[136. Jerusalem, an Arab city

The following statement by Shimon Peres was reported in Catholic New York of Dec. 8: "Politically, Jerusalem was never an Arab capital and the Jewish people have never had a capital but Jerusalem."

Mr. Peres' logic is flawed. The fact that Jerusalem was never an Arab capital doesn't necessarily mean that it was not an Arab city. San Antonio, for instance, was never the capital of the United States; that doesn't make it a Mexican city. Jerusalem was an Arab city for 14 centuries since it was conquered by the Arabs in 638 AD.

Mr. Peres' statement is inaccurate. Jerusalem was not the onlycapital of the Jewish people. After Solomon's death in 932 BC, David's kingdom was split into the Kingdom of Israel in the north with Samaria as its capital, and the Kingdom of Judah in the south with Jerusalem as its capital. Jerusalem was not even their first capital. Hebron was.

Jerusalem which was founded by a Canaanite sub-group, the Jebusites, around 1800 BC was captured by David 800 years later around 1000 BC. It remained the capital of the Hebrew Jews until 587 BC, i.e. for just over 400 years. Later on, when Palestine was under the Romans, the Hebrew Jews revolted twice in 70 AD and 135 AD. After the second revolt, the Roman Emperor Hadrian issued a decree which prohibited the presence of the Jews in Jerusalem. From 135 AD until the middle of the 19th century there were practically no Jews in Jerusalem, and only a small number lived in Palestine.

The period during which the Hebrew Jews ruled Palestine was the shortest and the one during which they were a majority was not the longest. Assuming that there is something called "historic rights," the rights of the Hebrew Jews are the weakest. As for the Ashkenazi Jews, they have no rights whatsoever. Religious rights are another story altogether.

December 11, 1994]