Qatar’s emir, who earlier pledged $400-million for reconstruction of Gaza after Israel’s Cast Lead devastation, has vowed to create a $1-billion fund to preserve Arab Jerusalem:
Qatar’s emir proposed on Tuesday that the Arab League create a $1 billion fund to protect the Arabic and Islamic heritage of Jerusalem…
This initiative is a direct response to the well-funded efforts by Israeli ultra-nationalists to render Jerusalem Arab-rein through land thefts, housing expropriations and other forms of fraudulent-taking of Palestinian property. In this effort, groups like Elad and ideologue-funders like Irving Moskowitz and the Central Fund of Israel have been instrumental under the guise of redeeming the ancient Jewish heritage of neighborhoods like Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah.
It’s no accident that the Israeli foreign ministry flack released a statement that assumed any effort to maintain Jerusalem’s Arab heritage was an effort to destroy the city’s Jewish one:
A spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry criticized the emir’s proposal, accusing him of seeking to negate the Jewish heritage of Jerusalem and promoting it as a city with an exclusively Islamic past.
“There is no history of Jerusalem without Jewish history,” said the spokesman, Yigal Palmor. “To deprive Jerusalem of its Jewish foundations would be like depriving Mecca of its Islamic foundations, which would be absurd.”
In a Bloomberg story, Palmor is quoted:
Qatar should use its “gazillions of petrodollars” to finance peacemaking, not confrontation, an Israeli official said today…
“This proposal is yet another Qatari attempt to spread ignorance and hatred, fueled by gazillions of petrodollars. They should try spending their money on peacemaking for a change.”
The irony here is that Palmor ignores the fact that Israel is doing to the Arabs precisely what he decries in the emir’s proposal. Jerusalem has many religious traditions, chief among them its Jewish and Arab ones. Affirming one doesn’t mean destroying the other. But under the maximalist approach of the settler radicals there can be only one nation, one religion in Jerusalem: Jewish. If they had their way I suppose, there would be something like what Hitler planned for post-Jewish Europe, an Exotic Museum of the Extinct Race, to remind the world of the continent’s former Jewish heritage. Elad would house this nostalgic nod to Jerusalem’s past in what used to be Al Aqsa mosque or perhaps wherever they’ll move the mosque to, once they assume control of the Temple Mount, restore the (Third) Temple to its original glory, and rid it of its former Muslim vestiges.
I suppose Palmor would welcome a Qatari contribution to this Museum of the Extinct Jerusalem Race. That would constitute peacemaking. Trying to preserve the city’s Arab character is meddling and provocation. Just so long as we understand our terms. Speaking of terms, it now appears that “gazillions” has become proper diplomatic usage, at least in Jerusalem if nowhere else.
It will be interesting to see if the proposed fund is established and the donors attempt to use it to pursue their vision in the city. Israel would then have to decide whether to frustrate their plans or allow them to proceed. Given the extremist nature of this government, it couldn’t very well allow such funds to support the Palestinian presence in Jerusalem. Which might allow the emir and Arab League donors to win a victory in the battle of wits between the settler government and Palestinian resistance.