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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A step backward on Jerusalem

Earlier this week, I reported on the Obama administration's omission of an important passage from the semi-annual notice that the US embassy isn't moving to Jerusalem just yet.
In the Bush years the memo contained the sentence, "My Administration remains committed to beginning the process of moving our embassy to Jerusalem." The Obama team edited that passage out.
In an editorial in Tuesday's edition, the Washington Times calls Obama on that omission and on other mis-statements about Jerusalem:
In his speech in Cairo last week, Mr. Obama stated that "all of us have a responsibility to work for the day ... when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims." In case the president hasn't noticed, this goal already has been accomplished. Citizens of Jerusalem can worship as they please. Tourists can visit Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious sites. Under Israeli stewardship, the city is a beacon of tolerance and hope.

The situation was much different when East Jerusalem was under Arab control. Last July, Mr. Obama visited Israel and prayed at the Western Wall. Before Israeli control of this area, Jews and others were barred from praying at this most holy site despite a provision in the 1948 cease-fire agreement that all be given access.

The next time Mr. Obama visits the city, he should stop by the site of the Hurva Synagogue, an ancient and revered place of worship in the Jewish Quarter that was destroyed needlessly and maliciously by Arab troops in 1948. Arab Legion commander Abdallah el-Tal later bragged that "only four days after our entry into Jerusalem the Jewish Quarter had become a graveyard." Mr. Obama can then ponder the fact that Israel has sustained and protected the al-Aqsa Mosque, which stands on the Temple Mount. It is difficult to imagine a more dramatic symbol of religious tolerance.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat recently told us in an exclusive interview that Jerusalem must stay "a united city, open for all religions. It must be a destination site for tourists. And it must remain an Israeli city." We agree. It is time for Congress to close the loophole in the Jerusalem Embassy Act and force the administration to make this long-overdue move. Mr. Obama has made several conflicting statements regarding U.S. policy on Jerusalem. The president needs to clarify which view is operative now that he's in the White House.


At 8:03 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

If the friendly Bush Administration was never prepared to make the move in 8 years in power, its hard to see a hostile Obama Administration doing what its predecessor didn't do.


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