Jerusalem is still waiting for us - TAHA KILINÇ

Jerusalem is still waiting for us

Like many things that take long, invasions also become normal. The most disturbing result of this is that there is no energy or enthusiasm to do something to fix the situation. This is also the reason why the occupation and terrorization policy Israel has been applying on Jerusalem and other Palestinian cities since 1967 has not caused the Muslim world to take extensive action. What's abnormal has become normal; the threshold of surprise no longer exists; there is no more strength left.

Yet, there is so much that could be done despite the gravity of the invasion. Today, the notable countries of the world are competing against one another in order to leave a mark in Jerusalem, even if small. Since areas of worship belonging to different religions and sects are also the center of political competition and clashes, "the desire to intervene in Jerusalem" remains at the top of every country's international relations agenda. While this is the current state of affairs, the Muslim world should focus more on taking concrete steps and leaving marks.

Turkey is probably the most active country in terms of taking an initiative in relation to Jerusalem and Palestine. Whether through official or civilian means, there is great interest in the issue. However, due to the volume and depth of the problems, nothing that has been done to date is adequate or satisfying. Efforts need to be continued without dropping the tempo.

The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) is probably Turkey's most important connection through which is has direct access to Palestine. TİKA has carried out 389 projects in Palestine to date. The numeric distribution of these projects, with 71 of them offered to service in Jerusalem, 123 in Gaza and 195 in the West Bank, is as follows: Administrative infrastructure (93), education (68), social infrastructures (50), health (46), emergency aid (40), common historical and cultural heritage (34), water and sanitation (25), supporting NGOs (19) and the production sector (14).

These projects that are implemented by TİKA employees who have real devotion and patience, are strong indicators,in the eyes of Palestinians, showing Turkey's sincere interest in the region. Especially operations that directly touch the lives of people living in occupied regions, help build the bridges politics often fails to do. In this aspect, TİKA forms one of Turkey's most vital connections to the region at the point of serving the Palestine cause.

Additionally, several NGOs and aid organizations, primarily the IHH, have been continuing their operations in the region for years to alleviate the pains of the occupation.
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The Jerusalem cause gives us all certain responsibilities as individuals beyond the operations carried out by institutions and organizations. These are responsibilities to remind us that Jerusalem is more than just a city, that it is a means of gaining awareness and coming to our senses.

First and foremost, we need to rethink Jerusalem's religious and historical significance. There should be no blank spaces left in our minds concerning the historical journey of the magnificent city of Islam.

Starting all the way back from its establishment, step by step, the entire chronology should be engraved in minds. What happened to Jerusalem in which period, who left what traces in Jerusalem until now, and who made efforts on the city, should all be known perfectly well.

Once this first stage, which requires lomg and patient readings, is completed, we need to also include Jerusalem among the routines of our everyday lives. This way, it will not turn into the ordinary information we read and learn. For this, we can, for example, start with a good trip to Jerusalem. This will give the opportunity to combine theoretical information with practice. Visiting Jerusalem is also important in terms of giving morale and support to the Muslims living there.

One other way to turn Jerusalem into a part of our lives is to frequently bring it up in our family and friendship circles. For example, we could have a "Jerusalem moneybox" in our home to raise awareness in our children. We could allocate a share from our budgets for the Muslims in Jerusalem to be given to them when we go to Jerusalem or through others going there.
Jerusalem should always be mentioned during our gatherings. We should make it a point to regularly follow up everything that is happening there. We should wonder, "What happened in Jerusalem today?" just as we would wonder about those closest to us. We should not end our day without reading something historical or current about Jerusalem.

A Muslim world in which the number of individuals meticulously fulfilling all these responsibilities increases, will also start to take more rational and permanent steps regarding Palestine and Jerusalem.

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I will conclude with an anecdote that shows we are actually bound to Jerusalem with tighter bonds than we expect.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is believed to be built where Jesus was crucified and buried, and where he rose again from the dead and ascended to the sky, is one of the holiest shrines on earth for Christians. If you slighly lift your head up when entering the church's courtyard, you will see a wooden staircase on the other side. This staircase has been there since 1757 and nobody can move it from its place.
It's story is quite interesting, too.

When a disagreement among the Christians during the Ottoman period on who will dominate the church reached the point of clashes, Ottoman Sultan Osman III announced an imperial order in 1757. According to the imperial order, the church was declared the joint property of the six Christian sects in Jerusalem and it was decided that even the minutest change would be made unanimously. As the imperial order stipulated to preserve the church as is, the stairs on the balcony were not touched either.

Today, Sultan Osman III's renowned imperial order continues to be taken as basis in the administration of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Despite all the years that have passed, the Ottomans still continue to ensure justice in Jerusalem.


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