It is not a surprise that all Arab leaders, including some of the closest Arab allies of president Trump such as president al-Sisi of Egypt, are publicly against the decision by president Trump to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. Arab leaders understand a certain bloody backlash against them if they don't. This is because Islamic law dictates that all land once occupied by Muslims must remain Muslim forever. Under Sharia Muslims have the right to take over land from non-Muslims but the reverse is considered an attack on Islam.
That is where the problem of Jerusalem stems from and it does not matter to Muslims if Jerusalem, or its other name Zion, is mentioned in the Jewish bible 850 times but never mentioned in the Quran not even once. It does not matter if Jerusalem is the holy land of the Jewish people, if it was Israel's capital over 3000 years ago or that Jews pray facing Jerusalem while Muslims pray facing Mecca.
The Western world would do itself and the truth a favor if they, at least for once, stand united to support Israel in its right to Jerusalem as its undivided Capital. In fact, it is time for Muslims to accept that facts about Jerusalem and right historical wrongs. Not too long ago Arabs used to tell Jews when relations did not go well between Muslims and Jews in various areas of the Middle East, to go back to their holy land Jerusalem. Now that Jews have done so, Arabs are trying to rob them again and again of their holy land.
But with the historic announcement by president Trump to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, the Arab world has a great opportunity to prove to the world that Islam is a religion of peace and co-existence as they claim. The moment of truth has come to give a historical opportunity to Muslims to write the wrongs against the Jewish people.
Muslims now have two choices. One is to the respond with the usual terror, boycotts and intifadas. The second is to seize the moment of truth as the best opportunity for growth and reformation in Islam by accepting Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. But will Arabs take this opportunity? Or will they continue their tradition to keep missing every opportunity to make peace with humanity.
Ever since 9/11, Muslims have been eager to gain worldwide recognition that their religion is worthy of respect as a 'religion of peace'. They have invested tremendous resources and done almost everything they could to reverse the tarnished image of Islam.
To achieve that goal, Muslims have used coercion, denial, threats and deception. They have claimed victimhood, blamed others and used shaming, arm-twisting and name-calling, as in the word "Islamophobe". But despite the apparent Muslim eagerness to change worldviews on Islam, their hard work has not succeeded and that failure has been compounded by the almost daily horrific acts of terrorism in the name of Islam.
What is lacking is a genuine willingness by Muslim society to change, not only by words but also by action. Despite the cries that Islam is a religion of peace, Islamic terror threat is everywhere; Muslims still teach hatred of Jews and Christians and they still preach jihad and killing the enemies of Allah. How can any sane person trust that Islam is moderate and is serious about wanting peace when the Muslim world is exploding with terror?
Right now, the only respect the world has for Islam is the kind that emanates out of fear; not the kind that emanates out of trust. The opportunity for Muslims to prove otherwise is now. Muslims might show the world and themselves that they are starting to operate from a new paradigm: one of sincerity and security in viewing themselves as part of a world community where they must feel secure enough to co-exist with in peace.
If Muslims choose to operate from this new paradigm, they must start by ending the denial of the history of others, especially of Jews.
Arab acceptance of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is the only road for genuine peace and prosperity in the Middle East.
Only Trump could have done that at this moment -- and with the help of brave Muslim leaders, a new milestone towards peace can begin.
The Dome of the Rock Islamic shrine, located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. (Image source: Godot13/Wikimedia Commons)
Nonie Darwish, born and raised as a Muslim in Egypt, is the author of the book "Wholly Different; Why I Chose Biblical Values Over Islamic Values".