by Ghassan Kadi

The world has heard the Zionist rhetoric about the alleged ownership of Palestine and there is no point in repeating it herein. That said, some argue that God’s promise to Abraham was taken literally and out of context. After all, God is fair and loving, and a fair and loving God would not give unconditional privileges to offspring, regardless of whether they are virtuous or not.

In any event, with or without the so-called promise to Abraham, Jewish presence in Palestine is more ancient than that of Muslims, but that does not win the Zionist argument and does not justify the displacement of Palestinians even if they have “only” lived there for thirteen centuries in comparison to thirty centuries of Jewish presence.

As a matter of fact, no matter how one spins the Zionist claim, nothing justifies displacing Palestinians and taking away their homes, land, and dignity.

To be fair and rational, we must also examine the Muslim claim of the ownership of Palestine from the Muslim vantagepoint that Muslims use to support their argument. Are Muslims the rightful owners of Palestine as they claim to be?

The Torah and the Quran are Holy Books, and not real estate guidelines and manuals. There is no mention of any land rights in the Quran, least of which to Jerusalem. The city of Jerusalem (Al-Quds in Arabic) is not even mentioned in the Quran. There is however a mention of “Al-Masjed Al-Aksa”, which literally means “The Distant Place of Prostration”, and which Muslims believe to be in Jerusalem/Al-Quds.

This does not make Jerusalem inherently a Muslim city, and even if it did, there is absolutely no reference to any Muslim exclusivity either.

Furthermore, there has never been a time in history in which there was an Islamic state called Palestine with Al-Quds as its capital. This is a fact and remains to be a fact even when staunch Zionists say it. If anything, Al-Quds perhaps rose to prominence in the Muslim psyche during the reign of Saladin.

After all, have we forgotten the Christian claim of the ownership of Jerusalem? Even though this claim is not current, but we cannot speak of Jerusalem and Saladin and dismiss a whole century of Crusader Campaigns who were sent by the then Pope(s) to liberate the Christian holy land from the “infidels”.

Jerusalem was taken by the Crusaders in 1099 and a massacre of its Muslim and Jewish inhabitants followed. It was recaptured by Saladin in 1187 and when he did, the Christian inhabitants feared a massacre akin to the one that happened against Muslims and Jews nearly a century earlier. But Saladin ordered his troops to spray the city streets with “Rose Water”; a Levantine essence extracted from the petals of the Damascus Rose. Such were those days.

English King Richard The Lion Heart tried to take it back from Saladin, but never managed to put a foot on its soil.

If anything, in real terms, and in the nicest way possible, Jerusalem is regarded as a trophy, and it perhaps regarded by Muslims as a city where Muslim religious romance flourishes, and during the days of Saladin, that romance story must have reached its peak.

Muslims need to admit facts and stop making unfounded historic and religious claims that they own Jerusalem, because they do not.

When Zionism established the state of Israel, the Zionist aggression was, and continues to be, practised equally against both Arab Muslims and Christians. The anti-Zionist resistance was once called the Arab Resistance, and it was comprised of both Christians and Muslims. When Palestinian Resistance was established, it was meant to be an armed struggle for the liberation of Palestine. George Habash, the founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) was a Christian.

Last but not least, and unbeknown to most, the state of Israel practiced the same aggression against dissenting Palestinian Jews who refused to join the madness and considered themselves to be Palestinians of Jewish faith, rather than Israelis. Very little is ever heard and said about those unsung heroes; not only shunned by Zionist Jews, but also eyed with suspicion by some distrusting Arabs, mainly Muslim Arabs.

Zionists regarded all Arabs as inferior to them, and when they were shelling the Church of Nativity some years back, the West stood back and watched. It would be easy to imagine the Western outcry had Al-Qaeda or the Talibans committed a fraction of the Israeli atrocities at any Church.

As Israel treated both Christian and Muslim Palestinians equally as second grade citizens and considered dissenting Palestinian Jews as traitors, it was only natural for the anti-Israeli resistance to be nationally-based and driven. The slogan of those days was “Al-Quds lil Arab” ie Al-Quds belongs to Arabs. There was even a song with that title. The term “Arabs” back then meant the inhabitants of the land; ie mainly the Muslims, Christians, as well as Jews who refute Zionism.

Suddenly, rather early in the 1980’s, a huge turn of events took place in Lebanon and Palestine almost concurrently.

The 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon was soon followed by a resistance then named the “Lebanese Resistance”. Soon after Hezbollah rose to prominence the name changed to “Islamic Resistance”. In Palestine, Hamas renamed the anti-Israeli resistance and turned into an “Islamic Resistance” as well. All of a sudden, the struggle against Zionism changed course from a national secular Arab struggle against the theocratic state of Israel into a Muslim struggle against Jews!

Instead of rising above the narrow-minded theocratic bigoted Zionist views of land ownership, fundamental Muslims stooped to those very same levels and became equal partners in bigotry and exclusionism.

The biggest losers in numbers here are the Palestinian Christians as they are well and truly excluded by both. A Christian Palestinian friend once told me that Zionism took Palestine away from him first, and then Hamas took it away again. That man is a former Palestinian activist who decided to quit after Hamas hijacked the nature of the struggle.

The truth must be said and heard. It will neither please the Zionist Jews nor the fundamentalist Muslims. Even though Israel is the aggressor and instigator of this whole needless tragic calamity, and even though Hamas is meant to be a freedom-fighting organization, ideologically speaking, and when it comes to the exclusion of Christians, Zionism and Islamic fundamentalism represented by Hamas are equal partners in crime.

It is of little wonder therefore that when the “War On Syria” broke out, Hamas was quick to turn its back on secular Syria, even though Syria had been its main supporter since its inception, and sided with the Islamists.

When Islamists make claims of ownership of Palestine in general and of Jerusalem to be specific, they would be using the same false argument of Zionist Jews; only in reverse.

Rational and open-minded people need to realise that they have to make loud and clear statements to their policy makers that they refuse fanaticism and bigotry irrespective who the culprit is. That said, there is little doubt that as far as the Palestinian-Israeli dilemma is concerned, the Palestinians are the victims, but rationality stipulates that not even victims are entitled to be irrational. After all, two wrongs do not make it right.

This is neither about vindicating Zionists nor about vilifying Muslims and/or defending Christians. This is about justice and common sense. Justice cannot be selective and wrong cannot be undone by another wrong.

Palestine is not for Muslims, nor is it for Jews or Christians; not exclusively. It is for all of them combined, together with the myriad of minority ethnic and religious groups and sects, including those who opt not to follow any religion at all. It is for all who want to live there in peace and harmony with the rest of its inhabitants under laws that give equal rights and equal responsibilities without any favouritism and exclusion.

The proposed Palestinian statehood that was UN-mandated in September 2011 and all other initiatives that are based on two-state resolutions are in reality an admission of failure, a sell-out of Palestine and its people, and an act of condoning apartheid.

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