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What I have to say on Jerusalem Day is not pleasant. Israel and Zionism have dropped the ball on Jerusalem, Jewish East Jerusalem included.

We have been brash and abrasive where we should have been diplomatic, and yet timid and evasive about asserting our rights. No wonder that no country in the world is willing to recognize our claim to Jerusalem. The speechifying over Jerusalem day paints a pretty picture, but the statements of foreign diplomats and the unprofessional "news" articles in the mainstream press, filled with factual errors, editorializing and distortions (see here for example) tell us that the speeches are hollow. Jerusalem cannot be saved by hot air. If Israel and the Zionist movement had done its homework in Jerusalem, perhaps the dogs would still bark, but the caravan could move on.

We laid claim to Arab villages that were never part of Jerusalem, but failed to assert real Israeli sovereignty over many of the areas that are historically, indisputably a part of Jewish Jerusalem. Shuefat and Abu Dis and Ras al Amud (aka "har Choma")are not essential parts of Jewish Jerusalem, but we find ourselves fighting to hold on to these Arab towns and new Jewish settlements as though they were the historic seat of the Jewish monarchy or the symbols of reborn Israel. Shiloach and the City of David were indeed part of Jewish history, the location of Hezekiah's tunnel and the seat of the Jewish monarchy, but we let them be settled, after 1967, by illegal Arab squatters. As they were allowed to settle and remain illegally on this land, a "fact on the ground" was established, and it will be difficult to reverse it.

Jerusalem symbolizes sovereignty over the land, and the sovereignty of the Jewish people in Jerusalem is essential as a symbol that the Arab world, and the Western non-Jewish world, truly accept that the Jewish people have been restored to our land, on right and not on sufferance. As long as the rest of the world does not recognize Jewish sovereignty in Jerusalem, the Arab and Muslim countries can conclude, with some justice, that Israel is a temporary phenomenon, that will be banished like the short-lived crusader state. Salah al Din is remembered as the victor over the Crusaders. but Salah al Din did not drive the Crusaders from all of the land. He only evicted them from Jerusalem. That was enough. The rest was only a matter of time.

However, in Zionist settlement plans, Jerusalem was almost completely neglected. This situation was supposed to be remedied in particular by the Likud government of Menachem Begin. However, that government and successive ones produced mostly grandiose pronouncements, tinsel, kitschy tourist attractions and exploitative (and not always honest) real estate deals, not actual basic development. The Holy Land hotel built when Ehud Olmert was mayor is currently under investigation, to mention one sad case.

Jerusalem was mostly left to the tourists and the Old Yishuv, the anti-Zionist Jews of the Halukah charity. It was supposed that this fossil remnant would wither and die. Instead, the "Haredim," ultra-orthodox, black-coated, fur-hatted displaced denizens of the Central and Eastern European ghettos have proliferated and constitute an ever-increasing percentage of the Jewish population of Jerusalem, driving out Zionist Jewish inhabitants and making a productive economy impossible. A segment of the Haredim is violent. They riot at will, throwing rocks and vandalizing city property because they oppose violation of the Sabbath, because they oppose post-mortem investigations or just because. They have the tacit support of other Haredim. Haredi politicians deplore the violence in public, but are quite happy to use it to gain political leverage. When Palestinian Arabs riot in the same way, they draw live fire. But nobody dares to touch the Haredim who are wrecking Jerusalem.

Haredim rioting in Jerusalem

The statistics are grim. More people leave Jerusalem than settle in it each year. The future is black, literally. In Jerusalem over 60% of the Jewish elementary school students is Haredi, more than twice their representation in the adult Jewish population of Jerusalem. The Zionist will to settle the land is not thwarted by Hamas rockets, by Palestinian suicide bombers or by threats of international ostracism. But Zionism seems to be helpless against the black-coated anti-Zionist Jewish religious fanatics. Yet the government has done nothing to deal with this growing problem. Actually, the government has done something. The government subsidizes Haredim and exempts them from military service and pays for their education network and their Yeshiva studies. Zionism is not just sawing off the branch on which it is perched. We don't do things by half-measures. We are doing a thorough job. We have set fire to the whole tree. But this is only one aspect of the failure of Zionism to back the Jewish claim to Jerusalem.

When the PLO organized campaigns to eject Israeli police and social services from East Jerusalem, we acquiesced. Personnel could not enter because their vehicles were stoned and mobbed, telephone linemen were murdered. Services of all kinds disappeared, so that the Palestinian Authority can now claim that Israel doesn't exercise its sovereignty in those places. Arab medical emergencies are often serviced by the Palestinian Red Crescent.

We fail to explain to the world that Jewish East Jerusalem had a large Jewish community until it was intimidated by Arab pogroms in 1921, 1929 and the 1930s, and then the remainder was ethnically cleansed by the Jordanian Legion in 1948. Having brutally expelled the Jews, the Arabs, with no sense of irony, insist that East Jerusalem is "Arab East Jerusalem." That period, when East Jerusalem was "Jew free," which lasted only 19 years, has somehow been turned into an ancient and hallowed tradition in the eyes of the press and the world.

Fall of the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, May 28, 1948. Nissan Beck Synagogue is visible in the background. Every synagogue was razed and every trace of Jewish life in Jewish East Jerusalem was destroyed.

Zionist articles about Jerusalem seem to all feature the obligatory picture of the Wailing Wall with the obligatory Haredi Jews praying the obligatory prayers there. The message is, "Jerusalem is holy to the Jews." That is not a Zionist message. Jerusalem is holy to three faiths, and while we respect all the faiths, the dispute is a matter of national sovereignty. The Haredi Jews pictured praying at the Wailing Wall are probably not Zionists. They do not stand at attention on Israel's memorial day. They do not fly the Israeli flag from their schools Some of them admit that they don't recognize Israel as the Jewish State. Some would not care if the Wailing Wall was under the rule of the Mufti of Jerusalem. Some, like Reb Dovid Weiss and his followers, announce publicly that they welcome the destruction of Israel.

How about writing articles that show a picture of the opening of the Hebrew University in 1925, or a picture of Jewish settlements in Neve Yaakov and Atarot from before 1948, or pictures of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City as it was then, in Jewish East Jerusalem?

Opening of the Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus, in Jewish East Jerusalem, 1925

Israel got itself into needless trouble by announcing a housing project for Haredi Jews in Ramat Shlomo. It would be much better for the future of Jewish East Jerusalem, if when the construction freeze is lifted, the government would announce the construction of an industrial park in East Jerusalem and housing for anyone who wants to work in that park. One factory in Jerusalem would be worth more than all the piles of verbiage about the "Eternal capital of Israel" on Jerusalem day.

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2010. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000735.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: 2 Comments

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat spoke about the Master Plan for future construction in the city and discussed the municipality's response to illegal building in Jeruaslem at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs,last week on May 20, 2010.

to view clips from his speech please go to: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheJerusalemCenter#p/a/u/0/xYpp63CUu1M

also, to test your knowledge on Jerusalem please see the Jerusalem centers quiz at:

debka, Sunday, May 23rd

Thanks, you put into words what I was thinking after reading the Beinart piece. The man is a shill for Obama, another anti-Israel J-street type, you should submit this article to the Jerusalem Post, it deserves more exposure.

dresses, Saturday, May 22nd

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