Jews are buying houses in Jerusalem. Call an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council, pronto!
In an editorial, the Washington Examiner says “Obama’s assault on Israel is a moral outrage.” Which is true, and complicated, and much discussed. Less deliberated are two other longstanding moral outrages – driven by our honorable, if misguided, inclination to find a way to peace – that the United States has adopted in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. And two recent events highlight this inexplicable support for illiberalism.
This week, an Israeli religious activist named Yehuda Glick was shot in Jerusalem by an Arab gunman on a motorcycle. Here’s a taste of how the assassination attempt was handled by a media that’s often abandoned any pretense of impartiality:
Israeli far-right activist shot and wounded in Jerusalem
Hard-line Jewish leader shot in Jerusalem
Right-wing Jewish activist shot
So what fascist horrors was this far-right wing hardliner Jewish Israel-American activist agitating for, you ask?
It’s completely possible that Glick holds numerous rightist positions that I’m unaware of, but in the context of these pieces he was advocating for religious tolerance and open access at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. If this has become a fundamentally right-wing position, that only tells us that there’s something critically wrong with the left-wing position.
Recent Jewish efforts on this front have already triggered Palestinian rioting. The idea that the holy sites should be shared is so combustible that Samantha Power took to the floor of the U.N. to rail against “provocations” – by which she could only be referring to the Jewish debate in Israel right now– calling on “all sides to respect the status quo of this holy site.”
What is the status quo? Since 1967, Israeli governments have allowed Islamic religious leaders to care for the holy site. This, not surprisingly, means no right to worship for Jews. It’s inconceivable that such an accommodation would ever be made in the reverse. It should be inconceivable to any liberal nation like the United States (or Israel) to support policies that prevent people from entering their holy sites in a free country.
Abbas has already referred to the presence of Jews there as a “desecration” and urged Fatah members to stop them “by any means.” Yet, Israel is to trust that a Hamas-Fatah unity government would honor an agreement offering Jews or Christians the right to visit their own historical and religious sites within a new Palestinian nation?
Abbas seems to be more prone to incite violence to pressure Israel. His aide Sultan Abu al-Einein described the terrorist who murdered an American baby by driving his car into a crowd of civilians as an “heroic martyr.” Abbas had voiced no public condemnation about that attack. Yet, the White House would not condemn him, offering one of those “both sides” should relax notices, as Jen Psaki defended Abbas as a person who “has renounced violence and consistently sought a diplomatic and peaceful solution.” Abbas is a peacemaker. Netanyahu is a chickenshit.
“Jerusalem is the jewel in the crown and it is the eternal capital of the Palestinian state. Without it, there will not be a state,” was how Abbas addressed the Temple Mount controversy. And this week, due to his pressure, the U.N. Security Council had an emergency meeting to warn Israel that a plan allowing Jews to build homes in Jerusalem would threaten the “viability” of that future Palestinian state. The Obama administration, which had gone after Netanyahu publicly early this week, joined in the criticism.
It has become accepted, even by a number of conservative pundits, that settlements are a cancerous feature of Israeli policy and always an obstacle to peace – because Hamas would be at the table right now contemplating ways to improve relations with Israel if East Jerusalem was cleared of Jews. But not all settlements are the same.
The new tensions revolve around the neighborhood of Silwan, situated right outside the walls of Old Jerusalem. It began when dozens of Jews bought apartments in the mostly Arab neighborhood and then had the temerity to move into them. This travesty precipitated Palestinians to hurl Molotov cocktails at the apartment buildings – because it’s Israel, according to some US officials, which isn’t interested in living in a “peaceful society.” Unless a court stops it, Jews will build thousands more apartments.
Those apartments threaten the viability of a Palestinian State only because Palestinians refuse to accept the idea of Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem. And that’s the big problem. The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs recently found that 76 percent of Israel’s Jewish population would oppose a Palestinian state if it meant dividing Jerusalem in any way. This is not a Likudnik positon, but consensus in Israeli society. The country’s left-wing leader, Tzivi Lipni, supports the right of Jews to live in all Jerusalem neighborhoods.
So it’s nearly impossible to believe any of the “settlements” under discussion would be included in a permanent agreement with Palestinians, anyway. These settlements are not situated deep in the heart of the West Bank. It has been Israel’s policy since 1967 to ensure Jerusalem would not be divided again in any genuine way. Yet, the UN – and, sadly, the United States – continue to feed an unfulfillable Arab fantasy.
On a moral level, it’s disturbing that the United States has embraced a policy of demanding Israel close neighborhoods off to certain faiths. Israel may wish to limit growth as a concession for peace, but admonishing them for a policy that strengthens the unity (a place where Arabs citizens would be free to live and worship) rather than allow dreams of a divided city (a place Jews and Christians would almost certainly be unwelcome and probably in danger) is a moral outrage, as well.