The best, most original summary of important developments in Israel, the territories and the rest of the region is the “Middle East Peace Report,” which is created every few weeks by Noam Shalef of Americans for Peace Now. The latest issue isn’t posted on the APN website yet but you should be able to find it here soon. Get on the APN email list and you will receive it regularly.
Here is an important story from the “Middle East Peace Report.” It has not gotten sufficient attention:
JERUSALEM TENSIONS ON THE RISE
A new report by the Israeli Peace Now movement warns that settlers are taking advantage of a â€œperfect stormâ€ of political conditions to create â€œnew facts on the groundâ€ in Jerusalem â€œthat could later make it difficult if not impossible to resolve the Israeli Palestinian conflict peacefully.â€
The report calls on Israel, with the encouragement of the international community, to act now to prevent settlers from establishing facts on the ground in Jerusalem, noting that when Israel fails to stop settler initiatives in Jerusalem, it â€œis rarely able to muster the political will to â€˜undoâ€™ settler facts on the ground.â€
The report covers a series of troubling developments from the last month, including the demolition of eight Palestinian homes in tense areas of East Jerusalem and the eviction of one Palestinian family from its home in order to facilitate a settler project in the neighborhood.
Peace Nowâ€™s report adds that settler actions â€œrepresent a direct and immediate threat to security and stability inside Jerusalem, threatening to set fire to the city. The settlersâ€™ reckless actions, and the failure of the Israeli government to respond, could spark violent reactions and retaliations that could spread far beyond the specific areas of the city targeted by the settlers.â€
Three incidents in the city over the past week may be an indication of rising tensions. On Sunday, an Arab employed by the Jerusalem municipality was stabbed by a gang of Jewish youth. On Friday, clashes broke out between Arab youth and police officers at Via Dolorosa. On Tuesday, an Arab resident of the city was stabbed near the religious Jewish neighborhood of Meâ€™a Sheâ€™arim. Police arrested two suspects in Tuesdayâ€™s incident, which they say was politically motivated. (Peace Now, 12/7/08; Israel Army Radio, 12/7/08; Ynet, 12/3, 12/4 & 12/5/08)
This raises an important challenge for the American Jewish establishment. As
JTA reports, last week’s settler rampage wasn’t denounced only by APN, Ameinu, J Street, Religious Action Center and other “dovish groups”; thankfully, it was also condemned by centrist organizations, including ADL, American Jewish Committee and American Jewish Congress. So the center of the community has finally spoken out against the intolerable behavior of lawless Israeli settlers who defied the Israeli government and human decency, the worst of the worst. These groups expressed outrage when Baruch Goldstein slaughtered Palestinians in the Hebron mosque and now they have done it again. That is welcome news. But will they also denounce brutality that is only a little less overt, yet is aided and abbeted by the Israeli government, like the demolition of Arab homes in Jerusalem and the expulsion of Arab families to make way for new settlement projects? Will the organizations take a stand against Jews who don’t seem to care if Jerusalem explodes, or if the current conflict turns into an outright religious war between Jews and Muslims who consider Jerusalem a sacred city?
The answer is almost certainly going to be “no,” of course. But there are many individuals in all of these organizations who are as appalled as I am about the ravaging of East Jerusalem. What will it take to prompt them to break the vow of Jewish omerta yet again? If not now, when?