The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has strongly criticized President Barack Obama for opposing Jews building in and moving into eastern Jerusalem, site of Jewrys ancient capital, labeling such action as being never helpful. At the same time, he and his Administration continue their practice of ignoring Palestinian incitement to hatred and murder against Jews and glorification of and support for terrorism.
On a visit to Indonesia, President Obama said of Jewish construction in the eastern part of Jerusalem, which has just been authorized for 1,300 new homes after an unprecedented, unilateral 10-month freeze that, I have not had a full briefing on Israels intentions and what theyve communicated to our administration. But this kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations each of these incremental steps can end up breaking down trust between the parties (Press Conference by President Obama and President Yudhoyono of Indonesia in Jakarta, Indonesia, November 9, 2010).
But went it comes to the Palestinian anti-Israel, anti-peace, pro-terror actions, President Obama and his administration are deafeningly silent. For example, when:
· Palestinian Authority (PA) president, Mahmoud Abbas, said to journalists from the Arab world, If you want war, and if all of you will fight Israel, we are in favor.
· Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad walked out of a meeting with Israeli counterparts at the UN after refusing to sign a joint statement accepting Israel as a Jewish state.
· The PA recently publicly celebrated the 1978 coastal road massacre carried out by Fatah terrorists led by Dalal Mughrabi, in which 37 Israelis, including a dozen children, were murdered, and when the PA also named two youth summer camps in her honor.
· The PA ambassador to Iran, Salah Zawawi, said that the PA will continue its war on Israel until the complete eradication of the fabricated regime in due course.
· A PA Minister threatened war if Israel does not return to its owners Jerusalem, which he described as Palestinian throughout history.
· Another PA Minister has honored the families of dead terrorists and accused Israel of harvesting the organs of dead Palestinians.
· PA ministers, including the allegedly moderate prime minister Salaam Fayyad, have paid condolence calls on the families of slain terrorists and, while lauding the terrorists who murdered Israelis as heroes condemned Israel for tracking them down and killing them.
· The 2009 Fatah conference reaffirmed Fatahs refusal to accept Israels existence as a Jewish state; glorified terrorists and the armed struggle, insisted on the so-called right of return; rejected an end of claims in any future peace agreement with Israel; and called for a strategic channel with Iran to be opened at a time Iran is defying the world by seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.
· Abbas honored Muhammad Daoud Oudeh, also known as Abu Daoud, the mastermind of the 1972 Munich Olympics hostage-taking by Fatah terrorists of eleven Israeli athletes, as a hero and role model for Palestinians, calling him a wonderful brother, companion, tough and stubborn, relentless fighter.
· The PA named schools, streets sport teams and a computer center after terrorists who murdered Israelis.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, The ZOA is highly critical of President Obamas chastisement of Israel for building apartments for Jews in eastern Jerusalem. Be it noted eastern Jerusalem is the historic Jerusalem, the site of Jewrys ancient capital twice in biblical times and the location of all of Jerusalems Jewish holy sites. The western half of Jerusalem is a thriving metropolis and great triumph of Zionist initiative and development but it is not the historic portion of the city. It is not the Jerusalem repeatedly mentioned in the Jewish holy books and throughout history. The eastern half of Jerusalem is that Jerusalem.
When President Obama criticizes Jews moving into of building in the eastern half of Jerusalem, he is criticizing Jews for seeking to live in and develop their ancient capital that has been in existence for millennia. More than that: he is now criticizing Jews for building in Jewish neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem, not Arab-majority neighborhoods.
To agree with President Obamas criticism, one would have to accept the view that Jews have no right to live in eastern Jerusalem, where Jews have been a majority for many years, in a city that has had a Jewish majority since the mid-19th century and which is mentioned hundreds of times in the Hebrew Bible but never once in the Quran. It to Jerusalem that Jews turn in prayer, not Mecca, and the aspiration Next year in Jerusalem is uttered by Jews at every Passover seder. How perverse that President Obama is now the one saying in effect, Next year, no more Jews to move into eastern Jerusalem.
How much more wise and just for President Obama is would have been to have taken the opportunity of his visit to Indonesia, the worlds most populous Muslim majority state, to call upon the Muslim world to accept Israel as a Jewish state, just as dozens of Muslim nations identify themselves as Muslim states. How much more wise and just it would have been of President Obama to call upon the Palestinian Authority to outlaw terrorist groups, arrest terrorists and end the incitement to hatred and murder that feeds it. But he has never done any of these things.
President Obamas words are morally objectionable as well as politically inept. Jews living and building in Jerusalem is not and has never been the reason for the absence of peace. We must recall that there were no Jews in eastern Jerusalem when that portion of the city was under illegal Jordanian occupation (1948-67), yet there was no peace and no Arab acceptance of Israel. Under Jordan, the lives of eastern Jerusalems Christians were made miserable, churches could not be built or repaired, Christian schools were compelled to teach the Quran and about 70% of Christians actually emigrated. Moreover, Jews were prohibited from visiting and praying in their holy sites in the city. Today, however, under Israeli rule, Jerusalem is a free city in which there are no restrictions on freedom of religion.
We also find it disturbing that the Obama Administration has had nothing to say about the fact that a terrorist movement like Hamas, funded by wealthy Islamist extremists like Sheikh Qaradawi, has been busily buying up apartments in eastern Jerusalem for years. However, when peaceful Jews seek to move into an apartment or build a home in eastern Jerusalem, or when a project to build apartments is approved by the Israeli government, as in the present case, President Obama makes a point to protest and pressure Israel over the matter.
It would be a moral travesty to accept that people, simply because they are Jews, are to be barred from moving into any part of Jerusalem, which is why the Obama Administration is to be criticized for urging such a policy, which also amounts to interference in Israels internal affairs and municipal planning. For Israel to agree to such demands would be a strategic error which would in any case not assist progress towards a real peace.
President Obamas demand is also counter to U.S. interest, not only morality and political wisdom. His new demand for an additional freeze serves to simply isolate Israel and pressure it into concessions that will hurt Israels security. We call upon the U.S. Congress to censure the Presidents words.
We also urge Israel to repudiate President Obamas criticism. To agree to a construction freeze in Jerusalem would lend credence to the utterly false notion that Jews living there pose an obstacle to a peace agreement with the Palestinians. This is nonsense: Palestinian Arab refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state, to fight and end terrorism and to end the incitement to hatred and murder against her is the reason peace has not been achieved.
As the Wall Street Journal rightly editorialized today, All Israel has done is insist that Jews have a right to live anywhere in their capital city, something that might be controversial in Ramallah but ought not to be in Washington.