Myths, Hypotheses and Facts
The role Jerusalem has in the Hebrew Holy Scriptures is well known and not open to debate; however, there are varying opinions on the holiness of Jerusalem, specifically Temple Mount to Islam.
Concerning the Origin of Peoples
The True Identity of the So-called Palestinians
In this essay I would like to present the true origin and identity of the Arab people commonly known as "Palestinians", and the widespread myths surrounding them. This research is intended to be completely neutral and objective, based on historic and archaeological evidences as well as other documents, including Arab sources, and quoting statements by authoritative Islamic personalities.
There are some modern myths -or more exactly, lies- that we can hear everyday through the mass-media as if they were true, of course, hiding the actual truth. For example, whenever the Temple Mount or Jerusalem are mentioned, it is usually remarked that is "the third holy place for muslims", but why it is never said that is the FIRST Holy Place for Jews? It sounds like an utterly biased information!
In order to make this essay better comprehensible, it will be presented in two units:
·1) Myths and facts concerning the origin and identity of the so-called Palestinians;
·2) Myths and facts regarding Jerusalem and the Land of Israel.
I - Origin and identity of the so-called Palestinians
Palestinians are the newest of all the peoples on the face of the Earth, and began to exist in a single day by a kind of supernatural phenomenon that is unique in the whole history of mankind, as it is witnessed by Walid Shoebat, a former PLO terrorist that acknowledged the lie he was fighting for and the truth he was fighting against:
“Why is it that on June 4th 1967 I was a Jordanian and overnight I became a Palestinian?”
“We did not particularly mind Jordanian rule. The teaching of the destruction of Israel was a definite part of the curriculum, but we considered ourselves Jordanian until the Jews returned to Jerusalem. Then all of the sudden we were Palestinians - they removed the star from the Jordanian flag and all at once we had a Palestinian flag”.
“When I finally realized the lies and myths I was taught, it is my duty as a righteous person to speak out”.
This declaration by a true "Palestinian" should have some significance for a sincerely neutral observer. Indeed, there is no such a thing like a Palestinian people, or a Palestinian culture, or a Palestinian language, or a Palestinian history. There has never been any Palestinian state, neither any Palestinian archaeological find nor coinage. The present-day "Palestinians" are an Arab people, with Arab culture, Arabic language and Arab history. They have their own Arab states from where they came into the Land of Israel about one century ago to contrast the Jewish immigration. That is the historical truth. They were Jordanians (another recent British invention, as there has never been any people known as "Jordanians"), and after the Six-Day War in which Israel utterly defeated the coalition of nine Arab states and took legitimate possession of Judea and Samaria, the Arab dwellers in those regions underwent a kind of anthropological miracle and discovered that they were Palestinians - something they did not know the day before. Of course, these people having a new identity had to build themselves a history, namely, had to steal some others' history, and the only way that the victims of the theft would not complain is if those victims do no longer exist. Therefore, the Palestinian leaders claimed two contradictory lineages from ancient peoples that inhabited in the Land of Israel: the Canaanites and the Philistines. Let us consider both of them before going on with the Palestinian issue.
The Canaanites are historically acknowledged as the first inhabitants of the Land of Israel, before the Hebrews settled there. Indeed, the correct geographic name of the Land of Israel is Canaan, not "Palestine" (a Roman invention, as we will see later). They were composed by different tribes, that may be distinguished in two main groups: the Northern or Coastland Canaanites and the Southern or Mountain Canaanites.
·The Northern Canaanites settled along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea from the southeastern side of the Gulf of Iskenderun to the proximities of the Gulf of Hayfa. Their main cities were Tzur, Tzidon, Gebal (Byblos), Arvad, Ugarit, and are better known in history by their Greek name Phoenicians, but they called themselves "Kana'ana" or "Kinachnu". They did not found any unified kingdom but were organized in self-ruled cities, and were not a warlike people but rather skilful traders, seafarers and builders. Their language was adopted from their Semitic neighbours, the Arameans, and was closely related to Hebrew (not to Arabic!). Phoenicians and Israelites did not need interpreters to understand each other. They followed the same destiny of ancient Israel and fell under Assyrian rule, then Babylonian, Persian, Macedonian, Seleucian and Roman. Throughout their history the Phoenicians intermarried with different peoples that dwelled in their land, mainly Greeks and Armenians. During the Islamic expansion they were Arabized, yet, never completely assimilated, and their present-day state is Lebanon, erroneously regarded as an "Arab" country, a label that the Lebanese people reject. Unlike the Arab states, Lebanon has a western democratic-style official name, "Lebanese Republic", without the essential adjective "Arab" that is required in the denominations of every Arab state. The only mention of the term Arabic in the Lebanese constitution refers to the official language of the state, which does not mean that the Lebanese people are Arabs in the same way as the official language of the United States is English but this does not qualify the Americans as British.
The so-called Palestinians are not Lebanese (although some of them came from Syrian-occupied Lebanon), therefore they are not Phoenicians (Northern Canaanites). Actually, in Lebanon they are "refugees" and are not identified with the local people.
·The Southern Canaanites dwelled in the mountain region from the Golan southwards, on both sides of the Yarden and along the Mediterranean coast from the Gulf of Hayfa to Yafo, that is the Biblical Canaan. They were composed by various tribes of different stocks: besides the proper Canaanites (Phoenicians), there were Amorites, Hittites and Hurrian peoples like the Yevusites, Hivvites and Horites, all of them assimilated into the Aramean-Canaanite context. They never constituted an unified, organized state but kept within the tribal alliance system.
When the first Hebrews arrived in Canaan they shared the land but did not intermarry, as it was an interdiction for Avraham's family to marry the Canaanites. Nevertheless, eleven of the twelve sons of Yakov married Canaanite women (the other son married an Egyptian), and since then, the Tribes of Israel began to mix with the local inhabitants. After the Exodus, when the Israelites conquered the Land, there were some wars between them and the Canaanites throughout the period of the Sofetim (Judges), and were definitively subdued by King David. By that time, most Canaanites were married to Israelites, others voluntarily accepted Torah becoming Israelites, others joined up in the Israelite or Judahite army. Actually, the Canaanites are seldom mentioned during the Kings' period, usually in reference to their heathen customs introduced among the Israelites, but no longer as a distinguishable people, because they were indeed assimilated into the Israelite nation. When the Assyrians overran the Kingdom of Israel, they did not leave any Canaanite aside, as they had all become Israelites by that time. The same happened when the Babylonians overthrew the Kingdom of Judah.
Therefore, the only people that can trace back a lineage to the ancient Canaanites are the Jews, not the Palestinians, as Canaanites did not exist any longer after the 8th century b.c.e. and they were not annihilated but assimilated into the Jewish people.
Conclusion: the Palestinians cannot claim any descent from the ancient Canaanites - if so, why not to pretend also the Syrian "occupied territories", namely, Lebanon? Why do they not speak the language of the ancient Canaanites, that was Hebrew? Because they are NOT Canaanites at all!
It is from the term "Philistines" that the name "Palestinians" has been taken. Actually, the ancient Philistines and modern Palestinians have something in common: both are invaders from other lands! That is precisely the meaning of their name, that is not an ethnic denomination but an adjective applied to them: Peleshet, from the verb "pelesh", "dividers", "penetrators" or "invaders". The Philistines were a confederation of non-Semitic peoples coming from Crete, the Aegean Islands and Asia Minor, also known as "Sea Peoples". The main tribes were Shekelesh, Shardana, Tsikel or Thekker, Akhaiusha or Ekwesh, Danauna or Denyen, Masa or Meshuesh, Uashesh, Teresh or Tursha, Keshesh or Karkisha, Lukka or Rukka, and Labu. The original homeland of the group that ruled the Philistine federation, namely the "Pelesati", was the island of Crete. When the Minoic civilization collapsed, also the Minoic culture disappeared from Crete, as invaders from Greece took control of the island. These ancient Cretans arrived in Southern Canaan and were known as "Peleshtim" by Hebrews and Canaanites (that became allied to fight the invaders). They also invaded Egypt and were defeated by Pharaoh Ramose III in the 12th century b.c.e. The Philistines were organized in city-states, being the most important the Pentapolis: Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron, and their territory was close to the Mediterranean coast, a little longer and broader than the present-day "Gaza Strip" - not the whole Judah, they never reached Hevron, Jerusalem or Yericho!
Those Sea Peoples that invaded Egypt were expelled towards other Mediterranean lands and did not evolve into any Arab people, but disappeared as distinguishable groups in Roman times. Those dwelling in Canaan were defeated by King David and reduced to insignificance, the best warriors among them were chosen as David's bodyguard. The remaining Philistines still dwelling in Gaza were subdued by Sargon II of Assyria and after that time, they disappeared definitively from history. They are no longer mentioned since the return of the Jewish exiles from Babylon.
Conclusion: there is not one single person in the world who may be able to prove Philistine lineage, yet, if Palestinians insist, they have to recognize themselves as invaders in Israel, and then they must ask Greece to return them back the Isle of Crete! The Philistines are extinct and claims to alleged links with them are utterly false as they are historically impossible to establish. In any case, claiming a Philistine heritage is idle because it cannot legitimate any land in which they were foreign occupants and not native dwellers. Philistines were not Arabs, and the only feature in common between both peoples is that in Israel they should be regarded as invaders, Philistines from the sea and Arabs from the wilderness. They do not want Jerusalem because it is their city, which is not and never has been, they simply want to take her from the Jews, to whom she has belonged for three thousand years. The Philistines wanted to take from Israelites the Holy Ark of the Covenant, modern so-called Palestinians want to take from them the Holy City of the Covenant.
The Palestinians: No, they are not any ancient people, but claim to be. They were born in a single day, after a war that lasted six days in 1967 c.e. If they were true Canaanites, they would speak Hebrew and demand from Syria to give them back their occupied homeland in Lebanon, but they are not. If they were Philistines, they would claim back the Isle of Crete from Greece and would recognize that they have nothing to do with the Land of Israel, and would ask excuses to Israel for having stolen the Ark of the Covenant.
The land called "Palestine"
In the 2nd century c.e., the last attempt of the Jews to achieve independence from the Roman Empire ended with the well-known event of Masada, that is historically documented and universally recognized as the fact that determined the Jewish Diaspora in a definitive way. The Land where these things happened was until then the province known as Judæa , and there is no mention of any place called "Palestine" before that time. The Roman emperor Hadrian was utterly upset with the Jewish Nation and wanted to erase the name of Israel and Judah from the face of the Earth, so that there would be no memory of the country that belonged to that rebel people. He decided to replace the denomination of that Roman province and resorted to ancient history in order to find a name that might appear appropriate, and found that an extinct people that was unknown in Roman times, called "Philistines", was once dwelling in that area and were enemies of the Israelites. Therefore, according to Latin spelling, he invented the new name: "Palæstina", a name that would be also hateful for the Jews as it reminded them their old foes. He did so with the explicit purpose of effacing any trace of Jewish history. Ancient Romans, as well as modern Palestinians, have fulfilled the Hebrew Scriptures Prophecy that declares: "They lay crafty plans against Your People... they say: ‘come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more'." - Tehilim 83:3-4 (Psalm 83:3-4). They failed, as Israel is still alive. Any honest person would recognize that there is no mention of the name Palestina in history before the Romans renamed the province of Judea, that such name does not occur in any ancient document, is not written in the Bible, neither in the Hebrew Scriptures nor in the Christian Testament, not even in Assyrian, Persian, Macedonian, Ptolemaic, Seleucian or other Greek sources, and that not any "Palestinian" people has ever been mentioned, not even by the Romans that invented the term. If "Palestinians" allegedly are the historic inhabitants of the Holy Land, why did they not fight for independence from Roman occupation as Jews did? How is it possible that not a single Palestinian leader heading for a revolt against the Roman invaders is mentioned in any historic record? Why there is not any Palestinian rebel group mentioned, as for example the Jewish Zealots? Why every historic document mentions the Jews as the native inhabitants, and the Greeks, Romans and others as foreigners dwelling in Judea, but not any Palestinian people, neither as native nor as foreigner? What is more, there is no reference to any Palestinian people in the qur'an (koran), although muslims claim that their prophet was once in Jerusalem (an event that is not mentioned in the koran either). It appears evident that he did not meet any Palestinian in his whole life, nor his successors did either. Caliph Salahuddin al-Ayyub (Saladin), knew the Jews and kindly invited them to settle in Jerusalem, that he recognized as their Homeland, but he did not know any Palestinian... To claim that Palestinians are the original people of Eretz Yisrael is not only against secular history but also against Islamic history!
The name "Falastin" that Arabs today use for "Palestine" is not an Arabic name, but adopted and adapted from the Latin Palæstina . How can an Arab people have a western name instead of one in their own language? Because the use of the term "Palestinian" for an Arab group is only a modern political creation without any historic or ethnic grounds, and did not indicate any people before 1967. An Arab writer and journalist declared:
"There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians. Palestinians are Arabs, indistinguishable from Jordanians (another recent invention), Syrians, Iraqis, etc. Keep in mind that the Arabs control 99.9 percent of the Middle East lands. Israel represents one-tenth of one percent of the landmass. But that's too much for the Arabs. They want it all. And that is ultimately what the fighting in Israel is about today... No matter how many land concessions the Israelis make, it will never be enough".
- Joseph Farah, "Myths of the Middle East" -
Let us hear what other Arabs have said:
"There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it".
- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937 -
"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not".
- Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946 -
"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria".
- Representant of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956 -
Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated:
"The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 c.e. hardly lasted, as such, 22 years".
The preceding declarations by Arab politicians have been done before 1967, as they had not the slightest knowledge of the existence of any Palestinian people. How and when did they change their mind and decided that such people existed? When the State of Israel was reborn in 1948 c.e., the "Palestinians" did not exist yet, the Arabs had still not discovered that "ancient" people. They were too busy with the purpose of annihilating the new Sovereign State and did not intend to create any Palestinian entity, but only to distribute the land among the already existing Arab states. They were defeated. They attempted again to destroy Israel in 1967, and were humiliated in only six days, in which they lost the lands that they had usurped in 1948. In those 19 years of Arab occupation of Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, neither Jordan nor Egypt suggested to create a "Palestinian" state, since the still non-existing Palestinians would have never claimed their alleged right to have their own state... Paradoxically, during the British Mandate, it was not any Arab group but the Jews that were known as "Palestinians"!
What other Arabs declared after the Six-Day War:
"There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. We are all part of one nation. It is only for political reasons that we carefully underline our Palestinian identity... yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity serves only tactical purposes. The founding of a Palestinian state is a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel".
- Zuhair Muhsin, military commander of the PLO and member of the PLO Executive Council -
"You do not represent Palestine as much as we do. Never forget this one point: There is no such thing as a Palestinian people, there is no Palestinian entity, there is only Syria. You are an integral part of the Syrian people, Palestine is an integral part of Syria. Therefore it is we, the Syrian authorities, who are the true representatives of the Palestinian people".
- Syrian dictator Hafez Assad to the PLO leader Yassir Arafat -
"As I lived in Palestine, everyone I knew could trace their heritage back to the original country their great grandparents came from. Everyone knew their origin was not from the Canaanites, but ironically, this is the kind of stuff our education in the Middle East included. The fact is that today's Palestinians are immigrants from the surrounding nations! I grew up well knowing the history and origins of today's Palestinians as being from Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Christians from Greece, muslim Sherkas from Russia, muslims from Bosnia, and the Jordanians next door. My grandfather, who was a dignitary in Bethlehem, almost lost his life by Abdul Qader Al-Husseni (the leader of the Palestinian revolution) after being accused of selling land to Jews. He used to tell us that his village Beit Sahur (The Shepherds Fields) in Bethlehem County was empty before his father settled in the area with six other families. The town has now grown to 30,000 inhabitants".
- Walid Shoebat, an "ex-Palestinian" Arab -
How long do "Palestinians" live in "Palestine"?
According to the United Nations weird standards, any person that spent TWO YEARS (!!!) in "Palestine" before 1948, with or without proof, is a "Palestinian", as well as all the descendants of that person. Indeed, the PLO leaders eagerly demand the "right" of all Palestinians to come back to the land that they occupied before June 1967 c.e., but utterly reject to return back to the land where they lived only 50 years before, namely, in 1917 c.e. Why? Because if they agree to do so, they have to settle back in Iraq, Syria, Arabia, Libya, Egypt... and only a handful Arabs would remain in Israel (by Israel is intended the whole Land between the Yarden River and the Mediterranean Sea, plus the Golan region). It is thoroughly documented that the first inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael after some centuries were the Jewish pioneers, and not the Arabs so-called Palestinians. Some eyewitnesses have written their memories about the Land before the Jewish immigration:
"There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction... One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee... Nazareth is forlorn... Jericho lies a mouldering ruin... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation... untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent, mournful expanse... a desolation... We never saw a human being on the whole route... Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes... desolate and unlovely...".
- Mark Twain, "The Innocents Abroad", 1867 -
Where had the Palestinians been hidden that Mark Twain did not see them? Where was that "ancient" people in the mid XIX century c.e.? Of course, modern biased Arab politicians try to discredit Mark Twain and insult and blame him of racism. Yet, it seems that there were other people that did not achieve in recognizing a single Palestinian in those times and earlier:
"In 1590 a 'simple English visitor' to Jerusalem wrote: 'Nothing there is to bescene but a little of the old walls, which is yet remayning and all the rest is grasse, mosse and weedes much like to a piece of rank or moist grounde'.".
- Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund,
Quarterly Statement, p. 86; de Haas, History, p. 338 -
"The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil".
- British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s -
"Palestine is a ruined and desolate land".
- Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian -
"The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it".
- Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s -
"Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have rolled away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race who once inhabited these savage hills. There may have been cultivation here two thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge stony mounds environing this rough path, have level ridges all the way up to their summits; on these parallel ledges there is still some verdure and soil: when water flowed here, and the country was thronged with that extraordinary population, which, according to the Sacred Histories, was crowded into the region, these mountain steps may have been gardens and vineyards, such as we see now thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride".
- William Thackeray in "From Jaffa To Jerusalem", 1844 -
"The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population".
- James Finn, British Consul in 1857 -
"There are many proofs, such as ancient ruins, broken aqueducts, and remains of old roads, which show that it has not always been so desolate as it seems now. In the portion of the plain between Mount Carmel and Jaffa one sees but rarely a village or other sights of human life. There are some rude mills here which are turned by the stream. A ride of half an hour more brought us to the ruins of the ancient city of Cæsarea, once a city of two hundred thousand inhabitants, and the Roman capital of Palestine, but now entirely deserted. As the sun was setting we gazed upon the desolate harbor, once filled with ships, and looked over the sea in vain for a single sail. In this once crowded mart, filled with the din of traffic, there was the silence of the desert. After our dinner we gathered in our tent as usual to talk over the incidents of the day, or the history of the locality. Yet it was sad, as I laid upon my couch at night, to listen to the moaning of the waves and to think of the desolation around us".
- B. W. Johnson, in "Young Folks in Bible Lands": Chapter IV, 1892 -
"The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880's, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained "The Holy Land" in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants - both Jewish and Arab. The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts... Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen... The plows used were of wood... The yields were very poor... The sanitary conditions in the village [Yabna] were horrible... Schools did not exist... The rate of infant mortality was very high... The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert... The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants".
- The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913 -
The list of travellers and pilgrims throughout the XVI to the XIX centuries c.e. that give a similar description of the Holy Land is quite longer, including Alphonse de Lamartine, Sir George Gawler, Sir George Adam Smith, Siebald Rieter, priest Michael Nuad, Martin Kabatnik, Arnold Van Harff, Johann Tucker, Felix Fabri, Edward Robinson and others. All of them found the land almost empty, except for Jewish communities in Jerusalem, Shechem, Hevron, Haifa, Safed, Irsuf, Cæsarea, Gaza, Ramleh, Acre, Sidon, Tzur, El Arish, and some towns in Galilee: Ein Zeitim, Pekiin, Biria, Kfar Alma, Kfar Hanania, Kfar Kana and Kfar Yassif. Even Napoleon I Bonaparte, having seen the need that the Holy Land would be populated, had in mind to enable a mass return of Jews from Europe to settle in the country that he recognized as theirs' - evidently, he did not see any "Palestinian" claiming historical rights over the Holy Land, whose few inhabitants were mainly Jews.
Besides them, many Arab sources confirm the fact that the Holy Land was still Jewish by population and culture in spite of the Diaspora:
·In 985 c.e. the Arab writer Muqaddasi complained that in Jerusalem the large majority of the population were Jewish, and said that "the mosque is empty of worshippers..." .
·Ibn Khaldun, one of the most creditable Arab historians, in 1377 c.e. wrote:
"Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel extended over 1400 years... It was the Jews who implanted the culture and customs of the permanent settlement".
After 300 years of Arab rule in the Holy Land, Ibn Khaldun attested that Jewish culture and traditions were still dominant. By that time there was still no evidence of "Palestinian" roots or culture .
·The historian James Parker wrote: "During the first century after the Arab conquest [670-740 c.e.], the caliph and governors of Syria and the [Holy] Land ruled entirely over Christian and Jewish subjects. Apart from the Bedouin in the earliest days, the only Arabs west of the Jordan were the garrisons".
Even though the Arabs ruled the Land from 640 c.e. to 1099 c.e., they never became the majority of the population. Most of the inhabitants were Christians (Assyrian and Armenian) and Jews.
If the historic documents, comments written by eyewitnesses and declarations by the most authoritative Arab scholars are still not enough, let us quote the most important source for muslim Arabs:
"And thereafter We [Allah] said to the Children of Israel: 'Dwell securely in the Promised Land. And when the last warning will come to pass, we will gather you together in a mingled crowd'.".
- Qur'an 17:104 -
Any sincere muslim must recognize the Land they call "Palestine" as the Jewish Homeland, according to the book considered by muslims to be the most sacred word and Allah's ultimate revelation.
Permanent Jewish presence in the Holy Land
Whenever the issue concerning the Jewish population in Israel is discussed, the idea that Jews are "returning back" to their Homeland after almost two millennia of exile is taken for granted. It is true that such is the case for the largest number of Jews, but not for all of them. It is not correct to say that the whole Jewish nation has been in exile. The long exile, known as Diaspora, is a documented fact that proves the legitimacy of the Jewish claim to the Land of Israel, and was the consequence of the Jewish Wars of independence from the Roman Empire. If "Palestinians" allegedly are the historic inhabitants of the Holy Land, why did they not fight for independence from Roman occupation as Jews did? How is it possible that not a single Palestinian leader heading for a revolt against the Roman invaders is mentioned in any historic record? Why there is not any Palestinian rebel group mentioned, as for example the Jewish Zealots? Why every historic document mentions the Jews as the native inhabitants, and the Greeks, Romans and others as foreigners dwelling in Judea, but not any Palestinian people, neither as native nor as foreigner? After the last Jewish War in the 2nd century c.e., the Roman emperor Hadrian sacked Jerusalem in 135 c.e. and changed her name into Ælia Capitolina, and the name of Judæa into Palæstina, in order to erase the Jewish identity from the face of the Earth. Most of the Jews were expelled from their own land by the Romans, a fact that determined the beginning of the great Diaspora. Nevertheless, small groups of Jews remained in the province then renamed "Palestine", and their descendants dwelled in their own country continuously throughout generations until the Zionist pioneers started on the mass return in the XIX century. Therefore, the Jewish claim to the Land of Israel is justified not only by an old Biblical Promise, but also by a permanent presence of Jews as the only autochthonous ethnic community existing in the Holy Land. Along the centuries and under different dominations, the "Palestinian" Jews did never submit to assimilation but conserved their spiritual and cultural identity, as well as their links with other Jewish communities in the Middle East. The continuous flow of Mizrachim (Oriental) and Sephardim (Mediterranean) Jews to the Holy Land contributed to support the existence of the Jewish population in the area. This enduring Jewish presence in the so-called Palestine preceded many centuries the arrival of the first Arab conqueror.
Even though Jerusalem has been off-limits to Jews in different periods (since Romans banned all Jews to enter the City), many of them settled in the immediate proximities and in other towns and villages of the Holy Land. A Jewish community was established at Mount Zion. The Roman and subsequent Byzantine rule were oppressive; Jews were prevented from praying at the Kotel, where the Holy Temple once existed. The Sassanid Persians took control over Jerusalem in 614 c.e. allied with the local Jews, but five years later the City fell again under Byzantine control, although it was an ephemeral rule because in 638 c.e. Jerusalem was captured by the caliph Omar. That was the first time that an Arab leader set foot in the Holy City, inhabited by non-Arab peoples (Jews, Assyrians, Armenians, Greeks and other Christian communities). After centuries of Roman-Byzantine oppression, the Jews welcomed the Arab conquerors with the hope that their conditions would improve. The Arabs found a strong Jewish identity in Jerusalem and the surrounding land; Jews were living in every district of the country and on both sides of the Jordan. Indeed, the "Palestinians" that were historically dwelling in the Holy Land were no other than the Jews! Towns like Ramallah, Yericho and Gaza were almost purely Jewish by that time. The Arabs, not having a name of their own for this region, adopted the Latin name "Palæstina", that they translated into Arabic as "Falastin".
The first Arab immigrants that settled in the so-called Palestine - or, according to the modern UN conception, the first "Palestinian refugees" - were actually Jewish Arabs, namely Nabateans that adopted Judaism. Before the rise of Islam, flourishing centres like Khaybar and Yathrib (renamed Madinah) were mainly Jewish Nabatean cities. Whenever there was a famine in the land, people would go to Khaybar; the Jews always had fruit, and their springs yielded a plentiful supply of water. Once the muslim hordes conquered the Arabian peninsula, all that richness was ruined; the muslims perpetrated massacres against the Jews and replaced them with masses of ignorant fellahin submitted to the new religion. The survivors had to escape and took refuge in the Holy Land, mainly in Yericho and Dera'a, on both shores of the Jordan.
The Arab caliphs (Umayyad, Abbasid and Fatimid) controlled the Holy Land until 1071 c.e., when Jerusalem was captured by the Seldjuq Turks, and after that time, it was never again under Arab rule. During all that period, Arabs hardly established any permanent social structure of their own, but rather governed over the native non-Arab Christian and Jewish population. Any honest observer would notice that the Arabs ruled over the Holy Land three centuries less than they did over Spain!
In 1099 c.e., the European Crusaders conquered the so-called Palestine and established a kingdom that was politically independent, but never developed a national identity; it was just a military outpost of Christian Europe. The Crusaders were ruthless and tried by all means to remove any expression of Jewish culture, but all their efforts ended without success. In 1187 c.e., Jews actively participated with Salah-ud-Din Al'Ayyub (Saladin) against the Crusaders in the conquest of Jerusalem. Saladin, who was the greatest muslim conqueror, was not an Arab but a Kurd. The Crusaders took Jerusalem back from 1229 to 1244 c.e., when the City was captured by the Khwarezmians. A period of chaos and Mongol invasions followed until 1291c.e., when the Mameluks completed the conquest of almost the whole Middle East and settled their capital in Cairo, Egypt. The Mameluks were originally Central Asian and Caucasian mercenaries employed by the Arab caliphs; a medley of peoples whose main contingent was composed by Kumans, a Turkic tribe also known as Kipchak, related to the Seldjuqs, Kimaks and other groups. They were characterized by their ambiguous behaviour, as Kuman mercenaries were often contemporarily serving two enemy armies. The Mameluk soldiers did not miss the right moment to seize power for themselves, and even after their rule was overthrown, they were still employed as warriors by the Ottoman sultans and at last by Napoleon Bonaparte.
In 1517 c.e., Jerusalem and the whole Holy Land were conquered by the Ottoman Turks and remained under their rule during four centuries, until 1917 c.e., when the British captured Jerusalem and established the "Mandate of Palestine". It was the end of the Ottoman Empire, that owned all the present-day Arab countries until then. Indeed, since the fall of the Abbasid caliphate in 945 c.e., no Arab political entity existed in the Middle East for almost a millennium!
By the beginning of the XX century c.e., the population of Judea and Samaria - the improperly called "West Bank" - was less than 100,000 inhabitants, of which the majority were Jews. Gaza had no more than 80,000 "native" inhabitants in 1951, at the end of Israel's Independence War against the whole Arab world. Gaza was occupied by Arabs: How is it possible that in only 50 years it has increased from 80,000 to more than one million people? Are all those Arabs of Gaza so skilful as to procreate children in a supernatural way? Mass immigration is the ONLY plausible explanation for such a demographic increase. The Arab occupation between 1948 and 1967 was an advantageous opportunity for Arab leaders to promote mass immigration of so-called "Palestinians" (a mishmash of Arab immigrants) into Judea, Samaria and Gaza from every Arab country, mainly Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan. In fact, since 1950 until the Six-Day War, under Jordanian rule, more than 250 Arab settlements have been founded in Judea and Samaria. The recent construction of the Arab houses is quite evident by the materials used for building: concrete and cinderblock. The Israeli government admits to have allowed over 240,000 workers to enter Judea and Samaria through the border with Jordan since the Oslo Conference - only to have them stay in those territories as Arab settlers. The actual numbers are probably higher. If hundreds of thousands of Middle Eastern migrant workers are flooding into the Judea, Samaria and Gaza, why should Israel be required to provide them jobs? In fact the reverse, by supporting their economy while these people refuse to accept Israeli or Jordanian citizenship, Israel is only attracting more migrant workers. Saudi Arabia in a single year expelled over 1,000,000 stateless migrant workers. Lest anyone think that these are all "Palestinians", taking account of the definition of "Palestinian" according to the United Nations: all those Arabs that spent TWO YEARS in "Palestine" before 1948, and their descendants - with or without proof or documentation -. This definition was specifically designed to include immigrant Arab settlers (not Jewish settlers!).
The British perfidy
The restoration of the desolate and deserted Land began in the latter half of the XIX century with the arrival of the first Jewish pioneers. Their labours created newer and better conditions and opportunities, which in turn attracted migrants from many parts of the Middle East, mainly Arabs but also Circassians, Kurds and others. The Balfour Declaration of 1917, confirmed by the League of Nations, committed the British government (that took control of the Holy Land after having defeated the Ottoman Turks) to the principle that "His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish National Home, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object". It was specified both that this area be open to "Jewish settlement" and that the rights of all inhabitants already in the country be preserved and protected. The "Mandate of Palestine" ‒as it was called the British-occupied land‒ originally included all of present-day Jordan, as well as the whole of Israel, and the so-called "territories" between them (?) ‒actually, the Jordan river and the Dead Sea are the only "territory" between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom‒.
However, the political and economic interests of Great Britain in Arabia turned soon into a blatant anti-Jewish policy. The British rule progressively limited Jewish immigration. In 1939 the admission of Jews to enter the Holy Land was put to an end. In the moment in which Jews from Europe had the greatest need of refuge, the British denied them to reach the Land that was their only hope of deliverance from the atrocious Shoah. Yes, the British government is not less guilty than Nazi Germany for the Shoah! At the same time, the British allowed and even encouraged massive illegal immigration into the lands west of the Jordan river from Arab countries. Then, all the lands of the Mandate of Palestine east of the Jordan river were given to the Arabs and the puppet-kingdom of "Trans-Jordan" was created, name that was then changed into "Jordan" after the Arabs occupied the western side in 1948. There was no traditional or historic Arab name for this land, so it was called after the river that marked its western border (which was later included, until June 1967). By this political act, that violated the conditions of the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate, the British stole more than 75 % out of the Jewish National Home. No Jew has ever been permitted to reside in the east of the Jordan river. Less than 25 % then remained of Mandate of Palestine, and even in this remnant, the British violated the Balfour and Mandate requirements for a "Jewish National Home" and for "Jewish settlement". They progressively restricted where Jews could buy land, where they could live, build, farm or work. After the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel was finally able to settle some small part of those lands from which the Jews had been banned by the British. Successive British governments regularly condemned Jewish settlement as "illegal". Actually, it was the British who had acted illegally in banning Jews from these parts of the Jewish National Home! To conclude in shame, when the it was held the UN voting to approve the creation of the State of Israel in November 29, 1947, the United Kingdom ABSTAINED. Israel was recognized by the USSR, the Communist Countries, the USA and Philippines. When the British had to leave the Holy Land, they left their weapons in Arab hands ‒ while Jews were prohibited to have any kind of weapon and had to keep them in secret in order to defend themselves from the imminent attack by the Arabs, in which the British would appear as "disengaged" and free from any responsibility...
Another of the big lies that are being passed off as truth by politics and mass media is the "Palestinian refugees" issue: the allegedly "native" population that were "evicted" by the Israelis. Actually, in 1948 the Arab so-called refugees were encouraged to leave Israel by Arab leaders, who promised to purge the Land of Jews. Almost 70 % of them left without having ever seen a single Israeli soldier.
On the other side, nothing is said about the Jewish refugees that were forced to flee from Arab lands due to Arab brutality, persecution and pogroms. As soon as the State of Israel was founded, hundreds of thousands of Jews were expelled from every Arab country, mainly Yemen, Iraq and Egypt. The Mizrachim, also known as Babylonian Jews, were living in present-day Iraq since the Babylonian exile in the 6th century b.c.e., the Teymanim or Yemenite Jews were settled in the Sabean Kingdoms long before Roman times. Arabs have expelled them from the lands where those Jews were living for many centuries! The number of Arab so-called refugees that left Israel in 1948 is estimated to be around 630,000, while the Jewish refugees that were forced out from Arab lands is estimated to be some more than that... Nevertheless, the UN has never demanded from Arab states to receive the Jews that were settled there for many generations and to restore their property and to provide them employment. Meanwhile, the so-called Palestinian "refugees" were intentionally not absorbed or integrated into the Arab countries to which they fled, despite the vast Arab territory (Israel's extension is less than 1% of the territory of all Arab lands). Out of the 100,000,000 refugees since World War II, the so-called Palestinians are the only refugee group in the world that has never been absorbed or integrated into their own peoples' lands. On the contrary, Jewish refugees were completely absorbed into Israel.
The truth is that the Arab League keeps the Palestinian refugees issue as a political weapon against Israel, with which they continue to fool the United Nations and propagate their perfidious policy. The proofs of such intention are given by Arab sources themselves: At a refugee conference in Homs, Syria, the Arab leaders declared that «any discussion aimed at a solution of the Palestine problem which will not based on ensuring the refugees' right to annihilate Israel will be regarded as desecration of the Arab people and an act of treason». In 1958, former director of UNRWA Ralph Galloway declared angrily while in Jordan that «the Arab states do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the United Nations, and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders do not give a damn whether Arab refugees live or die». King Hussein, the sole Arab leader that directed integration of the Arabs, in 1960 stated: «Since 1948 Arab leaders have approached the Palestine problem in an irresponsible manner.... They have used the Palestine people for selfish political purposes. This is ridiculous and, I could say, even criminal».
Between 1948 and 1967, the Arab flow into the Israeli territories occupied by them (Judea, Samaria and Gaza) was intensified. The UNRWA reported in 1951-52 that «200,000 Arab "refugees" were languishing in Gaza, along with 80,000 original residents who barely made a living before the refugees arrived», notwithstanding, a project to accommodate 10,000 families in the Sinai area (then under Egyptian control) was suspended. How is that the Gaza Strip, having around 80,000 allegedly native residents and twice and half that number of immigrants is only fifty years later overpopulated, with about one and half million of "native people dwelling there since ancestral times"?
The Arab states are acting a downright discrimination policy against Palestinians, preventing them with all means to achieve any sort of integration in the Arab countries (the same ones from where the Palestinians' grandparents emigrated to the Holy Land). Iraq and Syria were the most appropriate lands for resettlement of the so-called Palestinian refugees. Between 1948 and 1951, more than 120,000 Jews left Iraq to settle in Israel, leaving all of their goods and homes behind them. Most of them were businessmen and artisans, and many were wealthy. Their departure created a large gap in Iraq's economy; in some fields, such as transport, banking and wholesale trades, it reached serious proportions, and there was also a dearth of white collar workers and professional men. Salah Jabr, former dictator of Iraq recognized that «the emigration of 120,000 Jews from Iraq to Israel is beneficial to Iraq and to the Palestinian Arabs because it makes possible the entry into Iraq of a similar number of Arab refugees and their occupation of the Jewish houses there». Nevertheless, Palestinians in Iraq have been "allowed to live in the country but not to assume Iraqi nationality", despite the fact that the country needs manpower and "is encouraging Arab nationals to work and live there by granting them citizenship, with the exception of Palestinians".
Syria was also almost a desert in the early fifties and a very suitable land to give home to the "refugees", not only those already dwelling in Syria but also those in Lebanon and Jordan. In 1949 a newspaper editorial from Damascus stated that «Syria needs not only 100,000 refugees, but five million to work the lands and make them fruitful». Indeed, two years later the Syrian government officially requested that half a million Egyptian agricultural workers be permitted to emigrate to Syria in order to help develop Syrian land which would be transferred to them as their property. The responsible Egyptian authorities have rejected this request on the grounds that Egyptian agriculture is in need of labour as well. Syria was offering land rent free to anyone willing to settle there. It even announced a committee to study would-be settlers' applications. In fact, Syrian authorities began the experiment by moving 25,000 of the refugees in Syria into areas of potential development in the northern parts of the country, but the rigid Arab League position against permanent resettlement prevailed. Palestinians in Syria are still regarded as "refugees" and discriminated as such. The situation in all the remaining Arab states is the same: even though the great majority of the so-called Palestinian refugees has now left the camps for a better life as immigrant workers, they are being denied citizenship in the Arab countries to which they had moved. Regardless of their good behaviour and the many years they are living there, they are still discriminated and denied full integration in society. They must be kept as "refugees" forever, until they may occupy the Land of Israel once that Jews have been expelled or annihilated, that is the ultimate aim of the Arab League policy. Of curse, they would never achieve in doing so, as every time that the Arabs attacked Israel, the Arabs have undergone a shameful defeat.
The current myth is that these Arabs were long established in "Palestine", until the Jews came and "displaced" them. The fact is, that recent Arab immigration into the Land of Israel displaced the Jews. That the massive increase in Arab population was very recent is attested by the ruling of the United Nations: That any Arab who had lived in the Holy Land for two years and then left in 1948 qualifies as a "Palestinian refugee".
II - Myths and facts about Jerusalem and Temple Mount
(from "Myths of the Middle East")
One of the most popular lies that has become universally accepted as if it was an indisputable truth is the myth about Jerusalem being the third sacred place to Islam. It is quite rare to hear the honest truth, that Jerusalem is the First and Only Holiest place to Judaism! As a matter of fact, Jerusalem is not mentioned at all in the koran, and Muhammad has never been there (perhaps he did not even know about the existence of Jerusalem!). The tale about his dream flight has been related with Jerusalem in a very recent time for political strategy purposes.
1) The Islamic claim to the Temple Mount is very recent - Jerusalem's role as "The Third Holiest Site in Islam" in mainstream Islamic writings does not precede the 1930s. It was created by the grand mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini.
Most of the problems surrounding Jerusalem can be traced to two areas of dispute: the political area that asks Jerusalem to be the capital of both Israel and the hypothetic Palestine; the other and most contentious problem is the holiness of Temple Mount to both Judaism and Islam.
Many if not most
opinions that counter Islam's claim point out the Jerusalem is not
mentioned in the qur'an and did not occupy any special role in Islam
until recent political exigencies transformed Jerusalem into Islam's
"third holy site". This falsehood was created by
the grand mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini.
The mufti knew that nationalist slogans alone would not succeed in
uniting the masses against arriving Jewish refugees; he therefore
turned the struggle into a religious conflict. He addressed the masses
clearly, calling for a holy war. Since the moment when he was
appointed to the position of mufti, Haj Amin worked vigorously to
raise Jerusalem's status as an Islamic holy centre.
2) The Islamic claim to Jerusalem is false - There were no mosques in Jerusalem in 632 c.e. at the death of Muhammad... Jerusalem was [then] a Christian-occupied city
‒by Dr. Manfred R. Lehmann, writer for the Algemeiner Journal. Excerpts of the article originally published in the Algemeiner Journal, August 19, 1994‒
The muslim "claim" to Jerusalem is allegedly based on what is written in the koran, which although does not mention Jerusalem even once, nevertheless talks of the "furthest mosque" (in Sura 17:1): «Glory be unto Allah who did take his servant for a journey at night from the sacred mosque to the furthest mosque». But is there any foundation to the muslim argument that this "furthest mosque" (al-masujidi al-aqsa) refers to what is today called the Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem? The answer is, NO!
In the days of Muhammad, who died in 632 of the Common Era, Jerusalem was a Christian-occupied city within the Byzantine Empire. Jerusalem was captured by caliph Omar only in 638 c.e., six years after Muhammad's death. Throughout all this time there were only churches in Jerusalem, and a church stood on the Temple Mount, called the Church of Saint Mary of Justinian, built in the Byzantine architectural style. The Aqsa mosque was built 20 years after the Dome of the Rock, which was built in 691-692 by caliph Abd el-Malik. The name "Omar mosque" is therefore false. In or around 711, about 80 years after Muhammad died, Malik's son, Abd el-Wahd ‒who ruled in 705-715‒ reconstructed the Christian-Byzantine Church of St. Mary and converted it into a mosque. He left the structure as it was, a typical Byzantine "basilica" structure with a row of pillars on either side of the rectangular "ship" in the centre. All he added was an onion-like dome on top of the building to make it look like a mosque. He then named it El-Aqsa, so it would sound like the one mentioned in the koran.
Consequently, it is crystal clear that Muhammad could never have had this mosque in mind when he wrote the koran (if he did so), since it did not exist for another three generations after his death. Rather, as many scholars long ago established, it is logical that Muhammad intended the mosque in Mecca as the "sacred mosque", and the mosque in Medina as the "furthest mosque". So much for the muslim claim based on the Aqsa mosque.
With this understood, it is no wonder that Muhammad issued a strict prohibition against facing Jerusalem in prayer, a practice that had been tolerated only for some months in order to lure Jews to convert to Islam. When that effort failed, Muhammad put an abrupt stop to it on February 624. Jerusalem simply never held any sanctity for the muslims themselves, but only for the Jews in their domain.
3) The present Arabic name of Jerusalem is "Al-Quds"... but "Al-Quds" is an abbreviation for "The Jewish Temple"!
‒by Rabbi Joseph Katz‒
The Arabic name for Jerusalem is "Al-QuDS" (The Holy), which is abbreviation for another Arabic name used for Jerusalem until the last century, "Bayt al-MaQDeS" (The Holy House), since the 10th century c.e. The name "Bayt al-MaQDeS" is a translation of the Hebrew "Beyt ha-MiKDaSH", which means "House of Holiness", "Temple". But Islam has no Temple, only the Jews did. Thus the Arabic name for Jerusalem makes no reference to Muhammad's alleged trip to Heaven, but rather refers to the Jewish Temple!
In fact, it can be seen that significant Islamic interest in the Temple Mount does not precede the Six-Day War in 1967.
The greatest lie ever told about Jerusalem
‒by Emanuel A. Winston, a Middle East analyst & commentator; January 7, 2001‒
The 13th century Arab biographer Yakut noted: «Mecca is holy to muslims; Jerusalem is holy to the Jews».
The terrorist PLO leader Yassir Arafat and the Arabs claimed the Holy Jewish Temple Mount and Jerusalem based upon one extraordinarily huge lie told over and over again. Here then is a brief history of the religious war against the Jewish people, the Jewish State of Israel and her 3000 year old Eternal Capital, Jerusalem. Would be conquerors invariably issue false claims to provide justification for their march to conquest. The more recent call to "Jihad" against the Jews of Israel was first called in 1947 after the U.N. partition in a "fatwa" (religious ruling) by the Saudis ‒ supposedly to save the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount from the Jews. Thus, Yassir Arafat, with the full support of the Arab nations, later claimed the Jewish Temple Mount as the third holiest site for Islam - including all of Jerusalem. Therefore, as in the past, this claim has its root in a classic religious war - in addition to other spurious reasons offered.
This myth of Jerusalem as Islam's third holiest city based upon the mythical ascension of Muhammad from Al-Aqsa to Heaven has grown exponentially in the recent telling since 1967. When you tell a Big Lie and repeat it often, it achieves credibility and legs of its own. In Islam, telling a lie to infidels for the sake of enlarging your own believers' faith or defeating the infidel is acceptable, even desirable.
History and revisionism
These facts of recorded history have been obliterated by the recent false claims made in the name of radical Islamic fundamentalism supported by the silence of scholars unwilling to face a "fatwa" of assassination, the world media, with full access to Biblical scholars and historical files, have instead accepted the Great Lie. They carry it forward without question and with a certain perverse enthusiasm, having refused to use the Bible (Torah) as a resource ‒ the most accurate historic record of contemporary events of ancient times. They also have neglected to publicize the historic documents that attest the Jewish ownership of Jerusalem, including Arab sources.
The history of Jerusalem and the site of the Jewish Holy Temple, constructed in 956 b.c.e. by King Solomon, son of King David, is fully described with minute detail in the Torah. The First Temple was later destroyed by the Babylonian King Nebukhadnetzar in 586 b.c.e.
The Second Temple was rebuilt by order of Koresh (Cyrus), the King of Persia, who also paid for its reconstruction and ordered the return of the Jews exiled in Babylon. The Second Temple was completed and consecrated in 515 b.c.e.
After the Jews revolted against Roman rule, the Romans under Titus destroyed and burned the Second Temple beginning on the 9th of Av (Tisha B'Av), 70 c.e. This event is illustrated in the carvings on the Arch of Titus in Rome, depicting Titus' triumphal march through Rome, parading the Holy Temple vessels, including the great Menorah. Despite Arafat's claim that there was no Jewish Temple, the Romans memorialized their capture of the Jews and their Temple in 70 c.e. by carving it in stone!
Before the days of Muhammad, "Christian" conquerors had occupied Jerusalem (within the Byzantine Empire). Bringing one's religion into battle demonstrated that both their armies and their religion were superior to those of their victims when they won. So, they usually built their holy places on top of their victims' holy places, which they did on the Temple Mount, to absorb the strength of their conquered adversaries and to convert them to their religion. Even under the threat of the sword, the Jews refused to convert and allow their lineage to be absorbed, which would in effect, transfer G§d's Covenant.
Muhammad died in 632 c.e. Jerusalem was subsequently captured from the Romans by caliph Omar, six years after Muhammad's death. There was a struggle over who would assume Muhammad's role as leader of the new religion of Islam which he had envisioned.
So, another conqueror (the muslims) had superseded the European invaders and their mosque was proof of their superiority in battle and religion. But, it was much more. It was also to be a mighty symbol in the struggle for leadership of the growing movement of Islam. Since Mecca was already the location of Muhammad's power with its own priest cult, if a claimant wanted to redirect that power to himself as the new leader of Islam, he would also need an uncontested and new base of religious power. He could not make war on Mecca and expect to be accepted as Muhammad's rightful heir.
Jerusalem, despite Muhammad's rejection, was still looked upon in the then Arab world as a powerful symbol where the ancient Jews had placed their faith. The Jews considered Jerusalem the centre of the world and the earthly dwelling place of HaShem, the One G§d. It was not surprising that the Arabs and other nations wanted to own and control this source of power.