By Richard PollackThe Daily Caller
Following President Donald Trump’s declaration that the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Saeb Erekat quickly shot back and demanded “equal rights for everyone living in historic Palestine.”
Protests over Trump’s move have sparked riots in Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and even violent protests in Europe, from Germany to Sweden. But how exactly did Arab Muslims treat Christians and Jews when they ruled over Jerusalem for 19 years?
It appears Arabs were anything but tolerant toward either. The Daily Caller News Foundation examined Arab rule over the eastern half of Jerusalem from 1949 until 1967, and found that both Christians and Jews were routinely denied religious freedom and often faced persecution at the hands of the Arabs when Muslims were in charge of the eastern half of the holy city.
In 1947, the United Nations approved a partition plan to permit both Jews and Muslims to govern separate sectors. Israel accepted the plan but the Arabs refused it and sent their armies against a group of citizen-soldiers.
The Israelis won a surprising victory in what they called their War of Independence. In 1949, an armistice was signed by both Jordan and Israel, signaling the end to the conflict.
The western half of Jerusalem was to be governed by Israel and the eastern half by the Jordanian Hashemite Kingdom. The Jewish Quarter and many of the most sacred Jewish sites were located in the eastern half ruled by Jordan and local Arabs.
From the very start, the Jordanians banned Jews outright, even though the armistice promised “free access to the holy sites and cultural institutions and use of the cemeteries on the Mount of Olives.”
But the Arab governing bodies also persecuted the Christian church and its followers during the same 19 years it ruled over Jerusalem.
“Christian residents, like Jews, did not have equal rights,” noted pastor John C. Hagee, founder and chairman of Christians United for Israel, in an interview with TheDCNF.Jordanian and local Arab edicts prohibited Christians and later Christian churches from buying land and houses in the Old City of Jerusalem, according to the nonprofit Gatestone Institute.
The Institute reported that Arab Muslims restricted the number of Christian pilgrimages permitted in Jerusalem and Bethlehem during Christmas and Easter. They further imposed strict rules on Christian schools, including mandatory teaching of the Muslim Koran.
Hagee recounted the many indignities suffered by Christians who lived in Jerusalem.
“In 1952, Jordan proclaimed Islam as the official religion, including in Jerusalem,” he recalled. “In 1953, Christians were constrained for buying or holding land near holy sites. In 1955, all Jordanian schools were to be overseen by the government and only government-sanctioned textbooks could be used. In 1964, Churches were prohibited from buying land in Jerusalem. Churches were barred from funding hospitals or social services in Jerusalem.”While Christians faced hardship and very harsh restrictions, Jews were banished entirely from the holy city.
From 1949 onward, there were no Jewish homes, synagogues or businesses in ancient Jerusalem. Jewish homes were taken over and occupied by Arabs and Jews lost their businesses. Most Jews fled to the western half of Jerusalem or to other parts of the Israel. Israelis or Jews of any nationality could not enter the Muslim section of Jerusalem for 19 years.
When the Israelis entered the eastern part of Jerusalem, they found the most sacred ancient Jewish shrines had been desecrated or totally destroyed by the Jordanian army or by local Arab residents.
One of the most spectacular acts of desecration was the destruction of the 2,000-year old Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, which was supposed to be protected by the armistice. Christian clergy who raised concerns about the desecration of the cemetery was told by Jordanian authorities “to mind his own business,” according to the 1967 Israeli report.