This weekend, the Global March to Jerusalem followed the well-worn anti-Israel playbook of hijacking the language of human rights to advance an anti-Israel agenda. During the conference on Jerusalem in Doha, Israel’s’ supposedly moderate peace partner, Mahmoud Abbas, joined the chorus of voices calling on Muslims from around the world to breach Israel’s borders and march to Jerusalem to protest the “Judaization” of Jerusalem.
According to Abbas, Israel is trying to harm the Al-Aqsa mosque and “ethnically cleanse” the Arab residents of East Jerusalem while “Judaizing” Israel’s capital. For good measure, Abbas cynically denies any Jewish history in Jerusalem.
And yet it is clear that Abbas and the very organizations that marched to protest the “Judaization” of Jerusalem are themselves guilty of trying to deny, erase and destroy Jewish history in Jerusalem. Rather than “Judaization,” the facts point to a systematic de-Judaizing of Jerusalem by the Palestinian leadership.
This is clearly evident in the purposeful illegal building by Arabs in Jerusalem. According to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), close to 40,000 permits have been issued for housing in the Arab sector, which meets the needs of Arab residents through 2020. Though unreported in the media, illegal Arab building continues at a frantic pace. The Palestinian Authority and Arab governments have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidize massive illegal construction in the Arab sector, where only 20% of illegal homes get demolished. Palestinian officials have openly stated their intentions.
According to JCPA, in January 2011, Hatem Abdel Qader, the Palestinian Authority minister for Jerusalem affairs, urged Arabs to pick up the pace of illegal construction in the eastern section of Jerusalem to win the demographic battle. In 2002, Abdel Qader, then a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council for Jerusalem, stated that Palestinians have built 6,000 homes without building permits in the previous four years. He also said:
We in the Palestinian Authority are willing to build ten homes for every Israeli house demolished by Israel.
The PLO’s former representative in Jerusalem, the late Faisal Husseini, once told Egyptian magazine Al-Ahram Al Arabi that “It is the Palestinian program to build a Palestinian belt around the Israeli belt…. The most important Palestinian challenge is building, even without permits.”
The wanton destruction of the ancient Jewish Temple Mount artifacts by the Waqf speaks clearly to this policy of de-Judaizing. Following the good-faith transfer of control of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to the Palestinians, the Waqf proceeded to destroy and remove valuable archaeological relics from the Mount, where evidence of Israel’s rich history is contained under Judaism’s holiest site. Thousands of tons of gravel and earth containing important archaeological relics were removed and discarded by the Waqf.
And contrary to “Judaization” through ethnic cleansing, Interior Ministry statistics show the Arab population in Jerusalem has increased faster than the Jewish population, from 27% to 37.3% of total Jerusalemites, with a projected Arab majority by 2040. This speaks arguably to an “Arabization” of Jerusalem.
The charge of the “Judaization” of Jerusalem is just one more example of Palestinian incitement, whose aim is to repeat baseless claims until they become conventional wisdom. The “Judaization” of Jerusalem should not just be merely refuted, but forcefully and repeatedly denounced. If illegal Arab construction and the destruction of Jewish artifacts do not elicit public condemnation and a call to accountability, media coverage will continue to allow the “Judaization” libel to dominate the media narrative.