The title of this post is the phonetic spelling of the Hebrew phrase "Jersusalem of Gold," a song I grew up hearing. A modern song, yes, but it captures the Jews' three thousand year old emotional connection to Jerusalem. From Psalm 137:
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget [her cunning].
If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.
Given this, it was surprising to read the history of what Daniel Pipes calls "Muslim Zionism." He notes that it hasn't been the continuous, deep rooted belief system that characterizes all of Jewish history — popping up, instead, when politically convenient — but that at this moment in time, it's much stronger than Jewish Zionism:
Muslim Zionism, by contrast, has a conditional and erratic history, one based on an instrumental view of the city. Each time Jerusalem has emerged as a focal point of Muslim religious and political interest since the seventh century, it has been in response to specific utilitarian needs. When Jerusalem served Muslim theological or political purposes, the city grew in Muslim esteem and emotions. When those needs lapsed, Muslim interest promptly waned. This cyclical pattern has repeated itself six times over 14 centuries.
In the first such instance, an account in the Koran tells how God instructed Muhammad in 622 to pray toward Jerusalem and 17 months later redirected him to pray toward Mecca. The Arabic literary sources agree that the Jerusalem interlude constituted a failed effort to win over Jews to the new Islamic religion.
The same utilitarian pattern holds in modern times. Ottoman neglect of Jerusalem in the 19th century prompted the French novelist Gustav Flaubert to describe it as "Ruins everywhere, and everywhere the odor of graves. … The Holy City of three religions is rotting away from boredom, desertion, and neglect." Palestinian Arabs rediscovered Jerusalem only after the British conquered it in 1917, when they used it to rouse Muslim sentiments against imperial control. After Jordanian forces seized the city in 1948, however, interest again plummeted.
It revived only in 1967, when the whole city came under Israeli control. Muslim passion for Jerusalem has soared over the past four decades, to the point that Muslim Zionism closely imitates Jewish Zionism.
Israel's Jerusalem Day commemorates the city's unification under its control in 1967. But, as Israel Harel writes in Ha'aretz, this tribute has declined from a national holiday to just "the holiday of the religious communities." By contrast, the Muslim version of Jerusalem Day – instituted 11 years later, by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 – attracts crowds of as many as 300,000 people in distant Tehran, serves as a platform for rousing harangues, and is gaining support steadily around the Muslim world.
A 2001 poll found that 60% of Israelis are willing to divide Jerusalem; just last month, the Olmert government announced its plans to divide the city, to little outcry.
Therefore, I conclude that the Muslim use of Zion represents a more powerful force today than the Jewish love of Zion.
Read the whole thing here.
The difference, of course, between historic lapses in Muslim Zionism and the current lapse in Jewish Zionism is that the Muslims had then no reason to care about Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Israelis, however, may no longer be vested religiously in Jerusalem, but they retain a strong interest in preserving Israel because, while it may no longer be their spiritual home, it's still their physical home.