Peace Now's Friedman has her eyes openedI've been holding this post in the hope of finding video of Lara Friedman's appearance on James Zogby's Viewpoint on Sunday night in which this issue was discussed. I haven't found it yet.
In an earlier post, I reported that 'Peace Now's Lara Friedman attended the 'International Conference to Save Jerusalem' in Qatar. At the time, I was appalled by Friedman's attendance and apparent support for the disgusting pretense that there is something wrong with Israel exercising sovereignty in its own capital. But maybe some good will come out of Friedman's attendance. On Sunday night, Friedman wrote a piece for the Forward in which she might even be having an epiphany. Friedman has suddenly realized that the Arabs don't intend to 'share' Jerusalem. No kidding.
When I was invited to this conference, I took this as a sign that the Arab League wanted to capture the full complexity of the issues related to Jerusalem, including openly pro-Israel, pro-peace voices. However, it seems that virtually every conversation I am having here involves me, to a greater or lesser degree, having to defend the two-state solution and having to assert and defend the Jewish stake in Jerusalem. The fact that I am forced to do so points to what is clearly, from my point of view, a major flaw in this event. That flaw is the absence of more voices like mine, which represent the mainstream of American Jewish opinion and Israeli opinion. People who care about Israel and are committed to the two-state solution, including in Jerusalem. This solution is the only thing that will guarantee peace, security, and a future for either Israelis or Palestinians.I find it curious that although Friedman laments the absence of more Jewish voices favoring the 'two-state solution,' she apparently didn't expect there to be any (or many) Arab voices that favor that scenario. She only cites one.
I don’t know who else was invited to this conference and couldn’t (or chose not to) attend, but it seems to me that by not having more pro-two-state solution, Jewish voices here, the Arab League is doing a disservice to the cause it is ostensibly concerned with — the health and status of Jerusalem — and missing an opportunity. The Arab world, and activists around the globe concerned with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, do themselves no favors when they listen to voices that tell them only a piece of the story that is comfortable to their ears (just as Israel and the American Jewish community do themselves no favors when they choose not to hear unpleasant truths).
Speakers at Sunday’s opening session, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, one after another laid out laundry lists of criticisms of Israel — many of them regrettably marked with exaggerations. All also spoke a great deal about Muslim and Christian attachments to Jerusalem and the importance of defending the holy sites and communities associated with both religions. However, only one speaker, Michel Sabbah, formerly the Latin Patriarch in Jerusalem, mentioned any Jewish connection to the city. This is a serious problem. If President Abbas cannot acknowledge Jewish claims in Jerusalem, even as he asserts Palestinian claims (a problem Yasser Arafat suffered from), he should not be surprised if it is more difficult for Israelis and Jews, wherever they are, to believe that he can be trusted in a peace agreement that leaves Jerusalem sites precious to Jews under Palestinian control.
If representatives of the organization that sponsored the Arab Peace Initiative cannot bring themselves to acknowledge the legitimacy of Jewish equities in Jerusalem, they should know that they discredit their own professed interest in peace. Their framing of the future of Jerusalem as a zero-sum game only makes it more likely that Israel will continue asserting its current power over East Jerusalem to hinder the vision of two states living in peace with a Jerusalem as a shared capital.
All throughout the day, it was unfortunately the same story. Participants talked about Jerusalem as if Jewish history did not exist or was a fraud — as if all Jewish claims in the city were just a tactic to dispossess Palestinians.
Read the whole thing.