Tag Archives: East Jerusalem

Only Jews Live Here, Go Home Wherever That Might Be

I was born in 1930, an era in which Jews frequently were told their presence was not desired in a neighborhood and restrictive covenants made certain large areas were kept “Juden” free. As a Jew it is incumbent to fight for the rights of all people to live where they desire. Unfortunately, the Jews who currently govern the state of Israel behavior more akin to persecutors of Jews than those who defend human rights. Palestinian homes are being destroyed in East Jerusalem on grounds owners never obtained permits to build a home. Of course, those who seek a permit are told none is available. Of course, any Jew seeking a permit has no problem securing that piece of paper. The goal of the Israel government is clear– clear out Muslims and make Jerusalem “Muslim free.”

There is something sad about behavior of the Israel government towards Arabs who voluntarily or involuntarily inhabit areas under the control of Jews. Destruction of Arab homes in East Jerusalem violates every goal of Jews throughout their history of persecution. After centuries of being those without rights they have taken from Muslims fundamental rights of a citizen. The Israelis have met the enemy and discovered he is them!

President Obama secured promises from Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu that steps would be forthcoming to further the cause of peace. Demolishing Palestinian homes is hardly a step toward peace.

Peace In Our Time In Middle East?

It is reported the Obama administration is supporting a proposal by Egypt that could serve as the basis of renewed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The Egyptian proposal includes a freeze on further housing in the West Bank and Israel release of prominent Palestinian leaders who are in prison. The hope of Obama is that Israel demonstration of a willingness to compromise would stimulate the peace process. The Netanyahu government has already transferred some land from Israel to Palestinian Authority control.

However, the stumbling block remains refusal on the part of Prime Minister Netanyahu to order a freeze on construction in east Jerusalem. It is still unclear whether the Egyptian proposal includes such a freeze. President Abbas believes he can not attend a peace conference if Israel continues disregarding agreements concerning housing construction. The ball is in the court of Israel. Will we witness peace in our time in the Middle East?

If Palestinians Won’t Leave, Strip Them Of Residency!

Reality is sometimes difficult to confront, particularly when you desire to pretend reality does not exist except how it is played out in your mind. There are thousands of Palestinians who have lived in Jerusalem for many years and a high percent can trace their Jerusalem lineage back a hundred years, but to Israel officials, there is need to get thousands of Palestinians in east Jerusalem to leave as soon as possible. Statistics from the Ministry of the Interior in Israel which were obtained under a Freedom of Information request, indicate about 4,557 residents of East Jerusalem had their residency revoked in 2008. That number represents a total that is greater than half the total whose residency was revoked in the past 40 years.

It is clear Israel’s policy is to force Palestinians to leave, transfer their property into Jewish hands and proclaim to the world they are merely allowing Jews to live in Jerusalem. An Israel newspaper, Ha’aetz claims there is a deliberate policy to drive out Palestinians in order to claim most of east Jerusalem is Jewish so why allow Palestinians to have their capital in that section of Jerusalem.

The policy may work for a moment, but the world knows the Israel government is colluding with right wing elements to rob Palestinians of their right to live in east Jerusalem.

Israel Housing Demolitions Hamper Peace

A European Union internal report prepared by diplomats in Israel charged the Israeli government policies of blowing up Arab houses in east Jerusalem and elsewhere has become a major impediment to achieving peace with Palestinians. The paper charged: “Israel is by practical means, actively pursuing the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem. House demolitions in occupied east Jerusalem are illegal under international law, serve no obvious purpose, have humanitarian effects and fuel bitterness and extremism.” Of course, Israel policies do have a practical effect — they enable Israeli leaders to cater to the lowest common denominator in politics –those who hate Muslims and regard them as lacking in any rights.

Defenders of Israeli actions point out when Jordan occupied parts of Jerusalem it tried to obliterate all traces of its Jewish heritage. Yes, this is true, but what does it have to do with taking land away from Palestinians. Is the assumption, if they acted illegally, this justifies our own illegal actions?

Israeli Government Does It Again!

The Israeli government is in disarray with scant probability a compromise Cabinet will emerge that has the support of most people and can act in a vigorous manner to further the cause of peace. The Gaza expedition was disastrous both from a political and military stand point as well as making the name of Israel hated in many parts of the world. Angry Israelis can complain that any nation which condemns their invasion of Gaza is simply displaying anti-semitism. One would assume given the precarious situation, Israel officials would walk carefully to avoid initiating any further conflict. However, the Israel government has announced it intended to evict 1,500 Palestinians from the Al-Bustan neighborhood of east Jerusalem on ground they are occupying the houses illegally since the homes were built without permits. Of course, most of the houses were built before 1967 when they were governed by Jordan.

It is not the most Earth shaking problem but it simply points out how Israel leadership continually ignores public relations. The entire issue of who lives where in Jerusalem should be left to negotiations and evicting people is hardly the way to work for peace. Such actions simply add more fuel to the fire of discord. At this point, it is to the self interest of Israel to back away from conflict and present a stance of respecting the rights of Palestinians.

Hamas Offers Cease Fire On Civilians

Hamas leader Mashaal offered to have his organization cease any further attacks on Israel civilians if Israel would end attacks on Palestinian civilians. “We renew our offer to Israel to let the civilians on both parts not be part of the conflict. We renew this offer today.” He also confirmed that captured IDF soldier Gilad Schait is still alive. Mashaal insisted that 1,000 prisoners must be released in exchange for the return of the captured soldier. In an interesting comment, the Hamas leader claims the strength of his organization is greatly exaggerated by Israel and “we have primitive weapon.” Mashaal argued Palestinian suicide bombing only began after Baruch Goldstein killed 28 people who were praying in a mosque.

Even as the Hamas leader spoke, Prime Minister Olmert was telling Secretary of State Rice his government intends to continue building in Jewish areas of east Jerusalem and on the West Bank. Peace Now, the Israel group, issued a report which indicates the supposed feeze on settlement construction has never been accepted by the Israel government and documented at least 101 examples.

Hamas is a violent organization but its violence is also triggered by Israel violence. The American government should be focusing on first getting Hamas and Fatah back together, forging a cease fire, and drawing upon support from Arab nations to begin a meaningful peace process. Peace Now is correct, the freeze on West Bank housing construction is now a dead letter, but the issue of the West Bank will not go away. The Bush administration policy of allowing Israel to do whateve it desires on the West Bank will return to haunt peace efforts by the next person who becomes president of the United States.