Situated in the south of Jerusalem, the project benefits from one of the city’s most prestigious and desirable locales, nestled in a particularly attractive area between the Talpiot neighborhood and the green groves of Kibbutz Ramat Rachel.
“This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations,” President Obama saidlast week at a press conference in Indonesia. He was referring to the approval issued in Israel for building 1,300 homes in two East Jerusalem neighborhoods.
That is, 1,300 homes for Jews. Obama would have had no problem if the announced homes had been designated for Arabs – or anyone other than Jews.
As the Wall Street Journal notedin an editorial, the country – Indonesia – in which Obama made his remark is one that forbids Israeli citizens to visit. Indonesia is also one of 19 UN member states that do not recognize Israel as a state, and it does not allow overflights by Israeli aircrafts.
One could say, then, that in counterposing Jewish homes in Jerusalem to peace, Obama was not encouraging the best side of the Indonesian national ethos.
He wasn’t the only one to object to the Israeli plans, of course. In a de rigueur eruptionthat is almost dreary to record, the State Department said it was “deeply disappointed” and that the plans were “counterproductive to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the [Israelis and Palestinians].”
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton pronounced herself “extremely concerned,” and UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon also “expressed concern.”
The pertinacious Palestinian spokesman Saeb Erekat chimed in that the new construction plans proved that “Israel chooses settlements, not peace.”
As the Wall Street Journal also observed, it was Erekat who recently sent an admiring letterto Ahmed Sa’adat, a terrorist who masterminded the murder of an Israeli cabinet minister in 2001.
Erekat warmed Sa’adat’s Israeli jail cell with “the strongest emotions of solidarity and brotherhood . You exhibited steadfast resistance that has become the stuff of legend, during which many martyrs fell.”
The cabinet minister in question, Rehavam Ze’evi, was shot twice in the headat the Hyatt Hotel in Jerusalem on October 17, 2001. The assassin was from the PFLP terror organization, then headed by Sa’adat, and was directly dispatched by him.
Think about it: no slap on the wrist – no reaction at all – for Erekat from Obama, Ashton, Ban, or anyone else for his tribute to Sa’adat, no protestations that this wasn’t in the spirit of peace; and yet another public upbraiding of Israel, a country already subject to a worldwide delegitimization campaign, for the building plans.
If there was a bright spot in this episode, it was that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in replying to Obama’s words, showed – at least initially – more spunk in a way that is hard not to connect with the Democratic Part’s midterm debacle at the polls. Netanyahu’s office released a statementsaying:
Jerusalem is not a settlement; Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel. Israel has never accepted upon itself restrictions of any kind on construction in Jerusalem, which has approximately 800,000 residents . Israel sees no connection between the diplomatic process and planning and building policy in Jerusalem, which has not changed in 40 years. All Israeli governments in the past 40 years have built in all parts of the city. During this period, peace agreements were signed with Egypt and Jordan, and for 17 years, diplomatic negotiations have been conducted with the Palestinians. These are historical facts. Construction in Jerusalem has never hindered the peace process.
Yet, unfortunately, in a later interview with Fox Business News, Netanyahu already softened the message, calling the issue “overblown” and saying”you are talking about a handful of apartments that really don’t affect the map at all contrary to impressions that might be perceived from certain news reports. So it’s a minor issue that might be turned to a major issue.”
In fact, the right of Jews to live in Jerusalem is a major issue in any case. In repeatedly calling it into question, Obama strikes at the heart of Israel’s raison d’être and sows fear and distrust in the large majority of Israelis – exactly contradictory to his presumed desire to advance peace talks and Israeli concessions.
In that regard, paradoxically, he is doing some good, as more Israelis understand that the concessions required of them would be suicidal.
As for the other side, Obama’s words can only encourage Muslims, whether in Indonesia or Judea and Samaria, in their vision of a Judenfrei Jerusalem and their worst supremacist tendencies.
P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Israel. He blogs at www.pdavidhornik.typepad.com.
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Bibi’s speech to Congress will bring respect and honor to the Jewish Nation from the US & the world
Obama & Putin have handwriting/signature clues indicating differences between public & private life
It’s time for a new Jewish policy regarding Ramallah, NOT just because of the yarmulke incident
If Jackson were alive he’d denounce Democratic party’s silence towards virulent anti-Semitism
Victim of Palestinian Arab terrorism, a victor in NY federal court, after years of being ignored by Justice Dept.
March 2013: Arabs hurled stones hitting the Biton’s car; Adele’s mother swerved the car-into a truck
I can tell you that Cablevision has been astonished at how high we rank.
The real issue is that in many respects the president has sought to recalibrate American values and our system of government.
Former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman, writing in the Washington Post on Sunday, provided one of the clearest and most compelling analyses we’ve seen of the importance of the prime minister’s speech.
A central concept in any discussion about happiness is achieving clarity. “Ain simcha ela k’hataras hasefeikos” – there is no joy as that experienced with the removal of doubt.
“Je Suis..,” like its famous origin 400 years ago, implies the ability & freedom to think & question
Many anti-Israel demonstrations at universities have a not-so-latent anti-Semitic agenda as well
Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics has released its population data for 2012, the year that just ended. As usual, the trends are favorable. The total Israeli population rose to just under eight million, while the Jewish population for the first time rose to just over six million.
How well are Jews – and non-Jews – doing with regard to the Jewish state? If the question focuses on the highbrow world, and particularly its predominant persuasion of liberalism (or what is still called by that name), the answer that emerges from Edward Alexander’s new book is: not very well.
It’s been a bumpy road for the Palestinians lately.
Recent staged spectacles that were supposed to whip up sympathy for them and put Israel in a bad light again – the Nakba Day (May 15) and Naksa Day (June 4) marches on Israel’s borders, the flotilla, the flytilla – have been disappointments at best, if not outright flops. And the Palestinians’ long-hyped independent-statehood bid at the UN in September is meeting growing opposition from the West.
When Glenn Beck’s upcoming Jerusalem rally was first announced, he saidit would be called “Restore Courage” – modeled on his “Restoring Honor” rally last year in Washington that drew half a million. Or as Beck put it: “Last summer, we set out to restore honor in Washington, DC. This summer, it’s time to restore courage. It is time for us to courageously stand with Israel.”
In reaction to the Palestinian Authority-Hamas unity deal signed in Cairo, Israel decided to turn off the spigot. It halted the transfer to the PA of over $100 million in customs and tax revenues.
The day after last week’s announcement of a Fatah-Hamas rapprochement in Cairo, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas said he would keep pursuing peace talks with Israel. Almost concurrently, top Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said Hamas would stick to its stance of neither recognizing nor negotiating with Israel, but “if Fatah wants to negotiate with Israel over trivialities, they can.”
“With the winds of change blowing through the Arab world, it’s more urgent than ever that we try to seize the opportunity to create a peaceful solution between the Palestinians and the Israelis,” President Obama saidlast week after meeting with Israeli president Shimon Peres.
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