Photo Credit: Jewish Press
With the world’s eyes directed toward the United Nations, the most salient issues in the Israeli-Arab dispute in the Holy Land have been sharpened:
* Will Israel continue to have to “beg” the PLO for direct talks?
* Will the PA continue to insist that the settlements are the main obstacle to peace, even though no settlements existed throughout most of the decades of the conflict?
* Will the world understand that despite, or because of, Israel’s many retreats and withdrawals – from Sinai, Lebanon, Gaza, cities and counties in Judea and Samaria – the Middle East has become much more dangerous for Israel?
* And what about Jerusalem?
Prime Minister Netanyahu, addressing the United Nations on Friday, mentioned Jerusalem several times. While pointing out the “absurdity” of many UN votes, he chose the following as his prime example: “So here in the UN, automatic majorities can decide anything. They can decide that the sun rises in the west. But they can also decide – they have decided – that the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Judaism’s holiest place, is occupied Palestinian territory.”
For months, Netanyahu has repeatedly implied that everything can be decided by direct negotiations. However, this last statement of his is actually a backhand reference to the slim chances of any true peace agreement really emerging from such talks, given the stubborn PA position on Jerusalem.
Netanyahu was basically saying, What is there to talk about? The PA’s demand for Yerushalayim, and its success in getting the United Nations to agree to it, is akin to claiming the sun rises in the west. Just as the sun rises in the east, the Holy City is ours, period.
And yet, at the same time, the UN is preparing to consider a bid for Palestinian statehood – precisely with Al Quds (eastern Jerusalem) as its capital. PA Chairman Abbas, in his UN speech, said he had just submitted “an application for the admission of Palestine with Al-Quds Al-Sharif [Jerusalem] as its capital, as a full member of the United Nations.”
In addition, PA spokesmen never miss an opportunity to belittle or negate the Jewish people’s connection to the Holy City. Abbas himself, in his speech to the UN, blatantly defined the Holy Land as that of Muhammad and Jesus – with no mention of Joshua bin Nun, Samuel, Kings David and Solomon, the Prophets Elijah, Isaiah and Jeremiah, Ezra and Nehemiah, or the Tannaim and Amoraim.
Does the world community grasp this jarring dissonance, or does it prefer to assume that under its pressure, Jerusalem will in fact ultimately be divided, with its holiest sections coming under hostile Arab control? The potential for this latter scenario is something we cannot afford to overlook.
In this context, we warmly welcome the words of Republican presidential candidate and Texas governor Rick Perry. At a press conference in New York last week, Perry said straight out: “Jerusalem must remain undivided and under Israeli sovereignty.”
This is not a new position for Perry; he has long been warmly and forthrightly in favor of Jewish rights in the Land of Israel and Yerushalayim. In fact, he traveled to Israel in 2009 to receive the “Defender of Jerusalem” Award, given to public figures who have demonstrated support and commitment to the State of Israel and its capital. He told a reporter, “I have a special affection for the nation of Israel,” and even compared Masada to the 1836 Battle of the Alamo, a critical event in Texan culture that led to Texan independence.
In his most recent remarks, he promised that “under the Perry Administration, the employees in the United States Embassy in Tel Aviv will know that their place of employment will soon move to Jerusalem.”
Similar pledges have been made in the past by presidential candidates, of course, only to be waived when it was time to actualize them. But Perry appears to be sincere – and at this time, even mere promises of support for an undivided Israeli Jerusalem have value.
Netanyahu, in his speech at the UN, called the world body to task for its many votes against Israel and for giving positions of authority to terrorists. After noting that a full “21 out of the 27 General Assembly resolutions condemn Israel – the one true democracy in the Middle East,” Netanyahu continued: “This is an unfortunate part of the UN institution. It’s the theater of the absurd. It doesn’t only cast Israel as the villain; it often casts real villains in leading roles: Khaddafi’s Libya chaired the UN Commission on Human Rights; Saddam’s Iraq headed the UN Committee on Disarmament. [And] right now, today, Hizbullah-controlled Lebanon presides over the UN Security Council. This means, in effect, that a terror organization presides over the body entrusted with guaranteeing the world’s security. You couldn’t make this thing up.”
Keeping his focus on Jerusalem, Netanyahu also said, “I often hear them [PA spokesmen] accuse Israel of Judaizing Jerusalem. That’s like accusing America of Americanizing Washington, or the British of Anglicizing London. You know why we’re called Jews? Because we come from Judea!”
It is incumbent on our leaders to go even further, and emphasize in every forum: “Dividing Jerusalem will bring war, not peace! True peace with the Arabs can come only with a united Israeli Jerusalem.”
To ensure this truism, Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech asks for your continued active involvement: Disseminating information on our unbreakable bonds with the Holy City, lobbying politicians, and visiting and taking part in our educational tours. Contact www.keepjerusalem.org for details.
Chaim Silberstein is president of Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund. He was formerly a senior adviser to Israel’s minister of tourism. Hillel Fendel, past senior editor at Israel National News/Arutz-7, continues to write and edit. Both have lived in Jerusalem and now live in Beit El.