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.

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

  1. If everyone were free to live anywhere in Jerusalem many more Arabs would live in West Jerusalem where the municipal services provided are much better. They are not. So apparently some people are more equal to others–it is apparently a crime to prohibit Jews from settling in East Jerusalem but not so for Arabs in West Jerusalem.

  2. You want to see a good example of “Jewish Orwellian doublespeak”? It is when “progressive” Jewish organizations claim they see the solution for Jerusalem being a “united, shared city under divided sovereignity”.

    Anyone, ANYONE, who says Israel must give control of eastern Jerusalem to the Palestinians can only want the city to be destroyed.

  3. For those of you who think Jerusalem can be “shared under divided sovereignity”, I suggest you read this piece by Seth Freedman which appears in his blog in the Guardian’s “Comment Is Free” section. Seth is a real “progressives=” (some might call him an outright Israel basher) but here he talks about a visit to Nazareth. This town is one of most important for the Christian world and a major church is there. Note well what Freedman says regarding a large, green banner facing the church denouncing Christianity. What does this say about the supposed “tolerant” Islam that Obama and organizations like CAIR are always telling us about? What does this say about the fate of Jewish and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem if Israeli foolishly does like the “progressives” say and turn east Jerusalem over to the Arabs?

  4. I have no idea whether a divided Jerusalem could work or not–but I agree there’s understandable concern about tolerance towards other religions in TODAY’S Islamic climate.

    Have the doves addressed that? If so, I’d like to know what they say.

    On the other hand, it seems to me that if there is a segment arguing for an undivided Jerusalem…what kind of offer can you put on the table that is irresistible to the Palestinians living in East Jerusalem?

    E.g.., a better run municipality that makes the trade off worth it…

    My understanding is that hasn’t been the case in the 49 years Israel claimed control of the city.

    Is that true?

    Also, aren’t Arabs right to be concerned about being pushed out so Jews can move in?

    And where do the Christians stand on all this?

  5. You are right, Israel has not done enough to improve municipal services in east Jerusalem. The Arabs have the right to vote in municipal elections but do not do so because they say it would be “recognizing the Zionist occupation”. This would no doubt give them more political power, but this is their choice. In practice, the Arabs of Jerusalem, just like the Israeli Arabs in other parts of the country, want to remain under Israeli rule, but they will not say so out loud. Meron Benveniste, a super-“progressive” acknowledges this in columns he writes in Ha’aretz.
    Arabs are not being “pushed out”. Their neighborhoods are expanding rapidly. I saw this myself a few days ago.
    The Christians know very well that they will be the first to suffer if the Arabs take control of the eastern part of the city, just like I noted in the column by Seth which I provided the link for.

  6. Hey Dan, it kind of bothers me when the Arabs systematically destroy Jewish artifacts from the temple mount. Why doesn’t it bother you?

  7. BTW Rich and Dan. I see that your boy Phil ( I think we got into WW2 on the wrong side ) Weiss is now using the term “ZOG”. Makes his kvelling over the deaths of Jews understandable though. Any comments?

  8. Bill,

    What can I tell you? I am certainly bothered by anyone who isn’t careful with artifacts that are important to any religion or who goes out of their way to offend religious sensibilities.So, the answer to your first question is “yes.” Are you also bothered by efforts to build a “Museum of Tolerance” on the site of a Muslim cemetary in Jerusalem?

    In MondoWeiss, the use of the term “ZOG” was pointlessly provocative, but it was also part of a strained play on words “Say it ain’t Zog.” I hope it was a flippant throw-away line. If he uses it again in normal discourse, then I have a major problem with it…OK?

  9. Couldn’t do it could you Dan. Couldn’t say that what the Arabs do to Jewish Religious sites, destroy them, is wrong, without throwing in some contrived moral equation. Couldn’t say that when Phil ( I love guys that bash in the heads of little Jewish girls) Weiss says ZOG that is exactly what he means. Could you.

  10. Speaking of the mad one…

    I found this blog that captured a blog post that Phil removed from his site (a day after posting it) for some mysterious reason.

    blog comment about Phil’s removed post

    The link is in the content. Good commentary there.

    Anybody care to guess why he removed that particular post and not all 2300 of his other noxious posts? 🙂

  11. Suzanne-thanks for posting this. I stopped looking at MONDOWEISS some time ago, but it was refreshing to see this piece. Now I know what we are up against.

    What I find puzzling is that there is a very simple solution, from Phil’s point of view, to the Gaza problem. They have a border with Egypt. Why not lobby to get the Egyptians to open the border and supply the Gazan’s with everthing they need? For heaven’s sake, Phil was in Egypt along with Code Pink. Why didn’t they organize a demonstration outside Mubarak’s Presidential Palace? It would certainly affect Egyptian policy because Egypt is a democracy, an ally of the United States, President Obama is an advocate for the downtrodden of the world, all Muslims are brothers and all Arabs love one another. If Phil feels so much rage at the suffering of the Palestinians, no doubt the Egyptian people do and it is within their power to end the suffering of the Palestinians. Also Phil could visit all the Mosques in New York to get them to lobby the Egyptian government. None of this would involve getting Jews and Zionists, whom he has given up on to do anything, which he views as a waste of time in any event. Simple.

  12. How “the solution that everyone knows the terms of” is nothing but a bad joke, totally unworkable. And keep in mind that the Arabs have not even agreed to it. This column is by Shlomo Avineri, who is not a “right-winger” but member of the so-called “peace camp”, but at least is one of the saner ones:

  13. The End of Israel?

    Posted at Yaacov Lozowick’s Ruminations

    Tisha’a be’Av, the Ninth day of Av, 2009. Today we mark 1,939 years since the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem by mourning and fasting, but also, from noon onwards, with acts of construction such as fixing something around the house. It’s hot, we haven’t had a sip of water since yesterday, but we’re puttering about with a hammer looking for something to fix. Mourning, in Jewish tradition, is as much about looking forward as backward.

    There’s a growing constituency for the idea that Israel’s time is limited. Between 1949 and the early 1970s, Israel’s right to exist was openly denied by most of the Arab world, but largely unquestioned elsewhere. Then the narrative changed, and for the next quarter century the growing consensus in the West and in Israel itself was that the existential threat had passed, and if only Israel would accept the Palestinians alongside it, peace would flourish. The Green Line of 1967: if only Israel would retreat to it!

    Since summer 2000 this narrative has been steadily losing ground. Most Israelis and their elected leaders have accepted the fundamental thesis if not all its details, but the Palestinians have made clear their claims begin with 1948, not 1967.

    So Israel’s enemies and harsh critics are dropping the pretence of seeking partition; they are ever more openly striving for an abolition of Zionism. The Jews should have no separate state of their own, say the enemies; the Jews may end up with no state of their own, say the unconfident friends, and all call for Israeli actions which may bring this about.

    Here are three random examples, all from the past 24 hours. First, the rabid antisemites at the Guardian’s Comment is Free, ranting about the urgent need for a world without Israel. Second, Andrew Sullivan, muddled thinker but very popular blogger, telling A.Jay Adler he can’t see Israel reaching its 60th anniversary (which happened back in 2008, but no matter). Finally, Jeffrey Goldberg, journalist and blogger at The Atlantic and a staunch supporter of Israel, fearing that wrong Israeli policies might cause it not to survive. The antisemites hope for Israel’s end, Sullivan is beginning to wonder, and Goldberg is beginning to fear; they all agree it’s possible.

    Is it? How?
    There are some seven and a half million people in Israel. 20% are Arabs or Arabic-speaking Druze, with a slowing birthrate. A few percent are Christian non-Arabs, most but not all from the former Soviet Union; culturally they are part of the Hebrew-speaking Jewish society. The rest are Jews; their birthrate is slowly rising, even the non-religious among them. The Jewish community in Israel is the world’s largest; at some point soon they will become the majority of the world’s Jews, though this will not immediately be obvious because the rest of the Jews are not easy to define nor count. The number of Jews in Israel is roughly the same as the number of Jews murdered during the Shoah. That would be one way to end Israel: by violence.

    In December 2001 Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, often touted in the media as a moderate among the Iranian leaders, said in a public speech that Muslims should not fear from a nuclear confrontation with Israel: Israel is small and can be destroyed, the Muslim world is large, and can’t. (Translated by MEMRI, but also posted on the website of the Iran Press Service). Of course, such a nuclear conflagration would also kill millions of others – Palestinians, Iranians, Jordanians, Lebanese and Syrians, but some people are willing to pay a steep price to rid the world of Jews. History proves that, just as it proves that when people repeatedly announce their intention to rid the world of Jews, they may actually mean it.

    I cannot say how near the Iranians are to being able to destroy Israel with nuclear weapons, nor how many of their leaders agree with Rafsanjani, but a nuclear war could indeed end Israel; moreover, it could be launched by a very small number of people. Should a group of Israel’s haters have the nuclear ability, they would not need to hold a national referendum. A few hundred willing technicians and a handful of committed mass murderers would suffice. So it must be prevented.

    Sometimes I wonder if perhaps Israel shouldn’t warn, that if the day ever comes when the last of her people in some nuclear submarine realize that all is lost, their orders will be to shoot off their remaining missiles at Berlin, London, Paris and Moscow. Simply to focus minds on the cost of having a world without Israel to the nations whose forefathers often gleefully persecuted Jews.

    Nuclear Armageddon is logically possible; personally I have decided to live as if it’s not going to happen. Elected leaders and a small number of specialists must spend their lives bearing the burden of preparing for the worst; the rest of us can’t be expected to do so while living normal lives.

    Interestingly, the haters of Israel yearning for its destruction don’t believe in the nuclear danger. Should Israel ever take pre-emptive military action the Guardian and its ilk will shrilly denounce Israel for its paranoia; I expect the Andrew Sullivans to join them. There’s a tension at the heart of the anti-Israeli discourse, which postulates that Israel should or may go down for its crimes against the Palestinians, while denying the existence of any real danger to it from anyone else. This is the Western corollary of the tension common among many Muslims of denying the Holocaust while regretting that Hitler didn’t complete the job.

    Short of nuclear war, is there any danger to Israel’s existence?

    But of course, say those who fear it or yearn for it. Their favorite scenario is that someday America will turn its back on Israel, and Israel will cave in. There are other scenarios, in which British academics and politically enthusiastic activists manage to set in movement a boycott that devastates Israel’s economy and brings it to its knees, but without the active encouragement of America it’s hard to see how this might work.

    For such a scenario a number of things must happen.

    First, a significant proportion of American society must greatly sour on Israel. Disliking a particular Israeli leader or policy won’t be enough to make them enact anti-Israeli legislation. For that masses of Americans must decide Israel is uniquely evil, to the extent they’d be willing to take highly unusual measures. Since Israel isn’t uniquely evil, and actually is far better than many players on the international stage, this means someone will have to inculcate in masses of Americans a dislike of Israel that is irrational – in effect, they’ll need to inculcate antisemitism in a society which is largely free of it. If you assume there’s a reason America is the first large Western society to cure itself of the malaise of Jew Hatred, this means that reason must be turned back.

    For all my affinity to America, I don’t live there and can’t say such a thing could never happen. I doubt it, but perhaps I’m naïve. It’s certainly a likely scenario in Europe, indeed, it’s already happening – though of course, no large European society was ever really free of Jew Hatred.

    For the sake of the argument, let’s assume America participates in placing sanctions against Israel, demanding Israeli measures Israel otherwise refuses to take – i.e not dismantle settlements, for which an Israeli majority could easily be found, but accept half a million descendants of Palestinian refugees, say, or dismantle the homes of hundreds of thousands of Jews in Jerusalem. That sort of thing. Would international sanctions against Israel succeed, on an issue a majority of Israelis regard as existential?

    Sanctions, as a general rule, don’t work. The world economy is too porous. People, companies and states will always be found to circumvent them for profit. Lots of European companies are past masters at the deception, but the Chinese don’t even pretend. Furthermore, while it’s just conceivable that America might roll back its history and re-acquire the taste for Jew Hatred, the Chinese and Indians never had the taste to begin with. The sole example of successful sanctions I’m aware of, against South Africa, never made a dent until the world was suddenly unipolar, in the early 1990s. It’s less unipolar now than then, which is why the various sanction schemes now running aren’t making much difference.

    What if, improbable as it seems, there were to be universal sanctions against Israel, on a matter Israel felt it couldn’t compromise on. What then?

    I know I wouldn’t cave in. I’ve gone to war, three weeks after my wedding, hoping to be back but knowing I might not. I went anyway, and some of my friends indeed didn’t return. I’ve lived through a period where busses and supermarkets were life threatening environments. I’ve sent my children off to war – that was probably the hardest. Why would anyone expect me to give in on something essential faced merely with, what, economic hardship? So far as I can tell, I’m no different than most people around me. We would love to have peace with our neighbors, we have absolutely no joy from our war with them, but we’re not going to relinquish the essentials we’ve acquired at tremendous cost these past few generations.

    It’s Tisha beAv. The fast will be over in a few hours, and we’ll go back to our normal routines. For today, however, we’re mourning the time, two millennia ago, when our forefathers were crushed by the mightiest military power in the world. Bad things can happen to Jews, and do, with consistent regularity. Sanguinity, as in “we’ve got a vibrant society here, nothing can ever beat us” is not warranted by history. We actually often do get beaten, and perhaps will again. Yet it’s late afternoon of Tisha Be’Av, and I suppose I should take out my tools and find something around the house that needs fixing. After all, the generation of Jews who were pulverized by the Romans were also the greatest generation of Jews ever, along with their children and grandchildren. They were the ones who got up from the rubble and re-defined their world so as to get along without the Temple; they created the Mishna; they lay the foundations for the ability to survive millennia of homelessness and disenfranchisement. Why, they even managed to launch a second, even more furious revolt against the Romans. And then they got out from under Hadrian’s genocide and kept on going, until the Roman Empire was long since gone, and its successor, and its…

    I’m sorry – no, I’m not sorry at all – but whoever is planning our near demise doesn’t get it. We’re not here because the Colonialists sent us and forgot to take us back. We’re not here as revenge for the Shoah the Europeans enabled the Germans to commit on us. We’re not here on the sufferance of the Americans. We’re here because we’ve decided to be here. Short of divine plans, which I don’t pretend to be able to explain, our decisions are the most important part of the story, as they always have been.

    Yaacov Lozowick
    Jerusalem, July 30, 2009

    Edit this page (if you have permission) | Google Docs — Web word processing, presentations and spreadsheets.

  14. On South Africa and sanctions:
    There were two types of sanctions against South Africa: 1) Formal legal trade sanctions instituted by the European Economic Community and the U.S. in 1985-86; and 2)informal financial sanctions instituted by European banks shortly afterwards for commercial financial reasons. Because of the widespread internal unrest that resulted in a selective partial state of emergency being declared in wide parts of South Africa in March 1985 followed by a nationwide state of emergency in June 1986. This led the European bankers (mostly Swiss and Germans) to decide that S. Africa was a bad credit risk and to refuse to roll over its short term loans that were necessary to allow the economy to expand to keep up with the rising African birthrate. S. Africa suffered from a large inefficient public sector due to its apartheid ideology coupled with a large unskilled workforce. Trade sanctions only affected about 2-3 percent of S. African trade and could be fairly cheaply and easily circumvented through exporting through friendly African countries like Swaziland or Lesotho. But when the unpopular P.W. Botha was deposed as the leader of the National Party by the parliamentary party and replaced by F.W. de Klerk a generational change of leaders took place. De Klerk decided that with the collapse of the Soviet Union occurring and the ANC expelled from Angola to military camps thousands of miles from the South African border, this was a good time to negotiate an end to apartheid with the ANC.

    Sanctions played a more decisive role in the end of the white minority regime in Rhodesia where they served to add a 15-20% on costs to goods purchased for defense and lowered the value of Rhodesia’s exports by about the same amount. In both the cases of S. Africa and Rhodesia the sanctions worked to increase black unemployment with the unemployed in many cases making their way into the liberation struggle. In Rhodesia the black guerrillas had fought the Rhodesians to a standstill and the military balance was slowly shifting in favor of the guerrillas. So to have the same dynamic in the Mideast, sanctions would not only have to affect Israelis but Palestinians as well and thereby force more into terrorism.

  15. This latest story of the two families–comprised of 50 Palestinian individuals evicted in E. Jerusalem– is a pretty damning picture of Israel. Especially since it was a court ruling

    Any comments?

  16. Why is it damming? Especially since it was a Supreme Court ruling? You think the Supreme Court is “pro-settler”?

  17. Yaakov

    Actually I had to dig around to find more information on that story (and I still came away with a murky understanding).

    Is it correct that these Palestinian residents had been delinquent in rent since 1982???

    In any case, let me adjust my opinion a little bit.

    For whatever reason, Israel never seems to have good PR in place for these types of situations.

    They had to have known the families would purposely camp out on the street in order to make a political statement and draw sympathy.

    And Israel had to have known the ruling would invoke international condemnation.

    The Palestinians are always winning these PR wars. I don’t understand Israel’s paralysis here.

    I don’t know what the real story is…but the message that comes across is that settlers are once again getting the green light to expand into disputed territory.

    Political suicide, if you ask me.

    Is it arrogance or paralysis? That is left open to interpretation–another bad PR move.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.