In a few days, Jews will be concluding their seders with “Next year in Jerusalem.” How provocative. In Arutz Sheva, David Wilder asks, which Jerusalem? East Jerusalem, “occupied,” “disputed,” or “conquered,” as is the media consensus, even though that’s where the Jewish Quarter is?
After Israel announced, during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit, that it was going to build an apartment complex for 1,600 Jewish families “next year in Jerusalem,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton devoted 45 minutes to scolding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Daily News (March 16) editorial remembered when Clinton called Jerusalem “the eternal and indivisible capital of Israel,” but that was in 1999 and 2007 when she was running for senator and president, not 2010 in the service of President Barack Obama.
The Ma’an News Agency, a Palestinian organization, reported (March 1) that a 19-year-old Arab in Jenin said he was “shocked and terrified” when his pet rabbit gave birth to a “tiny elephant.”
“I was concerned when I saw a black baby elephant next to nine white baby rabbits,” Muhammad Alawana, told Ma’an. He said he was baffled as to how the “elephant” was produced.
Palestinians have been “shocked and terrified” quite a bit by the Israelis lately; what the Israelis think of as rabbits are seen as raging elephants. It wasn’t just where Jews were building; it was where Jews are buried. In late February, Israel placed Rachel’s Tomb and the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs — the two oldest Jewish historical sites — on a list of national heritage sites. According to the Associated Press (Feb. 24), the move “sparked Palestinian protests” and the State Department “sharply criticized” Netanyahu’s government, calling the Israeli listing of the graves of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, Leah and Rachael.
The AP added, the administration’s “displeasure … had been conveyed to senior Israeli officials by American diplomats.”
In response, Palestinians in Hebron hurled rocks and rioted for four days.
All three shrines — Abraham’s, Rachel’s and the Temple Mount — “came under Israeli control in the 1967 Middle East war,” reported the Times, “and have been the sites of frequent tension ever since.”
And what of before 1967, when Jews were not allowed to visit any of the holy places? What of the riots and murders of Jews at those places in the century before that? But for almost every news organization, 1967 is the beginning of time.
There are other Jewish tombs on the West Bank. The Christian Broadcasting Network (Feb. 25) recalled what happened to Joseph’s Tomb in October 2000. Palestinians “pillaged the tomb,” killing two Israelis in the process. That Heritage list is not just about tourism. There is recent history to consider.
The Wall Street Journal (March 10) did a fine story on the Hurva synagogue in Jerusalem — occupied Jerusalem, officially. “In this city so crowded with religious symbols, where houses of worship vie with one another to render the religious past visible, no synagogue bears more symbolic weight than the one called the Hurva, in the heart of the Jewish Quarter,” A thousand years old, but where construction jobs — even on the Hurva — are every bit as provocative to the United States as that apartment complex.
The synagogue, dating back to 1701, and rededicated March 15, was “once Jerusalem’s grandest,” writes the Journal, not just for prayer but also as a place to hear Theodor Herzl and Ze’ev Jabotinsky. Yet it “remained in ruins for six decades” after the Arab legion set off explosive charges and reduced it to rubble two weeks after Israel declared independence in on May 28, 1948.
That Israel should rededicate its latest reconstruction in the wake of Biden’s visit, and the shrine tensions, was another “brazen provocation,” said the Ma’an News Agency (March 15).
The Palestinian Higher Judicial Council, reported Ma’an, called on “Palestinian people everywhere,” to protect the Al-Aksa Mosque from Jews.
According to the Palestinian news agency, the Palestinian Higher Judicial Council called the Hurva event “the first move in the planned destruction of the Al-Aksa Mosque,” a destruction that so many have said would lead to an Arab-Israel Armageddon.
And yet, to read many American editorials, one would think the Jerusalem apartment complex was the only and most provocative event of recent weeks. The same week of Biden’s visit, Fatah, the party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, dedicated a town square in honor of a woman, Dalal Mughrabi, who in 1978 carried out what the Times called “the deadliest terrorist attack in Israel’s history” — 38 Jews dead, 13 of them children. It wasn’t as elaborate a celebration of the mass murder as it could have been, said the Times, “to avoid an unnecessary embarrassment” to Biden.
Apparently during Biden’s visit there were necessary embarrassments, such as the dedication of the terrorist square, and “unnecessary embarrassments,” such as that Jerusalem apartment complex.
In the Washington Post, columnist Richard Cohen (March 16) said, yes, the Israeli apartment announcement was more in your face than the terrorist square dedication, but “if the term ‘confidence-building measure’ is employed, what confidence can Israelis have in a people and their leaders who honor the 1978 murder of innocents, particularly children? … This is not a minor point. The veneration of terrorists says something unsettling about Palestinian society.”
Palestinian “intransigence and belligerence has played into Israel’s territorial ambitions, particularly the annexation of East Jerusalem,” adds Cohen.
There were numerous editorials around the world, noted Cohen, who “were quite right to bash” Israel for its “rebuke to Biden … Still, it would have been nice for those same editorialists to have paused in their anti-Israel jihad to wonder a bit about the virtually simultaneous Palestinian veneration of terrorists.”
Jews are beginning to say things that would have caused shock and horror during Obama’s campaign. Marty Peretz, of The New Republic, blogged (March 10), “it is increasingly clear that the president feels more connection to the Palestinians specifically and the Arabs generally than he does to the Israelis (and just possibly more connection to Muslims than to Jews, to Islam than to Judaism and Jewishness) … There are relentless facts about Palestine that even the president’s disregard for Jewish sensibility and for Israel’s security will not be able to alter.”
The Anti-Defamation League said, “We cannot remember an instance when such harsh language was directed at a friend and ally of the United States. One can only wonder how far the U.S. is prepared to go in distancing itself from Israel in order to placate the Palestinians in the hope they see it is in their interest to return to the negotiating table.”
The Times and leftist publications slammed Israel, but Jackson Diehl, in the Washington Post (March 10), blamed Biden, who went to Israel to build momentum for the peace process, but “Biden flunked,” overreacting to what diplomats for decades have learned to sidestep. Biden’s trip was intended to assure “Israelis that if they took risks in peace talks, this U.S. administration would stand behind them. Mission accomplished? I would think not.”