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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Conference of Presidents slams Obama

Another 'mainstream' Jewish organization - the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations - has slammed the Obama administration for its obtuse stance regarding construction on the site of the Shepherd Hotel in Jerusalem (pictured).
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has long advocated and supported the unity of Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel. As such, we believe that legal construction by residents of the city should be allowed as long as it is in keeping with the standards and requirements of the municipality and the national government. We find disturbing the objections raised to the proposed construction of residential units on property that was legally purchased and approved by the appropriate authorities. The area in question houses major Israeli governmental agencies, including the national police headquarters. The United States has in the past and recently raised objections to the removal of illegal structures built by Arabs in eastern Jerusalem even though they were built in violation of zoning and other requirements often on usurped land. In addition to the Jewish housing, the project called for apartment units for Arabs as well.

It is particularly significant that the structure in question formerly was the house of the infamous Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseni who spent the war years in Berlin as a close ally of Hitler, aiding and abetting the Nazi extermination of Jews. He was also linked to the 1929 massacre in Hebron and other acts of incitement that resulted in deaths and destruction in what was then Palestine. There has been an expressed desire by some Palestinians to preserve the building as a tribute to Husseini.

As a united city, Jerusalem’s Jewish and Arab residents should be permitted to reside wherever legal and security requirements allow. Hundreds of Arab families have moved into Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem and the same right should be accorded to Jewish residents in live where they choose in Jerusalem. To do otherwise would undermine and prejudge the status of the city.

No government of Israel has or can pursue a discriminatory policy that would prevent the legitimate presence of Jews in any area of its capital.

Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke with the Conference by conference call the same day that they issued that statement (Tuesday). The transcript of his opening statement is here.

If you had told me six months ago that the Conference of Presidents and the American Jewish Committee would be defending a project constructed by Irwin Moskowitz in the eastern part of Jerusalem against attacks by the United States, I would have told you that you were out of your minds.

President Disaster (as my friend Jim calls him) has done more to unify the Jewish people in Israel and in some circles in the United States than any leader in the last 40 years. The outcry from the Jewish community against the American government was not this loud even when George H. W. Bush cut off Israel's loan guarantees in 1991 because of the Shamir government's continued 'settlement activity.

Someone really screwed up when they chose this issue to turn into a fight.


At 7:34 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Obama's strategic error and the turning point in the fight was to shift to focus from West Bank settlements on which Netanyahu had no defenders and which the Israeli Left wants to see uprooted to Jerusalem over which there is an Israeli national consensus about preserving Israel's sovereignty over the entire city. The American Jewish community isn't with the President here.


At 7:00 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

In the end, Obama's presidency may serve a good purpose: uniting the Jewish people. To the extent that he has done that and can do that, it is good he is president.


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