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Et tu, BBC?

Dear BBC,

I found of interest your report on the conflict surrounding ongoing repairs to the ramp to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  That area was under Arab control for only 19 years, from 1948 to 1967, when it was ruled by Jordan.  Before that the British, the Ottomans, and various other invaders controlled that holy city.  Since then, it has been reunited and ruled by Israel.  Islamic and Christian holy sites have been preserved and protected.  For more years than your 34 year-old correspondent, Matthew Price, has been alive, Jerusalem has been the undivided capital of Israel.

Free access to holy sites of all faiths has been limited only by violence-provoked security concerns.  This is a stark contrast to the period of Jordanian control, when all Jews were expelled from the Old City's Jewish Quarter and prohibited from visiting their holy places.

As the BBC knows, non-Muslims are also forbidden from entering Mecca and Medina, the holiest cities in Islam.  Christians in the Middle East's Arab states, like the Jews before them, have been emigrating in large numbers in response to ethnic violence and discrimination.

Yet, according to your reporter, "most of the world" (and I suspect him, too) believes this is "occupied territory," although, "from whom" is left unsaid. A Palestinian state never governed it, and Arab control on the part of Jordan, which also seized the city by force, was the briefest of any sovereign entity for many centuries.

Presuming that the British believe their Bible - the Queen is head of the Church of England - they know that Jerusalem was a Jewish city well past the time of Jesus.  According to more recent British census figures, Jerusalem has had a majority Jewish population for centuries, as well.

Jerusalem is, as well, the cradle of Christianity; although one would never know that from recently-manufactured Islamic propaganda masquerading as scholarship that claims that the Jews' temple was elsewhere. Christians are a rapidly-shrinking group throughout the Middle East, even in traditionally Christian cites like Bethlehem, but not in Israel.

So does Matthew Price and the BBC find it not the least bit curious that Jerusalem, which was the Jews' most holy city and capital long before the birth of Mohammed, is thought by "most of the world" to belong to anyone else but Israel?

It can't be because the world and protesting Muslims love the Palestinians.  The United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) recently reported that only 3 percent of their funds for Palestinian refugee relief comes from Arabs states.

It can't be because they love Jerusalem. Jerusalem was a backwater for centuries. In 2001, Iran's influential Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani observed, "If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave any thing in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world."

It can't be because of Christianity's recorded history.  If Jesus lived and preached in Jerusalem, so did his fellow Jews.

Muslims are willing to destroy Jerusalem, and their Palestinian brothers and sisters, if they can take Israel along.  Presumably a BBC reporter needs no reminder that Islamic radicals are willing to die if they can take others with them.

Could it be none of that matters - that much of the world rejects Israel's remarkably benevolent rule over that holy city not because they love Jerusalem or the Palestinians, but because they just don't want it to belong to the Jews?

Et tu BBC?

John R. Cohn is a Professor of Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University. He writes frequently about the Middle East and recently returned from Israel where he participated in the Herzliya Conference on the Balance of Israel's National Security.

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