Akiva Eldar has a good column in today’s Haaretz, written on the eve of Bibi Netanyahu’s visit to the U.S., where he will address the triumphalists at the Aiapc national policy conference. If you want to get a flavor of how far to the right the speakers will be, take a look at this conference schedule. Conversely, I’m delighted that NPR broadcast a segment this morning that acted as a strong counter-balance to the upcoming conference, in which Michelle Kelemen interviewed both Jeremy Ben Ami and Steve Clemons. Glad to hear that Aipac is no longer the only show in town even as its big day approaches.
Returning to the conference, we pretty much know what Bibi will say, we’ve heard the script before. But what’s especially useful in Eldar’s column is the truth behind the lies and deception you’ll hear from Israel’s PM.
First, Israel is the only country in the world whose capital is recognized by NO other country. Israel claims that Jerusalem is “undivided” when in truth it has been divided since 1948. Even “reunification” in 1967 changed nothing except allowing Jews to shop in the Old City shuk and enabling them to begin expropriating Arab property in the Jewish Quarter and other places in East Jerusalem. In almost every other way, especially with regard to city services, Jerusalem is two entirely separate and alien cities. For entertainment value, Eldar brings this eye-opening quotation:
On March 21, 1999, the first Netanyahu government announced that it would “strengthen Jerusalem as an undivided city through equality in services and infrastructure between the western and eastern parts of the city.”
The Israeli government likes to point out that it is the only authority that can be trusted to ensure freedom of access for all religions to holy places. Eldar points out that there is NO free access to Muslim holy places for Muslims. No non-Jerusalem Muslims can visit the city’s holy places and only women and the elderly who are Jerusalem residents can do so.
Eldar also notes that Bibi claimed that building in Jerusalem (he should’ve said East Jerusalem to be specific since most major construction is now in Arab neighborhoods) is the same as building in Tel Aviv. The columnist correctly points out that the prime minister should’ve also clarified that building for Israel’s JEWISH citizens in Jerusalem is no different than building for them in Tel Aviv, since there is NO legal construction for Israel’s Palestinian citizens in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or anywhere else. And a further clarification about building in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, there actually IS a difference between the two–Israel builds in current Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem and confiscates Arab land to do so.
Yesterday brought news that Mauritania, one of the only three remaining Arab countries which recognize Israel did an about face and severed ties. And then there were two.
So when you hear the cheering starting tomorrow from Aipac’s true believers, just remember the issues they’re too delirious even to address concerning the contradictions between Israel’s professed values and the way life is lived on the ground.