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October 3, 2014 8:00 am

Why Would Obama Oppose Housing for Black and Muslim Families? Because They Are in Israel

avatar by Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn


President Barack Obama. Photo: White House.

Why would President Obama, a champion for the rights of underprivileged blacks and Muslims, try to prevent the construction of new housing for those groups?

Because the blacks are Jewish, the Muslims are in Israel, and the housing is in Jerusalem.

In any other part of the world, such housing would be regarded as progressive government intervention to aid the downtrodden. But such housing in Israel is being denounced by President Obama’s spokespeople as “poisonous” and “anti-peace.”

The controversy involves a neighborhood in southeastern Jerusalem called Givat HaMatos. It was settled back in the 1990s by Jewish immigrants from Ethiopia. Rescued by Israel from the poverty and civil strife of eastern Africa, these black Jews began a hopeful new life in the city that filled their prayers for 2,000 years.

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Note that the area had been completely uninhabited. No Arabs were displaced by the arrival of these African Jews. No Arabs made any legal claims to the land.

But due to budgetary issues and international pressure, successive Israeli governments failed to build permanent housing in Givat HaMatos. These idealistic Ethiopian Jews remained stuck in shanties. Now, a generation later, Israel has finally approved the construction of 2,600 housing units in Givat HaMatos.

But that’s not all. The construction plan is not for the benefit of Jewish Ethiopians alone. It will also benefit local Muslims. The plan includes the construction of 800 housing units in the adjacent Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa.

New housing for underprivileged Ethiopians as well as their Muslim neighbors. Who could possibly object to that?

People who want to divide Jerusalem, that’s who.

One portion of Givat HaMatos is within what was once the pre-1967 border. Another portion is beyond that line. Of course, once Israel was reunited Jerusalem in 1967, those old border lines ceased to exist – except in the imagination of those who would like to see Jerusalem torn in half again, with the eastern part of the city made into the capital of “Palestine.”

And so the condemnations have come fast and furious. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that the plan to build houses in Israel’s capital for blacks and Muslims deserves “condemnation from the international community” and will “call into question Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.”

Over at the State Department, spokeswoman Jen Psaki declared that building the houses will “poison the atmosphere.”

Why is Israeli housing for black people and Muslims “poison”? Only because the blacks are Jewish, and the Muslims are in Jerusalem.

How about a newsflash for the White House, the State Department, and the rest of the international community that Israel is not going to re-divide its eternal capital? The eastern parts of Jerusalem – including the Old City area and its environs – are not going to become the capital of Palestine.

Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for more than3,000 years, and there is an overwhelming consensus among Israelis, and among Jews worldwide, that it is going to stay that way. And tens of millions of Bible-believing Christians in America, and many more around the world, agree. By facing Mecca when they pray, Jerusalem’s Muslims are, in effect, agreeing that Jerusalem is paramount to Jews, not to Muslims.

So Jews from around the world will continue to flock to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, which is in “East Jerusalem.” Jewish parents will continue to send their children to study in the famous yeshivas in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, which is in “East Jerusalem.” Jewish mourners will continue to bury their dead in the oldest and largest Jewish cemetery in the world, on the Mount of Olives, which is in “East Jerusalem.”

And Israel will continue to build housing in “East Jerusalem” neighborhoods such as Givat HaMatos. No matter what names the Obama Administration calls Israel, no matter how much the United Nations howls, Israel is going to keep building new houses for Ethiopian and Muslim Israelis in Jerusalem. Without apologies.

Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn are members of the board of the Religious Zionists of America.

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