Jerusalem: Capital in Name Only
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.
42 thoughts on “Jerusalem: Capital in Name Only – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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There isn’t really free access for Christian Palestinians to their holy places either.
Eldar makes that clear in his column. I omitted that fact from my post, but you are correct as always.
In the old days (before WWII ?) countries could attack each other for any reason or for no reason, could add to their territories via use and threat of use of force, etc. Killing and enslaving whole populations was not unknown, go back far enough.
Well, all that is over! We have a UN and international laws of war adn other humanitarian laws and conventions. Thank goodness for that! No acquiring territory by use or threat of force. Terrific. So reassuring.
One thing, though. There is no enforcement of any of this law, and countries like the US (and EU, very much as well) are quite capable of ignoring their obligations to “respect and ensure respect for” various laws and conventions (such as the widely quoted and marvellously ignored in practice) Fourth Geneva Convention.
So, I’m glad that some countries are “severing ties” with Israel. About time. But unless and until the US and EU do something significant, the wonderful status quo will continue, only more so.
That might be a good slogan for AIPAC: “Israel, only more so!”
1. Only two Muslim countries recognize Israel?
Turkey–full diplomatic relations
Egypt–full diplomatic relations
Jordan–full diplomatic relations
That makes at least three…where did you get your false number from?
2. I’d be careful about criticizing Jewish development in the Jewish Quarter. In 1948, Jordan’s Arab Legion besieged the quarter, forced its surrender, ethnically cleansed the quarter of all Jews, desecrated the holy places, and blew it up.
Thanks for bringing that misstatement to my attention. Eldar in the article says that only two ARAB countries recognize Israel. Turkey is not Arab, it is Muslim.
And yr source for these detailed & specific claims is what?
This is all common knowledge.
Included is a quote from the Jordanian commander: “For the first time in 1,000 years not a single Jew remains in the Jewish Quarter. Not a single building remains intact.”
Also, the article says that “During the nineteen year Arab administration, a third of the Jewish Quarter’s buildings had been demolished by the Jordanians. All but one of the fifty-three Jewish houses of worship that graced the Old City were destroyed. The synagogues were razed or pillaged and stripped and their interiors used as hen-houses or stables. The Western Wall, one of the most sacred sites in Judaism, was used as a garbage dump. Tombstones were used as paving stones.”
Just wondering, though, which of my claims you dispute.
What was Wikipedia’s source? You also weren’t accurate in claiming the Quarter had been “blown up.” I admire precision. You might try it sometime. It’s a useful habit.
Maybe you’d like to explain or defend the scores of Palestinian Israeli villages which also were depopulated & razed after 1948? What happened to the mosques in those villages? The graves in the graveyards? Or is Arab perfidy somehow worse than Jewish perfidy?
1. I guess it’s kind of laughable to say you “admire precision” when you’ve already admitted one mistake in this very post (number of Muslim nations that maintain relations with Israel).
2. Wikipedia’s sources on that article include The Independent, Haaretz, and Al-Quds al-Arabiyya.
3. We’re talking about the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem here. That’s what your post is about. That’s the domain to which I confined my comments. You only brought the argument elsewhere when you realized how ridiculous you must have sounded in the first place. Why don’t YOU provide some evidence of Jews “expropriating Arab property in the Jewish Quarter,” as you claim in your initial post.
Yes, I freely admit I make mistakes, Apparently you don’t. You only exist to ferret out those of others you don’t like. A rather pathetic existence, but you’re welcome to it. Somehow haven’t refuted that there are now only 2 Arab nations recognizing Israel. Or do you dispute that too?
My post isn’t about the Jewish Quarter. Your claim is about the Jewish Quarter. My post is about the entire city of Jerusalem. I wrote one sentence about the Jewish Quarter.
BTW, those alleged footnoted sources in that Wikipedia article refer to broken links & frankly I don’t even believe the original links if they ever were correct ever supported the claims in that paragraph. I’m not saying the material in that paragraph isn’t true. Just that this Wikipedia article doesn’t support that. And I’d still like to see real sources saying what you’re claiming as historical fact.
It’s you my friend who sound ridiculous. But if you continue using insults the only sound you’ll make will be the sounds of silence.
It’s common knowledge that many Arab properties in the Jewish Quarter have been expropriated since 1967 or do you dispute the fact that Jewish owners have forced out numerous Arab residents in the Quarter? And do you dispute this passage from the same article you quoted?
And you’ve still neglected to acknowledge Israel’s expulsion of 700,000 Israeli Palestinians in 1948 & the razing of their villages & places of worship. A tad too inconvenient to acknowledge perhaps?
I know about the evacuation of the Jewish quarter in quite a bit of detail, and it is nothing like Zionists usually describe it. First of all, it was agreed upon as the best course of action in a meeting between Zionist leaders and the Jordanians. Second, it was carried out by the Arab Legion in a reasonably orderly and very humane fashion, as described both by the evacuees, many of whom praised the soldiers, and UN personnel. In fact, more than one of the Arab Legion soldiers lost his life protecting the evacuees. (sources available on request) Third, according to third party, non-aligned observers, the destruction of the Jewish quarter was not engineered by the Arab Legion, but was an inevitable result of the struggle over control of the area.
Fourth, Dr Pablo de Azcarate, head of the U.N. Advance Mission in Palestine, described the Jewish quarter as “one of the most insalubrious urban agglomerations, perhaps, in the world”. He went on to point out that “however bad the present or future conditions in which its population may be obliged to live, they would never be worse or even equal in squalor to those which surrounded it in its sordid dwellings in the old city of Jerusalem.” (Mission in Palestine, 1948-1952, Pablo de Azcarate, pp 78-79) Given that most of the inhabitants of the Jewish quarter were immediately moved into villas in West Jerusalem from which affluent Christian and Muslim Palestinian families had been systematically driven, they ended up in much better living conditions than they had left.
And finally (at least for now), regarding the destruction of the synagogues, here is what Pablo de Azcarate had to say about what happened to the very important Hurva Synagogue: “the question of whether its destruction should rest on the shoulders of the Arab Legion, whose hand actually struck the blow, or on the Haganah, who had turned it into their last redoubt, is difficult to answer.” (p. 79)
” Even “reunification” in 1967 changed nothing except allowing Jews to shop in the Old City shuk”
Aren’t you forgetting things like renewed access (which while under the Jordanians was denied- counter to Armisitce agreement) for Israelis and Jews to the pray at the Western Wall; allow the rebuilding of synagogues that had been in use by the Jewish residents prior to 1948 for centuries, such as the “Four Sephardic Synagogues” that were desecrated after 1948, andturned into a donkey stall?
Can you really tell me that the nature of the State of Israel & its identity will be irreparably harmed if Israelis can’t steal Palestinian property to build large modern apartments for themselves there? Or if Ateret Hacohanim or Aish HaTorah can’t hatch plans to build a Third Temple fr. their bastions in the Jewish Quarter? Ask me if I need to daven at the Wall to feel Jewish or connected to Israel? Ask me if I’d prefer to have a Third Temple or peace w. the Palestinians which I would choose?
Don’t make the mistake that I’m claiming Israel should renounce any claim to access to the Wall or the Jewish Quarter. But let’s call a spade a spade here. Like Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai, I have no nostalgic connection to the Temple Mount if it stands in the way of peace & the long-term survival of Israel.
I’d be interested to know which Gemorrah you’re refering to regarding R. YB”Z.
Also, what to you think about the phrase you (may) recite this Monday night at the Seder and on Yom Kippur Services “Next Year in Jerusalem” (what it means to you)?
I’m sure the story is in the Wikipedia article or you can Google this blog as I’ve referred briefly to the story here. It’s the most famous story of his life so you can’t miss it.
Do you think that my Judaism is defined by a rock? Or even a Wall? Or a distant connection to some sacrificial rite? Sorry. It may be part of my tradition, but it isn’t worth anyone dying over it. And in case you didn’t realize, Jerusalem is more than just the Jewish Quarter or the Kotel. But to tell you the truth, since Jerusalem has been expropriated by the ultra-Orthodox & settler types I identify w. more secular parts of Israel than I do Jerusalem.
Bullcrap. The policy is in effect whether or not there are any riots. This is a policy that doesn’t change regardless of conditions. So don’t tell me why the policy exists because this is hasbarist temporizing on yr part.
When did this happen? Besides, there are usually thousands of Muslims on the Temple Mount. That doesn’t mean any are allowed to visit it from outside E. Jerusalem.
“The policy is in effect whether or not there are any riots.”
I don’t buy that. The ORIGINAL policy had no limitations on it. Why would they at that time? I find it hard to believe that as a starting piont the Israeli government (under a Labor government in 1967) would implement that policy.
As for today, the policy is used more than not, I agree. Unfair, I agree… What immediate solution (not political, but practical to be implemented) do you suggest to protect ALL the residents of the area against the riots, stone throwing and unrest that has occured by many of the pray-goers?
I’m in agreement that their shouldn’t be limitations for people who go to pray- but there is a problem when the lead to civil unrest and violence.
When did this happen? Besides, there are usually thousands of Muslims on the Temple Mount. That doesn’t mean any are allowed to visit it from outside E. Jerusalem.
This happened during the Rabin days of Oslo (can’t remember the dates, probably 1993-4). I was filming on a Friday (may have been during Ramadan too). There were hundreds of cars (traffic jam) and they seemed NOT to be from Jerusalem. It was pretty festive and VERY crowded.
You do realize you were talking about 1993 & that this is 2010, I hope. I’m telling you what the current conditions & circumstances are for Palestinian Muslims, not what conditions were 17 yrs ago.
A state and a city are 2 diff. things. It was certainly worth creating the state though I would wish its creation had not been soaked in blood and injustice committed against another people. And I didn’t say that Jerusalem wasn’t important. Just that neither I nor Judaism places much stock in land or bricks or stones as emblems of holiness.
conditions & circumstances are for Palestinian Muslims, not what conditions were 17 yrs ago
Agreed. I’ve seen a change over the years. It does bother me that there are restritctions. But is just as bothers me that their is this violent unrest as well. The amount of violence coming from some (certainly not all) post-Friday prayers has increased, for whatever reason. Politics moves slower than “crowd management’. Again.. how else can the Wakf, Israel police or anybody ensure safety and calmness for Friday prayers?
Suggest a better solution (again… politiclally I know what you’d want… I mean about weekly civilian control).
“neither I nor Judaism places much stock in land or bricks or stones as emblems of holiness.”
I would disagree. Perhaps in your view of Judaism this is true. But you cannot right off the “holiness” of Jerusalem, the place, nor the “holiness” of the Temple Mount”. And if you can, then your writing off part of Judaism.
Yes human life is more valuable than any object, but don’t write off the holiness of places (and their structures)… in ANY religion.
” Jerusalem is more than just the Jewish Quarter or the Kotel.”
You’re right and there are many beautiful parts to the city, but Jerusalem IS Jerusalem because of the Kotel, City of David and the Jewish Quarter.. Jewish history is based in this city, in this country.
I would rather share the beauty than have to fight for it.
It’s an old statement and you will probably attack it, but if the Arabs had accepted the 48 partition plan history would have been different and Jerusalem would certainly have been different.
For you it is not worth dying for… granted- as it is not for many. But for other it was/is worth fighting for- that’s how the state was created.
” It may be part of my tradition, but it isn’t worth anyone dying over it.”
*sorry this thread was attached to a reply below, I meant it here).
For you it is not worth dying for… granted- as it is not for many. But for others it was/is worth fighting for- that’s how the state was created. NOBODY wants to die for a cause, but some causes are so integral to someone’s belief that they see fit to “fight to the end” (I’m sure both Muslims and Jews can use that logic).
I agree… I’d rather find a negotiation to a problem, even compromise on issues… but both sides have to be willing to take that approach for it to work (yes, Israel too- don’t mean just the PA). I simplify things here, it obviously isn’t that simple or easy. Both sides have to show signs and implement acts of trust (both sides have failed to do so).
“Jerusalem IS Jerusalem because of the Kotel, City of David and the Jewish Quarter.”
How typically narcissistic. Jerusalem is Jerusalem because it is of great historical significance to Jews, Christians, AND Muslims. It is typical of Zionist narcissism that it is only the Zionists who seem unable to accept that.
Shirin said: “Jerusalem is Jerusalem because it is of great historical significance to Jews, Christians, AND Muslims.”
This is true today… undeniable. BUT Jerusalem had Jewish… and only Jewish significance (religiously) for hundreds of years before Christianity and Islam. That was my point. Jews wouldn’t put any emphasis on the city if it didn’t have that signficance.
If there was no Jewish significance, Christianity wouldn’t have happened (at all?) the way their tradition tells it. I can’t speculate abuot how Islam would have developed had Jerusalem not had it’s Jewish (then Christian) history.
“No non-Jerusalem Muslims can visit the city’s holy places and only women and the elderly who are Jerusalem residents can do so”.
The limitations put on the Moslems to the Temple Mount (Al Aqusa Mosque) is NOT the original standing policy. It is the result of Moslem riots after Friday/Holiday prayers that had this policy implemented.
In the past I have been in the Old City and witnessed thousands of Moslems go peacable to pray on Fridays. This was at times when there was no threat of violence after their services.
I’m sure you know that there is also a strict Moslem policy that no Jew is allowed to visit the Temple mount to pray. Their access is limited and closely watched by the Wakf when they are allowed to “walk” in the area.
I meant to say “thousands of Moslems of all ages and both sexes”… i.e. both men and women.
If you are going to repeat nonsense, at least get the names right.
Muslim, not Moslem.
Al Aqsa, not Al Aqusa (where in the HELL did you get Al Aqusa?).
I apologize for the error.
My English grammar got in the way.. I’m used to following a “q” with a “u”. Your a rather unforgiving fellow (“HELL” is unnecessary in making your point).
What rubbish. First, English grammar has nothing to do with what follows q. Second, q is not followed by u unless the u is pronounced, as in quarter, quality, queen, question. Third, there is no reason to insert a u between q and a consonant that follows it unless the u is pronounced, and no one who has ever been to Jerusalem believes Al Aqsa is pronounced Al Aqoosa.
Inserting HELL is the way I chose to emphasize my point. Live with it.
“the question of whether its destruction should rest on the shoulders of the Arab Legion, whose hand actually struck the blow, or on the Haganah, who had turned it into their last redoubt, is difficult to answer.”
Remember that quote for the following: The Tanzin Muslim fighters in Beit Jallah who used a Christian church to fire on Israeli residents; The arab fighters who “held up” in the Church of the Nativity”; the fighters who stored arms and munitions in Mosques in Lebanon (and in Gaza); the Kassam rocket launchers in civilan populated areas.
Then you don’t know your Zionist history. Shirin has just quoted to you the Haganah’s use of Hurva Synagogue as a fortress. Weapons in the pre-48 era were hidden in synagogues, civilian homes, you name it. Pls. don’t get all holy on us. Every side has exploited religious shrines for military purposes inluding Jews.
I’m not getting holy on you. I’m pointing out the fact that it happens. So when Israel fires back at the church, at the mosque or whatever ( in the case where there are armed fighters or weapons), judge Israel by that same standard. Even better… stop it from happening by keeping the wars out of churchs, moseques and synagogues.
I only hear you attacking Palestinians for doing what Jews did & would continue to do if they didn’t have a state of their own with an army & ways of housing & stocking their weapons & munitions. I think you’re being a bit hypocritical.
What matters is how Jerusalem is perceived now & its current status which includes Christianity & Islam along w. Judaism. I put no stock in any Jewish claim to Jerusalem that ignores or diminishes that as you do by claiming there was some historical period when there were no other religions associated w. the city (though you’re leaving out the Jebusites who prob. had a religion & were exterminated or absorbed after David conquered the city).
Funny, you deny being one-sided when I pointed out how you rarely attack Palestinian injustices or the like with the comment you write about what is passionate to you. Fine, I do too. The misuse by Palestinians of those holy places greatly bothers me. YOU may comment otherwise.
I’m not being hypocritical, I’m pointing out that these “militants” “fighters”, “terrotists” (pick your description) choose these places (I’d even say on purpose) so that when a response by Israel (or any other force in any other situation) would be critiziced for returning fire.
Shirin’s quote about the Churva can be applied to other situations as well. I choose to comment on the Palestinian ones, especially since, indeed Israel was blamed. Don’t loose sight of the fact where these munitions were stored and by whom when “passing judgement’ in a battle situation.
“I put no stock in any Jewish claim to Jerusalem that ignores or diminishes that as you do by claiming there was some historical period… ”
Well, that’s rather myopic. You want to cancel out the significance that there was a Jewish Kingdom that DID rule over Jerusalem and this area of the Middle East? Judaism does not deny that there were other rulers over Jerusalem (the Canaanites and Jebusites). The only other religion around (and in battle with Judaism) were pagan and idol-worshipping cultss.
I agree that today we have to deal with all three religions in ALL of Jerusalem, but why should I cancel out prior history of the city? It is historical fact.
I never said that & don’t put words in my mouth. I said that this has little or no relevance to any contemporary claim by Israel to have its historical roots take precedence over any other religion.
And you once again refuse to acknowledge that Jewish misuse of their own holy places bothers you at all, which renders you a hypocrite I’m afraid.
I never refused to acknowledge it… I didn’t comment back about it… you and other writers do the same on other points. You stated it, Shirin refered to it, enough said. If I had said it was untrue then you’d be correct…
I didn’t say that and your wrong.
And for the 3rd or 4th time you refuse to say there is anything wrong with Jews doing precisely what you’ve make a ruckus about Palestinians doing.
Ah, so you must be referring to Israeli extreme nationalists who advocate population transfer? Right?
IT must be so comforting having the world view you have which enables you to blame the Arabs for missing every opportunity to miss an opportunity when in reality Israel has missed no less opportunties itself. So blind…
“…world view you have which enables you to blame the Arabs for missing every opportunity to miss an opportunity when in reality Israel has missed no less opportunties itself.”
There YOU go again making assumptions and claiming to know my world view. You don’t so don’t try. I’ve said it before, your attacks undermind the good points you bring up. Why try and undermine my opinion?
You made a good point… Israel, as well as the Palestinians have certainly missed opportunities for moving trying to resolve the I/P conflict… do you feel better trying to belittle me?
Tell me in 1948- which is the instance I’m talking about… not others- what opportunity did Israel miss in accepting the UN Resolution that the Arabs rejected?
I’m not as clairvoyant as you to assume your view… Tell me what YOU think about the Arabs and Palestinians not accepting the UN Partition plan and declaring war on the nacent State in 1948.
To me, that seems to be the biggest “missed opportunity” when it comes to the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian issue, including Jerusalem ( to bring this back to your initial post).
“… I said that this has little or no relevance to any contemporary claim by Israel to have its historical roots take precedence over any other religion.”
I didn’t say you said that I asked you a question to interpret what you wrote. Please don’t falssely accuse me of misquoting or putting words in your mouth. You often use that same format to phrase a question and make a point. When I misquote you, or say “you said…” I’ll retract the comment.
this has little or no relevance to any contemporary claim by Israel to have its historical roots take precedence over any other religion.
I agree that one can get into a slippery slope on the “I was here first” claim, but it IS a relevant fact that Jerusalem and “Israel” have been part of the Jewish “tradition”, with a desire to return to this land.
It is just a relevant claim that there were, are Muslims and Christians living in this area for centuries. They have a claim and a stake in this area as well.
The problem begins when one side doesn’t want the other side to reside in the same area (maybe over simplified).
I think the UN Partion Plan was a way to help resolve these claims… not the best for either side, but a good starting point.
The issue of Jerusalem in particular is a tough nut to crack. I often wonder how the city would look had the UN resolution been accepted by the Arab/Palestinian faction.
“And for the 3rd or 4th time you refuse to say there is anything wrong with Jews doing precisely what you’ve make a ruckus about Palestinians doing.”
Hiding munitions in a syngagoue is not a good thing to do, I believe it is wrong.
NOW will you admit that the destruction of synagogues , as I’ve mentioned before (the Four Sephardic Synagogues, as an example) is wrong, or will you just ignore it as you did before?
Made a mistake here..(That’s what I get for trying to clean for Pesah, work on an over-seas project and read your blog)
I meant to comment that using a syngagogue is not a good thing to do ( putting ammunition in one isn’t either), but I think you were talking about using a holy place as a battle position.
I also see a difference in a war/battle, which leaves options very limited to deliberately choosing a holy site from where to launch an attack, or the like (for ANY faction, Muslim Christian or Jew).