Islamic Jihad Leader: Jews Love Jerusalem More Than We Do

Palestinians must learn from the Jews, Ramadan Shalah advises, so they will strive harder to conquer the city.

Islamic Jihad leader Dr. Ramadan Abdullah Shalah is no stranger to controversy, and last week whipped up a fresh batch with his contention that Jews love Jerusalem more than Muslims do, Army Radio reported on Monday.

Speaking at a religious conference in Tehran last week, Shalah's unexpected contention was not meant as rare praise for the Jews' religious devotion. His message was that Muslims should be fighting for the holy city not only for political purposes, but for the sake of their cultural heritage.

Driving home his point, Shalah treated the audience to his translation of Naomi Shemer's controversial song "Jerusalem of Gold." Every Israeli knows it by heart, said Shalah, while Palestinians for their part show no such profound attachment: "Learn from the Jews," he said.

Three days ago Shalah, who Al Monitor has called "one of the most wanted men in the world", shrugged that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are meaningless. Before Oslo, he claimed in an interview, there were 180,000 settlers and now there are more than half a million.