Timely reminder of Jewish ties to Jerusalem -- From your nearest synagogue
Who would have thought even a few years ago that Jews would need to remind the world of their historical and biblical ties to Jerusalem?
Are Muslims required to validate religious bonds with Mecca and Medina? Do Catholics find it necessary to adduce proof of links to the Holy See in Rome?
But when it comes to Jerusalem, Jews suddenly find themselves having to prove to the world their 3,000-year spiritual and historical attachment to Jerusalem - their Eternal Capital, where Jewish monarchs reigned for a millennium, where King Solomon built the first Temple, where Jews, after a brief exile in Babylon, returned and built the Second Temple. Where after the Roman conquest, Jews for the last couple of millennia bowed and prayed to Jerusalem as their sacred lode star.
In a Middle East in chaos and turmoil, Jews increasingly are challenged to maintain and defend Jerusalem as theirs - whether against Palestinians or supposed Israel supporters looking for a quick formula to achieve a two-state peace agreement.
To illustrate the point, herewith a few examples of current events that raise questions about Jewish rights and sovereignty in Jerusalem.
We start with Mahmoud Abbas, the world's favorite peacemaker who has launched a full-scale delegitimizaton campaign against Israel as a Jewish state, with Jerusalem in his cross-hairs. Abbas calls Jerusalem the Eternal Capital of Palestine. He maintains that only Muslims and Christians -- but not Jews -- have historical ties to the city. If Abbas gets what he wants, Temple Mount and the Western Wall - the most sacred Jewish sites - will belong to the Palestinians. Jordan, which occupied Jerusalem's Old City from 1949 to 1967, barred Jewish worshippers. A Palestinian state, as demanded by Abbas, would be just as insistent on keeping Jews out.
Or take a close look at the record left by the platform committee of this year's Democratic National Convention. The committee produced a platform that dropped the party's previous support of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It also eliminated any mention of God in its document. Only after a mini-media storm did party leaders scramble to restore mention of God and language of previous conventions that recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. But the attempt to right these wrongs proved to be a sham. The convention chairman had to call for three separate voice votes in his attempt to satisfy a rule that requires a two-thirds margin for approval. At most, the delegates were equally divided. The chairman, his face clearly showing distaste for the lie he was about to perpetrate, nevertheless gaveled approval of the motion to restore God and Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Judging from this episode, half the Democratic Party as reflected by its convention delegates, now stands opposed to Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Or look in on recent post-convention press briefings at the White House and the State Department, where spokespersons repeatedly refuse or are unable to answer a seemingly simple question: What is Israel's capital?
Put all these events and trends together and you find Jerusalem abandoned by erstwhile friends, to say nothing of the Muslim/Arab world, plus anti-Israel leftists throughout the West, all seeking to wrench the city from Jewish history and biblical ties.
Jerusalem, however, also has legions of adherents and supporters. None more so than the commentary to this week's Torah reading by the Jewish prophet Isaiah, who proclaimed these words some two and a half millennia ago as a clarion call to defenders of Jerusalem throughout the ages:
"For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace.
"And for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest.
".....I have set watchmen
"Upon thy walls, O Jerusalem
"They shall never hold their peace
"Day or night;
"Ye that are the Lord's remembrancers,
"Take ye no rest."
To which we say: Amen.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers