When Barack Obama was elected president, many around the world saw it as the culmination of decades of successful efforts by the American civil rights movement. How ironic, then, that the Obama administration has been conducting a campaign against Jews who wish to live in certain Jerusalem neighborhoods.
The administration has a real problem with Jews seeking to live in two neighborhoods of Jerusalem, the Sheikh Jarrah section, at the foot of Mount Scopus, and the Simon the Righteous neighborhood, located close to the pre-1967 cease-fire lines that once separated Israel from Jordan. The latter is an area whose Jewish roots go back at least two millennia. It was Jewish when the Arabs were still moon worshippers and London just a field of mud.
Even worse, the Obama people are promoting an arbitrary, selective apartheid for Jerusalem directed only against Jews – Arabs, including Arabs from the West Bank, who do not hold Israeli citizenship should be free to live in any predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem (as well as in Jewish neighborhoods in Haifa, Tel Aviv, Beersheva and elsewhere).
During World War II, Hitler’s main agent for recruiting Muslims to the Nazi banner was Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. A terrorist leader, he fled Jerusalem when the British attempted to arrest him and spent part of the war as the guest of honor of the Nazis.
The Mufti had owned some property in what is now the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. That property was legally purchased by American businessman Irving Moskowitz, who has owned the property for 20 years now and has a permit to construct an apartment building there in place of the current structure on the site, the Shepherd’s Hotel.
The Obama administration is claiming that since the property once belonged to the Grand Mufti and is now in a predominantly Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem, Israel should freeze and halt all Jewish building there. Evidently, under Obama’s new affirmative apartheid policy for Jerusalem, only Arabs should be permitted to build in East Jerusalem.
Now, Obama happens to lives not far from Arlington Cemetery, which sits on land confiscated from Confederate General Robert E. Lee during the Civil War. Israel has at least as much right to use the property taken from the Grand Mufti as the U.S. has to fill up Gen. Lee’s plantation with graves.
The idea that Israel should prevent Jews from building in East Jerusalem because Palestinians claim some sort of right to it is as absurd as suggesting that all construction in the District of Columbia be frozen because the British once claimed rights over it.
Obama’s people are also up in arms because Israel removed some illegal Arab squatters from land they did not own in Jerusalem’s Simon the Righteous neighborhood. This was a Jewish neighborhood until the Jordanians conquered it and evicted all the Jews there in an act of ethnic cleansing. The Israeli Supreme Court has repeatedly ruledthat the land in question belongs legally to Jews.
The United Nations Partition Plan of 1947 called for the creation of a Jewish state and an Arab state alongside it. The Arab state never arose because the land that had been set aside for it was gobbled up by the Arab countries that sent their armies to annihilate the Jews.
The UN partition granted Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus, with its hospital and university facilities, to Israel. Access by Jews to the area was supposed to be free and unfettered. But Arab terrorist militias placed Mount Scopus under siege and attacked any vehicle trying to reach it. The Mufti himself plannedthe massacre that followed.
On April 13, 1948, a large convoy consisting mainly of Jewish doctors and nurses tried to reach the hospital on Mount Scopus. It was attacked in Sheikh Jarrah at the mount’s foothills. The Jewish vehicles were hit by mines and strafed by gunfire and other weapons.
Some 79 Jews and a British soldier were murdered by the terrorists of Sheikh Jarrah. The bodies were so badly burned that most of them could not be identified. The victims included the head of Hadassah hospital and the head of its medical school.
In recent years, Arab-occupied Sheikh Jarrah has again been the frequent scene of terrorism and violence against Jews. During the recent Gaza campaign, Arab thugs attacks Jews driving or walking near Mount Scopus.
Obama is concerned about the potential for unrest and violence if Jews move to the property they own in Sheikh Jarrah and other Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem. But of course he would never propose removing the Arab residents of those areas in order to restore tranquility. His Klan Plan consists only of preventing Jews from moving in and ruining the neighborhood.
Jews have exactly as much right to Sheikh Jarrah as the U.S. government had to the Lee Plantation that became Arlington Cemetery. And the rights in both cases were won in exactly the same way – through bloodshed.
Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.