American Jewish pro-settler extremists are playing an increasing role not just in supporting their radical brethren in the Territories, but in obstructing a potential peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. The Israeli government certainly does a good enough job of this on its own and doesn’t need such support in its obstructionism, but with this added support the obstacles are insurmountable:
Dov Hikind, a member of the New York State Assembly, was in this disputed city on Wednesday looking for property to buy. He said he was most excited about a new apartment complex overlooking the Old City called Nof Zion.
At noon, Mr. Hikind led a group of about 50 American Jews in laying a cornerstone for the next phase of Nof Zion…“I want to buy here,” Mr. Hikind said. “I might make a deal while I am here this time.”
More than a real estate deal, though, it would be a statement: Nof Zion, a private Jewish project, is in Jebel Mukaber, a Palestinian Arab neighborhood of East Jerusalem, in territory Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 war. Israel claims sovereignty over all Jerusalem; the Palestinians demand the eastern part as the capital of a future state.
Even within Israel, the idea of Jews moving into predominantly Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem stirs heated debate.
One of the worst aspects of Hikind’s enterprise is its goal of eradicating a Palestinian presence from historically Arab East Jerusalem neighborhoods. But what he does is couch his efforts in the veneer of civil rights as in this statement by him:
Not allowing Jews to live in certain neighborhoods of the city “is segregation”…
Actually, Jerusalem is currently an entirely segregated, divided city (contrary to the Israeli fiction that Jerusalem “is one”). There are virtually no Arabs living in west Jerusalem. There are 200,000 Jews living in historically Arab East Jerusalem. Arabs cannot live in west Jerusalem. So saying Jews should be allowed to forcibly evict Arab owners from their homes in East Jerusalem in order to supplant them with interloper Jews is the height of cynicism. It is a puerile justification for immorality and theft.
I repeat here something I’ve said too many times, but which can’t be restated enough: Dov Hikind and his thuggish friends are a pernicious obstacle to peace. His wife runs Ateret Cohanim, one of the chief Jewish groups forcibly Judaizing East Jerusalem. One of the main goals of her group is to build and dedicate a Third Temple, a foolhardy enterprise that would surely ignite a religious war the likes of which even the Holy Land hasn’t seen in decades, if not centuries. They are buying and stealing Palestinian homes using tax-exempt funds donated by American Jews, thus putting the U.S. government and taxpayer on record indirectly supporting this evil enterprise. In addition, Hikind and his ‘minyans’ stand blatantly opposed to U.S. policy which opposes settlements and supports a freeze. How can the U.S. government countenance an elected N.Y. state official serving as a major irritant in a critical international conflict?? When will the president get wise that the only way to handle such matters is with utmost firmness?
The following sorts of statements by Barack Obama are not only patently obvious, they’re far too little and too late:
“Additional settlement-building does not contribute to Israel’s security” and would make peace efforts harder.
“I think it embitters the Palestinians in a way that could end up being very dangerous,” he said.
It “could” be dangerous??
In the following passage about Israeli demolition of private Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, the N.Y. Times correspondent reveals her unfamiliarity with the real situation for Palestinians in East Jerusalem:
When it comes to demolitions, Jerusalem’s City Hall says it applies the law equally in all parts of the city, regardless of religion or race. But officials acknowledge that the process of obtaining a building permit is costly and complicated. Most Palestinian residents do not qualify.
First, the Jerusalem municipality does NOT tear down Jewish homes, period. It doesn’t really have to since Jews easily qualify and obtain construction permits. Kershner errs when she says “most” Palestinians do not qualify. NO Palestinians qualify. As far as I know, if there has been a single approval of a Palestinian permit in decades I’d be shocked. This is Jewish racism. This is apartheid, Israel-style. Yes, I said it–apartheid, and I stand by it. If the shoe fits, wear it.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.