a different side of Israel

Destination: Zion

“There are about 200 countries in the world, but it seems that only two attribute holiness to their capital: Israel and Palestine (still not a recognized state, but on the way there). Perhaps three, if we count the Vatican as a state.”

– Yossi Melman

western wall jerusalemU.S. President Barack Obama is delaying an action which would move the U.S. embassy in Israel, from the Tel Aviv coast to the city of Jerusalem. Tel Aviv is the former capital city of the State of Israel – and while the nation always dreamed of having Jerusalem as its capital, the change didn’t actually happen until 1980.

In 1995 a U.S. law was passed, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and in the same ruling it was ordered that the embassy be moved to there. The law also allowed a 6-month leeway to delay the change, in the name of national security grounds – this clause was invoked during the presidencies of both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, respectively. Barack Obama joined the U.S. presidential trend of delay, when on Thursday he told Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to delay moving the embassy until at least June.

Madeba mosaic JerusalemThe fear is that left-leaning Obama is thinking along lines similar to Yossi Melman of Haaretz, who wrote an article on June 12th 2009, suggesting that Israel give up Jerusalem as a capital altogether. He suggests that it has always been an obstacle in the Middle East peace process:

“Most capitals contain religious symbols: cathedrals, mosques, temples, but they were not selected as capitals because of these. Even Saudi Arabia did not select Mecca or Medina, holy cities to Muslims, but Riyadh as its capital. Conclusion: The attitudes attributing holiness to a city were, in most countries, isolated from the political considerations that govern and shape day-to-day life.”

The Haaretz contributor added:

“It is hard to understand how two peoples, in the modern era, are willing to die for the sake of religious symbolism of stones and places of worship. Moreover, this ‘holiness’ is preventing any chance of achieving a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

For me, what is so hard to understand is how any Jew could be so removed from the soul of his heritage. If you wish to cite Saudi Arabia as a parallel to Israel, you are already wide of the mark. Saudi Arabia is the home of a culture which conquered much of the world often by the sword – and has most of the world shaking in their boots, today, out of sheer intimidation, inspired by a recent history of vicious violence. Israel, on the other hand, is a nation which has been oppressed more than any other on the planet and was driven from its capital as a result of racial, religious and cultural persecution. Yossi Melman is the one who should change location, not Zion.

1 Comment

  1. Keluar #9
    O Jerusalem, Take Heed
    Amitakh Stanford
    12th December 2009

    O Jerusalem, take heed. The current situation in Israel is untenable; there is an unending conflict between the Palestinians and the Jews. Jewish inhabitants distrust the Palestinians, and vice versa. The age-old struggle between them has cost many lives, much hardship and untold sorrow. The conflict has generated tremendous anger, hatred and distrust – forcing them to live under a single umbrella has proven to be a formula for unending friction.

    In order to allow a chance for peace in the Middle East, something has to give. Wars will not bring an end to it, as they have been going on for centuries with no resolution. Negotiations and mediations between the parties have not worked either.

    The two peoples cannot continue to be forced to live together in the contrived single state of Israel. THEY NEED TO BE PERMANENTLY SEPARATED. A new state needs to be formed for the Palestinian occupants of Israel. The only practical solution is to have the new state created with continuous borders and a sea port.

    The Gaza Strip is already populated by Palestinians, and it has a sea port. The West Bank is also populated with many Palestinians, so the two should be connected with land. This means that there should be no reason for a citizen of the new Palestinian state to have to cross into Israel to reach some part of his or her country. Likewise, there should be no reason for Israelis to need to cross the Palestinian borders to reach any part of Israel. This will eliminate much of the friction at the borders.

    Also, neighbouring countries should consider granting some land to the Palestinians, so that the new state has enough land to reasonably house its people and become a viable nation state.

    Jerusalem is a major sticking point in regard to a two-state solution, which affects not only the parties, but peace in the region. Both sides have long-standing reasons to be inflexible regarding the city. Both sides have long historical, cultural and religious reasons for their intransigence regarding Jerusalem. This has led many people to insist that the two-state solution have a shared Jerusalem. That is, severing Jerusalem in twain, part to one nation and part to another, or granting co-ownership of the city to both nation states. Are either of these proposals wise?

    The twentieth century saw what happened when secular powers divided up Berlin into sections. The situation was so bellicose that the Berlin Wall was erected to section off the city. For decades, the Wall divided the people and caused tremendous misery until it was finally demolished.

    The same mentality of erecting “Berlin Walls” is very active in modern-day Israel, as is seen by the walled-off sections of the West Bank. Fencing off sections of Berlin did not work, and it should not be encouraged in Jerusalem. Further, if there are national borders running through the city of Jerusalem, it will guarantee that there will be continued friction and bloodshed in the city.

    It is understood that neither party wants to relinquish all rights to Jerusalem, but, in reality, to have lasting peace in the area, is there any other choice? I suggest that there is not. Many centuries of conflict support my position. Therefore, in my opinion, Jerusalem should either be wholly within the nation of Israel or wholly within the newly created Palestinian state. To accomplish this, one side or the other would necessarily have to relinquish Jerusalem voluntarily, if it is to be settled amicably. It should be realized that the side that vacates Jerusalem should be amply compensated for it when boundaries for the two newly-formed nation states are drawn.

    Clearly, both parties’ claims to Jerusalem are heavily based on religious grounds. If neither side will voluntarily relinquish the city, then, after solemn prayers, a lot should be cast over which nation state will house Jerusalem. Those who sincerely believe in the Divine should accept that the lot will result in the Divine’s will being carried out.

    I have seen the future for the area presently known as Israel if a two-state solution is not soon implemented, with one of the nation states having exclusive control and ownership of Jerusalem. The future will certainly be filled with many more tears and much more sorrow for everyone in the area. This future can be changed if Jerusalem is given over to one side or the other, and two separate and independent nations are created soon. If this does not happen, I have foreseen that one, later to be known by a name that sounds something like “Ahmad Mahmud” will emerge and take Jerusalem down, and nobody will have it ever after.

    © 2009 Amitakh Stanford

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