If the United States is a melting pot; then Israel is a boiling pot. Out of its almost 8,000,000 inhabitants, Israel is also home to approximately 2,000,000 Arabs; 82% of whom are Arab Muslim enjoying the same freedoms that Israeli Jewish and Christians enjoy. Free education, free health, freedom to start a business, and freedom to worship. However, unlike Israeli Jews who must serve; Arabs do not have to. Not a bad deal one would think? So what’s the beef? Why the indignation of the Western world to include disingenuous organizations like the United Nations and UNESCO that continue to pressure Israel into submission? Why has the world accepted the Arab Palestine and Arab Palestinian talking points so easily and readily? Is it possible that our current world leadership is so historically ignorant that it ignores all archaeological, biblical, and written word (remember the Dead Sea scrolls?) but instead chooses to play into the Palestinian mantra disregarding all else? At this time I will refrain from addressing the Palestine myth in lieu of the double standard in religious claims that the West and the Muslim world currently impose on Israel. This is a first-hand encounter with what Christians and Jews endure on a daily basis to comply with pseudo “peace” arrangements set in place by those who are “reality” deficient. I will discuss Jerusalem because it is the crux of what is wrong with the blatant disingenuous role of a world leadership so biased and border-line anti-Semitic that if it weren’t so corrupt it would be laughable.
Without invoking either Biblical references or archaeological findings, it should be considered reasonable to assume that freedom of worship is a concept everyone in the free world should stand behind. In a predominantly defined religious denominational country, the populace religion of choice should be respected, or so we hope. In 1948, the State of Israel was created for Jews under the auspice that after the war, Jews displaced from all over the world, mostly European, would finally return “home” to their land where they can exist without fear of persecution. To some extent, Christians have been reasonable custodians of Biblical Holy sites; because after all one is a Jew before being Christian. Christ was born a Jew and died as a Jew. Christianity rose from His death and what some of us prefer to belief: his resurrection. Anyone outside the Judaeo worship parameters is a citizen guest in Israel. Israeli Jews have no problem with other faiths outside their own; they continually exercise mutual respect, cooperation, and support with Israeli and Christians.
Jerusalem is a city divided into four quarters: Jewish, Christian, Armenian, and Muslim Arab. Without going into the convoluted history of Jerusalem, one quickly realizes that this is a city like no other. This is also the capital city of Israel; yet the United States chose to keep its embassy in Tel-Aviv. A slap in the face to the country. Israelis are hoping that the US President-elect will move the embassy where it should belong: Jerusalem. Such a move would validate Israel’s sole claim on Jerusalem.
Currently, any attempt to walk the Via Dolorosa or Way of the Cross without being assaulted by Arab merchants is near impossible. Unfortunately, because this is in the Arab quarter, this Christian holy road is riddled with Arab stores selling cheap “holy” souvenirs to pilgrims hoping to pray at the marked stations. Does anyone think that if a Christian visits a Muslim “holy” site he or she would be afforded the same leeway of disrespect? Hardly. Point in fact: it took us two days to attempt a significant visit to the Temple Mount. For one to understand the significance of this site, one must go back millennia when Solomon built a temple on a platform on top of Mount Mariah. Herod extended the platform; this was substantiated by cataloged archaeological findings dating back to Solomon’s times. The temple was destroyed twice: once by Babylonians and then by the Romans. Fast forward to the large Golden Dome Mosque that sits on the site of the Solomon’s temple but determined by Muslims to be the only true “temple” denying that Solomon’s temple ever existed on the Mount! One might ignore the ignorant banter but the situation is tenuous at best and dangerous at worst. The first time we tried to visit the Mount we couldn’t; we found out that Arab authorities are in the habit of denying access without notice to anyone except Muslims; and any time they choose to do so unhindered. Remember: this is a pre-Roman walled platform which by virtue of its location belongs to Israel. The Arabs in the region have been allowed to disrespect and threaten the world with terrorist rhetoric that disallows Christians and Jews to visit, worship, and pray at a site considered “holy” to all Christians and Jews in the world.
The Golden Dome on the Temple Mount was built to be the tallest building in Old Jerusalem; for obvious reasons. It was built right on top of Mount Mariah, the site of Solomon’s first temple. Hence it kept its name: Temple Mount. Not Mosque Mount. Not Big Giant Golden Dome Mount. But Temple Mount. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is dwarfed next to it. The Herodian Roman fort of Marc Anthony is now a school for Arab children. Outside of that school is one of the Stations of the Cross. We had no access to it. To say that security is tight would be an understatement. Israeli Special Forces keep the peace outside the mount, whilst Arab forces are on the mount. Both aware of each other and both eager for nothing to happen. One must also remember that outside the wall is the Wailing or Western Wall; one of the most sacred walls to the Jews. Right outside the Wall, actually touching it; is another tall mosque. On Sabbath evening, the most holy day of prayer and the week for the Jews, the mosque still finds it necessary to loudly “call to prayer.” As my dear Jewish friend so succinctly put it: “Do you Mohammed used microphones a hundred years ago to call to prayer? Why is it necessary to blast their prayers so loud, disrespecting other religions worshiping in the same area?” Good questions. Why? But I digress again. Prior to attempting a second visit to the Temple Mount we had to leave back packs and handbags on the bus; hide any crosses or religious symbols found to be offensive; refrain from bodily touching; cover our bodies to include our ankles and necks; and not demonstrate any outward signs of Christianity or Judaism. These are the conditions that the Israelis are forced to abide with to keep the so-called imposed “peace” in their own country. I would like to know how many Americans would put up with that crap without some demonstration and burning in the streets!
Walking through the Via Dolorosa was as unsavory as going to the Temple Mount; more offensive in my opinion. There was no question of worshiping or praying at the Stations because most of them are situated between market stalls or not available. I touched a section of wall were presumably Jesus rested his hand on his way to Calvary. I had to touch the wall through colored shawls and harem pants! The disrespect toward our faith continued as while attempting to pray, one is pulled aside or aggressively hassled to buy plastic rosaries or fake olive wood crosses. Isn’t it ironic that those who are offended by our faith are making a profit through it? What hypocrisy! What injustice! What world leadership weakness; is it possible that there is not one Western leader, Christian or Jew with balls big enough to demand reciprocation and respect of other religions or face dire consequences? The Israelis are well aware of the predicament. They go along with it because they know that if an incident happens in the Arab quadrant, the Mount being the epicenter; they would be left alone to deal with it. They would have to keep at bay and fight all the Arab nations surrounding them just to survive. They also realize that in the past few years western support and allegiance has only been given lip service. Israel is worried because it knows that not even the United States has shown any muscle in keeping Israel’s enemies at bay; instead it has all been about compromise. How pathetic!
The disrespect does not end on the Temple Mount! Our Israeli guide could not accompany us to Bethlehem because it is under Arab authority. Israelis are not allowed in Bethlehem. That’s “human rights” for you. Christians are only condoned because they bring in revenues. The dollar and the euro are idols. The Church of the Nativity (which presumably lies on the spot where Jesus was born) is nestled in a corner on top of a steep hill. Opposite is a large mosque. Our temporary Arab guide was adequately pleasant but could not help telling us how Arabs love Christians! I could not help telling him that they loved our money more than they loved us! That was met with silence. The Church of the Nativity is “secured” by Arab security and consequently, border-line disgusting. While attempting to worship at the manger and Christ’s birth site, we were loudly and rudely told to “get out.” The guide had told us that if we are told to leave to ignore it and remain until he makes the decision to leave. However, the shouting and obnoxiousness was so pervasive that we decided to leave anyway. The shouting and insults did not stop at the door. We were followed out into the courtyard still shouted at. These are the Arabs who love Christians? Well go figure!
Where are the “human rights” activists? The “equal rights” bull horns? The proverbial tear-jerking anti-bias groups who go out in our streets to burn and pillage in the name of justice? Where is the United Nations? Where is UNESCO; the heritage custodian of the world? Where is the Pope? He is big on justice. Where is the supposedly most powerful nation in the world: the United States? Where is the outrage? Where is the anger of every righteous religious individual to the left and right of the spectrum? Where is the courage of the world? Where are the “good” Muslims we hear so much about?
The continual world political pressure on Israel has reached unsustainable proportions. Israel is not a man-made mythical country born out of a presumptuous claim. Biblically and historically: Israel is the rightful owner of its land. Others in conflict with this ownership make false claims like Babylonian gods. If they want to coexist, they must coexist peacefully and respectful of all faiths and religions. An organization like the United Nations needs to justify its existence by waking up from the deep Kool Aid stupor it has sunk into; because it has become deficient by virtue of its blatant bias against Israel, which has the ultimate right to exist. Israel is coveted because it demonstrated to the world that it could sustain itself in a harsh climate where others failed. If Israel had failed in leading the world in patents, agriculture, and technology; nobody would be interested in it, and nobody would be fighting for their “rightful” claim religiously or otherwise.
I looked at both sides of the fence; one is fertile and the other is thrashed. Religion has very little to do with the Arab-Israeli “situation”. That is a convenient excuse. It is a mindset; the grass is literally greener on the Israeli side because Israelis did not wait for the world to give them the “good life”. Israel had an intrinsic desire to create a self-sustaining society without outside help. If the West has still not realized Israel’s potential, then we deserve the upheaval in the Middle East. We should be encouraging Israel to maintain its strength and fight for its right to exist and not make it compromise for it. We should be thankful that there is Israel in the midst of all the Arab states; because it is only Israel who can help the rest of the world control the Middle East effectively and sustain-ably. Shalom.