The Jewish Connection to Jerusalem Is Ancient and Indigenous

Today is Yom Yerushalayim—Jerusalem Day—which celebrates the liberation of the Old City and its holy sites from Jordanian occupation during the Six-Day War. As riots, fueled by anti-Semitic incitement and slander, mar the city’s peace, challenges to Israel’s claims to Jerusalem, and those of the Jewish people, still have much purchase across the world. Two year ago, Michel Gurfinkiel examined the persistent and impractical vision of removing the city completely from any nation’s sovereignty in his essay, “The Mirage of an International Jerusalem.” He concludes that the city’s legal and demographic history

rebuts the widely held idea that Jerusalem’s status is the subject of an international “agreement.” That idea is nothing but a myth—a myth that serves the political purposes of certain interested parties. Those parties argue that Zionism was an interloper in the city, a newcomer throwing chaos into the mix of a calm, stable, mostly Arab-Muslim town that for centuries had existed sometimes under Christian control, at other times with a heavily Christian element.

None of this is true. The truth is that, even in earlier times, Jerusalem was always in ferment, a kind of Wild East in which all major groups, not just arriviste Jews, were scrambling to build something for themselves. As for the modern proposal to “internationalize” the city, it was first and foremost a device to please the Catholic Church, then in itself a formidable world power and a foreign one in the Holy Land. In this context, the idea of Jerusalem as an “international city” is a piece of Western “colonialist” history, while the Jewish connection to Jerusalem is ancient and indigenous.

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More about: International Law, Israeli history, Jerusalem

 

Why the Leader of Hamas Went to Russia

Sept. 30 2022

Earlier this month, the Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh and several of his colleagues visited Moscow, where they met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials. According to Arabic-language media, Haniyeh came seeking “new ideas” about how to wage war against the Jewish state. The terrorist group has had good relations with the Kremlin for several years, and even maintains an office in Moscow. John Hardie and Ivana Stradner comment on the timing of the visit:

For Moscow, the visit likely reflects a continuation of its efforts to leverage the Palestinians and other issues to pressure Israel over its stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia and Israel built friendly relations in the decades following the Soviet Union’s dissolution. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Jerusalem condemned the war, but made sure to tread carefully in order to preserve working ties with Moscow, lest Russian military forces in Syria disrupt Israel’s strategically important air operations there.

Nevertheless, bilateral tensions spiked in April after Yair Lapid, then serving as Israel’s foreign minister, joined the chorus of voices worldwide accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Jerusalem later provided Kyiv with some non-lethal military aid and a field hospital. In response, Moscow hardened its rhetoric about Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian issue isn’t the only way that Russia has sought to pressure Israel. Moscow is also threatening, on seemingly spurious grounds, to shutter the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency.

Moscow likely has little appetite for outright conflict with Israel, particularly when the bulk of Russia’s military is floundering in Ukraine. But there are plenty of other ways that Russia, which maintains an active intelligence presence in the Jewish state, could damage Israel’s interests. As Moscow cozies up with Hamas, Iran, and other enemies of Israel, Jerusalem—and its American allies—would do well to keep a watchful eye.

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More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Russia