Time to Drop Racist Policy Opposing Homes for Jews
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized President Barack Obama for again opposing the announcement of a lawful, routine housing project for 1,100 homes in Gilo, a Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem, while conspicuously ignoring continuous and massive Palestinian Arab construction in the disputed territories, which has increased by 26% over the past four years. The ZOA has called upon the Obama Administration to drop once and for all its racist policy of opposing housing construction for Jews, and only Jews, in Jerusalem neighborhoods lying beyond the 1949 armistice lines.
The State Department said the building program was counterproductive and that it was deeply disappointed by Southern Slopes of Gilo housing plan. The State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said, We are deeply disappointed by this mornings announcement by the government of Israel (Melanie Lidman, US calls new construction in J’lem counterproductive, Jerusalem Post, September 27, 2011).
Gilo is a Jewish neighborhood on Jerusalems southern outskirts, home to 40,000 people, legally purchased by Jews before the 1948 War or Independence, at which time it was captured and illegally annexed by Jordan. During the 19 years of Jordanian occupation, Jews were expelled, their property seized, synagogues vandalized and sometimes converted into farmhouses. Gilo was liberated from Jordanian control in 1967 and a Jewish neighborhood re-established. During the so-called Second Intifada, Gilo was constantly the target of sniping from the adjacent Arab neighborhood of Beit Jala.
As Italian journalist, Giulio Meotti, has written, By seeking to force Israel to cease building houses in Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem, Barack Obama is legitimizing the Islamist zeal for the eviction of 300,000 Jews who live in parts of Jerusalem that were illegally occupied by Jordan between 1948 and 1967 (Giulio Meotti, Obamas Jew-free policy, Yediot Ahronot, September 29, 2011).
The ZOA has also noted the remarkable fact that a Palestinian Arab building boom in the disputed areas of Judea and Samaria has increased the number of dwellings in the past four years by 26%. The total number of housing units in the Judea, Samaria and Gaza is expected to reach a total of 884,385 in 2011, an increase of about 26% compared with 2007, according to projections by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS). Moreover, this year, the Palestinians are expected to complete 33,822 dwelling units, according to the PCBS. By comparison, Israel completed 33,128 units in 2010, according to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (26% Increase in Housing in Palestinian Territory since 2007, WAFA [PLO News Agency], October 2, 2011).
The Obama Administration only criticizes or condemns Jewish housing projects in disputed areas, never Palestinian Arab construction there. This means it is seeking to exclude Jews from certain neighborhoods a racist policy which, in respect of African Americans, once afflicted the United States.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, We strongly reject the Obama Administrations criticism of Israel for merely announcing a new housing project in Gilo, an historically Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem.
We find it offensive that President Obama only criticizes Jewish construction in these areas, but never criticizes Arab construction in the disputed territories. Why is this the case?
The Obama Administrations criticism of the new Gilo housing project raises additional concerns beyond the racist policy advocated by President Obama to the effect that Jews and only Jews may not build in parts of the Jewish capital and homeland. Gilo was always a part of Jerusalem. It was always a Jewish neighborhood not part Jewish and part Arab, but wholly Jewish, built on land legally purchased by Jews.
Now we see the dreadful implications of President Obamas speeches in May proposing that Israel accept the 1949 armistice lines as the basis for negotiations with agreed swaps a policy which means that, unless Mahmoud Abbas Palestinian Authority (PA) agrees, Israel may keep nothing beyond the 1949 lines. This means that President Obama is saying that Israel must negotiate with the PA over the residential rights of 300,000 Jews in the entirely Jewish populated areas of Jerusalem beyond the 1949 lines such as Ramat Eshkol, Pisgat Zeev, Ramot and French Hill.
In other words, neighborhoods made judenrein by Jordan for 19 years are now areas in which Jews may not build homes. Various pundits assured us that President Obama in May said nothing new. Now we know differently. No previous president proposed that Jewish residential rights in parts of Jerusalem be made conditional on the assent of a terror-glorifying PA regime.
Prime Minister Netanyahu was absolutely correct to respond to this criticism by saying that We plan in Jerusalem. We build in Jerusalem. Period. The same way Israeli governments have been doing for 44 years, since the end of the 1967 war. President Obama needs to be made to understand that the residential rights of hundreds of thousands of Jews in Jerusalem are not up for negotiation.
Israel has its own government and municipal planning committees and it is for them, not President Obama, to decide where and when Jews may build homes in their biblical and historical capital.