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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘E-1’

Taking Advantage of the Siege of Jerusalem

Monday, December 24th, 2012

The 10th day of the Hebrew month of Tevet, which fell out yesterday, commemorates an important precursor to the current siege that surrounds Jerusalem. Important, not because of the similarities between now and then but because of the refreshing opportunity implicit in the post-modern siege, both for Israel and for those who seek to impede its actions.

Regional conquest and domination were the obvious goals and the ultimate results of Nebuchadnezzar II‘s siege of Jerusalem on the Tenth of Tevet, 588 years B.C.E. Ancient Babylonia was building its empire and Jerusalem was not to stand in its way. To this day Jews the world over fast on the Tenth of Tevet, aligning their worldview with that of their biblical prophets who viewed the siege as a harbinger of the Temple’s destruction, the fall of Jerusalem and the Jewish exile. But must a siege always spell doom?

The odds were stacked against Jerusalem. Judea’s brethren in the northern kingdom of Samaria had long been overrun, exiled and dispersed. Clearly, the domineering Babylonians had the military advantage over the civilians within Jerusalem’s walls and the diplomatic edge over the Judean kings who were largely subservient to Babylonia. Once the siege was in full swing the only offense that could be offered was a strong defense. As time would tell, seasoned wellsprings of uncompromising leadership and inspired camaraderie had long dried up. If not Nebuchadnezzar II it would have been someone else. Jerusalem’s days were numbered.

A curious and historic role reversal has come to the fore in the wake of the international E-1 frenzy. Under normal circumstances, he who lays a siege is he who has the upper hand. But traditional sieges have always presented a clear and present danger to their victims. When the battlefield is replaced by press rooms and war is waged with windy condemnations, can the aggressor assume that he has a strategic advantage? Should he? And need the besieged party shudder at the thought of protracted belligerence?

Belabored, anticipated, thoughtless and knee-jerk attacks from EU countries regarding Israel’s decision to fortify its capital city awaken a true sense of sympathy for Europe’s impotence beyond its own borders. Berating Israeli diplomats adds some spice to the anti-Israel monotony, but photo ops are short lived and shifting the props on the set makes no impact on the ground. Indeed, the tragedy of fruitless attempts to impact the Middle East via mass media and open letters from Diaspora Rabbis to Israel’s Prime Minister lies not in the inefficacy of these failed approaches, but in the desperate delusion that they may actually make a difference.

Israel was infamously slow on the uptake when it came to identifying the sophisticated public relations war that it now faces on all sides. But it has become far more concerned about being forced  to live in bomb shelters than it is threatened by condescending statements by statesmen who care little for the survival of its sovereignty. Notwithstanding the multiplicity of narratives about what Israel was, is and will be, reality has a power all its own.

To date, Israel has emerged as the indisputable victor of the international diplomatic and propaganda siege that has befallen its capital city and, by extension, its people. On the foot-heels of Operation Pillar of Defense and on the eve of national elections, external pressure applied to Israel serves to strengthen the resolve of its people. Israelis have learned to live with international disdain for their very presence in the only country they can call home. Instead of apologetics, they engage in self-preservation. When Tel Aviv is hit by the same rockets that have consistently plagued Sderot, the people of Israel band together. There’s a reality on the ground and it will not yield to those who launch endless assaults from the world of ideas.

But is this a war that Israel wants to win? And if it is, then is this the way that Israel wants to win it?

Sure, the triumph of Zionism against relentless surrounding pressure is sweet. Yes, it’s difficult for Israelis to avoid a boost to their national ethos and ego following incessant efforts by their detractors to aggrandize the significance of the Jewish State by singling out the heinous crime of building homes while turning a blind eye to Syria’s gruesome civil war. But Israel has little to gain from its own self justification. And such an activity has even less to offer.

In many respects, today’s siege of Jerusalem amounts not to an undermining of its would-be fortifications but to a desperate cry for help from the international community. In a season when Western nations experience swift demographic overhauls, at a time when fiscal cliffs loom just around the bend and in a climate of nuclear proliferation among the world’s less predictable parties, somehow or other Israel grows increasingly stable. How does Israel survive in the Middle East? How does it manage to thrive?

In a benevolent and unwarranted attempt to judge the rhetoric of the international community favorably, we can attempt to attribute an optimistic angle to the world’s otherwise inexplicably disproportionate preoccupation with Israel. Perhaps, deep down inside, these nations want Israel to configure new algorithms for the benefit of humanity. After all, if Israel can save itself, then maybe it can save others as well. If Israel can generate a successful formula for coexistence with its Arab neighbors from without and from within, then maybe “peace on Earth” is not an empty slogan. If Israel can learn from the lessons of its past, then maybe the construction of Jerusalem will be viewed as a greater contribution to mankind than its destruction.

Jerusalem’s besiegers are a captive audience. It’s time for Israel to speak.

New York Times’ Jerusalem Chief Admits Anti-Israel Bias

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

H/T Yisrael Medad

After New York Times‘ Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren incorrectly reported that building in E-1 would make a “contiguous” Palestinian state impossible, the Times issued this lengthy correction to her article this past Sunday:

An article on Dec. 2 about Israel’s decision to move forward with planning and zoning for settlements in an area east of Jerusalem known as E1 described imprecisely the effect of such development on access to the cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem from Jerusalem, and on the West Bank. Development of E1 would limit access to Ramallah and Bethlehem, leaving narrow corridors far from the Old City and downtown Jerusalem; it would not completely cut off those cities from Jerusalem. It would also create a large block of Israeli settlements in the center of the West Bank; it would not divide the West Bank in two. And because of an editing error, the article referred incompletely to the possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state. Critics see E1 as a threat to the meaningful contiguity of such a state because it would leave some Palestinian areas connected by roads with few exits or by circuitous routes; the proposed development would not technically make a contiguous Palestinian state impossible. [Emphasis added].

Following the correction, former Bush adviser and fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations Elliot Abrams accused Rudoren of being completely bias when it comes to Israel, saying there was no other explanation for her failure to know or consult a map:

Here’s my theory: that just about everyone she knows –all her friends– believe these things, indeed know that they are true. Settlements are bad, the right-wing Israeli government is bad, new construction makes peace impossible and cuts the West Bank in half and destroys contiguity and means a Palestinian state is impossible. They just know it, it’s obvious, so why would you have to refer to a map, or talk to people who would tell you it’s all wrong? This was precisely what was feared when Ms. Rudoren was named the Times’s bureau chief: that she would move solely in a certain political and social milieu, the rough Israeli equivalent of the Upper West Side of Manhattan. This embarrassing episode–one story, many errors and corrections–may lead her to be more careful. One has to hope so, and to hope that both she and her editors reflect again on the thinking and the pattern of associations that lead a correspondent to misunderstand the issues so badly.

Yesterday, Politico posted part of an e-mail sent by Rudoren defending herself. She argued that she is not bias (of course) and blamed “imprecise language” on the pressures of making a deadline late at night. But that was not all. She went further, arguing that in essence she was and is correct about E-1 cutting Judea and Samaria in two, saying that’s “precisely why this area was chosen at this time” by the Israeli government. While as a writer and an attorney I can sympathize with the burdens of watching every single word while adhering to multiple deadlines for various pieces of work, her non-apology apology gives her bias away.

For years, Israel’s “friendly” critics have argued that Israel could establish a Palestinian state through various technical agreements and security arrangements, such as using bypass roads, which would theoretically enable Israelis to travel safely through certain areas of Judea and Samaria without worrying about road attacks. Even after the correction, Roduren assumes that such an arrangement would be impossible and goes even further by acting as if the territory in between Ma’aleh Adumim and the Dead Sea which would connect the top and bottom portions of Judea and Samaria does not exist.

My hope as a Jew and an Israeli citizen is that the government did choose to build in E-1 both to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state as well as to send a message that one could not be created about our consent. As I have written elsewhere, the timing indicates that this may be the case. But it could also be about other things: building in an area which all Israeli governments have viewed as being part of Israel in any future agreement with the Palestinians; sending a message to the Palestinians and/or the international community that Israel will take unilateral action in response to action taken by the Palestinians to change the status of the territory without Israel’s agreement (violating the Oslo Accords), or just building in a controversial area at what was thought to be strategically opportune time.

World Barks As ‘Building Jerusalem’ Caravan Moves On

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

With the international community barely having finished expressing its outrage over Israel’s decision to build in E-1, between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim (reported at length in last week’s column), two other similar decisions have been made that are sure to re-ignite the flames.

Israel’s urban planning committees have approved two additional large-scale building projects in Greater Jerusalem, i.e., areas liberated in the Six-Day War of 1967. A visitor from another century might wonder how Israel still manages to find itself on the defensive over such decisions, close to a half-century after returning en masse to its holy and historic capital.

The two decisions concern Ramat Shlomo, in northern Jerusalem, and Givat HaMatos, in the south. The former is a haredi community of 20,000 situated between Ramot to the west and the Arab neighborhood of Shuafat to the east. Its planned expansion has been a classic case of getting hit with the spoiled fish and having to eat it: Israel paid dearly in its relations with the United States when it originally announced the new construction there three years ago – precisely in the middle of an official visit to Israel by Vice President Joe Biden. Now, with no progress having been made on the project since, comes this new announcement on the final approval stage – and Israel will again be subjected to an international outcry.

The original plan called for 1,700 new housing units, but this number was pared down by the District Housing and Planning Committee to 1,500 after it heard objections from Shuafat residents.

On Tuesday, the same committee approved some 3,000 new units in southern Yerushalayim, between Gilo to the southwest, Beit Tsafafa (Arab) to the immediate north (where approximately a quarter of the apartments will be built), and Talpiot to the northeast.

The neighborhood to be developed is Givat HaMatos, or Airplane Hill. Its name memorializes the Jordanian downing of a two-engine Israel Air Force plane there during the Six-Day War; pilot Lt. Dan Givon was killed. In 1991 it was used to house hundreds of families of new Ethiopian Jewish immigrants. Currently, however, only a few remain, and the neighborhood has essentially become desolate.

It can now be expected, however, that within a few short years this forlorn area will go the way of the rest of the Land of Israel: From barren emptiness to blooming growth.

It is a matter of consensus that Jewish growth and expansion in neighborhoods such as Givat HaMatos and Ramat Shlomo are critical moves at this time, and will have a major effect on future arrangements with the Palestinian Authority and the Arabs in the Land of Israel. Aviv Tatarsky, spokesman for the Ir Amim group working on behalf of Arabs in Jerusalem, said, “The more massive is the Jewish construction in Jerusalem, the more complex and difficult it will be to divide the city and reach an arrangement with the Palestinians.”

Jerusalem City Councilman Yair Gabbai agrees, but from the other side: “Jewish building in Jerusalem is what will guarantee Israeli sovereignty throughout the city and the future of the young generation that will live here. We still need another 20,000 housing units, however.”

Among the Jewish-owned plots of land in Givat HaMatos is that of 82-year-old Yitzchak Herskovitz of Kiryat Arba. He fought in Israel’s courts for 18 (!) years to oust an Arab Bedouin clan of trespassers from his property. The squatters had run away from the Bethlehem area after a lethal feud with Arab neighbors, and their presence in Israel proper was illegal. With his tenacity, Herskovitz succeeded not only in redeeming the property from Arab occupation, but also in making it part of a new, thriving Jewish neighborhood. He is now seeking to develop the plot for the purpose of affordable housing for young couples.

More than 50,000 new housing units are planned for Jerusalem in the coming 20 years – and the lion’s share of them are to be built in the areas that were liberated during the Six-Day War. The trend indicates that neighborhoods such as Gilo, N’vei Yaakov, and Ramot – which some news media and others still call “settlements” – will not only remain under Israeli sovereignty under any arrangement, but will also become the locations of choice for future construction in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem: Build, Baby, Build!

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Israel this week took an important step toward strengthening Jerusalem and preventing any chance of its future division.

Despite increasingly strident objections from the U.S., Europe and the Palestinians, the Jewish state is moving forward with plans to expand the capital’s Jewish population.

At a meeting of the District Building and Planning Committee, officials approved a proposal to construct 1,500 apartment units in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo.

Located in the northern part of the city, Ramat Shlomo is a critical link ensuring an unbroken and contiguous strip of Jewish-populated areas from Ramot to French Hill.

This will make it extremely difficult for Palestinian-controlled Ramallah to ever connect with the eastern part of Jerusalem, thereby reducing the chance that Israel’s capital can or will ever be divided.

Bordered on the north and east by the Arab-inhabited neighborhoods of Beit Hanina and Shuafat, Ramat Shlomo also provides a bulwark against any possible attempts to stretch Palestinian control further westward.

According to some reports, construction of the 1,500 new apartment units could begin as early as next year, though it will likely take longer.

To be sure, there are still various additional bureaucratic hurdles that stand in the way of the start of actual construction, and the authorities can at any time throw a wrench in the works should they decide to do so.

But Ramat Shlomo is of great strategic significance and anyone who loves Jerusalem and wants to ensure that it remains indivisible and under full Israeli control should rejoice over this latest development.

Now, if the name Ramat Shlomo sounds vaguely familiar, that is because it was at the center of a diplomatic storm that erupted back in March 2010, when a plan for its expansion was approved during a visit to Israel by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

Washington was furious, the Palestinians were chagrined, and the Israeli left cold not contain its anger. As a result, the project was put on hold for two and a half years, and is now once again being revived after the Palestinian Authority’s latest unilateral moves at the United Nations General Assembly.

Don’t be surprised if the headlines in coming days once again take Israel to task for this latest move. No doubt everyone from the State Department spokesman to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to European Union officials are all busy at their word processors preparing the latest condemnation of the Jewish state for daring to build in its own capital.

When news of the plan was first publicized earlier this month, along with proposals to build in the E1 area between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim, the international community’s reaction was swift and stern.

Indeed, there is nowhere else in the world – not a single place! – that a tediously dull decision about housing construction made by bureaucrats would elicit so much international interest.

But we should not let the noise bother us one bit. However harsh the criticism might be, Israel has the right and the obligation to erect housing where it chooses, and it is no one else’s business or concern.

Our national interest is to put an end once and for all to the delusions of our foes that they can wrest Jerusalem from us or divide the city. The best way to do so is to rev up the bulldozers and build.

Israel needs to take steps to provide affordable housing in Jerusalem and meet the growing demand for apartments. Neighborhoods such as Ramat Shlomo provide just such an answer, and we should not let Mahmoud Abbas’s empty objections dictate our housing policy any longer.

Back in 2008, a large chorus of Americans adopted the slogan “Drill, Baby, Drill” to underline their support for greater petroleum exploration. It is time we embrace that motto and modify it slightly for our own purposes, and encourage the Israeli government to: “Build, Baby, Build!”

By doing so, we can ensure that this precious land remains ours forevermore.

Speaker Rivlin: East Jerusalem Construction Is Not Subject to Negotiations

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Against the background of the government’s decision to build in Ramat Shlomo and the E-1 zone, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin sent a message to his acquaintances around the world saying that construction in Jerusalem is not subject to negotiations. “In any conceivable political arrangement, Israel will not cede control of E-1.”

In a greeting for the new year he sent out, Rivlin further wrote: “We refuse to accept that only a few weeks after missiles and rockets were fired from Gaza at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, there are some who view Israel’s decision to hold on to a strategic area around Jerusalem and to build in its capital as the biggest obstacle to peace. We are getting the impression that European countries are more concerned with establishing a Palestinian state than they are with ensuring the existence of the Jewish state. The Europeans are wrong in assuming that Israel’s existence is assured and obvious.”

The European Union: A Palestinian Pawn

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Last week the EU Council of Foreign Affairs issued a statement about recent developments in what it called the “Middle East Peace Process.” The EU stated that all parties must avoid acts which undermine confidence and the viability of a two state solution. The statement showed just how detached the European Union has become from the reality in Israel.

There has been no peace process at all since the Palestinian leadership decided to walk away from bilateral negotiations with Israel in 2009, a move that was the result of a calculated change in strategy in PA politics regarding Israel.

Furthermoreת most EU countries undermined the chances of a negotiated deal on the two-state solution by voting in favor, or by abstaining from voting against, the unilateral UN statehood bid by the Palestinian Authority in November. The EU thereby became an accomplice in abrogating the Oslo accords.

The accords state, at Article 31: “Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of permanent status negotiations.”

The Palestinian Authority, however, bypassed permanent status negotiations in order to obtain world recognition of a Palestinian state. It was an attempt to change the status of the Judea and Samaria.

This unilateral act clearly undermined confidence. It also endangered relative quiet and the fragile status quo in the Judea and Samaria. This has been made clear by a series of violent incidents over the last two weeks. Palestinians in Hebron even announced on Saturday that the Third Intifada had begun.

Palestinian propaganda

But there is more.  Reading the ECFA statement carefully brings to light that the EU obviously bases its policy on information from Palestinian sources or from NGOs affiliated with the Palestinians.

For example, when speaking about the ceasefire lines that existed before the Six Day War in 1967 the EU uses the word ‘borders.’ These  ‘borders’ were in fact armistice lines that came into being after Arab aggression against Israel in 1948. The Palestinians speak about borders because their existence would enhance their claim to the Judea and Samaria.

When expressing “deep dismay” and “strong opposition” to Israeli plans to develop the so called E-1 area between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim,  the EU stated that this plan would “jeopardize the possibility of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state.” The EU even claimed that the plan “could entail the forced transfer of civilian population.”

These claims about E-1 are also based on propaganda used by the Palestinian Authority. The facts about E-1 show that the plan in no way  threatens the contiguity of a viable Palestinian state.

E-1 is a 11,7 sq.km area atop the barren hills adjacent to the eastern fringes of Jerusalem, joining it to Ma’aleh Adumim which is a  suburb of 40.000 residents 4,5 kilometers east of Jerusalem.

The town is within the Israeli consensus. Every Israeli government, including the Rabin government, has stated that Ma’aleh Adumim would be part of Israel in any permanent agreement with the Palestinians and that development of the E-1 area was necessary to avoid Jerusalem becoming an outlying frontier city once again. This had been the case before and after 1948 until 1967 when Jerusalem was divided and under constant attack.

The E-1 area, which is part of Ma’aleh Adumim and within Area C, has been the scene of relentless illegal Palestinian building and  land grabs by Bedouin tribes.  In Area C, according to the Oslo II accord, Israel retained the powers of zoning and planning.

Building in E-1 will not threaten the contiguity of a Palestinian state because east of Ma’aleh Adumim at least 15 kilometers of land remains to connect the north West Bank to the south. Furthermore Israel has developed a plan for a bypass road east of Ma’aleh Adumim that would connect Bethlehem to Ramallah. The new road would actually reduce travelling time for Palestinian travellers.

The map of Israel below shows clearly that the development of the E-1 area would not jeopardize a contiguous Palestinian state and that the corridor which would connect the northern portion of Judea and Samaria to the south is of the same size as the corridor that existed in Israel prior to the Six Day War.

Obsessed

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

The more I hear about the world being enraged that we plan to build a small neighborhood on E1 while so much of the world is on fire with violence, the more confused and amazed I am. Egypt has tanks in their streets; Syria is murdering dozens of their own each day and threatening to use chemical weapons on them.

Three were killed in a mall in Oregon when a gunman opened fire, the Greek economy is collapsing or has already collapsed, and so much moreNorth Korea fired a long-range rocket that landed past the Philippines and neither Japan nor the US is particularly pleased.

…and yet, the world is obsessed about E1.

No buildings here…nothing…E1

And, as I can see that mountain from my home, and as I drive past it every day, I am obsessed with capturing it in pictures.

It’s so silly really, and yet, each day, I snap a picture thinking maybe one more picture and the world will be convinced. Today as I drove past, I asked Elie to take some pictures. He hates my BlackBerry camera and complained…and yet, he captured what is there…and what is not.

It’s just a hill, people.

It’s just a bunch of rocks and a road and yes, it’s beautiful because it is part of Israel, but there’s no big issue here.

No Palestinians live there, so none will be hurt.

A highway sign warning trucks they can’t travel
between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. and a road
that leads to a police station.

The road on which I travel is called Route 1. It starts in Tel Aviv and continues to the east, climbing through the mountains into Jerusalem.

It crosses the northern points of Jerusalem and then continues down the mountain towards Maale Adumim.

At the bottom, it makes a curved turn and continues down, down, down – below sea level – down, down, to the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea.

E1 from Route 1…empty land

Today, I saw about 40 sheep grazing on the edge of the mountain – but honestly, they can graze on the next barren hilltop just as easily as on E1.

I look at E1 and I’m obsessed with taking that one picture that will convince the world that 100 dead in Syria is more pressing than this mountain – yes, even if we build on it.

That rocket from Korea deserves more attention than E1.

By the edge of the road, trees grow…on E1, almost nothing

For God’s sake there are tanks in the streets of Cairo and nine people were wounded there this morning.

Did you know that Mali’s prime minister was arrested and has resigned?

Did you know Iranian warships have docked in Sudan?

That another bomb has exploded in a Somali neighborhood in Kenya?

What, for heaven’s sake, is so important about this silly little mountain across from my home? Why is the world obsessed with what isn’t there and, even if it were, would do no harm.

There is NOTHING there. Palestinians today drive on Route 1. They will be able to drive on Route 1 during any construction period and they will continue to drive there after those apartments are built. There is NO harm done. It is a barren hill that connects Jerusalem to the west with Maale Adumim to the east and I hope, deep in my heart, that perhaps some of my children will settle there, so close to my home. I hope they will build affordable houses for young families.

I know that if they build there, the homes will glisten in the sunlight, covered in Jerusalem stone. I know that there will be fine roads there, perhaps even a school. Some shopping nearby and roads to connect it to Jerusalem and Maale Adumim.

I have little doubt that many of the construction workers will be Palestinians, able to earn money for their families. They won’t object to building there; they’ll be happy for the work.

The only thing standing in the way is an obsession born of ignorance and exaggeration. Please, look at the pictures. There is NOTHING there to protest against. Nothing to be bothered. Nothing to be damaged.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/a-soldiers-mother/obsessed/2012/12/13/

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