Tag Archives: Jerusalem

Jerusalem Mayor Claims No Bias Against Arabs

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat blasted American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for daring to suggest that Muslim inhabitants are not treated on an equal basis with Jews. Clinton had denounced the demolition of Palestinian homes as not “helpful” to the pursuit of peace in the region. She has also been critical of continued building of homes in the West Bank. Barkat said, “I totally reject the notion that we are kicking people out of their homes, that is not the case. If you build illegal houses, you pay the consequences…I expect people to obey the law.” Of course, Palestinians do NOT receive the same treatment for requests to build homes as do Jewish inhabitants. Many Muslim residents of east Jerusalem lived under Jordanian occupation of the city and therefore papers and permits were not as tightly governed.

Perhaps, the most revealing statement from the mouth of the mayor of a city is that sharing the city “is the wrong solution. It may look good on paper but it will not work.” This comment is very reassuring to Muslim inhabitants of east Jerusalem. Don’t residents of a city want the mayor to say they don’t belong there? Barkat is simply another example of Israeli leaders who have forgotten the dream of those who created Israel that it would be a model in which both Muslims and Jews could live on equal terms.

Bravo for Hillary Clinton!

Secular And Orthodox Jews Battle In Jerusalem

Discussions concerning Israel ordinarily revolve around issues pertaining to the Jewish-Muslim conflict and less attention is paid to the growing war between secular and Orthodox Jews for control of the nation. In the battle as to which groups would gain victory in the Jerusalem mayor contest, the city was treated to a blatant attempt by the Orthodox candidate to make clear he has no sympathy for secular Jews. In a statement caught on tape, Rabbi Meir Porush, said his goal was wiping out the secular opposition. “Within ten years there will not be secular candidate at all in any city, maybe in an abandoned village.” Secular Jerusalem residents were furious and some already are organizing to halt construction of an Orthodox kindergarten in west Jerusalem. “Kiryat Yovel has been a pluralistic place but now it is changing” as Orthodox residents attempt to impose their religious beliefs on secular residents.

Orthodox Jews account for about 25% of the electorate but they mobilize at election time and get out the vote for their candidates. As Jews argue, Muslim Palestinian residents are facing constant pressure to move and their future in Jerusalem will be doubtful if the Orthodox gain more power in Israel.

Palestinians Protest Tolerance Museum Location

Lebanaon’s Hezbollah group attacked the Israel government for authorizing the construction of a Tolerance Museum on a site that incorporates part of a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem. It blasted the decision “for the desecration of a historic Islamic cemetery” and charged it was part of an Israel plot to take over and claim as Jewish areas that historically were Muslim. The Israel High Court on Wednesday rejected appeals by two Muslim organizations which complained that the museum would be built over a part of an ancient Muslim cemetery. The Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein expressed surprise promoters want to build a museum seeking “tolerance” over an area that many Muslims regard as sacred.

There undoubtedly are many reasons why the Simon Wiesenthal Center wishes to construct a Tolerance Museum since fostering tolerance has always been among its aims. But, surely, there is something ironic in constructing the museum over what was formerly an Islamic cemetery. Imagine the outrage if the museum were to be built over an historic Jewish cemetery.

The best way to achieve the goals of a Tolerance Museum is to begin by acting tolerant. If the Museum builds on another site it demonstrates to Muslims its desire to respect their wishes and it is the first step in moving toward mutual tolerance and respect for one another.

Israel Folly Continues In Palestinian Negotiations

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made clear to the world that Israel was not engaged in any discussions with Palestinian leaders about the future of Jerusalem. His comments were a sharp rebuke to statements made by the head of the American consulate in Jerusalem, Jack Walles, who was quoted by a Palestinian newspaper as saying that Israel has agreed to discuss the future status of Jerusalem during its peace talks with Palestinians. Walles told Al-Ayyam, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had told both sides her country assumed any peace discussion included Israel return to the borders of 1967 and what would be the future of Jerusalem.

The history of Israel entails repeated delay in confronting issues in hope that time is on its side. Now, is the time to discuss Jerusalem, not a year or two years from now. Delays reinforce the power of militants and make difficult efforts by moderate Palestinian leaders to construct the bridge of peace.

Obama To Israel–I’ll Negotiate For Peace

Senator Barack Obama emphasized in an interview with the Jerusalem Post his commitment to working for peace in the Middle East. He argued the emphasis should be on negotiation rather then empty rhetoric that only serves to inflame the Iranians and Palestinians. If negotiations fail to achieve clearly stated goals, he argued, and Iranians rail to respond, “we’ve stripped away whatever excuses they may have(and) whatever rationales may exist in the international community for not ratcheting up sanctions and taking serous action.” Obama told reporters there has been “strong rhetoric” without also offering peaceful resolutions of issues.

Senator Obama acknowledged Israel had the right to make its own decisions but hoped prior to initiating aggressive action every possible option for peace had been explored. He clarified previous comments about Jerusalem by emphasizing Israelis and Palestinians have to resolve the issue among themselves. He also made clear concerning West Bank settlements, Israel “should abide by previous agreements and commitments that have been made, and aggressive settlement construction would seem to violate the spirit, at least, f not the letter, of agreements that have been made previously.”

It is important for that Senator Obama made clear the dangers of aggressive West Bank settlement.

Obama Addresses The Jerusalem Issue

Presidential candidate Barack Obama told a meeting of the Jewish group, AIPAC, he believed Jerusalem must not be allowed to become a divided city. However, yesterday, the Illinois senator backed away from those words and indicted they were “badly phrased.” Obama, during a CNN interview, said: “You know the truth is this was an example of where we had some poor phrasing in the speech and we immediately tried to correct the interpretation that was given. The point we were simply making was that we don’t want barbed wire running through Jerusalem… but it is possible for us to create a Jerusalem that is cohesive and coherent. I was not trying to predetermine what are the essentially final-status issues.”

Obama insists he will not disagree with a two side Jerusalem in which both Israel and Palestinians can call the city its capital. Barack Obama will be visiting Israel in the coming weeks and will make certain he speaks not just with Israel leaders but with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority on July 23.

Obama is correct in stating final decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem are ones that will be made by Israelis and Palestinians, not by candidates for the presidency of the United States. It is time for American political leaders hustling for votes to allow people of the Middle East to decide their own futures.

Jews, Muslims, Christians Unite Against Common Enemy

In the genre of science fiction a common theme is the presence of a foreign entity which compels people of the world to unite because only by forgetting what separates them will they be able to halt the invasion from outer space. The city of Jerusalem is now the scene of Muslims, Jews, and Christians working together in order to stem the tide of a common enemy– gays and lesbians. The annual gay parade next week has aroused the fury of religious right wing fundamentalists who regard the very thought of gays and lesbians as an abomination and anathema to core Biblical beliefs. The High Court of Justice ruled gays and lesbians have a right to march and this event will be guarded by 2,000 police who hope to ensure there is no violence along the four city block march.

Gays and lesbians insist they have the right of free speech and the march is a symbol of tolerance and pluralism. Ariel Atla, a resident told the Jerusalem Post, “there is no reason to make problems–there are enough problems without them.” However, Olga Biyudin, who works in a bank, argued, “Jerusalem is for all the people in the world.”

The anti-gay parade organization proves that Jews and Muslims can cooperate and work together since all they need is a common enemy. The trick is creating a common good that would bring together these diverse groups. Anyone have one?

Israel Claims Progress In Negotiations With Abbas

The London based Arabic newspaper, Asharq Al-Awsat, claims Prime Minister Olmert is reporting significant progress has been made between President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority on issues related to the return of refugees, border and security concerns. Olmert has made clear the topic of Jerusalem will be left to the end of negotiations because its future is a “volatile” one. Likud leader, Benyamin Netanyahu, told visiting French President Sarkozy that under no conditions will Jerusalem be divided in any final peace settlement.

Olmert said it was unlikely Israel would hammer out an agreement with Syria which results in opening embassies in both nations while Syria continues having close relations with Iran. He also insisted his nation could not tolerate a nuclear armed Iran and would take steps to prevent this from happening.

Palestinian leaders will undoubtedly insist east Jerusalem be the capital of an independent Palestinian nation. There are many ways to ensure the right for people of all faiths to enjoy access to religious sites while allowing Palestinians the right of making Jerusalem their capital. Olmert’s comments concerning Iran can only be addressed when major powers sit down with Iran for an all-encompassing resolution of issues. A new American president is needed for that to happen.

Death In Jerusalem-Who MOurns For Victims?

A Palestinian who worked for the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva entered the library area, took out a weapon and began blasting away until eight young Jewish youths lay dead and 11 others wounded. The terrorist was caught and killed as he tried to escape. The head of the Yeshiva, Rabbi Yaakov Sapira compared the slaughter to Arab killing of Jews in the 1929 Hebron massacres. The children are dead, but questions also remain as to how will the Arab world react to these killings. It appears the killer’s family is already hanging flags of Hamas, are they being hung as a gesture of sorrow or to celebrate the death of Jews?

Most probably, many people in Gaza will celebrate death and few leaders of Hamas will ever express regret at the killing of innocent children– unless, of course, they are Muslim children who got killled. One of the tragedies of the constant killing of people during the Israel-Palestinan conflict is the loss of a sense of humanity. If people kill for years, they lose sight of their own religion’s values and cease viewing the enemy as a person. If there are celebrations for this brutal act of terrorism in Gaza or elsewhere in the Arab world, it reflects a loss of belief in the Islamic faith much more than it reflects a triumph over Israel. The killer believed in death, not God.