by Rod D. Martin
December 29, 2016
It is often said that “three religions are battling over the Holy Land”. Indeed, in the last 12 hours alone, I’ve heard some variant of that phrase by two separate commentators on cable news and at least three different people on Facebook. It is just accepted as certain — and often stated as the “conclusion” of arguments — that “these people have been fighting for thousands of years” (which is only true if you string together battles that happened centuries apart) and that there’s therefore some rough moral equivalence among them.
But “battle” is an interesting term. A Christian army last took Jerusalem almost a thousand years ago, and there aren’t any Christian armies today. The British army (which you could argue was “Christian”) took Jerusalem in 1917, but only because the Ottoman Empire had declared war on Britain. No Christian of whom I’m aware “battles” over this area at all.
The Jews didn’t either. While Jews have lived in Israel since Moses, and while settlement surely increased in the 19th century (due to persecution in Europe), the Jews were perfectly happy to live side-by-side with their Arab neighbors. In 1947, they even agreed to a UN Partition Plan that would have given half of the territory now described to Israel, half to a proposed Arab state it turned out no one wanted, with international control (administered by the UN) over Jerusalem.
The Arabs responded with war. Six Arab countries invaded a much smaller Israel (which had been a country for less than a day; and the British helped the Arabs, so there’s your “Christian army”), and after Israel miraculously beat them, Egypt annexed Gaza and Jordan annexed the West Bank and the Temple Mount, laughing off any thought of a “Palestinian state” (along with the Palestinians, who, again, didn’t want one). They immediately barred all Jews from access to the holy sites.
Two wars later, Israel ended up with those holy sites, and immediately granted access to absolutely everyone. They still do. Moreover, of 8 million Israeli citizens, 2 million are “Palestinian” Arabs, who have absolutely equal rights, equal elected representation, equal prosperity and peace. Their brothers across the artificial border could do likewise; they could also live as citizens of the Palestinian state that already exists, Jordan. Instead, they continue to vow to murder every Jew.
Three religions are not battling for this land. One is.