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Many of our readers are not going to like this article. I need to preface it by stating that both my grandmothers were born in Jerusalem, and my parents grew up there. I have a deep appreciation of the significance of Jerusalem for Jews and Israel both in Jewish tradition and in the bloody history of the last hundred years. David Ben-Gurion rightly understood, in 1948, that without Jerusalem there could be no Jewish state. It is not only important for the Jews. The Christian and Muslim world will not accept that the Jews have returned to their land to stay until and unless they accept Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem.

It is time for Christians to overcome the cultural remnants of the curse of Eusebius of Caesaria. Since Salaheddin retook Jerusalem from the Crusaders, possession of Jerusalem has been an established symbol of dominion over the land. Indeed it is precisely for that very reason that the Muslims, beginning with the Mufti Hajj Amin El Husseini, centered the entire Jewish-Arab conflict around Jerusalem. I must also admit that I do not understand the reason that various people who claim to be pro-Israel are rushing to offer specific concessions on Jerusalem, even before serious negotiations have gotten under way. I did not notice any Palestinian Arabs offering any public concessions on Jerusalem. That is not the way to negotiate.

However, I must equally confess that I find the stand of the "no concessions on Jerusalem" lobby that has formed in the United States equally problematic. Israel and the Zionist cause gain nothing by being absolutely inflexible. Nobody ever does. It was just such absolute inflexibility that in the past led to the disasters of the Arabs of Palestine and of the Arab countries. The reasons for the objections to concessions on Jerusalem are also not as clear as they might seem at first sight.

This week, Shmuel Rosner has as his guest Jeff Ballabon, a "driving force" in the "Coordinating Council on Jerusalem," an umbrella organizations for Jewish organizations who "oppose any negotiations which involve possible concessions of Jewish sovereignty or control over Jerusalem".

After reading his spiel, I find myself more confused than ever. Ballabon tells us that Jerusalem is very important to the Jews historically and culturally, which is quite true. He then asserts however, that concessions in Jerusalem are dangerous, because the Arabs do not really want peace. That may be true. Dividing Jerusalem would put his son's house in the range of Kalashnikov rifle fire, he tells us. That also may be true. However, it would true almost wherever the border is drawn. There are always going to be Arabs on the other side of the border, and not Swiss or Finns, and if they want to shoot at us there is only the IDF to stop them. Qalqilia is a hop skip and jump from Kfar Saba. Giving up Tulkarm and Qalqilia in the absence of peace and security guarantees endangers Kfar Saba, Raanana, Tel Aviv, Petach Tiqvah and Ben-Gurion airport. What does this issue have to do with Jerusalem? Would Ballabon and his group accept a peace treaty that endangered all these other cities, as long as Jerusalem is intact? Assuming that it could be shown that Arabs are mild and gentle as lambs, would Jerusalem then be less important in Jewish tradition and therefore more negotiable according to Ballabon and his friends?

The second question that comes to mind is "Where is Jerusalem?" This is not as simple as it seems. All these groups insist that Jerusalem must not be divided. In 1967, West Jerusalem had an area of 38 square km, and East Jerusalem had an area of 6 square km. When the city was united, the boundaries were enlarged to include 122 square kilometers in all, including a lot of Arab suburbs. Today, Jerusalem includes 250,000 Palestinian Arabs within its municipal boundaries. Some want to be citizens of Israel for economic reasons, but none of them really love Jews or Israel. I cannot see how including those people within the boundaries of the Jewish state is going to improve our security. Not only can they shoot Kalashnikov rifle fire into the home of Jeff Ballabon's son, they can also come their in person and blow themselves and Jeff Ballabon's son to kingdom come for the glory of Allah and 72 virgins. Not only can they do it, they actually did just that. And when they become citizens, it is unlikely that they will vote for the Likud or the Yisrael Beitenu party or even Labor. It is quite likely that they would be willing to vote to end the law of return and freeze Jewish immigration. How does this help Israel? When Jeff Ballabon and his colleagues talk of the historical importance of Jerusalem, do they imply that Jews swear, "If I forget thee, O Jabel Mukaber, may my right hand wither...?" Do we pray, "Next year in Issawiyeh?"

Given that no country today recognizes Israeli sovereignty in the Old City, how likely is it that the United States or the EU will recognize Jewish sovereignty there? And if they do, are we going to destroy the Mosque of Al Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock and rebuild the Temple? Are some or all of the member organizations of the "Coordinating Council on Jerusalem" going to start pressuring Israel to re-institute animal sacrifice?? Is there an association of Cohens and Levis that will clamor for a subsidy for all its members so they can be priests in the temple? Is the coodinating council going to supply us with lambs and calves for sacrifice?

Before rallying around slogans like "No to divided Jerusalem" and "No concessions on Jerusalem," before circling the wagons, isn't it a good idea to understand what these slogans mean and what they imply?

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2007. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000462.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 7 Comments

Judging others is often a self-referential process,but unfortunately, sometimes,decent and passionate people like yourself make the mistake of attributing qualities which you possess, on others who are not worthy of them.The nebulous dream (i.e. living harmoniously with the Palestinians)prevents you from seeing reality, and only your wish is real to you.The establishment of Israel was a result of unwavering, inflexibe , uncompromising pursuit of an objective.Zig-zaging is the road of a pragmatist,and context-dropping their favorite method." In any compromise between food and poison,it is only death that can win"-Ayn Rand

Henry Davis, Sunday, December 16th

Dear Henry,
The experience of the Lebanon war should have taught us the danger of empty oratory. Not getting killed is a good moral principle IMO and so is not stealing the land of others. Peace is another moral principle. It may be unattainable, but we have to keep trying.

The Arabs, with their inflexibility have gained a lot of refugees. We pragmatists with our immoral flexibility gained a state. I would not want to trade with them.

From Australia it is much easier to be an enthusiastic and maximalist "Zionist" - but that is not the Zionism that built Israel.

Ami I.

Ami Isseroff, Saturday, December 15th

Being a commited Pragmatist Mr Isseroff's comments are typical of the philosophy he espouses:no objective reality,no principles,subjectivism,compromise, and concrete bound solutions-all those"virtues" that supposed to be in Israel's favour. But reality tells us something else:the arabs have achieved much more by being "inflexible", and the fact that we're discussing the status of Jerusalem proves the point.

Henry Davis, Saturday, December 15th

Dear Ami,

The essential point in your disquisition is to be flexible about
negotiations on whatever is "Jerusalem."

Yet you yourself point out that the Arabs have no love for
Jews or Israel . . . and more likely will continue to try to wipe
Israel off the map and kill all the Jews in the process.

And you yourself point out how essential is Jerusalem,
whatever it happens to be in sq. kms., to the existence
of Israel itself.

Do you not also realize how hyperbolic is the thinking of
the Arabs, the Muslims, that to even consider "discussing"
Jerusalem is tantamount to saying that Israel has lost its
will and, not only does not have legitimacy, does not
have any historical right whatsoever (if Jerusalem is

So your "flexibility" and warnings about those who say
"No to any negotiations on (whatever is) Jeruslaem"
simply furthers the cause of the disintegration of Israel
(whatever that is).

Such "reasoned" positions on your part do not take into
account the "unreasonableness" of the other side.


Stanley H. Barkan, Poet/Publisher
Cross-Cultural Communications
239 Wynsum Avenue
Merrick, NY 11566-4725
Tel: 516/868-5635
Fax: 516/379-1901
E-mail: cccpoetry@aol.com
Profile: www.thedrunkenboat.com (Summer 2002 Issue)
Video: www.Poetryvlog.com

Stanley H. Barkan, Thursday, December 13th

Dear Paul Winter,
Since you are not confused, please answer the following, as I am confused:
1. What is better for Israel
a- 250,000 Arabs inside Israeli Jerusalem?
b- 250,000 Arabs in their own state?

2. Which of the following are sacred to the Jews:
a- Khirbet Beit Sahur
b- Issawiye
c- Jabel Mukkaber

3. If giving up Jerusalem is dangerous then
a- It is not dangerous to give up Qalqilia and Tulkarm because they only threaten Ben-Gurion Airport and Kfar Saba which are not holy.

b- It is dangerous to give up anything, therefore the slogan should be "no concessions."

4. How do you like your burnt offerings:
a- Rare
b- Medium rare
c- Medium
d- Well done

Ami Isseroff, Thursday, December 13th

I see no confusion here.

Ami Isseroff's pragmatism may not please everybody, but is the way forward.

And heaven forfend that a time should come when my Uncle Sid, with my cousin Michael as his acolyte, sacrifices sheep and cows in all our names.

I am sure that the G-d that I'm not sure that I believe in would not welcome such burnt offerin gs.

chairwoman, Thursday, December 13th

Like most of Isseroff's articles, the one on dividing Jerusalem is confused. This is not surprising: a peacenik kicked in the head by a reality he still does not accept. Jerusalem must not be divided because the Arabs do not want to share it, because they are using the salami technique where each concession is the cue for another demand. Reasoning with the unreasonable is like debating with a rabid dog. Isseroff sets up straw men to argue for talks about dividing Jerusalem. They won't wash. Jerusalem is Israel's capital and the heart of Judaism. The Arabs lost wars they started and must pay the price. As long as peaceniks and others try to molify aggressors, they will continue to kill and terrorise.

Paul Winter, Thursday, December 13th

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