Despite his claims on CNN this weekend that it was the “extreme right wing” in the United States that derailed the acceptance of his peace offer to the PA, it is in truth former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who is the extremist. In 2008, Olmert sought a “full comprehensive peace between us and the Palestinians,” and thankfully the plan was never realized. If it is true that American Jews were instrumental in torpedoing these efforts, than they should be thanked. Olmert told Christiane Amanpour that his offer of concessions to the Palestinians met resistance from “superior powers,” including “millions and millions of dollars” from extreme right-wing Americans who “aimed to topple me as prime minister of Israel.”
Had Olmert presented any such plan as his platform when running for Israeli office, it wouldn’t have been likely for him to win any election, as his current sentiments are well outside the tent of mainstream Israeli political opinion. Olmert is an extremist, who speaks in half truth and convenient omissions, conveniently declining to mention that the Americans he refers to were his own major financial benefactors for many years – and without the help of these fine people his campaigns for mayor of Jerusalem, or Prime Minister of Israel would likely not have succeeded. Had Mr. Olmert’s offer to the Arabs been accepted and implemented, he would have been guilty of permitting anti-Jewish racist segregation – as it doesn’t allow for Jews to live in Arab controlled areas – even though many Arabs live in Jewish controlled areas.
Nowhere else in the civilized world is segregation based on one’s religion permitted. Is Olmert suggesting in his criticism of these American patrons that it is an extremist position to advocate the right of Jews to live in all areas of Jerusalem – yet they can live Harlem or Paris, Moscow or Melbourne? But not Jerusalem? It is no secret that segments of American Jewry put their money behind their strongly held principles of equality and freedom, supporting building in all areas of Jerusalem in an effort to ensure that Jerusalem will remain the eternal and undivided capital of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.
A simple review of Jewish literary statements regarding Jerusalem and its significance to Jewish people, indicate just how extreme Olmert’s viewpoints actually are:
- “Israel was first forged into a unified nation from Jerusalem some three thousand years ago, when King David seized the crown and united the twelve tribes from this city… For a thousand years Jerusalem was the seat of Jewish sovereignty, the household site of kings, the location of its legislative councils and courts. In exile, the Jewish nation came to be identified with the city that had been the site of its ancient capital. Jews, wherever they were, prayed for its restoration.” (To Rule Jerusalem)
- “The Jewish bond to Jerusalem was never broken. For three millennia, Jerusalem has been the center of the Jewish faith, retaining its symbolic value throughout the generations.” (Jerusalem- the Holy City, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- “The centrality of Jerusalem to Judaism is so strong that even secular Jews express their devotion and attachment to the city and cannot conceive of a modern State of Israel without it… For Jews Jerusalem is sacred simply because it exists… Though Jerusalem’s sacred character goes back three millennia…” (The Holy City: Jerusalem in the theology of the Old Testament)
- In Judaism, the daily prayers contain numerous references to Jerusalem. The amidah prayer, which is recited three times on regular weekdays, must be said facing towards Jerusalem. The following supplication is contained within it: “And to Jerusalem, Your city, may you return in compassion, and may you rest within it, as you have spoke. May you rebuild it soon in our days as an eternal structure, and may you speedily establish the throne of King David within it. Blessed are You, God, the builder of Jerusalem…May our eyes behold your return to Zion in compassion. Blessed are you God, who restores His presence to Zion.”
- In the Grace After Meals which is recited after partaking in a meal eaten with bread, the following prayer is said: “Have mercy Lord, our God…on Jerusalem Your city, on Zion the resting place of Your glory, on the monarchy of King David Your anointed, and on the great and holy Temple upon which Your name is called…Rebuild Jerusalem, the holy city, soon in our days. Blessed are you God who rebuilds Jerusalem in His mercy, amen.”
Mr. Olmert’s viewpoints would also be deemed extremist by Arabs living in Jerusalem – In a November 2010 poll conducted via face-to-face interviews with 1,039 East Jerusalem Palestinians, fully 35 percent said that they would prefer to remain Israeli if a two-state solution was ever enacted, compared to only 30 percent who preferred Palestinian citizenship. The remainder declined to answer or said that they didn’t know. Since a Palestinian who openly declares to prefer Israel would be deemed treasonous by most of his compatriots, the fact that a majority of those who actually answered the question nevertheless chose Israel is stunning – especially as the interviews were conducted by Palestinian pollsters (the poll was officially conducted by the Pechter Middle East Polls and the Council on Foreign Relations, but they hired a West Bank firm, Dr. Nabil Kukali’s Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, to do the actual interviews). As such it is likely that among those who declined to answer, an even larger majority would have chosen Israel.
The same preference emerged in Palestinian responses to a different question: Would you relocate to Israel (or Palestine) if your neighborhood of Jerusalem ended up in one or the other? Fully 40 percent of respondents said that they would move to remain in Israel, while only 27 percent said that they would move their residency to Palestine. Again, it is likely that those who declined to answer would break even more strongly for Israel. Fully sixty-six percent of Israelis polled by a Geocartography Knowledge survey exactly a year ago said they are against ceding control over any part of the capital to the Palestinian Authority.
There seems to be an obsession in some circles with “extreme right wing American Jews” – whether it’s the heroic Dr. Irving Moskowitz, or the Jerusalem Reclamation Project, Beit Orot, Keep Jerusalem, The Israel Land Fund or others engaged in the vital work of protecting Jerusalem and ensuring that the Jewish roots of the city remain in all aspects of the city. In most synagogues in America and around the world the Jewishness of Jerusalem is a matter of broad consensus – that is called Judaism. Olmert is in truth the extremist who has been increasingly vocal since he was removed from politics due to corruption.
Count me among those who are proud to support financially and in other manners the brave Jews who work tireless to ensure that Jerusalem will remain Jewish.
Colonel Josiah Clement Wedgwood, (aka Josiah Wedgwood IV), a British Liberal Labour politician was an ally of Ze’ev Jabotinsky who said in May 1939: “We like people who will fight even though we think they are entirely wrong… the Arabs stand up and fight and massacre. Make no mistake they have killed as many of their own people as they have Jews, and they are murderers. On the other hand the Jews are always complaining and begging for justice. That of course is the result of 1800 years of servitude. For 1800 years they have been dependent on the good graces of government and never on their own right arm… that attitude of supplication of living on your knees has a very bad effect among the respectable nations with the Jews.”
Mr. Olmert should take wise note of these comments – and stop inciting the world against Israel with his extreme viewpoints.