Protesters at the Flag March on Jerusalem Day, May 24, 2017. (photo: Olivier Fitoussi)
When the police officer wrenched back my arm I couldn’t tell if it was breaking. Now I am more sure than ever of the need for more direct action for equality between Jews and Palestinians.
By Ori Weisberg / Haaretz
May 31, 2017
“At the fall of your enemy, do not rejoice; at his stumbling, do not gladden your heart” (Prov. 24:17)
No day of the year demonstrates the division of Jerusalem like Jerusalem Day, which was marked last week. Most Israelis see it as marking the city’s “liberation” and “unification,” but Palestinians, who make up a third of the population, and a minority of Israelis, see it as the beginning of its occupation.
The Jerusalem municipality annually authorizes a march through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter, shutting it down for the protection of its residents. These Jerusalemites are forced to sacrifice a half day’s revenue, which many of them sorely need, while marchers punctuate their songs with chants like “Death to Arabs!”, “Mohammed was a pig!”, “Burn the villages!”, and “Burn the mosques!” Residents are locked into or out of their homes for the duration while marchers bang on the metal shutters of their closed storefronts, often causing damage that they must repair at their own cost. Even if such a march proceeds peacefully, it would be still be experienced by Palestinians as a form of violence.
U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv. (Photo: Getty)
Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would confer no substantial benefit to Israel.
By Shalom Lipner / Politico
May 18, 2017
[President Trump] could authorize the move because he wants to keep his campaign promise, because America prides itself in doing the honorable thing or just because it makes sense. But he shouldn’t do it as a misplaced favor to the people of Israel. They can live without it. Especially now, in light of new allegations about Trump sharing confidential data with Russia, it’s clear that efforts to build Israeli confidence in his leadership can be invested more intelligently.
[Ed. note: There are 82 foreign embassies in Israel, none of them in Jerusalem.]
Presidents are used to receiving unsolicited advice. Here’s something for President Donald Trump to ponder as he packs his bags for Israel: Many Israelis really don’t care whether the United States moves its embassy to Jerusalem.
Latest reports now suggest that Trump has decided to forestall such a move for the forseeable future. His path to this destination, after indications that he would eschew the example of all his predecessors, has been tortuous.
Celebrating Israel’s 69th independence day at the White House, Vice President Mike Pence recently reprised administration rhetoric on the matter. “The president of the United States, as we speak,” he told applauding party-goers in the Indian Treaty Room, “is giving serious consideration into moving the American embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson struck a more tentative figure over the weekend, possibly foreshadowing Trump’s plans to indeed exercise his presidential waiver and leave the embassy where it stands. When Tillerson tried passing the buck, suggesting that Israel might view the move as “perhaps a distraction” to a peace initiative, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired back that “the contrary” was in fact true. Adding to the confusion, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the Christian Broadcasting Network on Tuesday, “Obviously, I believe that the capital should be Jerusalem and the embassy should be moved to Jerusalem because if you look at all their government is in Jerusalem. So much of what goes on is in Jerusalem and I think we have to see that for what it is.”
The United States Embassy in Tel Aviv, where all other countries have their embassies. (photo: Jack Guez / Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)
By The Associated Press / The New York Times
May 2, 2017
“The president of the United States, as we speak, is giving serious consideration into moving the American embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. . . . To be clear, the president has also personally committed to resolving the Israeli and Palestinian conflict.”
— Vice President Mike Pence
President Donald Trump is giving “serious consideration” to moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday, the day before a scheduled White House visit by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Trump is also “personally committed” to becoming the U.S. president who finally ends the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Pence said.
Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is a politically charged act that would anger Palestinians who want east Jerusalem, which was captured in 1967, as a future capital and part of their sovereign territory. Such a move would also distance the U.S. from most of the international community, including its closest allies in Western Europe and the Arab world.
[Editor’s note: There are 82 foreign embassies in Israel, none of which are in Jerusalem.]
The Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem. (photo: Getty Images)
By J. J. Goldberg / The Forward
April 13, 2017
Permitting Jewish presence on the mount is actually a controversial question among Israel’s Orthodox rabbinical authorities. The traditionalist Haredi rabbinate still upholds the centuries-old rabbinic ban on Jews even entering the Temple compound, for fear that they will tread on the long-forgotten spot where the forbidden Holy of Holies once stood. Traditionalists believe the Temple cannot be rebuilt until the Messiah comes and restores the ancient Jewish kingdom.
Religious Zionists maintain that the survival of the Jewish state against all odds proves that the messianic era is already underway and that Jews today should be working to restore the Temple.
Passover came early to Jerusalem this year when a group of Jewish religious nationalists gathered in the Old City of Jerusalem April 6 for a live reenactment of the original, biblical holiday ritual: sacrificing a lamb.
Hundreds gathered in the Jewish Quarter to watch barefoot, white-robed priests slaughter, skin and roast a lamb on a makeshift altar and hear speeches by rabbis and a Likud Knesset member. It was held in a public square outside the Hurva Synagogue, a stone’s throw from the Temple Mount where priests conducted daily sacrifices in ancient times
The event was an awkward reminder of the tight spot Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is in as it tries to balance the competing religious claims over arguably the world’s most volatile shrine. The government and its defenders have long been trying to debunk Palestinian accusations — deliberate lies, Israel argues — that Israel intends to build a third Jewish Temple on the site where Al Aqsa mosque and the iconic Dome of the Rock now stand. Unfortunately, events like the Passover reenactment illustrate the growing influence within the government itself of Jewish activists who aim to do just what some Palestinians accuse them of. (more…)
The Edicule inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. (photo: Oded Balilty / AP for National Geographic)
Newly restored, but new problems discovered.
March 27, 2017
After a $4 million restoration, the Edicule, enclosing what is believed to be the tomb of Jesus Christ inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, was reopened to the public. (The Guardian, The New York Times)
“For the first time in over two centuries, this sacred edicule has been restored. This is not only a gift to our holy land, but to the whole world.”
— Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem
However, the scientific team from National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) that completed the restoration is warning of a newly-discovered risk of the Edicule’s collapse.
“When it fails, the failure will not be a slow process, but catastrophic.”
— Antonia Moropoulou, NTUA’s chief scientific supervisor
Ground-penetrating radar and robotic cameras reveal that the Edicle and the rotunda that protects it are built on an unstable foundation of the crumbled remains of earlier structures, honeycombed with tunnels. (National Geographic) (more…)
Richard Gere during a press conference at the Israeli premiere of the movie “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer,” in Jerusalem, Mar 9, 2017. (photo: Dan Balilty / AP)
Star of “Norman” had a hard time deciding whether to come to Israel for local premiere: “I had people living here who told me, ‘Look, no good will come of this. The bad guys will use you.’”
By Allison Kaplan Sommer / Haaretz
March 12, 2017
“Obviously this occupation is destroying everyone. There’s no defense of this occupation. Settlements are such an absurd provocation and, certainly in the international sense, completely illegal — and they are certainly not part of the program of someone who wants a genuine peace process. Just to be clear about this: I denounce violence on all sides of this. And, of course, Israelis should feel secure. But Palestinians should not feel desperate.”
— Richard Gere
Richard Gere says his decision to travel to Jerusalem last week for the Israeli premiere of his new film, “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer,” wasn’t easy.
Perched on a bench in the courtyard of the Jerusalem Cinematheque, a sweeping view of Jerusalem behind him, the movie star and human-rights activist told Haaretz that despite the fact he has traveled to the country numerous times in the past, this visit “was more complex than any other time I’ve come here.”
The United States Embassy in Tel Aviv, where all other countries have their embassies. (photo: Jack Guez / Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)
No other government has its embassy in Jerusalem.
By Ian Fisher and Isabel Kershner / the New York Times
January 19, 2017
“Why would a president-elect decide to begin his presidency by playing with the blood of Palestinians and Israelis? Why? For whose sake? . . . This will destroy us as Palestinian moderates. This will bring extremism to the region.”
— Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator
It started, as it has in American presidential races for decades, as a campaign line, one that weary Israelis and Palestinians hear but rarely take seriously: Donald J. Trump promised to move his nation’s embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
But by Thursday, the eve of Mr. Trump’s inauguration, those decades of promises seemed very real — with reverberations far beyond stone and cement.
Mr. Trump himself made perhaps his strongest statement on the issue on Thursday, telling a conservative Israeli news outlet, “You know I’m not a person who breaks promises.”
Supporters of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump attend an election campaign rally, Jerusalem, Oct 26, 2016. (photo: Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)
Moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem could ignite a spark that would set the entire region aflame. It’s just not worth it.
By James J. Zogby / +972 Magazine
January 17, 2017
[The author is the president of the Arab American Institute.]
Palestine may have dropped off the radar for a time, but it remains “the open wound in the heart, that never heals.” Violating Jerusalem and unrest in occupied Palestinian lands would rip the scab off that wound reminding Arabs of their vulnerability and their inability to control their history in the face of betrayal by the West. Ignore this passion and there will be consequences.
In just a matter of days, President-elect Donald Trump will have to decide on whether or not to make good on his promise to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. As we approach Inauguration Day, liberal and conservative commentators alike have offered a number of ideas as to how he can proceed. Ranging from “too cute by half” to just plain dumb, they should all be rejected. More to the point, all of the proposals I have seen focus exclusively on Israeli concerns, ignoring or giving short shrift to Palestinian and broader Arab or Muslim concerns and sensitivities.
On the one side, there are proposals from hardliners who advise Trump to just go ahead and make the move. They argue that in fulfilling his campaign promise he will appease his base and gain international respect for being a strong and decisive leader. They dismiss Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim opinions, relying on the false assumptions that there is diminished concern across the Arab world for the Palestinian issue or making the racist case that Arabs respect strength and will ultimately become reconciled to a U.S. move.
An Israeli flag waves in front of the minaret of a mosque in the Arab quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City on Nov. 14, 2016. (photo: Thomas Coex / AFP)
By Brent E. Sasley / The Washington Post
December 25, 2016
The “let’s make a deal” approach assumes that each negotiating party has a series of material things that can be traded off. In this approach, both sides understand they will be better off with more than they currently have. But that doesn’t apply to a place like Jerusalem, or to conflicts like it.
President-elect Donald Trump has set the foreign policymaking world on edge with his and his team’s repeated insistence that as president he will move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The goal: support Israel’s claim to the city as its “undivided, eternal capital.” By nominating David Friedman — who agrees with that position — to be ambassador to Israel, Trump apparently emphasizes this commitment.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has resisted resolution for decades. But Trump has insisted that “a deal is a deal” and that because he is “a negotiator,” he will be successful where others were not. In this case, presumably Trump plans to offer the Palestinians compensation to accept Israel’s claims to Jerusalem.
But it is not that simple.
Haram esh-Sharif, Jerusalem. (photo: Lubomir Mihalik)
By Eli Lake / BloombergView
December 21, 2016
It’s fair to ask how much worse things could get on the Palestinian street. Still, the Israelis have a lot to lose behind the scenes. Part of this is because of the rise of Iran. Israel and Saudi Arabia, who were bitter enemies for the first half-century of the Jewish State’s existence, today are quiet partners in trying to check Iran’s rise. The same is true with the United Arab Emirates. With Egypt and Jordan, Israel has peace treaties, which explicitly state that the status of Jerusalem should be determined through negotiations.
For the last eight years the American president has approached the Jewish state the way a do-gooder deals with an alcoholic friend. You know the pose: Because we care so much about your long-term survival, we want to help you end your addiction to apartment construction in East Jerusalem.
To put it mildly, Donald Trump has a different perspective. It’s not just that he has nominated his bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman, an enthusiast of greater Israel, to be his ambassador there. Nor is it the elimination of language about a “two-state solution” in the Republican Party’s platform for 2016. It’s that the incoming president’s administration is promising to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem after the election.
It’s been the other way since the 1980’s. Usually presidents promise to move the embassy in the campaign and break that promise while in office. Trump looks like he is going to keep his word. As Friedman said in a statement last week, he looks forward to conducting his official diplomatic business “from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”