Al-Ahram Weekly Online   1 - 7 April 2010
Issue No. 992
Reader's corner
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Readers' corner

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Keys to the city

Sir-- My backyard is empty but that does not give Netanyahu the right to put up an apartment complex on it.

If historical building of Jerusalem and historical connection with Jerusalem establish sovereignty over it as Netanyahu claims, here are the groups that have the greatest claim to the city:

The Muslims, who ruled it and built it over 1,191 years.

The Egyptians, who ruled it as a vassal state for several hundred years in the second millennium BCE;

The Italians, who ruled it 444 years until the fall of the Roman Empire in 450 CE;

The Iranians, who ruled it for 205 years under the Achaemenids, for three years under the Parthians (in so far as the last Hasmonean was actually their vassal), and for 15 years under the Sasanids;

The Greeks, who ruled it for over 160 years if we count the Ptolemys and Seleucids as Greek. If we count them as Egyptians and Syrians, that would increase the Egyptian claim and introduce a Syrian one;

The successor states to the Byzantines, which could be either Greece or Turkey, who ruled it 188 years, though if we consider the heir to be Greece and add in the time the Hellenistic Greek dynasties ruled it, that would give Greece nearly 350 years as ruler of Jerusalem;

There is an Iraqi claim to Jerusalem based on the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests, as well as perhaps the rule of the Ayyubids (Saladin's dynasty), who were Kurds from Iraq.

Of course, Jews are historically connected to Jerusalem by the temple, whenever that connection is dated to. But that link mostly was pursued when Jews were not in political control of the city, under Iranian, Greek and Roman rule. It cannot, therefore, be deployed to make a demand for political control of the whole city.

The Jews of Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine did not for the most part leave after the failure of the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans in 136 CE. They continued to live there and to farm in Palestine under Roman rule and then Byzantine. They gradually converted to Christianity. After 638 CE all but 10 per cent gradually converted to Islam.

The present-day Palestinians are the descendants of the ancient Jews and have every right to live where their ancestors have lived for centuries.

Juan Cole

Poor sell

Sir-- Re 'The Afghan ant-hole' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 25-31 March) it is remarkable that war supporters are still trying to sell the "helping poor Afghans into the 21st century" chestnut. If rearranging the rubble with bombs and kicking down the doors of Afghan family homes to find "Taliban insurgents" to imprison and torture was going to work, it should have worked long before now. The USSR and Alexander the Great couldn't break these people; what makes the "NATO" brain trust think it will? All that colonialist resource adventures ever brought to the native peoples was deeper poverty, repressive puppet governments and social/ environmental destruction. The chaos lately inflicted in pursuit of US/Anglo petro-product control in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere is plain to see. Time to give up the pretence, this is anything but about the oil. This isn't about defending the US and Canada against "terrorism", or about family values or any of the other tripe the voting/tax-paying public gets told. This is the US's war, not ours. Our troops were originally sent in non-combat roles, until Harper got his way with no vote in parliament. Their blood and the blood of any Afghans killed and injured by Canadian troops is on the hands of those who support Harper in this.

Danny Ray

AIPAC working hard

Sir-- The American Israel Public Affairs Committee and its cohorts have manufactured a broad level of support among the American public, but it is based on a mix of indifference, ignorance and low-level indoctrination, and is, therefore, extremely soft.

AIPAC and the rest know this, which is why they work so assiduously to stifle any criticism, and to keep any overt depiction of Israel's oppression of the Palestinians -- an oppression far worse than anything blacks suffered in South Africa under apartheid -- from public view in America.

The only way to derail Israel's quest for regional hegemony and to break its oppression of the Palestinians is to break US support for Israel.

Debbie Menon
Washington DC

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