Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Omri Ceren

Jordan captured East Jerusalem in 1948 and expelled all surviving Jews from the city. Meanwhile Israel – being Israel – had no problem letting Arabs own homes in West Jerusalem. Israel then reunited the city in 1967, allowing anybody to purchase property anywhere. Arabs continued to buy land in the western part of the city and Jews began to move back to the portions Jordan had occupied. Theoretically this is what we call a “free market” in a “free country” where people live under the “rule of law.” Unfortunately the Palestinians find Jews kind of icky so they’re complaining to the White House about a new cluster of Israeli apartments in East Jerusalem. The State Department dutifully summoned Israel’s ambassador to deliver Obama’s stern warning: “no letting Jews live move into the capital of the Jewish State!” This is working out about as well as you’d expect:

Jerusalem is the “unified capital of Israel and the capital of the Jewish people, and sovereignty over it is indisputable,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday, responding to an American demand to put an end to a housing project to be built in east Jerusalem. “Hundreds of apartments in the west of the city were purchased by Arabs and we didn’t get involved. There is no prohibition against Arab residents buying apartments in the west of the city and there is no prohibition barring the city’s Jewish residents from buying or building in the east of the city,” Netanyahu added at the weekly cabinet meeting. “That is the policy of an open city that is not divided.”…

Netanyahu’s remarks came after Israel’s Ambassador to Washington Michael Oren was summoned to the US State Department over the weekend and was told that the Obama administration wanted Israel to put an end to construction work at the site of the historic Shepherd’s Hotel in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. The summons came following a complaint by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who reportedly told the Americans that allowing Jewish housing in the neighborhood would shift the demographic balance in east Jerusalem.

Obama is such a delicate statesman isn’t he?

But I can understand how the Palestinians would be bummed about the return of Jews to the Old City. During the mid-20th century the Arab world was pretty psyched about how they had successfully and permanently cleansed the ancient Jewish Quarter of Jews. So from a strictly genocidal perspective, this whole thing has to be kind of disappointing:

At the turn of the 20th century the Jewish population of the quarter reached 19,000… In 1948 during the Arab-Israeli War, its population of about 2,000 Jews was besieged, and forced to leave en masse. Colonel Abdullah el Tell, local commander of the Jordanian Arab Legion, with whom Mordechai Weingarten negotiated the surrender terms, described the destruction of the Jewish Quarter, in his Memoirs (Cairo, 1959): “… The operations of calculated destruction were set in motion…. I knew that the Jewish Quarter was densely populated with Jews who caused their fighters a good deal of interference and difficulty…. I embarked, therefore, on the shelling of the Quarter with mortars, creating harassment and destruction…. Only four days after our entry into Jerusalem the Jewish Quarter had become their graveyard. Death and destruction reigned over it…. As the dawn of Friday, May 28, 1948, was about to break, the Jewish Quarter emerged convulsed in a black cloud – a cloud of death and agony.”…

The Jordanian commander who led the operation is reported to have told his superiors: “For the first time in 1,000 years not a single Jew remains in the Jewish Quarter. Not a single building remains intact. This makes the Jews’ return here impossible.”

Since the Jews were never going to return, it seemed natural to the Jordanians to destroy 34 out of the 35 ancient synagogues and use them as hen-houses, to rip up ancient Jewish gravestones and use them for roads, and to turn the ancient Western Wall into a garbage dump. So Obama’s peons to demographic balance – super persuasive!

* ‘We won’t halt J’lem housing project’ [JPost]
* Jewish Quarter [Wiki]

No comments: