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Blue Helmets to Jerusalem - page 39 / 95

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zealots rebelled against the Roman empire. They set Jerusalem free from Roman occupation. However, Roman armies returned and laid siege to the city. Again, there were political and military maneuverings, but the outcome was as Jesus had said: the Roman armies destroyed Jerusalem, tore down the temple, and left not so much as one stone upon another stone.

It was at this point that the Romans carried off the remaining Jews captive and scattered them throughout the Roman empire. This was the fulfillment of the words God gave Moses to record: "But it shall come about, if you do not obey the LORD your God...the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth." (Deuteronomy 28:15, 64 NASB)

The Romans re-took and destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The Roman empire continued to control Jerusalem and its environs until the empire itself began to fall apart. Then the eastern or Byzantine empire ruled from Constantinople. Centuries passed. The city's site was occupied by nomadic Arab tribesmen. Then Mohammed founded a new religion. The Islamic holy war of conquest began and spread across the Middle East and North Africa. Jerusalem fell to the Muslims in the year 638 A.D., six years after Mohammed's death.

During the first hundred years of Muslim control over Jerusalem, ruling Caliphs built two new stuctures on the mount formerly occupied by the Jewish temple: first, the Dome of the Rock, and then the al-Aqsa mosque. Because they held Jesus to be a prophet and recognized some of the Hebrew prophets, and because their Koran says that the Jews "were required to preserve the Book of ALLAH" and that "they were guardians over it" (5: 45) Jerusalem was already a holy city for Muslims. Now the construction of these edifices further cemented its status.

Events moved slowly in those days, but Islamic suppression of Christian worship in Jerusalem eventually brought a reaction from the nations that called themselves Christian. Armies of Crusaders reached Jerusalem and took the city in 1099 A.D. But it was difficult for Europeans to control land in the Middle East during the dark ages, and Crusader influence lasted a scant hundred and fifty years or so.

Egyptian influence prevailed over the city for the most part until the early 1500's, when the Ottoman Turks took control. Napoleon hoped to extend his influence that far after capturing Egypt, but he failed. The Ottoman Turks held onto Jerusalem until their alliance with the Kaiser's Germany in the First World War led to defeat.

British forces under General Allenby marched into the holy city in 1917. The League of Nations legitimized British occupation through an official Mandate. The Balfour Declaration (quoted in full in another chapter of this book) spelled out Britain's intention to restore a Jewish state in the region. But, when Britain dragged its feet and years passed, Jewish radicals began using force to persuade the British to leave.

In 1947, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 called for a division of the land between Jews and Arabs, between the new states of Israel and Jordan. Finally, in 1948 as British forces withdrew and the State of Israel was proclaimed, the surrounding Arab nations attacked. Their aim was to destroy Israel and to drive the Jews into the sea. That war ended in 1949 with an agreement dividing Jerusalem between Israel and Jordan.

During the Six-Day War, Jewish control over Jerusalem was expanded on June 7, 1967, when the Old City was captured. Then, in 1980, Israel annexed East Jerusalem and declared the united Jerusalem to be its capital.

During the 1990's the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians appeared to be moving forward and was about to result in an independent Palestinian state in part of the territory controlled by Israel. Virtually everything had been agreed upon, accept the status of Jerusalem. When the topic came up, however, it resulted in the collapse of the peace process and the resumption of the Palestinian uprising.

Under the administration of President George W. Bush the United States government abandoned to its long-standing policy of outward neutrality between Israel and the Palestinians. With tacit American support Israel used its military to resolve the conflict in its favor. And that is the status of Jerusalem as of this writing.

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