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The City of ‘East Jerusalem’

East Jerusalem has become code for: where Jews shouldn't be.

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Photo Credit: Noam Moskowitz/Flash90

There is a certain amount of ridiculousness in the refusal to recognize that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. There is still another amount of ridiculousness in a country’s refusal to move its embassy to Israel’s capital or in refusing to call what is in fact its embassy in Jerusalem as such, because of disagreement with where Israel has made its capital. And all the more so if all this is being done by an ally.

But perhaps even more ridiculous is the invention of the city or geographic unit of “East Jerusalem.” Among thousands of years of Jerusalem’s history the city was officially divided into West and East Jerusalem for a total of 18 years.  No one believes that “East Jerusalem” represents, historically, geographically, administratively or otherwise its own unique city or geographic unit apart from the rest of Jerusalem.

Yet anytime anything occurring east (or South or North) of the 1949 armistice line occurs in Jerusalem, it is labeled as happening in “East Jerusalem” as if it is some kind of separate geographical unit.

Take for example the New York Times‘ story today about the Israeli strike in Syria. The article featured a picture of gas mask distribution, which as the caption informs us, took place not in Jerusalem, or a certain neighborhood of Jerusalem, but in “East Jerusalem.”

nytimes - east jerusalem

The caption of the photo: “In East Jerusalem, Israelis distributed gas masks on Wednesday as worries about security spread.”

(Nevermind for the moment the fact that gas mask distribution has been going on for some time, and was not some response to dangers emanating from Syria, as the caption suggests.)

Thus, when Israel allows Jews to build or live in areas east of the Green Line that are within Jerusalem’s municipal borders it is very controversially building in “East Jerusalem.” As for example is described in this headline in Ha’aretz: “Israel to market disputed East Jerusalem housing project before election.” If it wasn’t in “East Jerusalem,” there wouldn’t even be a story here at all. Jews build in Jerusalem. What’s the problem.

True, there are some Arab neighborhoods in the city which have a quite distinct character from the Jewish/ more open and modern parts of the city (e.g., in Jewish neighborhoods you won’t find children asking you if you want to pay them for protection for your car after your park it and go about your business).  And if I were a tourist, I may want to know about that before I go to those areas. But that doesn’t include all these controversial areas where Israel has created wholly new neighborhoods.

And it is also claimed that Jerusalem’s municipal borders were inflated in order to include certain Arab villages which are now part of the city.  But anyone who walks from the Jewish areas to the Arab neighborhoods realizes that they are not separate villages, but parts of a large, bustling city. And again that claim would only relate to Arab neighborhoods, not completely new Jewish neighborhoods, like Har Homa, East Talpiyot,  Gilo or Rama Shlomo.

“East Jerusalem” thus exists merely to inform the reader or listener of one thing: that this area is or should be off limits to Jews. Jews should not be there and anything that Israel is doing there is wrong. Otherwise the fact that it is East Jerusalem would simply not be worth mentioning. It is not that exciting to say “gas masks were handed out in Jerusalem” or “gas masks were distributed in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo” (though it would have fulfilled the captions purpose in just describing something). There is nothing controversial about a Jew living in or Israel doing something in a certain neighborhood of Jerusalem. The reader has to be informed that the Jew should not be there. That is achieved with the term “East Jerusalem.”

I am sure that the intention of most editors and reporters is not to say outright,  “Jews shouldn’t be here” (though many of them subscribe to that belief). In their mind they are just informing the reader as to what is controversial. But in so doing they are affirming that it is controversial, when the thing itself is not. They are thus also conferring legitimacy on a certain moral judgment about where Jews should be permitted to live, which is not moral, but in fact anti-Semitic.

When the term is used of course, what exactly is controversial is not explained. Knowledge of it is presumed, as if with a wink and a nod to the reader. Actually putting into words what is controversial would take some knowledge of the situation and would reveal just how ridiculous and anti-Semetic it is to say that Jews should not be allowed to be here, in the Land of Israel, Judea, Jerusalem of all places. And so to avoid that entire discussion and all the unpleasantries it entails, the term “East Jerusalem” is used.

About the Author: Daniel Tauber is a frequent contributor to various prominent publications, including the Jewish Press, Arutz Sheva, Americanthinker.com, the Jerusalem Post and Ha’aretz. Daniel is also an attorney admitted to practice law in Israel and New York and received his J.D. from Fordham University School of Law. You can follow him on facebook and twitter.


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9 Responses to “The City of ‘East Jerusalem’”

  1. It is not controversial to most Jews, including myself, to think of the Temple Mount, Judaism holiest site, as the Temple Mount.

    It is an honest historical description.

    But it is very controversial among the world's billion Muslims.

    The term East Jerusalem is used in the media to mean Arab East Jerusalem.

    It is really an editorial more than honest news reporting.

    But the media has voted on this dispute.

  2. The modern State of Israel was created to include a partitioned Jerusalem. Do you believe that this fact may be changed unilaterally? If so, you should be prepared to disagree with the vast majority of the people of the world.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Jerusalem was partitioned in 1948 as a result of a war which Israel fought defending her right to exist. In 1967, Jordan, who occupied part of Jerusalem and Judea & Samaria, was asked to stay out of the war being fought then. They attacked, & when the ceasefire was proclaimed, Israel had all these areas. That is to say, this land was gained in a defensive war and according to international law (such as it is), Israel may keep it. This is in addition to many other reasons why the land is Israel's.

  4. Chavazl – That is the theory by which the Soviet Union, in defending itself against Nazi Germany, was given control of Hungary, Poland, Romania, "Yugoslavia," Albania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Esionia, , etc. Your response presumes the legitimacy of that absurdity, and is, itself absurd. Good Shabbos.

  5. Chavazl – That is the theory by which the Soviet Union, in defending itself against Nazi Germany, was given control of Hungary, Poland, Romania, "Yugoslavia," Albania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Esionia, , etc. Your response presumes the legitimacy of that absurdity, and is, itself absurd. Good Shabbos.

  6. John Ford Coley says:

    Disagree with the vast majority of the world about Israel? Perhaps the vast majority of the world should read what G-d says about Israel and then the vast majority of the world should be prepared to disagree with G-d about His land. Oh and by the way, disagreeing with G-d is neither intelligent nor wise. It might have been set up for partition but only because the Jews weren't able to finish taking Jerusalem during the '48 Independence War. However, in '67 they did take it. If the Muslims/Arabs want to keep their land then quit picking fights with Israel.

  7. John Ford Coley says:

    Disagree with the vast majority of the world about Israel? Perhaps the vast majority of the world should read what G-d says about Israel and then the vast majority of the world should be prepared to disagree with G-d about His land. Oh and by the way, disagreeing with G-d is neither intelligent nor wise. It might have been set up for partition but only because the Jews weren't able to finish taking Jerusalem during the '48 Independence War. However, in '67 they did take it. If the Muslims/Arabs want to keep their land then quit picking fights with Israel.

  8. According to Psalm 105 verse 4, "Firm stands His Word to Abraham spoken, His oath to Isaac never broken, His everlasing covenant, With Israel – G-d will not recant. He said "To you this land I give, That as my heirs you there may live" besides if the palestinians had won the war of 1967, would they give the land back, they are sore losers.

  9. According to Psalm 105 verse 4, "Firm stands His Word to Abraham spoken, His oath to Isaac never broken, His everlasing covenant, With Israel – G-d will not recant. He said "To you this land I give, That as my heirs you there may live" besides if the palestinians had won the war of 1967, would they give the land back, they are sore losers.

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