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The Palestinian Claim to Jerusalem

The Palestinian Claim to Jerusalem

Let’s look at the historical claim to the city and that it is the Palestinians’ ancestral capital. The question to ask is, “When?” There have only been two people who have had the city as their capital: the Hebrews and the Crusaders in all of history.

The ancient Davidic line, or as it is known in Hebrew Malkhut Beit David (מלכות בית דוד), had the city as their capital. This practice was carried out after the Babylonian conquest and the subsequent return of the Jews to the land under Darius.

While the Jews were under Persian control, later after Alexander came along and were under Hellenistic rule, the city was always the nation’s administrative and religious capital. When the Seleucids took control of the area around 200 BCE and tried to destroy the Jewish religion, the Maccabees rose and shook the power of the Seleucids from them. Once more, Jerusalem became the kingdom’s capital, which was now named Judea [1].

When the Jewish Maccabees broke free from the Seleucids, the kingdom was not very large. It had Jerusalem as the center. They cleansed the temple; an event celebrated every year during the festival of Hanukkah [2]. Mattathias put his brother in place as High Priest.

They then ruled the nation as priest-kings until 63 BCE when the Romans came along and made the nation part of Rome, keeping the Hasmonean king on the throne as a vassal king. Their rule and last of the line was murdered when Herod the Great took the throne. This had much to do with the land being passed as a vassal state between the Romans.

The Parthian empire had the last Hasmonean ruler Antigonus II Mattathias [3], handed over to the Romans, who then murdered him. Until this time, the only people who had ever had the city as their capital were the Jews.

The land continued as a vassal state of Rome. Herod and his offspring ruled it until the Jewish revolt, a protest against the temple’s Roman desecration, which is the holiest site in all of Judaism. The Romans put down the revolt, which became known as the Great Revolt. This culminated in Jerusalem’s conquest, the destruction of the second Jewish temple, and the Romans expelling all Jews from Jerusalem.

Later the Bar Kokhba revolt resulted in the majority of the Jews being expelled from the land. The nation was absorbed into Syria and was called Syria-Palestina. However, contrary to popular belief, after the revolt, the Jews were not all expelled. They still maintained a presence in the land, as they had for the previous 1,200 years, and have continued to this day. But after the first Jewish revolt, at no time was Jerusalem the Jewish capital.

After this, Jerusalem, for the most part, was not important. To punish the Jews, the Romans built a pagan temple at the site where the temple had stood. When the Roman Empire broke into two empires, the Byzantine Empire controlled this part of the world and was for the most part, friendly towards the Jews. The Byzantines permitted the temple to be rebuilt, but an earthquake put an end to that.

Then came the rise of Islam and the conquest of the city. In the next section, I will discuss the importance and the religious significance of the city to Islam. But before that, there was a short-lived crusader kingdom, known as the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the only time in history a people outside the Jews had used Jerusalem as their capital.


The Islamic claim to Jerusalem is that Mohammad flew on a magical winged horse to the furthest mosque in Jerusalem and then flew up to heaven. The steed’s name was Al-Burāq (Arabic: البُراق al-Burāq “lightning”).

The Islamic writings state:

Then a white animal which was smaller than a mule and bigger than a donkey was brought to me. … The animal’s step (was so wide that it) reached the farthest point within the reach of the animal’s sight. — Muhammad al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari (Sahih al-Bukhari, 5:58:227; Sahih al-Bukhari, 5:58:227).

So where exactly was this winged horse supposed to have brought Mohammad? Let’s look once more at Islamic sources:

Glory to (Allah) Who did he 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: for He is the One Who heareth and seeth (all things). — Qur’an, sura 17 (Al-Isra), ayah 1

According to Islamic writings, Mohammad was taken by this winged horse to the furthest mosque. But one has to ask, how could this have been Jerusalem?

The tradition we are told is that this was where the Al-Aqsa Mosque was. But how is that possible since the Al-Aqua mosque was built over 59 years after Mohammad’s death, and there was no other mosque on the land. In fact, it was not until over 5 years after the death of Mohammad that Islam spread by conquest first to Egypt and then later to Syria by Abu Ubaidah, who was Caliph Omar’s commander of the armies.

In April 637, Abu Ubaidah subdued Jerusalem. The patriarch of the city requested that he only surrender to the Caliph, so they had to wait for the Caliph to arrive. The Caliph arrived a few (WEEKS???) later and signed The Umariyya Covenant, which gave religious freedoms not only to Christians but to Jews as well, as long as they paid jizya (a religious tax on non-Muslims). Note that this took place two months shy of 5 years after Mohammad’s death, who died in June 632 [4].

Upon arriving at the city, Omar asked to be taken to the temple after the treaty of surrender. He was shocked and dismayed by what he saw on the site when he arrived.

To the dismay of the Jews living there, the Christians had used the Temple Mount as a garbage dump. When Omar arrived, the garbage was so high, he had to dismount his horse, and he and his men then had to climb up the pile of garbage to view the site [5]. He then set about with the residents of the city, and his men had the site cleared. He then built a wooden prayer house that stood until the Al-Aqsa Mosque was created 59 years after Mohammad’s death [6]. When Bishop Arculf visited Jerusalem in 647 (???) 10 years after the surrender, he wrote about the wooden structure that stood there before this mosque.

So the question has to be asked, how could Mohammad have visited a site that was not a mosque when he was alive? The early Islamic scholars never said the site was in Jerusalem. In fact, Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiya (638-700), a close relative of the Prophet Muhammad, is quoted denigrating the notion that the prophet ever set foot on the Rock in Jerusalem. He wrote:

“These damned Syrians,” by which he meant the Umayyads, “pretend that God put His foot on the Rock in Jerusalem, though [only] one person ever put his foot on the rock, namely Abraham.”

It is interesting to note the lack of interest in the city that is supposed to be the third most holy site in Islam, a claim that started after the Jews started to return. Why wasn’t it treated as such before this? If you look at the pictures of the temple mount, you see a site overrun with weeds with the buildings in disrepair.

What is more interesting, if the city was held in such holy regard, why did the Muslims offer it to the Crusaders if they would vacate Egypt? Furthermore, when the crusades first started, the Muslims did not mention Jerusalem. It was not until after the Crusaders were trying to stir up the local population that suddenly the Muslims (???) found the city so important. But even then, not one word was ever said about the mosque there being the “farthest”’ mosque that Mohammad visited on his night journey.

What is more, not once in the whole Koran is Jerusalem mentioned. In fact, the land was mentioned as the near land, so if there was a mosque that had stood there, which there was not, then why would they refer to it as the furthest mosque?

The reality is, throughout history, when Muslims conquer a place, they find the holiest site to the people that live there and build a mosque to show Islam’s power over the people and the faith. Until the Crusades, except for the Umayyads, there was little attention paid to Jerusalem. When the Umayyads tried to make the city seem holy, it was rejected by Mohammad’s own relatives. What is more, if the site was so holy, why is it in both sanctuaries there is not one mention of this in all the Arab writing on the walls?

See the source image

The reality is once more; we see a Muslim initiative to fight what they saw as an encroachment on sanctified Islamic land. To try and halt Jewish claim of the land Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini’s, an ex-Ottoman officer, set up the narrative that the site was holy. The Mufti was a rabid antisemitic who later went to Germany and worked with Hitler to set up Islamic SS Death Squads. He sent letters around the Arab world, claiming that the Jews were moving to blow up the mosques in Jerusalem, a claim you hear each time a riot starts until the present day. The Arabs then started to ship funds to fix up the mosques and put gold leaf on the Dome of the Rock. It was then that the claim of this being the third most holy site of Islam was started.

Since that time, the Arabs have done late-night excavations to destroy any trace of Jewish history on the site, even though in the early Arab writings on the site, they openly admit to it being the Temple’s site. Arabs are now trying to erase that history, something that the UN and UNESCO are too happy to help out with.

I will conclude with a question. If there was no building on the site until almost 60 years after Mohammad’s death, how exactly did he visit the site? And if this was such a holy site, why didn’t Mohammad or his followers speak of this? It was not even an issue until the Crusaders came, then was once more ignored. Jerusalem became nothing but a backward run-down city until the Jews returned. Then suddenly, as if by magic, it became the third most holy site to Islam. We need to question this. If it was so important, why was it not treated as such? And why didn’t Mohammad speak about it?

We really have another lie, set up for nothing other than to deny the Jews their heritage. As I exposed the lie, Is Israel Stealing the Palestinian Heritage, you have the same thing here.

So I have to ask again. If the mount was covered in the garbage (there was nothing up there but a garbage dump), what mosque did Mohammad visit there? And further, since it was not conquered until 5 years after Mohammad’s death, and the Mosque there was not built until almost 60 years after he had died, how could he have visited it?

We have seen that there is no historical claim to the land. If you look at the article DID ISRAEL STEAL THE ANCESTRAL HOME OF THE PALESTINIANS, the claim is exposed as a hoax. Also, to claim theft of land, you first have to establish ownership, yet there was never in history a nation called Palestine, so how could Israel have stolen from a nation that did not exist?

The religious claim is equally without supporting evidence, nor is the claim that the Palestinians have any claim to a city that no Arab nation in all of history has ever called their capital.

  3. Oesterley, W.O.E., A History of Israel, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1939.
  4. Akram, Agha Ibrahim (2004). The Sword of Allah: Khalid bin al-Waleed – His Life and Campaigns. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University PressISBN 0-19-597714-9. Pg 434
  6.  le Strange, Guy. (1890). Palestine under the Moslems, pp.80–98.
  7. Elad, Amikam. (1995). Medieval Jerusalem and Islamic Worship Holy Places, Ceremonies, Pilgrimage BRILL, pp.29–43. ISBN 90-04-10010-5.

About The Author

Timothy Benton

Student of history, a journalist for the last 2 years. Specialize in Middle East History, more specifically modern history with the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Also, a political commentator has been a lifetime fan of politics.


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