By Rory Winston
“As Europeans and Arabs we share in particular an interest in preserving the unique status of our common Holy City, Jerusalem,”
states Federica Mogherini before making a case for why Jerusalem should be an international city for all religions. I couldn’t agree more especially since Mogherini is from Rome – a city where the Jewish population predated the birth of Christianity by several hundred years. The moral repercussions of her argument would validate Vatican City as a center for Judaism and paganism once and for all. In fact, given that Mecca prior to Islam had a thriving Jewish presence, it’s evident Mogherini also intends to internationalize the Muslim capital.
Dismissing Mogherini as an apologist for Islamic Fundamentalism or as someone playing into the hands of those who’d expunge Israel entirely in the name of ecumenicalism is simply wrong. As an EU high representative familiar with the holocaust and centuries of European anti-Semitism and oppression, Mogherini would never single out the Jewish state as her target of malice. Mogherini is simply fed up with the idea that the EU aligns itself with Western civilization to the detriment of competing ideologies who at one time had equal footing in Europe. As a historically aware person, she knows that the Ottoman Empire reigned over much of Europe with far more humanity than their crusading Christian counterparts. So why should Europe rule out Sharia law in favor of democracy simply because it’s become more acceptable over the last few hundred years.
In all likelihood, Mogherini would have found Ghengis Khan a bit too permissive for having allowed regions of the Mongol Empire to base their religion on the sets of beliefs held by the majority of their local inhabitants. After all, why shouldn’t Europe have been forced to acknowledge Tengrism in tandem with Judeo-Christian biases. And why wouldn’t the Turkics people be allotted their fair share of Italy and Spain today?
To be fair, dismissing Mogherini’s concerns as being purely religious is to underestimate the contemporary values she espouses. As an open-minded intellectual, Mogherini is primarily concerned with the rights of all those who have ever valued a certain territory to be given equal say within said domains. For example: when it comes to Transylvania, why should the official language be Romanian when it’s been primarily Hungarian speakers who’ve lived there for centuries? In addition, by what right did Europe decide that National Socialism has no place in Germany when it genuinely represented the voice of the local people?
Mogherini is onto something. And it’s a disservice to reduce the scope of her insights to Israel alone. If anything, the full range of her ideas should be embraced whole-heartedly by all those who see Jerusalem as an international city located within an international country located within in an ecumenical world without borders, victories, hierarchies or choices.