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A divided Jerusalem?


I attended a parlor talk in Jerusalem yesterday by Israeli MK, Danny Danon.

Danon, in addition to being Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, is also Chairman of the World Likud Party, and an ardent promoter of the position that – in any final status agreement with the Palestinians – Jerusalem should never be divided.  Such an argument is especially relevant in the context of the current negotiations in Washington between Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu.

He made the argument that – though he was opposed to the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza – one good thing about Sharon’s disengagement was that it proved that the  “land for peace” formula (contrary to popular opinion) is nothing n more than a chimera. Indeed (in light of the consequences of Israel’s withdraw from Gaza, as well as Southern Lebanon), even the most neutral observer couldn’t possibly argue that such withdrawals invariably lead to peace, or lessen the appeal of belligerent terrorist groups.

Danon’s position regarding Jerusalem is based on the following arguments.

Jewish Rights: Jerusalem was the capital of a Jewish state for the better part of a millennium – but never once of an Arab or Muslim country.

Population: Jews have been a majority in Jerusalem for over 170 years.  There are over 200,000 Jews living in eastern Jerusalem, nearly half of all Jerusalem Jews.

Religious Freedom: Under Jordanian control, synagogues and other holy sites in Jerusalem were destroyed, an d Jews were denied access  – as the PA attempts to do today.  But when Israel took charge, it enacted and faithfully observed a Knesset law stipulating that the “places holy to the peoples of all religions shall be protected from any desecration and from any restriction of free access to them”.

Security Dangers:  Decades of Arab Muslim and Palestinian violence in Jerusalem have included lethal terror attacks on buses and in restaurants, Temple Mount riots and stoning of Temple Mount worshipers, shootings, stabbings, and bombs.  Giving Jerusalem neighborhoods over to PA control will wet terrorist appetites and will geometrically increase citizens exposure to such dangers.

Demographics:  The division of Jerusalem is liable to lead to the exodus of tens of thousands of Jews from the city, as well as the move of a similar number of Arabs to the Israeli side of Jerusalem – a two-way trend that has already partially begun in apprehension of future division.

Though I’m not, in principle, opposed to the idea of a two-state solution which would include the division of Jerusalem, the security risks weigh most heavily on me.  As a Jerusalem resident, I would certainly fear the possibility that a sovereign Palestinian state – which included a capital in East Jerusalem – could eventually lead to a Hamas coup (like what happened in Gaza in 2007).  Indeed, Hamas control (or even presence) in Jerusalem would create the  very real danger of rockets being fired into – among other places – Ben Gurion International Airport, West Jerusalem neighborhoods, and the Israeli Knesset.



Danon’s position may seem unreasonable to many viewing the situation as an abstraction from afar. However, those of us who would be forced to live with the the very real world consequences of such a solution are, I believe, quite justified in our fears that the division of Jerusalem could create a dynamic leading to rocket fire (and other lethal terrorist attacks) targeting our families and communities.  I really don’t think that’s an unreasonable concern.

79 replies »

  1. ‘Zkharya – what exactly about Leiberman’s UN speech has got you in such a tizzy? You seem to me to be taking things too literally.’

    The fact that he said it. He did an Ahmadinejad, using the UN as a podium for his pet theories, without even running by the PM. He’s a disgrace.

    Redrawing borders etc. These are all possibilities. But they need be negotiated. Not blurted out the world by a clown whose script not even his own PM knows.

    Lieberman has made redrawing borders even more unlikely: Abbas and the PA see the outrage of the world. They see that, if they do not agree, they will have international support. They will hold out for even more, or simply not dare to agree to any such thing, for fear of the repercussions.

    Netanyahu is a fool for appointing a clown like Lieberman. Who is the greater fool and clown is a moot point.

    Lieberman shouldn’t be let in front of microphone, let alone the UN. Israel is a laughing-hating stock for him. It is an unbelievable fiasco.

  2. And if you think I am overreacting, all I asked for is Netanyahu to fire Lieberman.

    Snoopy the Goon at Simply Jews wants to assault or kill him. Or ‘that creep’, as he calls him.

  3. ‘What would Solomon say after all?’

    That Palestinians (certainly some of their supporters e.g. Eamon De Valera) used that argument to reject partition 60 years ago.

    It was erroneous then, it’s erroneous now.

  4. @ zkharya

    As you know, I am a massive critic of this very website. Some of your comments above I agree with, others not.

    Between the lines it is IMO clear that you are ultimately a passionate supporter of Israel – and it’s a shame others cannot see that.
    But you have to see that your “selfish Jew” comment, for example, will inevitably alienate people.

  5. @ zkharya

    When you insist that Jews “manufacture” anti-Semitism, there are two different possibilities.

    The first, given the loaded “manufacture” term, implies fiction – and that is a very serious accusation.

    The second would relate to the indirect effects of Israeli policy re. the Palestinians.

    Which do you have in mind?

  6. Sorry this is off course, but I could not resist the absurdity of the above post.

    So, “can we tawk…”

    Muslims create anti-islam feelings.

    Some Muslims say and do bad things. And that can, and does, from time to time generate hatred. It either contributes to or creates anti-islamic feelings. But this is racist? Politically incorrect.

    Christians generate anti christian feelings

    Some christians say and do bad things. And that can, and does, from time to time generate hatred. It either contributes to or creates anti-christian feelings. Although this has become fashionable in some quarters lately, small chips overall.

    Since there are more Christians and Muslims, there are more people to do and say bad things aren’t there? even if the percentage were to be smaller(which is unlikely) so how come the hatred against Jews is still number one on the hit parade? Bit disproportionate for the population

  7. a. I didn’t say ‘manufature’. I didn’t say ‘selfish Jew’.

    I said ‘Some of you guys make antisemitism’. By which I meant some of you guys engender hatred of Jews.

    Some people say really prejudiced things. They suggest or present a total inability to see things from the other side.

    Maybe I shouldn’t have used the terms ethnocentric or egoist. They are terms with a nasty history. And maybe I shouldn’t be forgiven that. But some people here are like that. They present no ability to empathise with the other whatsoever. What I admired most about Ben Gurion was precisely his ability to do that. It wasn’t a weakness, it was strength.

    And he compromised. He took partition. Even an international Jerusalem.

    But, today, Ben Gurion has been replaced by malevolent pygmies like Lieberman, who shouldn’t be let out in charge of a paper bag. And people who actually think this guy is something special, or a worthy one.

    And I am not some namby pamby lilly livered Stopper. I am pretty extreme in my beliefs. More extreme than some here, I think. More like Ariel Sharon, even.

    Some of what Lieberman said could have formed the substance of negotiations, though I doubt they would have succeeded or been acceptable. Redrawing the borders (such as they are) is a possibility. But they should not have been said at the UN, like that, never mind without the PM’s approval. And not by someone of the negative calibre of Lieberman. The guy shouldn’t be allowed out of the house. Or in front of a camera.

    Jane, I have no idea what you are talking about.

  8. ‘ so how come the hatred against Jews is still number one on the hit parade? Bit disproportionate for the population’

    No doubt. But that doesn’t mean that some Jews, sometimes, don’t contribute to it. And that is all I said.

    It is precisely because of the size of the problem that Jews should strive to be careful, and to guard and police their words, and thoughts. Not to cower in fear. But to try not be bigots, for instance.

  9. I don’t want to alienate people. My existence is pretty alienated as it is. I should swear, or go nutty, like I do.

    But I think there is a core truth to what I said. No one in the world can exist as an island, without reference to others. No one. Only God can do that. This doom filled narrative of ‘the world will hate us anyway, so let’s assume the worst, and adopt the most extreme position’, I don’t buy it.

    It is the mirror image of the doom filled self-righteous hooey of the BDS movement, where gentile British cultural Christians get off by identifying with this Palestiinian national Christ, and its Passion. It’s bull shit. As is the other.

  10. I shouldN’T swear, or go nutty, like I do.

    I admit, I am not very stable. Not stable at all. One moment clean mouthed as a padre, next swearing like a psychotic sailor.

    Not good.

  11. So Zkharya, you acknowledge the response to Jewish bad things is disproportionate, what is your explanation for this? By definition a precondition sets up existing conditions.

  12. zkharya

    It is the mirror image of the doom filled self-righteous hooey of the BDS movement, where gentile British cultural Christians get off by identifying with this Palestiinian national Christ, and its Passion. It’s bull shit. As is the other.

    Well said, mate.

  13. Don’t say anything at all because you might make anti-Semitism,or worse still,
    you might fulfill the stereo type of the selfish Jew.

    What’s the difference between a stereo-type Jew and a monotype Jew.
    I should ask Berchmans.

  14. Zkharya

    “It is the mirror image …”

    Excuse me, when have fundamentalist Jews beheaded Muslims?

    Zkharya’s comparison, placing the oppressive majority and the persecuted minority on an equal footing, is the morally disastrous equivalent of those Americans who would retroactively justify slavery and other crimes against blacks, by the occasionally and justfiably bitter African-American who hates whites.

    benorr

    “Don’t say anything at all because you might make anti-Semitism …”

    The historian Paul Johnson has recognised this pattern, commenting that it is sometimes hard to tell the fear of anti-Semitism from anti-Semitism itself. His comment is equally applicable to Zkharya and Pretzelberg.

  15. zkharya, pretzelberg

    I’m happy to give antisemites the reason to be more antisemite in order to survive. And anyway after two thousand year history of antisemitism who gives a shit about the their reasons?

  16. ‘The historian Paul Johnson has recognised this pattern, commenting that it is sometimes hard to tell the fear of anti-Semitism from anti-Semitism itself.’

    That is absolutely true. But it is not me.

  17. Zkharya – Israel is of course a democracy, and a very vibrant one at that. I’m no Lieberman fan myself, but the man was elected under due process and represents a certain proportion of thinking to be found within the electorate. As such, he has the right to say what he thinks, even if some of us don’t agree with his words or don’t like his style.

    More than that, it is high time in my opinion that ‘the world’ got used to the idea that there are numerous shades of opinion in this country and not all of them by a long chalk are represented by the ‘Peace Now’ way of thinking, even if the Lefties at home and abroad would very much like it to be that way.

    I find it inherently un-democratic that there are those who would deny the likes of Lieberman the right to express an opinion just because it doesn’t fit in with their world view. In fact that attitude causes me much worry as far as the state of health of the Left is concerned and its commitment to democracy.

    At the time of the Oslo agreements I too was situated in that Leftist camp which dismissed opinions to the right of my own as ‘scaremongering’ and not wanting peace. The second Intifada and the Gaza disengagement taught me that it would be wiser to listen properly to what people with different opinions to mine have to say because nowhere is it written in stone that I am automatically right.

    I’m glad that Lieberman spoke at the UN because it is vital that those pushing this peace process so hard – including the Obama administration – understand that they are not dealing with Netanyau alone. There will be a referendum on any peace deal proposed and for it to pass, it needs to accommodate the school of thought as represented by Lieberman as well as the existing far Left ‘peace camp’ which is not a majority opinion.

    I always look beyond the day on which a peace agreement will be signed. That is important, obviously, but what is more important to me is that we Israelis should be able to carry on living together after the celebrations and photo-ops. That will not be achieved by excluding a certain proportion of society because of their beliefs or opinions. It will not be achieved by demonising people because we don’t like what they say or trying to shut them up.

    So, as an Israeli who will have to live with the consequences of any peace deal made and who is already living with the consequences of past failed attempts, I want to hear everybody – Left, Right, Centre, religious, secular – because maybe they have something to say that I haven’t thought of myself.

  18. Zharya Jews should strive to be careful, and to guard and police their words, and thoughts. Not to cower in fear. But to try not be bigots, for instance. What Jews, as Jews, should do is to be moral and not stray from standards of decent behaviour in regard to others.

    Jews should be permitted to be human beings too, with opinions and ideas of their own and not have to try to pander to what they guess might be the flavour of the day which I would call being hypocritical. You yourself set a pretty poor example of what you advocate anyway by your bad language and aggressive attitudes.

  19. “What Jews, as Jews, should do is to be moral and not stray from standards of decent behaviour in regard to others.

    Jews should be permitted to be human beings too, with opinions and ideas of their own and not have to try to pander to what they guess might be the flavour of the day”

    Gerald Kreeve, that was what I was trying to express in my comments above.

    Israelinurse, as always you make excellent points. It seems like you and I might have made similar political journeys since Oslo.

  20. ‘That will not be achieved by excluding a certain proportion of society because of their beliefs or opinions. ‘

    So the PA shouldn’t exclude Hamas supporters when negotiating with Israel?

  21. Responsible, courageous leaders and governments have to exclude certain views and opinions, sometimes. Rabin did. That is the responsibility of leaders, to make decisions, not always to represent every shade of opinion of those who elect them, elect them to make decisions.

    ‘I want to hear everybody – Left, Right, Centre, religious, secular – because maybe they have something to say that I haven’t thought of myself.’

    And I never said you shouldn’t. And it’s pretty poor form of you to imply that I did. And the same goes for the rest of you characters that pull exactly the same rhetorical trick.

    I am talking about how responsible politicians, rather than egotists or egotistical (mono)maniacs, should behave.

  22. cba – I think quite a few of us have been forced by the circumstances and events to make that journey.

    Today I find myself worried by those who haven’t apparently engaged in the learning process which Oslo was and by the future of the Israeli Left which is dear to my heart from an ideological point of view -particularly on issues not related to the security situation – but seems determined to render itself increasingly irrelevant. I think that goes for much of the Left in other parts of the world too.

    Zkharya – I think it’s relevant to ask if Rabin’s determination to avoid certain views and opinions did not ultimately contribute to bringing about the dark days of the second Intifada which actually postponed the peace process.

    Me, I don’t believe in a leadership of any kind which surrounds itself with only homogeneous opinions. I think that stunts the creativity of thought central to the decision-making process and results in errors.

    I don’t know Lieberman personally and therefore cannot pass judgement regarding the subject of ‘egotistical (mono) maniacs’. Maybe you do?

  23. Israelinurse:
    Today I find myself worried by those who haven’t apparently engaged in the learning process which Oslo was.

    The other day I caught the end of a TV interview with David Grossman (and someone else). It took place inside a big tent with a large audience, and was apparently recorded some time last May.

    Grossman was decrying the “same old, same old” and lack of creative ideas from the Government but didn’t present any new ideas himself. Furthermore, he seemed to be pushing the [to my mind] “same old, same old” of the Oslo-era approach.

    I don’t doubt his sincerity or his good heart, but I seriously doubt the efficacy of his approach.

  24. ‘Me, I don’t believe in a leadership of any kind which surrounds itself with only homogeneous opinions.’

    And neither do I. But this is isn’t an ethereal Oxonian debate. And the UN is not your bedroom mirror, where you can rant to your heart’s content.

    Choosing an maniacal egoist for a FM, who his there to push his own narrow agenda, and undermine his own PM, and exercising no control, or even discipline, it seems, over him, is remarkably poor statesmanship.

    And weakness, perhaps of the very worst kind.

    I am not Israeli. And I accept Israelis must decide what is in their own best interests. I am not sure I am even ‘Peace Now’, as I believe in the Geneva Accords, which allow for territorial exchange. But they were gained through hard discussion and negotiation. For which there is no substitute.

    You do blurt your country’s maximalist position to world, especially when, like Lieberman, you have specifically said you will play no part in the negotiation.

    Lieberman deliberately tried to undermine (and may have succeeded) his own PM. He is a disgrace. And contemptible. And anyone who thinks he is admirable for it, is an idiot. He has lived in the hothouse bubble of the settlements, and developed an ego without reference, I believe, to the rest of Israel, never mind the rest of the world. For him to represent Israel is a disaster. And I am someone who believes most of the settlements should be kept, in exchange for territory from Israel proper.

  25. cba – that’s exactly part of the problem, isn’t it?
    The almost 20 year old Oslo process (or a very similar formula) is still being touted as THE solution when a) it didn’t work then and b) the facts on the ground and in particular the shifts in the power base of the region are not being taken into account.
    The Obama administration and much of the Left is proffering a 90s analogue solution to a 21st century digital problem, so to speak.