Ameinu American foreign policy American Jews Americans for Peace Now Benjamin Netanyahu Irving Moscowitz Israel Israeli settlements J Street Jewish Council for Public Affairs Meretz USA Progressive Jews

Within organized American Jewish community, dovish groups fight back on Jerusalem

American Jewish groups are engaged in another internecine struggle about the ongoing tiff between Obama-Netanyahu.

The latest tussle was prompted by a statement about Jerusalem last week from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the most important umbrella group in the community. That statement, addressing the controversy over East Jerusalem housing that I’ve covered in previous posts, was right out of Netanyahu’s playbook. It asserted that:

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…. 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.

The last sentence is classic, Jewish Orwellian doublespeak. It implies that if diplomatically provocative housing built by a right wing American Jew in East Jerusalem were thwarted, somehow Jews would be denied a “right” that is afforded to Arabs in Jerusalem. The idea that Arabs can easily live in West Jerusalem, which was promoted by Netanyahu, is hogwash.

The JTA’s Eric Fingerhut buries the lead, but sums up the squabble that has ensued:

Five left-leaning pro-Israel organizations have teamed up to release a statement on Jerusalem that backs the Obama administration’s opposition to “unilateral actions” in the city and criticizes others for not sticking to “facts and law” when making arguments about Israeli construction there.

The statement from Ameinu, Americans for Peace Now, Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, Meretz USA, and J Street says that “issues of borders and sovereignty related to Jerusalem should be determined through negotiations in the context of a regional, comprehensive resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict” and “unilateral actions that inflame tensions, impair negotiations and make the ultimate resolution of issues surrounding Jerusalem more difficult, are unhelpful and should be avoided at this particularly sensitive moment” — adding that they support the Obama administration’s policy on this issue….

The five organizations also slammed those who have defended Israel’s right to build in the area. urging that “those who choose to enter the debate on Jerusalem do so carefully and with arguments based on facts and law – not ideology. For instance, it is a matter of law and of fact that Arab residents of East Jerusalem do not have the right to purchase state-owned property in West Jerusalem – and the overwhelming majority of all land in Israel is state- owned. Claims that somehow Jerusalem’s Arab residents currently have the same rights to live where they choose as Jewish residents are simply untrue and provide an inaccurate picture of a city that remains divided based on ethnicity, religion and geography.”

The statement appears to be somewhat of a response to a statement issued last week by the Conference of Presidents on the Jerusalem issue. Americans for Peace Now and Ameinu are members of the conference but say they were not consulted about that statement.

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