini, the leader of Jerusalem’s Arabs and the scion of its most noble family. Hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians signed it.
Its title was “Our Jerusalem”. It started with the words: “Jerusalem is ours, Israelis and Palestinians, Muslims, Christians and Jews.”
It went on: “Our Jerusalem Is a mosaic of all the cultures, all the religions and all the periods that enriched the city, from earliest antiquity to this very day – Canaanites and Jebusites and Israelites, Jews and Hellenes, Romans and Byzantines, Christians and Muslims, Arabs and Mamelukes, Othmanlis and Britons, Palestinians and Israelis.
“Our Jerusalem must be united, open to all, and belonging to all its inhabitants, without borders and barbed wire in its midst.”
And the practical conclusion: “Our Jerusalem must be the capital of the two states that will live side by side in this country – West Jerusalem the capital of the State of Israel and East Jerusalem the capital of the State of Palestine.”
I wish I could nail this Manifesto to the doors of the White House.