Expulsion. Exclusion. Discrimination.
These are terrible actions, especially against civilians seeking to live and pray in their holiest city.
But they have been the reality in one of the great cities of the world – Jerusalem.
When the League of Nations (forerunner to the United Nations) sought to create space for Jews and Arabs in the Holy Land in 1922, it made clear that all parties should be free to live and worship according to their custom, as laid out in Article 15:
“The Mandatory shall see that complete freedom of conscience and the free exercise of all forms of worship, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals, are ensured to all. No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants of Palestine on the ground of race, religion or language. No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.”
The United Nations tried to ensure that there would be freedom of access and worship when it took up the cause of Palestine in 1947. The UN planned on placing the cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem into a “corpus separatum,” an international holy basin that would neither be part of a Jewish State of Israel, nor an Arab state of Palestine. While the Jewish Zionists accepted the plan, the Arabs rejected it and went to war to destroy Israel as soon as it declared itself an independent country in May 1948. By the war’s end in 1949, Jordan claimed all of Bethlehem and the eastern half of Jerusalem including Judaism’s holiest site, while Israel took the western half of Jerusalem.
The Israelis gave citizenship to all 160,000 non-Jews in Israel, but the Jordanians instituted an ethnic cleansing of all Jews from the west bank of the Jordan River through eastern Jerusalem.
In April 1950, the Jordanians annexed the Old City of Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the entirety in of the western bank of the Jordan River in a move that was not recognized by almost the entire world. The Arabs put up barbed wire and blockades and prevented any Jews from entering or visiting the Old City of Jerusalem including the holy sites of the Kotel, the Western Wall, and the Jewish Temple Mount.
In 1954, the Jordanians continued their discriminatory program and granted citizenship to the people of the west bank and eastern Jerusalem, specifically IF THEY WERE NOT JEWISH.
These Arab policies of expulsion, exclusion and discrimination would remain in effect until June 10, 1967.
Just as the Jordanians launched an attack on Israel in 1948, it would do so again in June 1967. And just as Israel won more land in its defensive battle of independence in 1948-9, it would take more of the land that had been allocated as a Jewish homeland in international law in 1922.
At the end of the Six Day War the Arab edicts of expulsion and exclusion were eradicated, and Jews once again moved into their holiest city, rebuilt the destroyed synagogues and resumed praying at the Kotel.
However, the stain of discrimination still exists in Jerusalem, as the government of Israel handed administrative control of the Jewish Temple Mount to the Jordanian Waqf in 1967 in an effort to forge peace. To this day, the Waqf continues to prohibit Jews from praying at Judaims’ holiest location.
While June 10, 1967 began the process of dismantling apartheid in Jerusalem, there is still some way to go.
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