The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewPatrick Cockburn Archive
In Jerusalem, Three Religions Collide and Violence Is Never Far Away
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information


Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used once per hour.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments

I lived in Jerusalem for four years in a flat with a fine view of the Mount of Olives, which will supposedly split apart on Judgement Day and the dead in the vast cemetery on its slopes will rise again.

I found parts of the city like the Dome of the Rock exquisitely beautiful but overall it was a city filled with hatred.

One day a nurse was knifed to death at the bottom of Elisha Street where I was living. Several times there were bombs on buses or in markets on Jaffa Road, which lay a couple of hundred yards in the other direction.

The violence ebbed and flowed, never as great as many other cities in the Middle East, but never entirely absent.

Three religions

There was always a contrast between Jerusalem as a small shabby city and its status as a great symbolic centre for three religions. It seemed to be dwarfed by its history.

The main friction was between Jews and Muslims, but also within communities as the ultra-orthodox Jews grew in number and secular Jews moved to cities on the coast.

Hopes of a compromise peace were at their height after the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, but were always undermined by the disparity in strength between the two sides.

Israel simply had no reason to compromise to a sufficient degree to satisfy the Palestinians, unless it was put under great and sustained pressure by the US – and this was never likely to happen.

Such hopes flickered out after Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995 by an ultra-nationalist religious zealot opposed to the peace terms.

After a brief hiatus, Rabin was followed by Benjamin Netanyahu, who is back in the prime minister’s office today.

The embassy

The issue of the US embassy being moved to Jerusalem or even US recognition of Jerusalem has been raised at election time in America for decades.

It served as a diversion or smokescreen concealing the establishment and expansion of Israeli settlements in Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Though Israeli governments regularly raised the issue as one of their grievances, it never seemed to be a major concern.

Capital of the sovereign state of Israel

I arrived in Jerusalem just as the right-wing mayor Ehud Olmert was opening a festival to celebrate 3,000 years since King David captured it from the Jebusites.

Olmert said that the purpose of the celebration was to highlight Jerusalem as “the eternal, united capital of the sovereign state of Israel and of the Jewish nation”.

Palestinians worried about the impetus this would give to new settlements, and with good reason as 20 years later there are 200,000 Israeli settlers and 370,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

What chance of a resolution?

The mood of rancour and intolerance has worsened over the years. It is difficult to see what good it will do Israel to have President Donald Trump recognise Jerusalem as its capital or move the US embassy there.

Its most likely impact will be to help revive the moribund Palestinian cause in the Muslim world. It will make it more difficult for states such as Saudi Arabia to cultivate closer relations with Israel and President Trump to unite regional Sunni powers against Iran.

It might have been a good idea from the point of view of Israel and the White House to let the issue lie.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Donald Trump, Israel/Palestine 
Hide 18 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. I lived in Jerusalem for four years in a flat with a fine view of the Mount of Olives, which will supposedly split apart on Judgement Day and the dead in the vast cemetery on its slopes will rise again.

    The Mount of Olives will cleave when Christ touches down at his return at the end of the time known as :Jacob’s Trouble.” Jesus Christ called the Great Tribulation. The only people that will be resurrected at Christ’s physical return are the righteous dead. The rest will not rise until much later for their final judgment.

    • Replies: @Seraphim
    , @Carroll Price
  2. Renoman says:

    Ya the Jews own Jerusalem and will until someone with bigger guns has the Gaul to try and take it back. That will likely level the entire Jewish State and make it unlivable for thousands of years. This is the only good thing about Nuclear War. Give the Jews Nevada or Utah and leave them alone.

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  3. @Renoman

    Not Utah or Nevada, please. We are considering both of them as possible retirement locations someday ;)

  4. Just one quibble with the author and the title: sadly, it’s no longer accurate to say that “three” religions conflict in Jerusalem. The adherents of the other two religions there have gradually killed, dispossessed, and driven out the Christians, a process that is nearing completion throughout the Middle East (and will begin in earnest in Europe next).

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  5. Seraphim says:

    The ‘return of the Christ’ means THE Final Judgement.
    Of the Christ who “was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried, and the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; from thence he shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end”. When he will separate the sheep from the goats and “he will say also to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels”.
    Don’t nurture any illusion, there won’t be any ‘millennial kingdom’ on Earth where the Jews would reign as they believe it was promised to them. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him”, ” because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed”.
    There is no Purgatory either.

  6. Seraphim says:

    Perfectly correct observation. You certainly did notice that ANY statement about the ‘three religions’ sharing the ‘sacredness’ of Jerusalem talk about ‘Jews, Muslims… and Christians’. Only Jews and Muslims are ‘real’ children of Abraham.
    Would you see the “Temple Mount” eventually re-dedicated to the “One God” worshiped by Jews and Muslims only? With the exclusion of the ‘mushrikun’. Shirk (Arabic: شرك‎ širk) is the sin of practicing idolatry or polytheism, i.e. the deification or worship of anyone or anything besides the singular God, i.e. Allah. Literally, it means ascribing or the establishment of “partners” placed beside God. It is the vice that is opposed to the virtue of Tawhid (monotheism). Shirk is an unforgivable crime if it remains unpardoned before death: Allah may forgive any sin if one dies in that state except for committing shirk.
    Christians who believe in the Trinity are ‘idolaters’ both for Jews and Muslims. There is not a sin to kill them.

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @masmanz
  7. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Bravo. (Except the Purgatory bit, but I’ll make allowances

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  8. It is important to distinguish between religious Jews and secular Jews. This is how they identify themselves in Israel, and the secular variety are most definitely in the majority there. For decades there was a synagogue in the Hassidic quarter of Jerusalem that had this written in bold letters across the side of the building in English: “Judaism and Zionism are mutually exclusive.”

    According to the Torah the people of Israel did everything that they had been told by Moses not to do, and for their failures they were expelled. The Persians saved them and gave them a second chance, but according to their own writer Josephus they badgered the Romans into destroying them again. Century after century religious Jews have read the Torah and kept the knowledge of Hebrew alive. They survive by obeying the law; keeping women in the home preserves family structures that keep a people alive after the inevitable economic and political calamities of this world.

    The secular Jews also grow up with the literacy of their community, but they turn it to a different purpose. They use their understanding of these cycles of decadence and their knowledge of the earthly temptations for a different purpose; they use the Bible as a template, showing them all the ways they can sell evil to their enemies and bring them down. Go to the internet and search for “who owns the porn industry?” You will soon learn from Jewish sites that they have always sold the porn to the Americans, and when I was a teenager in the 1960, the Jew who ran the news stand at the train station was the only source for hard core porn in the area. All of the scientists who developed the atom bomb were secular Jews, on both the American and Russian teams.

    I took the Israeli Ulpan program around 1980, and all but two or three students in a class of twenty were secular Jews from Russia and the Ukraine, people without a lot of Middle Easter genes, but they were adamant, and often said point blank: “I do not believe in God at all. Judaism is not my religion, it is my race.” They are doing the same thing they did before the Babylonians and Romans destroyed them: thinking that they have been chosen by God as a race that will triumph no matter what and behaving with unbelievable arrogance.

    Religious Jews got into quite a discussion several nights in a row on the digs at Beersheba around 1971. They were sure that secular Jews, whom they said totally controlled America, would, once the Communists, whom Jews invented, crashed, set up the Muslim world as the next great enemy of America for the purpose of justifying the arms industry. Then, they said, the Jewish control over the money would inevitably end in a crash, and when America went down the tubes, the Jews would be blamed, quite rightly, once again.

    • Agree: Carroll Price
  9. Seraphim says:

    Read the famous novel “L’Enjeu” of Phillipe Auguste Villiers de L’Isle-Adam:

    “(l’abbé Tussert):mon état m’a mis en possession d’un secret, — d’un grand secret, — que je me décide à risquer, si cela vous agrée, contre vos vingt-cinq louis, — en cinq points liés.
    Après un assez légitime silence:
    — Quel secret ?… demanda M. Le Glaïeul, à demi stupéfait.
    — Mais, celui de l’Église ! répliqua froidement Tussert….

    — Madame, et vous, messieurs, dit-il, puisse l’enjeu que j’ai perdu vous donner à songer!… Payons.
    Et, regardant, avec une fixité froide, les brillants écouteurs, il prononça, d’une voix plus basse, mais qui sonna comme un coup de glas, cette damnable, cette fantastique parole :
    — Le secret de l’Église ?… C’est… c’est qu’il n’y a pas de « purgatoire »”.

    • Replies: @Anon
  10. bjondo says:

    2 religions and a satanic cult.

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  11. Seraphim says:

    One universal religion (Christian) for which Jerusalem’s only significance is that it is the place where the Christ was crucified and rose from the dead and where the miracle of the Holy Fire happens on the temporary tomb of the Christ (the Holy Sepulchre) at every commemoration of the Resurrection.
    Two tribal cults which both abhor Christianity and for which the ‘Temple Mount’ is a sacred place because it was supposed to be the place where the nonexistent temple of Solomon once stood and compete for it. The competition is so acerbic because, in fact, neither of the two cults can present an irrefutable proof of their bogus claims.
    The so-called ‘Christian Zionists’ have nothing to do with traditional Christianity. They are simply Zionists masquerading as Christians.
    The only rational solution would be the internationalization of Jerusalem.

  12. @Quartermaster

    Why not give these fairy tales a rest. They’ve already led stupid people into committing heinous and unspeakable crimes against their fellow man.

  13. masmanz says:

    Christians, Jews and Muslims lived in peace before the British came and spoiled the harmony, they later handed over the area to European Jews who had no real connection to the land. The main focus of the European Jew had been to import more European Jews and settle them in the land which was owned by the original inhabitants. Christians are considered people of book by Muslims which is different from idolators. Killing an innocent human being, regardless of his religion, is not permissible under Islamic law. It is considered a grave sin.

    • Replies: @Seraphim
  14. With regard to Trump’s recent endorsement of modern-day “Jerusalem” as Capitol of “Israel”:

    NEWSFLASH: Edinburgh, Scotland currently sits on the site that was (Old Testament-era) ancient JERUSALEM. Please, study (ancient) HISTORY. Please, read THE GREAT DECEPTION: SYRIA, BRITAIN AND THE ROMAN CONSPIRACY, by Historian, Comyns Beaumont. He provides extensive & detailed & STUNNING! (geographical and other) EVIDENCES that E.din-burgh/Eden-burgh, Scotland is JERUSALEM of the Old Testament. (The Old Testament contains a partial record of the pre-historic period often described as “Atlantis”).

    It was Roman Emperor Constantine I, who was responsible for the deception, moving the Old Testament-era events which occurred originally in Scotland, and England, to the Near East, after he moved, himself, from Rome to Istanbul, and renamed it CONSTANTINOPLE.

    90% of those who, today, call themselves “Jews” are descended from Eastern European YIDDISH-speakers, whose more ancient ancestors hailed from KHAZARIA. Read THE THIRTEENTH TRIBE, by researcher, historian & author Arthur Koestler. Question: What does YIDDISH have to do with the ancient Hebrew language?

    ZION-ist-Rothschild-Israel was established FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME, EVER, IN HISTORY, in 1948 AD. Before that, it was ALWAYS PALESTINE, and it ALWAYS BELONGED TO PALESTINIANS. ZION-ism is a RACIST, SUPREMACIST ideology adopted by an arguably large percentage of those who call themselves “Jews”. Roman Emperor Constantine I has deceived the world, for now over 1,600 years, into thinking that modern-day PALESTINE, is where the events of the Old Testament, and New, actually occurred. They did not. They occurred in the land, that we today call Britain ~ specifically, Scotland and England.

  15. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Hrmmph. J’ai lu ce conte cruel. I’d bet M. Villiers was not only a dark soul, but a Freemason to boot. I like this better:

    He is insane who dreams that he may learn
    By mortal reasoning the boundless orbit
    Three Persons in One Substance fill and turn

    Be satisfied with the quia of cause unknown
    Oh humankind! For could you have seen All
    Mary need not have suffered to bear a son.

    “Oh well-concluded lives! O souls thus met
    already among the chosen”, Virgil said,
    “By that sweet crown of peace that shall be set
    On each of you in time, tells us which way
    Leads to some slope by which we two may climb.
    Who best knows time is most grieved by delay.”

    “Horrible were my sins, but infinite
    is the infinite Goodness which holds out
    Its open arms to all who turn to It.”

    -Dante Alighieri, Purgatorio

  16. Seraphim says:

    Now, who are really the original inhabitants? The Christian population. Did they really have it so good under the benevolent and ‘tolerant’ rule of the Muslim invaders and immigrants? Why the Christian population nearly disappeared in the Palestinian Authority also? The Basic Law of PA states that Islam is the official religion and that the principles of Shari’a (Islamic law) shall be the main source of legislation. Fill the dots.

  17. Should Jerusalem should be nuked into a green glass parking lot? Then the “three religions” will have nothing to fight about for 50,000 years. Evacuate the city first of course.

Current Commenter

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone

 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments become the property of The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Patrick Cockburn Comments via RSS
Personal Classics
Full Story of the Taliban's Amazing Jailbreak
"They Can't Even Protect Themselves, So What Can They Do For Me?"
"All Hell is Breaking Loose with Muqtada" Warlord: the Rise of Muqtada al-Sadr