Jerusalem is more than a city. It inspires love and dreams. I have often enjoyed meandering through that atmosphere in a country – well, that God has blessed.
I have long wanted to revisit the city, but in fact I’ve been a bit scared. Scared of getting a hypodermic needle in the back by Israeli agents in a back-street, as happened to a Muslim leader in Jordan a while back, in an attempt at a political assassination. Or a terrorist murder, depending on your point of view.
While wandering around Jerusalem I encountered an interesting museum. It’s called Shrine of Heroism. We are reminded of heroic Jewish deeds from the time that the Jewish State was founded:
Attacks on Arabs in Jerusalem
Salvos of shots aimed at Arab buses
Bombs in Arab marketplaces
Mines in Arab residential areas
That is how the Jewish heroes fought. Or terrorists. Who became prominent leaders in Israel.
The Arabs – Palestinians – had to be removed. I have a newspaper cutting in front of me, from the American magazine Newsweek (5 November 1979). In it Yitzhak Rabin, later to become prime minister of Israel, tells how, on the orders of David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, using military force he drove 50,000 Arabs out of their homes, in areas that were to become Jewish.
That’s only one example.
"They didn’t leave voluntarily," says Rabin.
The Arabs were religious and ethnic undesirables in the new state. Their future homes were to be refugee camps.
Many Palestinians were expelled to Lebanon, which remains a war zone. I have been there a number of times, doing medical work for Palestinians and Lebanese. That was where I started to think about Islam.
I was sitting in a mosque in the very south, in a small Lebanese village, while bombs from Israeli aircraft exploded all around us. The explosions echoed throughout the mosque, punctuated by the rattle of machine-gun fire. The carpet I was sitting on was soft, and I was surrounded by medical supplies and first aid equipment.
Poor peasants and field-workers, men of all ages, came into the mosque to pray. Then they took their guns and vanished, joining the struggle against the Israeli aggressor.
The pilot who bombed the village, destroyed houses and killed villagers might have received a medal for his deed. While the Lebanese who continue to fight – against Israeli occupation forces in their own country – are called what our heading says. By influential politicians and media people who want it to be that way.
In Jerusalem I walk around lost in thought, looking at the Palestinian houses: old stone buildings, sandy-gray as if they had grown forth from the soil, belonging by birthright to this land.
Now they are inhabited by Jews who moved in after the Palestinians were expelled.
New Jewish settlements are being established: square, barren blocks, like massive redoubts, as if people were barricading themselves in to repel an expected attack.
That attack is inevitable and it will come.
Because as a Jewish dissident has said: "All the injustice that has been committed against the Palestinians is at the very centre of Israel’s bedrock."
There will be fresh calamities. No matter what we call those who instigate them.
— (Picture caption)
In Jerusalem lies ‘Shrine of Heroism’, a museum in the old central prison (pictures above). There the ‘heroes’ who helped to create the State of Israel are acclaimed. The acts that are applauded (the picture below, of a placard in the museum) are: attacks on Arabs, shots fired at Arab buses, explosives placed in an Arab market, a mine exploded in an Arab residential area, an explosive charge set off at ‘Rex’, an Arab.