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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Whose issue is Jerusalem?

At Israpundit, Ted Belman raises but doesn't really answer the question of whether the Olmert-Barak-Livni government has the right to negotiate over the fate of our capitol city:

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Monday categorically rejected assertions by American Jewish leaders that Jerusalem is not an Israeli issue but “a Jewish one.”

Speaking at a news briefing Monday, Olmert said that the Jerusalem issue had “been determined long ago” and that “the government of Israel has a sovereign right to negotiate anything on behalf of Israel.”

He said that at this stage, the matter was a theoretical rather than practical one, as the subject of Jerusalem was not yet on the negotiating table.

Don’t you believe it.
Ted is right that the issue of Jerusalem is very definitely on the table, and the time to be discussing it is now when it may still be possible to do something.

The question needs to be addressed on two levels: The theoretical and the practical. On the theoretical level, I have no doubt that Jerusalem is a Jewish issue and not an Israeli one. Yes, we have constant arguments here over what role diaspora Jewry should be afforded in making decisions for us on borders and security. After all, we're the ones who have to send our children to the army and we're the ones who have to face the suicide bombers every day. But when it comes to Jerusalem, we answer to a Higher Authority.

The Mishna tells us that Jerusalem was not divided among the tribes of Israel because Jerusalem belongs to the entire Jewish people. Thus there's no doubt in my mind that Jerusalem is an issue on which it is entirely legitimate for any Jew anywhere to have an opinion. But we need to discuss whether to translate that into a practical role and if so, how.

I say whether because I wonder whether much of diaspora Jewry really appreciates Jerusalem's special place in the heart of the Jewish people. I'm not talking about the part of diaspora Jewry that's involved in defending Israel all the time, and I'm certainly not talking about pro-Israel bloggers and pro-Israel blog readers. I have no doubt that I would love for all of you to have a voice in this decision, because I know that a united Jerusalem means almost as much to you as it does to me (and I say almost because for me a divided Jerusalem is a physical - and possibly financial since I live over the 'green line' - danger).

But if I give you that voice, do I also have to give it to the assimilated Jews who take no interest in Israel, who regard Israel as an embarrassment, and who find my concerns about Israel's future to be parochial ("you can always move back to the United States"). Are there more of them or are there more of you? How good a job have you done of educating them as to the importance of a united City of Jerusalem to the Jewish people? Do they know that we had no access to our holy sites from 1948-67? Do they know that every single synagogue in the Jewish quarter of the Old City was destroyed by the Jordanians between 1948-67? Do they know that the Temple Mount maintains its sanctity to this day? Do they know how many Jews have fought and died for that wide open plaza in front of the Western Wall that was a narrow strip of sidewalk in June 1967? Do they know about the graves that were upended on the Mount of Olives with the stones being used for walkways and latrines? If they don't know all these things, can we educate them quickly enough? If not, can I justify giving you a voice and not them? How?

Assuming we conclude that we can and should give diaspora Jewry a voice, can that be imposed on the Olmert-Barak-Livni government? How? Can you use the power of the purse? Can (should) you threaten to withhold Federation money? Are you willing to come to Jerusalem and stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the streets with us to protest the traitorous Olmert regime? Are you willing to go to Washington and lobby the Bush administration? Is there any way you can force consequences on President Bush even though he's - for all intents and purposes - a lame duck? (And please don't tell me you're going to threaten to elect a democrat next year - Hillary Clinton would be a far worse curse on us than George Bush, let alone that she would be far worse than Rudy Giuliani who would never put us in this position in the first place).

Those are some of my thoughts on this sunny but gloomy morning. I'm interested in hearing yours.


At 10:30 PM, Blogger Freedom Fighter said...

Hi Carl,
Great post.

Legally, there's no doubt in my mind that the Israeli government has the right to give away Jerusalem.

Morally,they have no right whatsoever, and practically, it is folly.

To my mind, this goes back to a problem with the basic formation of Israel,which was done by a secular Labor Zionist government.

The shelling of the Atalana was a watershed in Israel's history and basically determined who was going to be in charge, at the risk of dooming the entire enterprise. If the Irgun had been allowed to land those men and arms and fight for Israel, there's no doubt in my mind that Jerusalem would never have been divided in the first place and most of Judea and Samaria would have ended up as part of Eretz Yisroal.

As for diaspora Jewry,I agree many of them indeed are not as involved with Israel as they once were, and I BLAME THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT FOR THAT.

They have consistently been apologetic about defending the country, especially in the media and the public arena. Can you imagine what it's like for someone like me to explain to people why the idea of an Israeli `occupation' is a myth and then have Israel's PM use the term?

A case in point is Israel's behavior after the `67 war.Can you imagine another country that would allow hostile aliens to remain behind the lines as Israel did, or that would give custody of a sacred place like the Temple Mount to its enemies, or would allow them to destroy Jewish antiquities wholesale and not evict them from the area?

Plus, as you may know the Israeli government itself can be rather dismissive of diaspora Jews sticking their two cents in.

I don't think many diaspora Jews have reasoned it out, but I'm sure, subconsciously, the thought exists `hey if they don't have the ruach to stick up for Israel, why should I care?'

They won't realize what's lost until it's gone.

It's one of Hashem's miracles that as many American's care about Israel as they do...thank G-d for the Christian Zionists.

It doesn't come down to religion, either, at least not totally.My father of blessed memory was totally secular, but a proud Jew and a committed Zionist.

It is going to be up to the Israeli people to save Jerusalem, since it's the government they elected that is enabling this stupidity.

People like me can help and provide moral support, but ultimately, it's up to the Israelis.

Sorry about the rant.


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