Fighting for Jerusalem

Ari Zivotofsky and his son Menachem at the US Supreme Court this week

Americans for Peace Now this week put to pen its opposition to a united Jerusalem. In a shocking and revealing legal brief, Peace Now opposed the designation of Jerusalem as “Israel” on American passports because this would “undermine the establishment of two capitals in Jerusalem,” and Peace Now believes that “any action that undermines the establishment of two capitals in Jerusalem jeopardizes the vital interests of Israel.”

The group presented its opinion to the US Supreme Court in regard to the petition brought to the court by the estimable Washington attorneys Nathan and Alyza Lewin on behalf of my friends, Rabbi Dr. Ari and Naomi Zivotofsky of Beit Shemesh (whose son Menachem was the “delisted” American born in Jerusalem). The case had become an argument about presidential privilege in deciding foreign policy, since Congress has allowed the listing of Israel in the passports of Americans born in Jerusalem.

But Peace Now went far beyond the constitutional technicalities at the heart of the case. The all-knowing, strategic geniuses at Peace Now informed the court that they had investigated and plumbed all the historic, political, military, national and Jewish considerations that can possibly be considered, and concluded that “the vital interest of Israel” is that there be “two capitals” in Jerusalem!

Oh really? The assertion that splitting Jerusalem into two capitals will lead to peace between Jews and Arabs – is an egregious error. On the contrary: The shearing of Jerusalem into Arab and Jewish sovereignties will turn it into the bull’s eye of Mideast battle – a city that will make Belfast at its worst look like paradise.

The main reason for this is that any section of the city handed over to Arab rule or sovereignty will immediately become Ground Zero for the fierce wars being waged within the Arab world over Islamic lifestyle, ideology and legitimacy.

Just who is going to rule in “Arab” eastern Jerusalem? Will it be the declining secular Palestinian national movement (whose sway in the West Bank is tentative at best), or the radical Islamist Hamas (which openly seeks Israel’s destruction), or the annihilationist Al-Qaeda affiliated forces (who are growing in strength in the territories), or the increasingly radical and violent Israeli Arab Islamic movement (which has been the main force behind unrest on the Temple Mount), or the Jordanians (who have a superior claim to Arab leadership in Jerusalem under the 1994 peace treaty with Israel), or the Moroccans (who head the Arab League’s Supreme Jerusalem Committee), or the Saudis (who see themselves as the true custodians of Islamic holy sites)?

Each of these forces will seek to prove its supremacy and bolster its legitimacy in the Islamic world through control of Arab Jerusalem and aggression against what remains of Jewish Jerusalem. What better way to prove one’s loyalty to the Islamic cause than to attack the rump Israeli presence in the city? And with bases of operations to work from in the eastern half of the city (whose neighborhoods will no longer be under Israeli security control) such terrorism will be oh, so very easy. So irresistibly tantalizing.

What Israeli family is going to walk with its kids to the Western Wall on Friday night through checkpoints and alleyways patrolled by Palestinian police? (Perhaps Peace Now families…) What Birthright group is going to shop in the Mamilla pedestrian mall below Jaffa Gate with Palestinian or Arab League sharpshooters on the Old City walls above? What American church group is going to march along the Stations of the Cross in Jerusalem’s Christian and Moslems Quarters with Hamas or Saudi modesty patrols harassing the women? What hi-tech company is going to invest in Jerusalem when the Kassam missiles start flying from Sheikh Jarrah into Har Hotzvim?

American for Peace Now and other well-meaning strategists who would engineer our future need to be reminded: It is only complete Israeli security control over united, greater Jerusalem that prevents the city from becoming a boiling cauldron of conflict. There is no “neutral” peacekeeping force in the world that will do a serious or better job than the Israeli army and police of keeping Jerusalem a terrorist-free zone. Similarly, there is also absolutely no empirical basis to believe that Arab rulers of Jerusalem will maintain the Israeli gold standard of unimpeded religious worship in the city.

Neither the purported Arab rulers of eastern Jerusalem that Americans for Peace Now so earnestly want to invite in, nor the international community, will competently guard Jewish, Christian and Western interests in Jerusalem. Israel is the only reliable, responsible guardian of Jerusalem.

And while we’re at it, here is another non-politically correct truth that needs to be articulated. Israel needs, desires and has developed Jerusalem as a workable, attractive city; it is the centerpiece of the ancient Jewish People and the modern State of Israel. The Arabs and Palestinians, however, don’t really care about Jerusalem; they never did. In fact, they would consider it a triumph if Jerusalem were so wracked by conflict and poverty that it was ruined for one thousand years — just as long as it would be lost to the Jews. Partitioning Jerusalem will destroy the city. It will die, in every way – culturally, religiously, economically and more.

Thus, the demand that Jerusalem be sundered into parts is unwise, and unfair both to Jewish history and to Israel’s fine stewardship of the city. It is an obstacle to peace, not something that helps bring peace now. It is not the Zivotofsky petition that “jeopardizes the vital interests of Israel” but Peace Now’s demand that Jerusalem be divided.

During the US Supreme Court discussion of the Zivotofsky case, Justice Sonia Sotomayor suggested that passports were not the best way for Congress to push the administration to change its policy on Jerusalem. Congress could, for example, withhold approval of an ambassador or refuse to fund an embassy, she said. Justice Antonin Scalia agreed, remarking that Congress “has as innumerable number of clubs with which to beat the executive (branch of government).”

I encourage Congress and American Zionists to take up the Sotomayor-Scalia challenge. It shouldn’t be left up to the stalwart Zivotofskys of Israel to push the Administration into a more realistic and honorable policy regarding a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.

* Originally published in Israel Hayom, November 11, 2011.

David M. Weinberg is a think tank director, columnist and lobbyist who is a sharp critic of Israel’s detractors and of post-Zionist trends in Israel. Read more »
A passionate speaker, David M. Weinberg lectures widely in Israel, the U.S. and Canada to Jewish and non-Jewish audiences. He speaks on international politics and Middle East strategic affairs, Israeli diplomacy and defense strategy, intelligence matters and more. Click here to book David Weinberg as a speaker

Accessibility Toolbar