Aug. 1, 2019
The Origin of the Idea that Jerusalem Should Be Internationalized – Douglas J. Feith (Mosaic)
Jerusalem commanded little international attention in the 700 years after Muslims defeated the Christian Crusaders. That changed in 1917, when British forces captured Jerusalem from the Ottomans in World War I. The city and its holy places became a diplomatic issue. British officials spoke passionately of their duty to keep the city and its holy sites under Christian – and specifically British – control.
Handing it all back to the Muslims was out of the question. Nor could they imagine Jews in charge of the city. That was the origin of the idea that Jerusalem should be internationalized.
Underlying the idea of internationalization of Jerusalem was the principle that all religious communities should have access to their holy places there. U.S. officials championed internationalization as the best way to protect such access for everyone.
But between Israel’s birth in 1948 and the 1967 Arab-Israeli Six-Day War, the Jordanian army thoroughly destroyed Jerusalem’s Jewish quarter, razing its numerous synagogues and religious academies. Jordan destroyed and desecrated the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives and did not allow Jews to live in its part of Jerusalem or even to visit their holy sites there. But U.S. officials did not make a fuss about this.
The writer, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, served as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy in the George W. Bush administration.