Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Re: Settlement Mania

Perhaps American Jewish leaders are waking up. Following a similar statement by the Orthodox Union, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations releases a tough statement objecting to the Obama administration’s fixation on the settlements:

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has long advocated and supported the unity of Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel. As such, we believe that legal construction by residents of the city should be allowed as long as it is in keeping with the standards and requirements of the municipality and the national government.  We find disturbing the objections raised to the proposed construction of residential units on property that was legally purchased and approved by the appropriate authorities. The area in question houses major Israeli governmental agencies, including the national police headquarters. The United States has in the past and recently raised objections to the removal of illegal structures built by Arabs in eastern Jerusalem even though they were built in violation of zoning and other requirements often on usurped land. In addition to the Jewish housing, the project called for apartment units for Arabs as well.

It is particularly significant that the structure in question formerly was the house of the infamous Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini who spent the war years in Berlin as a close ally of Hitler, aiding and abetting the Nazi extermination of Jews.  He was also linked to the 1929 massacre in Hebron and other acts of incitement that resulted in deaths and destruction in what was then Palestine. There has been an expressed desire by some Palestinians to preserve the building as a tribute to Husseini.

As a united city, Jerusalem’s Jewish and Arab residents should be permitted to reside wherever legal and security requirements allow.  Hundreds of Arab families have moved into Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem and the same right should be accorded to Jewish residents in live where they choose in Jerusalem. To do otherwise would undermine and prejudge the status of the city.

No government of Israel has or can pursue a discriminatory policy that would prevent the legitimate presence of Jews in any area of its capital.

That’s a solid start. (You can tell because Americans for Peace Now is bent out of shape.) Perhaps the Conference of Presidents engaged in that “self-reflection” Obama recommended and came back with a renewed sense of perspective and an appreciation of their responsibility to speak up in defense of a sane and realistic U.S. policy toward Israel. Next time, they should say it directly to the president. But don’t get me wrong: better late than never.



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