British military intervention in Afghanistan has a chequered history, making it easy to conclude that British forces will fail again
RELOCATE UNITED NATIONS TO JERUSALEM TO HARMONIZE CIVILIZATIONS [*]
Dr. Rahmat Rabi Zirakyar
(Independent Scholar, U.S.A.)
January 15, 2008
I have a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Free University of Berlin; taught at U.S., German and Afghan universities; currently independent scholar; recent book: Algebra of New Politics, 2006, in Pashto, the Afghan national language.
December 19, 2013
This writing is dedicated to Abdul Ghafar Khan (1890-1988), a distinctive leader of nonviolent resistance who created the first nonviolent army of 100,000 Pashtuns during the British rule in India. He was honored by Pashtun people as “Badshah Khan” (Leader of Leaders) and “Fakhre Afghan” (the Honor of Afghans). In India he was respected as the “Frontier Gandhi”. He was born in an affluent family in Utmanzai village near Peshawar, Pashtun-Khwa. The 6 foot 4 towering Afghan of Pashtun heritage was a distinctive magnanimity of character, benevolent behavior, progressive mindset for a peaceful transformation of unfair societal structures, and courage to peacefully fight for the eventual withering away of the British colonialism and its sub-colonialism in Pakistan, which functions as a comprador state.
Badshah Khan spent nearly 40 years in British and Pakistani prisons. He was one of the five most iconic heralds of nonviolent struggle in the 20th century: Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela. The world knows about the iconic acts of these four nonviolent resistance leaders. But how about “Badshah Khan, the mountain of a man they called The Frontier Gandhi” (Tarek Fatah)?! Regrettably, I must say that the world has ignored and overlooked the torchbearer for independence, interdependence, peace and progress: Fakhre Afghan Badshah Khan! Why? Very probably, because he was Pashtun and Muslim?! Immediately after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December of 1979, Badshah Khan said that “the Russian [Soviet] and American war started in Pashtun land”. The engine of that war continues to be lubricated by Pashtun blood.
The point I want to emphasize here is this: Relocating both first the UNESCO headquarters and thereupon the United Nations (UN) headquarters to Jerusalem could: (A) contribute a more lasting and creative solution to the very serious conflict over Haram Sharif (Temple Mount); (B) enhance the much needed harmony of civilizations; and (C) pave the way for a balancing global movement that can support pluralism, tolerance, power sharing, the system of “checks and balances,” and an egalitarian ideal.
Three Religions, Two Peoples, and One Sacred Space Under One God
“This world resembles the ball of the human eye. The white of the eye is the ocean, which encompasses the whole world, the black of the eye is the inhabited world, the pupil of the eye is Jerusalem, and the human face reflected in it is the Temple [Mount].” Mahzor Vitry, p.7, quoted in Rivka Gonen, Contested Holiness: Jewish, Muslim and Christian Perspectives on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Jersey City, NJ: KTAV Publishing House, Inc., 2003. [Mount] in quotation added by Zirakyar. Mahzor Vitry is a voluminous compilation of Jewish “festival” prayers which flourished throughout the 13th and 14th centuries in Germany. See Encyclopedia Judaica, second ed. vol. 13, Thomson/Gale, 2007, p.363; and Jewishencylopedia.com [22-10-2007].
U.S. President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) points out to the sensitivity regarding the Holy City, Jerusalem: His “carefully worded paragraph on the most sensitive issue of all, the Holy City,” was difficult for Israeli Prime Minister Menachim Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to accept. They “requested that this paragraph be deleted from the final text” of the Camp David Accords negotiated in September of 1978. (Jimmy Carter, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid. New York and London: Simon & Schuster, 2006, pp. 47-48), emphasis added.
There were more than sixty proposals for the solution of the problem of Jerusalem in the
twentieth century. ( Marshall J. Breger and Thomas A. Indinopulos,Jerusalem Holy Places and the peace process. Policy Paper Series No. 46. Washington, DC: The Washington Institute or Near East Policy,1998- more on this study, see below).
Permanent peace in the Middle East is achievable only if the problem of Jerusalem can be resolved to the satisfaction of all sides. Jerusalem is a unique city in the world. It is a city where “temporal, spiritual, political, cultural, and territorial converge.” (John L. Esposito and Mohammed A. Muqtedar Khan, “Religion and Politics in the Middle East”, in Deborah J. Garner, ed. Understanding the Contemporary Middle East. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000, p.329). Jerusalem is heritage of humanity and holy city of two peoples (Palestinians and Jews) and three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). This uniqueness surpasses any local political sovereignty.
The Temple Mount (Haram Sharif) in Jerusalem is the site that hosts all three religions. It is the place where God brought all thee religions to meet each other in harmony.
However, “ the Temple Mount dilemma” emerged. The ancient Jewish Temple of Solomon and later the second Temple of Herod the Great was destroyed in 72 A.D. by the Roman Emperor Titus. Holy to three legions, the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem is also the world bloodiest and most fought-over site. Temple Mount is 1/6 the size of today’s Old City and covers some 35 acres, “potentially the most volatile 35 acres on earth.” Richard N. Ostling, “Time for A”, Time, June 24, 2001. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built in the forth century A.D. (333) by Emperor Constantine (the first Christian ruler, who converted to Christianity, possibly in 312). It was built over the site where Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected. For centuries the door keeper of the Holy Sepulchre is Muslim. The site of the ancient Temple lay abandoned until the arrival of the Muslims in the seventh century (638 A.D.) Jerusalem was the site of the first Qiblah or direction of payer for Muslims. Later, the Islamic Prophet Mohammad changed the direction to Ka’bah of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Muslims called Jerusalem al-Quds (Holy). It was Jerusalem, where the second Muslim Caliph Omar inaugurated in 638 A.D. (17 After Hijri) the Islamic Hijri calendar, starting with the year of migration of Prophet Mohammad from Mecca to Medina. Palestinians dream of al-Quds as the capital of Palestine. Muslims believe that Ka’bah was built by the Prophet Abraham to celebrate the glory of One God. At that time Arabs were following a form of idolatry, each tribe keeping its own idols at the Ka’bah. Prophet Abraham offered his son Ishmael for sacrifice. According to the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament), Prophet Abraham was to have sacrificed his son Isaac.
Throughout Islamic history the Dome of Rock (Kubbat al-Sakhra in Arabic) has been religiously and politically important. For 1300 years the Dome of Rock has been a prominent symbol of Islamic sovereignty in the region and a dominating monument in the old city of Jerusalem. After Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, the Dome of Rock is the third holy site of Muslims. The inclusion of Jerusalem (al-Quds = Holy) derives from al-Mi’raj, the ascension of the Prophet Mohammad to heaven. This event began at the Rock, the foundation stone of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem referred to in Jewish and Christian sources. According to Muslim tradition, the Prophet Mohammad put his foot on the rock, when he paused to pray in Jerusalem, to ascend to heaven.
In 622 A.D. the Prophet Mohammad migrated with his followers from Mecca to Yathrib, later known as Medina, “the city of the Prophet”. The Islamic calendar began with this migration (Hijra). In Medina, the Prophet Mohammad established the first Islamic society organized as a city state, where there was no “Dhimmis” (non-Muslim neighbors), but people of the document (agreement). Most probably during the second year of the Hijra (= 624 A.D.), the Prophet Mohammad drafted and promulgated a document which some scholars called “al-Dustoor al-Medina” (Charter or Constitution of Medina). This seminal political document defined relations among the people of a multi-religious plural society. Each community was free to practice its own religion (clause 25). Another important political skill or statecraft of Islamic Messenger was consultation with the people. “The Jews must bear their expenses. Each must help the other against anyone who attacks the people of this document. They must seek mutual advice and consultation, and loyalty is a protection against treachery….Yathrib[Medina] shall be a sanctuary for the people of this document.” (Clauses 37 & 39). For the 42 clauses of Medina Charters, see Muhammad S. El-Awa, On the Political System of the Islamic State ( Indianapolis, Indiana: American Trust Publications, 3rd ed., 1980), pp. 15-25; Maimul Ahsan Khan, Human Rights in the Muslim World: Constitutionalism, Fundamentalism, and International Politics( Carolina Academic Press, 2003, pp. 443ff; Ibrahima Sidibe, Freedom of Belief at the Crossroad of Civilisations, an Islamic Perspective, and Its Impact on Africa: The Cases of Egypt and Nigeria (submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Law, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, 27 October 2006), electronic version, pp. 49ff. Also visit “Medina Charter-wikisource”, 6 pages. http://en,wikisource.org/wiki/Consitution_of_Medina, [July 28, 2007]. In matters of Islamic political principles mutual consultation (Shora) is very important. It is one of the traits of Islam which should adorn Muslims whether they are only a group without an established state (like early Muslims in Mecca) or have established a state (as was the case of Muslims in Medina). Shora (consultation) is enjoined by Koran (the Holy Book of Islam): Sura al-Imran, 3:159; Sura al-Shora, 42: 38. Also, Koran says that God make mankind “a vicegerent on earth” (Sura al-Baqara, 2: 30). The word “Khalifa” (vicegerent, deputy) implies some kind of responsibility with which mankind is entrusted by God. The power of choosing, knowledge and responsibility will go with the mankind to make decisions. For the capitulation of Jerusalem in the seventh Christian century, the second Muslim Caliph Omar presented its inhabitants with “Amaan” (guarantee), a letter of protection, sometimes referred to as an official treaty. This treaty was apparently signed between Caliph Omar and the Christian patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Sophronius, most probably in 638 A.D. (17 After Hijri). It granted “the people of Aelia [Jerusalem]” the protection of life, property and religious freedom in exchange for “Jezia” (poll tax). The “tenor” of this document reads: “In the name of most merciful God. This is the treaty for the people of Aelia [Jerusalem]. This is the favour which the servant of God, the Commander of the Faithful, grants to the people of Aelia. He gives them assurance of the preservation of their lives and properties, their churches and crosses, of those who set up, who display and who honour these crosses. Your churches will not be transformed into dwellings nor destroyed, nor will any one confiscate anything belonging to them, nor the crosses or belongings of the inhabitants. There will be no constraint in the matter of religion, nor the least annoyance. The Jews will inhabit Aelia conjointly with the Christians, and those who live there will require to pay the poll-tax, like the inhabitants of other towns. Greeks and robbers are to leave the town, but will have a safe-conduct until they reach a place of security….” Quoted in Sir William Muir, Ph. D. (Bologna), The Caliphate: Its Rise, Decline, and Fall. A new and revised edition by T.H. Weir, M.A., D.D. (Aberdeen), p. 134. Accond Muslim Co-Chairmen shall be required for any decision.
Optimistically, perhaps naively, I hope that this step of relocating UNESCO headquarters to Jerusalem could contribute to a more creative solution to the very serious conflict over Haram Sharif (the Temple Mount) as well as to the much needed harmony of civilizations. Prophet Abraham happens to be the father of Ishmael (ancestor of all Arabs); the father of Isaac (tribal ancestor of all the Jews), and was the ancestor of Mary, mother of Jesus. Most importantly, on Mount Sinai God gave Moses about 3200 years ago ( in circa 1200 B.C.) the Ten Commandments, the basis of the Torah or the law. One of the Ten Commandments was: “Thou shalt not kill.” The Prophets Moses, Jesus and Mohammad believed that life has a profound value and meaning. They taught people in egalitarian ideals and harmony. They led people from darkness and oppression to dignity and freedom, as well as from disorder and disorientation to self-determination, responsibility and tolerance. “In reality Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same God, albeit in different ways and differing emphasis….Koran makes numerous and favourable references to Jesus [and Moses]…. How many Canadians, I wonder, know that about 50,000 Spanish Jews were welcomed by the Muslim Ottoman Empire when they were expelled from Spain after 1492?”(Talk by Canadian cabinet minister and Member of Parliament for 26 years David Kilgour at a meeting at the Kanata Baptist Church in Kanata, Ontario, Canada, November 16, 2001). There must exist brotherly feeling among the followers of all prophets of God. A Muslim cannot be a Muslim unless and until he/she respects the memory of all the prophets, the great leaders of religious thought (See Koran 2:136; 2: 285; 2:62; and 42:13).
The International Peace Academy of Jerusalem, coupled with power sharing instead of domination, could defuse the “Clash of Civilizations” of the three religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) under One God. The promotion of an authentic pedagogy of peace is of “universal importance” because the three religions have followers throughout the world. Today, around 3.4 billion people are followers of the three Abrahamic religions who make up slightly more than a half (53.5%) of the world population: Christianity33% (2.1 billion), main regions covered are worldwide except Northwest Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and parts of Central, East, and Southeast Asia and China; Islam20% (1.5 billion), main regions covered are Middle East, Northern Africa, Central Asia, South Asia, Western Africa, Eastern Africa, Indian subcontinent, Russia, China, Balkan Peninsula, and Malay Archipelago; and Judaism 0.23% (14 million), main regions covered are Israel, USA, and Europe with the USA having the largest Jewish population(“Major religious groups”, Wikipedia, 25/11/2007). We must work harder to build bridges.
Dismantle the Fantasy about Each Other
The 21st century must learn from the utterly brutal consequences of the fantasy about the Jew which culminated in the “secular crusade”, namely fascism (Karen Armstrong, op.cit., p. 524). We must dismantle the fantasy about each other by eliminating the knowledge deficit regarding each other. For this urgent need I could not but to admire the breath, imagination, wisdom, and fervent plea for religious tolerance evident in the late 18th century play, Nathan the Wise, which might have something to teach us in our troubled times today-the 21st century that parades the ugliness of racial hatred, religious intolerance, military violence, economic siege, and unequal political representation. Nathan the Wise (original German title Nathan der Weise, published in 1779) is the last masterpiece by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, a freethinker who became the father of German criticism, and the founder of modern German literature. Set in Jerusalem during the Third Crusade in the 12th century A.D., this didactic drama depicts how the wise Jewish merchant Nathan, the enlightened Muslim ruler, Saladin, and the Christian Templar are building bridges between the three sister faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). The work’s theme is organized around the concept of peaceful coexistence among Jews, Christians and Muslims, all of whom deserve a lifestyle free of attacks and denigration. The centerpiece of the drama is the parable of the three rings. A stronger lesson unfolds in the play when the Muslim ruler, Saladin, summons Nathan for help and confronts him with the question, which in his opinion was the right religion. Nathan proved his wisdom by telling Saladin a parable comparing God and the three main monotheistic religions to a King with three equally beloved sons: Many years ago, an Eastern patriarch owned a very precious ring with mystic powers. It could make the bearer, who trusted its powers, become beloved by God and mankind. The original owner commanded that the mystic ring would be passed from father to the son he loved most. By then, in one generation, the father had three sons, whom he loved equally. He promised it to each of them. So he had two replicas made, “in all points identical”, and gave on his deathbed a ring to each of them, claiming that it was the mystic ring. The three brothers quarreled over who owned the real ring. A wise judge admonished them that each of them should put trust in his own ring to be the true and genuine one, because all of them had equal position in the heart of their father. He did not want to elevate one of them by lowering down two of them. Lessing’s main idea of religious tolerance in his didactic drama, Nathan the Wise, is important to the brotherhood of mankind.
Globalization Needs a Balancing Global Movement:Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances
The wise Nathan shows us that each of us lives by the religion we have learned from those we respect. Perhaps, the father of the three sons wished to tolerate no longer in his house the tyranny of just one ring. Lessing’s leading idea is religious tolerance and universal brotherhood of mankind. For the realization of this idea, we need The International Peace Academy of Jerusalem, which shall be run by the UNESCO. Globalization shall not mean “McDonaldidzation” of the world. In his book, Jihad vs. McWorld (new edition: Corgi Adult, 2003), the distinguished American Professor of Political Science at the University of Maryland Benjamin R. Barber puts Jihad and McWorld in an “inescapable dialectic”-Barbara Ehrenreich, the New York Times Book Review. The term “McWorld” refers to the forces of aggressive economic and cultural globalization and the corporate control of the political process. The term “Jihad” is used to describe “disintegrative tribalism and reactionary fundamentalism.” Both tendencies, Barber argues, are undermining the fragile structures of democracy: “An American mono-culture would inflict a sad future on the world, one in which the planet is converted to a global supermarket” where people have to choose between the “local” leader of religious-cultural identity under siege and the global “Coca-Cola” (p.361). I am surprised that a high caliber American Political Scientist such as Professor Barber has decontextualized the concept of Jihad by using it in the title of his book as a marketing tool. This way, he sacrificed the truth. The sovereignty of people shall not be replaced by the corporate sovereignty in the process of globalization.
Power concentration leads to domination and clashes. Power separation and checks and balances bring about harmony, solidarity, stability, pluralism, equality, and self-determination. Humanity always needs a wise and sovereign David against a powerful Goliath. “God gave him [David] sovereignty and wisdom and taught him what He pleased. If God did not drive some back by means of others the earth would be completely corrupt.”(The Koran: Sura 2 [al-Baqara], verse 251). “Driving some back by means of others” points out to today’s system of “checks and balances,” setting power against power to ensure that the earth would not become “completely corrupt.” Globalization shall not be allowed to produce a “one-dimensional man”- a consumer being addicted to the consumption of goods at the cost of intellectual maturity, political engagement, social responsibility, and civilizational respect (For more information on one-dimensional man, see German philosopher Prof. Herbert Marcuse’s book of the same title in 1964).
Globalization and interdependence need a participatory global order with a global movement, a movement for human polity which shall work for the collective good, a movement which teaches us to apply our skills for our collective betterment and mutual respect. We the people of the planet must become more able to organize our natural, intellectual and moral resources to establish democratic, equitable, and efficient control of our shared and increasingly interdependent life on the earth. I believe that the International Peace Academy of Jerusalem will ease the transition to the much needed balancing global movement. Unless the people of the globe have such a balancing movement, the sovereign global corporations will become the top decision-making global Goliath, a “power elite” of “overlapping” cliques at the helms of the chief political, economic, and military institutions—an invisible power concentration which debases the system of power separation and checks and balances (the “godfather” of elite theory in contemporary America, sociologist C. Wright Mills popularized the term power elite in his book of the same title in 1956). This power elite will be moving like hand in the glove (the global protectorate with nearly 200 allied states reminiscent of ancient vassals and tributaries). Currently, unlike the global corporations, the nation-states are more or less bound by the rules and norms of national and international law.
We have entered the first phase of globalization which means “the compression of the world and intensification of consciousness” (Roland Robertson). While the summits of power celebrate the globalization process, it has created rising opposition around the world, seemingly because global corporations grow fantastically richer at the cost of financial disintegration of nation-states. A balancing globalization movement shall help us to constitute a global civil society that could generate new public spheres of socio-political debate and inclusive and harmonious cosmopolitan culture which embraces the values of self-determination, solidarity, pluralism, peace, ecological sustainability, equality, social justice, intellectual maturity, consciousness of resistance (Widerstandsbewusstsein) more as an obligation than a right, and a balanced leadership mechanism. French historian and political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) reminds us of the “germ of tyranny” in any regime: “God alone can be omnipotent, because his wisdom and his justice are always equal to his power. There is no power on earth so worthy of honor in itself or clothed with rights so sacred that I would admit its uncontrolled and all-predominant authority. When I see that the right and means of absolute command are conferred on any power whatever, be it called a people or king, an aristocracy or a democracy, a monarchy or a republic, I say there is the germ of tyranny, and I seek to live elsewhere, under other laws.”(Democracy in America, Vol. 1, Chapter 15). The time is critical and the need is urgent to relocate the UNESCO headquarters to Jerusalem, and to establish the International Peace Academy of al-Quds (Jerusalem).
January 15, 2008
This research paper was sent to: UN Secretary General, Secretary General of Islamic Conference, Secretary General of Arab League, European Union, several leaders of Middle Eastern countries…, and many intellectuals and scholars.
* I owe a special debt to ex-deputy prime minister of Afghanistan, Dr. A. Samad Hamed, who has contributed ideas that ultimately influenced this writing.
“Every suicide terrorist campaign has had a clear goal that is secular and political: To compel a modern democracy to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland.” In other words, it is a tactic to counter foreign occupation. See Professor of Political Science at Chicago University Robert A. Pape, Dying to win: The strategic logic of suicide terrorism. Random House,2005.
rding to another version of the text of the above treaty, Jews were not allowed to live in Jerusalem, which is contradicting the previous text. Until highly critical and well-meaning scholars would discover the truth about the treaty between Caliph Omar and Archbishop Sophronius in Jerusalem, I have to turn to Dr. Rivka Gonen, a Jewish Israeli, who has offered a reasonable explanation for the contradiction. Until her retirement in June 2002, Dr. Gonen was senior curator of the Department of Jewish Ethnography at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Her book is giving the reader a more in-depth view of the Temple Mount. The clause of forbidding Jews from living in Jerusalem in the capitulation treaty of 638 A.D., “the result of strong pressure exerted by the patriarch [Archbishop Sophronius] seems to have been retracted very shortly after the treaty was signed.” (Emphasis added). During the 300 or so years of Byzantine Christian rule since the conversion of Emperor Constantine to Christianity (possibly in 312), the Temple Mount “was robbed of all vestiges of holiness.” At the time of the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in 638 A.D., the Temple Mount “was covered by heaps of garbage, piled there by Byzantine Christians.” According to both the Muslim and Jewish cotemporary sources, members of these two communities “participated in cleaning” the Temple Mount of the rubbish dump. After the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in 638 A.D., Jews became “able to establish themselves in the city and, perhaps because of their participation in the original cleaning of the Temple Mount, were granted entrance to the Temple Mount as cleaners of the edifice and producers of glass for the mosque’s lamps. In return, those individuals who were thus occupied were exempt from poll tax. Thus”, Dr. Gonen continues, “ during the early Muslim period Jews not only lived in Jerusalem but were allowed on the Temple Mount, and there are literary indications that they may have had a synagogue there.” Emphasis added. For quotations see, Dr. Rivka Gonen, Contested Holiness: Jewish, Muslim and Christian Perspectives on the Temple Mount (Jersey City, NJ: KTAV Publishing House, 2003), pp. 83-86. Former nun and current writer Karen Armstrong, who has studied religions for more than two decades, writes: “The Caliph [Omar] helped his Muslims to clear the garbage [accumulated on the Temple Mount] with his own hands.” Karen Armstrong, Holy War: The Crusades and Their Impact on Today’s World (New York and London: Doubleday, 1991), p.46.
The hearts and minds of Jews, Christians and Muslims are possessed with Jerusalem. The Brookside Church gave Craig Anderson and his family a trip to the Holy Land (Haram Sharif) in 1999. He writes in 2003, that he “had no conception of how closely intertwined the holy sites” of the three monotheistic religions are. “Look no further,” Anderson continues, “than the incendiary visit a few years ago of Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount, accomplished by a legion of armed security personnel. He was about as welcome there as a Taliban leader would be at ground-zero”, New York City(Sept. 11, 2001 ). Craig Anderson, “When Religion Becomes Evil. III. Establishing the ‘Ideal’ Time”, 5 pages. www.brooksidechurch.org/seremon/WhwnidealTime.htm, [17-7-2007].
For some orthodox Jews, the messiah cannot come until the Temple is rebuilt for the third time (the second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 72 A.D.). For Christians the messiah is Jesus Christ. For many devout Christians, Jesus will return only after the Temple is rebuilt. Why is the Temple Mount (Haram Sharif) considered holy to Muslims? The Dome of Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosgue (the Farthest Mosque from Mecca) make up the third holiest site after Mecca and Medina. Caliph Abdel Malik built the Dome of the Rock in 68 Hijri (691 A.D.). One aya (verse or passage) from Koran (the Holy Book of Islam) links the prophet Mohammad with Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. It is the seventeenth Sura (chapter), entitled, “al-Isra” (The Night Journey) or “Bani Israil” (The Children of Israel). This Sura opens with the spiritual journey or the mystic vision of the Ascension of the Islamic Prophet Mohammad to the heaven. His Journey (Mi’raj) was with the Archangel Gabriel, from the Sacred Mosque (Masjid al-Haram, in Mecca) to the Distant or Farthest Mosque (Masjid al-Aqsa in Jerusalem). The Ascension began at the Rock. “In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Glory to (Allah) who did take His Servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque, Whose precincts We did bless-in order that We might show him some of Our signs.” (Sura al-Isra,17:1). Quoted from the Meaning of the Holy Koran. Abdullah Yusuf Ali. English and Arabic. New Ed. Beltsville, Maryland: amana Publications, Reprinted 1422 after Hijri/2001. According to the commentary #2168 on the above verse, the Dome of Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque “were completed” by the Amir ‘Abdel Malik in 68 after Hijri (691 A.D.). However, Lambert Dolphin writes that the al-Aqsa Mosque “was built between A.D. 709 – 715 probably by Caliph Waleed, son of Abdel Malik, the man who constructed the Dome of Rock” in 691 A.D. Visit Lambert Dolphin, “Allah and the Temple Mount”, 15 pages, [19-07-2007] , www.templemount.org/allah.html. A hard-line stance in the current “battle for Jerusalem” is taken by Ovadyah Avrahami of the Bible Revelations Ministries who has been a Bible student for the last 40 years, probably a Rabbi: “Any [ non-Jewish] claim on this city… will amount to no less than a Declaration of War on G-d [God]…. Any power claiming alternative rights over Jerusalem, is therefore challenging Almighty G-d[God] and His plan for Jerusalem.” Ovadyah Avrahami, “Whose Jerusalem? Whose Land? The Bible & the Solution to the Current Battle for Jerusalem”, 4 pages. <http://christianactionforisrael.org/batttle2.html>, [July 26, 2007].
But here we face a divinely structural problem: Prophet Abraham was the Patriarch of both the Arabs and Israelis. Arabs believe that they are descendants of Ishmael (Isma’il in Arabic), the oldest son of the Prophet Abraham, and, thus, one generation earlier than the Israelis whose line of descendence starts with Isaac, the brother of Ishmael and the father of Jacob. The divine mandate is becoming a ticking bomb.
The Reverend Dr. Naim Ateek is a Palestinian Christian and the director of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem. He has offered in the
Summer of 2002, “a Palestinian Christian perspective” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He has identified the actions of two biblical heroes (Samson and Joshua) against the Philistines as a framework of reference for the actions of Israeli rulers against the Palestinians today. The Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) says that Samson killed many more Philistines as he killed himself than in all of his life. Reverend Ateek does not believe in “ a theology of a biased God who only stands with Israel whether right or wrong….Christ is not in the tanks and jet fighters, fighting on the side of the oppressor… God is in the city of Gaza, in the Jenin camp and in the old city of Neblus, Ramallah, and Bethlehem suffering with the oppressed. God has not abandoned us. We reject suicide bombings because, from a Christian perspective, they reflect feelings of total despair and hopelessness. We must never lose hope.” Reverend Dr. Naim Ateek, “Suicide bombers: What is theologically and morally wrong with suicide bombings?” in Cornerstone, issue 25, summer 2002, 15 pages. www.sabeel.org/old/news/cstone25/suicidebombers.htm, [June 7, 2007]. Religious scholar and former nun Karen Armstrong writes that Prophet Moses died during Exodus, and Joshua in about 1200 B.C. led the Israelites into Canaan. He established them there “by means of long and utterly ruthless military campaign.” (Holy War: Crusades and Their Impact on Today’s World, New York: Doubleday, 1991, p. 8). For the stories of Samson and Joshua see the Hebrew Bible (Judges 13-16; Joshua 8:24, 25, 28, and 11: 21-22). Samson’s last single act (to kill many more Philistines) seems to be a symbol of bringing down the universe.
Professor Noam Chomsky is America’s leading dissident intellectual and “a major scholarly resource”-The Guardian. Professor Chomsky calls the above story “the Samson Complex”. In an interview he elaborates on this: "What it means, translated into straight politics-and they [Israel] are pretty straight about it-is: if anybody pushes us too far, we’ll bring down the universe. Now in order to do that, Israel needed nuclear weapons-and they got them, with our [U.S.A.] help.” Noam Chomsky, Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky. Edited by Peter R. Mitchell and John Schoeffel. New York: The New Press/W.W. Norton, 2002, pp. 303-304.
Shaykh Professor Abdul Hadi Palazzi teaches in the Department of the History of Religion at the University of Velletri in Rome, Italy. He and Dr. Asher Eder (Jerusalem, Israel) co-founded in 1989, the Islam-Israel Fellowship. Prof. Palazzi serves as the Muslim Co-Chair of the Fellowship, and Dr. Eder serves as the Jewish Co-Chairman. “From the Islamic point of view”, Prof. Palazzi says, “there is NO fundamental reason which prohibits Muslims from recognizing Israel as a friendlystate [emphasis added].” Shaykh Prof. Palazzi reminds us that earth “belongs exclusively to God” and the Almighty is “free to entrust sovereignty over land to whomever He likes for whatever time period that He chooses.” To support his position, Prof. Palazzi refers to three passages from the Koran, the holy book of Muslims: Sura 3 (al- ‘Imran): 26; Sura 5 (al-Mai’dah): 20-21; Sura 17 (al-Isra’): 104. Visit Shaykh Prof. Abdul Hadi, “What the Qur’an Really Says”, 7 pages. www.templemount.org/quranlalnd.html, [July 19, 2007].
Former nun and current writer Karen Armstrong has studied religions for more than two decades. She has published important books with cutting edge insights on the three religions as well as providing rich and balanced information about the most important issue-areas in inter-religious understanding in the Middle East. In a recent interview on June 18, 2007, Armstrong was asked two questions which are relevant to our topic: “Is it possible to have a multi-religious community or nation living peacefully? Or do you need secularism as a base or at its centre to make it?” She answered as follows: “Under Islam in the past, there were harmonious communities living together, famously in Muslim Spain [711-1050], which was unique. There’s nothing like it in the rest of Europe. Similarly, the first period of Jerusalem’s history was light years away anything we have got today. (The [second] Caliph) Omar, when he conquered Jerusalem, brought the Jews back. They hadn’t been allowed to live there under Christian rule. And there was a Christian majority in Jerusalem until the time of the Crusades. It was known as the City of Dhimmis (non-Muslims).” The second question was: “But these days, the Dhimmis believe that you would not be equal unless you are treated as equals.” Karen Armstrong responded: “Yes. The Dhimmis system wouldn’t work today. We don’t have the kind of economies that can support an egalitarian ideal. That’s important, too. It’s not just a question of us all becoming more civilized and nicer people-you need the economic basis for it. There must be absolute equality, one person one vote. And that is probably the best way of achieving a (harmonious society). But there is always going to be tension.” Visit “Muslims Need More Creative Voice [Interview with Karen Armstrong; ref. John Esposito] by Aniza Damis, The New Straights Times (Malaysia), June 18, 2007, and 3 pages.[August 8, 2007], http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Monday/National/20070618082106/Article/index html
Proposals for Solutions in the 20th Century
Pope John Paul II emphasized in 1979 two things: (1) the need to foster dialogue between Christians, Jews, and Muslims, as well as (2) the need for Jerusalem to be a guaranteed center for harmony for adherents of all three religions. This position is maintained by the current Pope. After illustrating various perspectives on Jerusalem problem, now it is time to present its specifics.
Ruth Lapidoth has identified four major “components” for the thorniest problem of all, namely Jerusalem:
1. National aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians. Both have conflicting claims to sovereignty. While Israel claiming sovereignty over the whole city of Jerusalem, Palestinians have a similar claim over the eastern neighborhoods of the city[ and dreaming of al-Quds as the capital city of Palestine].
2. The religious aspect. “Some of the most sacred places” of the three monotheistic religions are located in Jerusalem which are holy to many millions of people who do not live in the city or in the area.
3. Municipal management. Jerusalem covers an area of 126 square kilometers (49 square miles) where 732,100 people live. The population of Jerusalem is very heterogeneous. This requires special solutions for the municipal management.
4. The periphery. In spite of any compromise on the borders, Jerusalem will be between Israel and the Palestinian state. Special arrangements are needed for relationship between the city and its periphery regarding cultural/educational and municipal services. Visit Ruth Lapidoth, , “Some Reflections on Jerusalem”, in Palestine-Israel Journal of Politics, Economics, and Culture. Vol. 14, No.1, 2007, 6 pages. www.pij.org/details.php?id=1044, [19 July 2007].
A precise policy paper was co-authored by a professor of law and a professor of religion in 76 pages: Marshall J. Berger and Thomas A. Indinopulos, Jerusalem’s Holy Places and the Peace Process, 1998, op.cit. In this study they suggested three approaches for the future of the holy places in Jerusalem. Prof. Joseph Nevo at the Haifa University has provided a succinct summary of the three approaches: “The first is to transfer the power(or control) over the holy places to an interfaith committee consisting of representatives of the various Christian sects, Muslim groups and Jewish community. The second is to devolve power to committees of the relevant religious confessions. Each would govern its own holy places (the ‘functional internationalization’ approach). The third suggested approach is to leave the matter to various international guarantees such as UNESCO and the Hague Conventions.” Prof. Joseph Nevo, “Jerusalem’s Holy Places and the Peace Process”[ Book Review], in Encounter, summer 2002, 3 pages. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa4044/is_200207/ai_n9140509, [19-07-2007].
Reverend Jean-Louis Tauran of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote in the last year of the 20th century that “ if God is one, this requires that all should consider themselves brothers…. Believers thus have a special responsibility for peace building. Religious leaders should make one of their main priorities the promotion of an authentic ‘pedagogy for peace’.” This is of “universal importance” because the three religions have followers throughout the world . Reverend Jean-Louis Tauran, “The Holy See and the Middle East”, March 10, 1999, 4 pages. www.usccb.org/bishops/tauran.shtml, [July 19, 2007].
We know that the word “Allah” is the Arabic equivalent of the Hebrew “Elohim” (the greatest God). We know that Jerusalem has sacred significance for three religions and national significance for two peoples. We know that sensitivity to history, religious doctrine, and religious symbolism is essential to Jerusalem which is filled with history, religion and sacred places. We know that peace can never be achieved unless the sacred space of all three religions is respected: The rights and traditions of each community in its holy sites shall be respected; the freedom of worship shall be supported by freedom of access to the sacred sites; the sacred space shall be administered in a way that provides public access while respect for community tradition is maintained; a legally binding definition of the sacred space/site/place shall be established to prevent their proliferation; and each religious group shall clarify its “holy” boundaries of “its” Jerusalem. We know that the first Muslim state (city state in Medina) under the leadership of Prophet Mohammad had applied pluralism (People lived there as people of the agreement, not Dhimmis, non-Muslim neighbors): “Ummatan Wahedatan” (One Community) as long as the people of the accord honored their accord. We know that when the second Caliph of Islam Omar arrived in Jerusalem, he “brought the Jews back”. We know that in the Muslim Spain, people of different faiths live in a harmonious society. We know that Jerusalem was known as the City of Dhimmis (non-Muslims) which had a Christian majority. We know that for centuries the door keeper of the Holy Sepulchre is Muslim. We know that the Jewish “shalom” is very similar to Islamic “salam” (peace). We know that the Arabic name for Jerusalem is “al-Quds” (Holiness). It is an abridged form of “Bayt al-Muqadas” (Sanctified House) which is very similar to the Hebrew “Beth ha-mikdash”. We know that two peoples and three religions have two universities in al-Quds (Jerusalem): an Israeli University (Hebrew University) and a Palestinian University (al-Quds University). If the 21st century needs “globalization”, and if this development needs values, then the new values should emerge in Jerusalem.
“Clash of Civilizations” Through a “Geopolitical Prism”
We need the United Nations to relocate form New York City to Jerusalem-a unique city in the world where “temporal, spiritual, political, cultural, and territorial converge.” (Esposito and Khan, op. cit.). But the Security Council on the top on the UN body shall be geographically balanced, broadly representative, civilization-wise inclusive and decision-wise effective. The Security Council reflects the global power structure of 1945, when the UN was created and most of to today’s nations were under colonial rule. Twenty years later in 1965, under pressure from a growing UN membership, a cosmetic change was accepted. The Security Council membership expanded from six to ten non-permanent members. Despite this change, still the biggest obstacle in the process of the Security Council is the veto-power. Another structural problem in the Security Council is that the five veto-holding powers also happen to be involved in the main arms business. Yet, one of America’s most eminent political scientists Professor Samuel P. Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996) has attracted not only the attention of the world’s intellectual community, but also his “thesis was dominating the U.S. political scene” after the terrible 911 attacks (September 11, 2001) as Tim Hames, a Republican politician “very close” to the George W. Bush administration, claimed(Nafeez Mosssadeq Ahmed, Behind the War on Terror: Western Secret Strategy for Iraq, BC, Canada: New Society Pub., 2003, pp.1-2). The celebrated Palestinian-American critic Professor Edward W. Said called “The Clash of Civilizations” thesis “a gimmick like ‘The War of the Lords’ [which is a fictional account of how a group of aliens planned to attack earth and destroy humanity],” in “The Clash of Ignorance”, electronic version, 5 pages, [December 6, 2007]. We cannot get away from the fact that without an “enemy” there will be a vacuum in news coverage as in politics. The alliance of Christian-Western and Islamic-Eastern civilizations defeated the Soviet aggression against Afghanistan (1979-1989). Both allied civilizations enjoyed their victory over the “Godless Communism” of the Cold War. Listen to Huntington: “To Americans and Westerners generally Afghanistan was the final, decisive victory, the Waterloo, of the Cold War….What the West sees as a victory for the Free World, Muslims see as a victory for Islam[emphasis added]” (pp.246-247). Thus, a dangerous adversary was identified, and so a vacuum no more existed. The three professors (Lewis, Fukuyama and Huntington) are more or less clamoring for a religious-civilizational war, a global equivalent of the Thirty Years’ War from 1618 to 1648 in Europe. Professor Zbigniew Brzezinski is armed with a deep knowledge of international relations and is a major U.S. strategic thinker. He was national security adviser under President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) and is a proponent of Realpolitik. Professor Brzezinski does not subscribe to a straightforward Islam-versus-West clash. He views “the ferment within the Muslim world…through a geopolitical rather than a theological prism [emphasis added]….Hostility toward the United States, while pervasive in some Muslim countries,” Brzezinski continues, “originates more from specific political grievances-such as Iranian nationalist resentment over the US backing of the Shah, Arab animus stimulated by US support for Israel, or Pakistani feelings that the United States has been partial to India-than from a generalized religious bias.” (The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership. New York: Basis Books, 2004, p. 59). A prominent Japanese scholar Seizaburo Sato ( Political Science Professor at Tokyo University and the research director of the Institute for International Policy Studies) points to the fact that “the great existing religions” (Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Christianity, Islam[and Judaism]) emerged in parts of Eurasian continent. He criticizes Huntington for ignoring the possibility that different civilizations through contact with each other may learn from each other, “and may thereby revitalize themselves.” For example, Professor Sato notes: “In the West, the Renaissance, which was the initial spark for the development of modern Western civilization, would not have occurred had it not been for the West’s contact with the Islamic civilization.” Also, “if the birthplace of concepts or ideas is the issue,” Professor Sato argues that neither Christianity “was born in the West, nor was Classical Greek civilization of Western origin.” (“The Clash of Civilizations: A View from Japan”, October 1997, electronic version, 12 pages).
Power Sharing in the United Nations for Civilization Harmony
For a workable diplomacy and civilization harmony all nations on the Security Council
shall be counted. The Security Council on the nearly universal organization, UN with 192 member states in 2006, shall be run by the force of law, not the law of force. We need a Security Council that is more representative, more legitimate, more effective, more accountable, and more inclusive with regard to civilizations. I realize that the emergence of such an integrative and more democratic model UN is impossible in the very near term. Its gradual phase-out would ultimately pave the way, for example, for a ¾ majority vote of the UN member states in all substantive matters. To enhance harmony among civilizations and to give peace-making and peace-preserving a genuine chance, the Security Council shall undergo a real change. At present only twocivilizations have five permanent/veto-holding seats on the Security Council: One of them belongs to Sinic-Chinese civilization while the other four seats are allocated to Christian-Western civilization (France, United Kingdom, the USA, and Orthodox Russia). Also, I shall point to the inconvenient truth that until this day the nearly universal UN has not had a Muslim as its Secretary General, who could have eased the transition to a more productive environment for the dialogue of civilizations. Later after Germany had been added as a permanent member, France, Germany, and United Kingdom could be consolidated into two European Union seats, which could be occupied on a rotating basis as determined by the European Union. In addition to the current permanent members, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Organization of African Unity, the Organization of American States (the USA abstaining) should each have a permanent seat on the Security Council (Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations, 1997, pp. 317-318). Also, India, Japan, Brazil, and South Africa should be consolidated into a single permanent seat on the Security Council, which could be occupied on a rotating basis. It would be appropriate to increase the number of non-permanent members from 10 to 12. This way, the Security Council would be composed of nine permanent members and 12 non-permanent members. Each council member shall have one vote. Decision on procedural matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of at least 14 of the 21 members. Decision on substantive matters shall require 14 votes including the concurring votes of at least seven permanent members (Any decision in substantive matters can be blocked by a majority vote of the current five veto-holding powers). Such an allocation would correspond with the distribution of people, wealth, and power in a global village to be run by harmony grounded in tolerance, pluralism, and justice. At the end of a certain period, for example, in 2020, the term of all newly elected/non-permanent members as well as of all newly selected permanent members shall expire, and, hereafter, the Security Council shall be enlarged with only elected permanent member. At this stage the UN headquarters shall be relocated from New York City to Jerusalem (al-Quds). However, now it would be appropriate to relocate the UNESCO headquarters to Jerusalem (As currently administered, rising number of people in the world view the UN as nothing more than a tool of U.S. foreign policy).
UNESCO Run International Peace Academy: “Thou Shalt Not Kill”
The need is urgent to have an academy in al-Quds (Jerusalem), an institution of knowledge production and religious intellectuals, an international institution that fosters intellectual diversity in a religio-pluralistic campus. The International Peace Academy is expected to develop competency in ethical and moral reasoning, and to foster personal initiative, individual responsibility, and social motivation to contribute to the larger, globally peaceful community. We need well-meaning, global-minded, and at least relatively independent intellectuals (global elite) concerned with an effective and balanced order in the interdependent world as a whole. International Peace Academy will have the capacity to develop an ethically more reliable and intellectually more independent global elite, not “power elite.” A balancing global movement could elevate resistance as an obligation to the status of the “other superpower” (New York Times referring to the anti-globalization protest of estimated 15 million people in some 60 countries worldwide on February 15, 2003), the system of checks and balances. The International Peace Academy shall be run by the UNESCO and it shall have, for example, a governing council composed of the following members:
UNESCO Co-Chairman with veto power,
Jewish Co-Chairman with two votes,
Christian Co-Chairman with two votes,
Muslim Co-Chairman with two votes, and
Hindu/Buddhist Co-Chairman with observer status.
A majority of five votes from Jewish, Christian, a