John’s post below about the utter complacency of “the international commmunity” in connection with the savagery on display in Arafatistan reminds me of previous history that I am afraid has been lost down the memory hole. It is history that demonstrates an important continuity between time past and time present in that part of the world.
Jerusalem has of course always been the Jews’ holy city. In the Arab war against Israel, the Arab Legion took control of the Jewish Quarter of the old city of Jerusalem in May 1948. What happened next?
After the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem was captured, the destruction, desecration and systematic looting of Jewish sites began and continued. 57 ancient synagogues (the oldest dated to the 13th century), libraries and centers of religious study were ransacked and 12 were totally and deliberately destroyed. Those that remained standing were defaced, used for housing of both people and animals. The city’s foremost Jewish shrine, the Western Wall, became a slum. Appeals were made to the United Nations and in the international community to declare the Old City to be an ‘open city’ and stop this destruction, but there was no response. This condition continued until Jordan lost control of Jerusalem in June 1967.
On the Mount of Olives, the Jordanian Arabs removed 38,000 tombstones from the ancient cemetery and used them as paving stones for roads and as construction material in Jordanian Army camps, including use as latrines. When the area was recaptured by Israel in 1967, graves were found open with the bones scattered. Parts of the cemetery were converted into parking lots, a filling station, and an asphalt road was built to cut through it. The Intercontinental Hotel was built at the top of the cemetery. Sadar Khalil, appointed by the Jordanian government as the official caretaker of the cemetery, built his home on the grounds using the stones robbed from graves. In 1967, the press published extensive photos documenting that Jewish gravestones were found in Jordanian Army camps, such as El Azariya, as well as in Palestinian walkways, steps, bathrooms, and pavement.