Jerusalem between December 1917 snd December 2017 (1)

Palestinian Muslim worshippers pray outside Jerusalem’s Old City near the Lions’ Gate on July 28, 2017.<br />Israel barred men under 50 from prayers at a sensitive Jerusalem holy site, with more clashes feared after Palestinians ended a boycott of the compound and entered for the first time in two weeks. / AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA

If in the title of this sermon I refer to December 1917 as the probable date in which the seed of the contemporary discord between the Palestinians and the Israelis was sown, that should not be taken as excluding what could be referred to as the originary arguments and realities which fed the carnage, the fire and violence that has marked the history of the two nations since primordial times.

In other words, when in December 1917 the British took control of Palestine from the Ottoman Turks who had hitherto established their suzerainty over the Muslim world for an upward of nothing less than five centuries, the Arab-Jewish animosity had been “inserted” into world history long before then.

It was not an accident that Prophet Ibrahim had two children- Ismail and Ishaq (a.s); it was not an accident that both became the progenitors of two different nations, Arabs and Jews; it was not by chance that both nations have been the source of prosperity and adversity of the Middle East and indeed the whole world.

When the Western powers struck the final blow which led to the destruction and liquidation of what was then known as the Ottoman empire in 1924, a rehearsal of the event had taken place in Jerusalem in 2017.

But 1917 was important for other reasons. 1917 it was when the Balfour Declaration was written. The Balfour Declaration was the British Royal Decree which envisioned the establishment of the State of Israel on the heartland of Palestine. I reckon you could still remember its content; I hope you still remember its portents. It was a decree which expressed the support of the British government for the establishment of a “national home for the Jews in Palestine”.

The declaration reads partly as follows: “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country”.

The Balfour Declaration was written by Sir Arthur Balfour and addressed to Lord Rothschild, the then leader of the British Jewish Community. The declaration was meant for circulation to the larger Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. In December 1917 the very first practical step towards the realization of the content of the Balfour declaration was realized.

The declaration which involved taking “land away from those who have (the Palestinians) in order to give it to those who do not have (Jews)” soon became a reality.

In other words brethren, the decision to ‘recognize’ Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by President Trump is not an happenstance.

Rather, it is in line with the global geo-politics which is firmly under the control of the extremely powerful Zionist lobbyist groups all around the world.

Thus the unilateral declaration by Mr Trump that the United States now recognizes Jerusalem as capital of Israel had been conceived in the womb of time, as far back as 1917.

It was an item on the campaign menu of President Bill Clinton before he won the White House in the early 1990s. It was patronized by President George Bush; it was spoken glowingly of even by former US President, Barrack Obama before he entered the White House.

However, it is curious to note that as soon these former US Presidents got into power they realized that giving effect to that campaign promise would upset global security. They realized that the question of Jerusalem cannot be answered simply by presidential fiat.

They probably did not realize that 2017 would birth the emergence of a personality in the White House who, apparently lacking those elements expected of the so-called leader of the free world, would not care even if the whole world go gaga.

But why is Jerusalem such a very intriguing subject at the global politics and diplomacy? Answer to this question lies in the question, in the credo of Jerusalem.

In the world today, there is no other city which hosts holy sites and monuments of the three Abrahamic faiths all at the same time and within the same geographical space such as Jerusalem. There in Jerusalem lies the al-Aqsa mosque- “the farthest mosque”: the first destination of Prophet Mohammad (s.a.w) on his night journey from Makkah, from where he ascended to heaven to speak with the Almighty. That journey is known in Islamic eschatology is known as al-Isra wa al-Miraaj.

For Christians, Jerusalem is equally the land of choice, the ‘promised land’, the holy land. There, Christian theologians would argue, nests the holy site in which the whole Christian enterprise found exemplification. For Christians, Jesus, their messiah, was born in Jerusalem, there he was killed and there he came back to life.

There in Jerusalem lies the Calvary where Jesus was supposedly crucified. Here in Nigeria Christians go on pilgrimage to Israel on regular basis. Without a visit to Jerusalem and in the absence of the Christian Holy site in the city, the whole of idea of Christendom would become invalid.

For the Jews Jerusalem hosts the wailing wall or the Western Wall in Judaism, the religion of the Jews. The city is believed by Jews to be the centre of the world; it is the only city, in their estimation, where God could “reside”. There in the city lies the Temple Mount in Judaism; it is the temple reportedly built by King Solomon eons ago.

Thus it becomes clear why the question that Jerusalem raises for men and women of faith in the Abrahamic religion remains urgent and important. With a followership of more than three billion people, Jerusalem becomes the centre of the religious triangle of Islam, Christianity and Judaism; it has remained a city divided by faiths.

Despite its open patronage of Israel in 1947, the United Nations has always reframed from recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of neither Israel nor Palestine. The UN once desired to have an internationally administered, separate territory for the city.

The unilateral recognition of the city as the capital of Israel by Mr Trump has only functioned in jeopardizing global peace and security. For those who do not know, Jews do not consider Christians worthy of respect and honour the same they abhor Islam and Muslims.

It is important for the whole world to know therefore that granting Israel complete authority over Jerusalem is tantamount to opening the path to the destruction of the third holiest site in Islamic faith represented by the al-Aqsa Mosque- La samhallaahu (May that never come to pass)
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