Last week, a full page advertisement appeared in seven major Jewish newspapers around the country. Placed by the self proclaimed Israeli advocacy institute J Street, it presented a letter from former leftist Meretz leader Yossi Sarid addressed to the Nobel Laureate, Elie Wiesel. Earlier Wiesel had published his own missive, in a number of major American newspapers, imploring President Barack Obama’s understanding of the Jewish attachment to Jerusalem and why another division of the city can never be contemplated.
“For Jerusalem, Jews, Christians and Muslims are able to build their homes anywhere in Jerusalem and that only under Israeli sovereignty has freedom of worship for all religions been assured in the city.”
Sarid counters that there is a tacit racism inherent in Israeli housing policy that allows Arab families to be evicted onto the street if it suits the occupying power. He also warns Wiesel, who is certainly no Jewish fundamentalist, to avoid placing too much emphasis on the Jewish people’s religious attachment to the city.
“ You, my dear friend, evoke the Jews’ biblical deed to Jerusalem, thereby imbuing our current conflict with messianic hues. As if our diplomatic quarrels weren’t enough, the worst of our enemies would be glad to dress this epic conflict in the garb of a holy war. We had better not join ranks with them, even if unintentionally.”
But Sarid goes much further than even this. In his admonition to Wiesel, he states baldly what no other Israeli leader has previously dared to plead:
“ Barack Obama appears well aware of his obligations to try to resolve the world’s ills, particularly ours here. Why then undercut him and tie his hands? On the contrary, let’s allow him to use his clout to save us from ourselves, to help both bruised and battered nations and free them from their prison. Then he can push both sides to divide the city into two capitals - to give Jewish areas to the Jews and Arab areas to the Arabs - and assign the Holy Basin to an agreed-on international authority.”
Here we have a frank admission - and condemnation - rolled into one. Sarid is saying that since the fractious Jews have proved themselves incapable of resolving their own problems with their contentious neighbors, they should resign themselves to their incompetence and willingly give up problem-solving to a benevolent omniscient being who has only their best interests at heart. Only He is capable of bringing the peace that all sides to the conflict crave.
Talk about Messianism.
The suggestion to involve an honest broker in the so-called “peace process” is nothing new. But the idea that the same outsider should be vested with the responsibility of imposing a solution on the question of the territorial boundaries of the State, smacks of contempt for Israel’s sovereign rights, as well as a rejection of the authority of its democratic government to make decisions for its citizens.
The letter from Sarid is a study is self delusion. Not only does he wish the Jewish people to eschew any historical/ religious attachment to Jerusalem ( not surprising from a guy who has described Judaism as “a primitivist cult” ) but he ignores completely the prolific spread of illegal Arab housing in East Jerusalem; the unwillingness of any Arab government in history to the ensure the inviolability of Jewish holy sites and the rampant demonization of Israel in Palestinian society - as sure a sign as any that a future State of Palestine will have no inclination to live in harmony with its Israeli neighbor.
Sarid also excoriates rich American benefactors for their support of a Jewish presence in East Jerusalem while ignoring the deliberate and consistent rejectionism of Arab governments who have used the Palestinians for close to a century as pawns in their own Middle East chess game.
I also have my problems with Wiesel’s letter –
“ Is there a solution? There must be, there will be.”
No, Mr.Wiesel, there is no solution. While Palestinians live in thrall to supremacist rhetoric; while their religious leaders repeatedly call for Jihad against the Jewish infidel and Palestinian leaders do not even accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, there is no solution – for these things take generations to change. In the meantime there remains a conflict that can only be managed.
Jerusalem, will, for the foreseeable future, remain at the core of this conflict. Israel’s self declared “pro-active friends” such as J Street, would be well advised to understand that any endorsement of a policy which promotes the surrender of the Jewish state’s sovereignty will do nothing to bring peace. Instead it will empower Palestinian rejectionism, the one great diplomatic skill these wards of the West have mastered throughout history.
Avi Davis is the president of the American Freedom Alliance in Los Angeles. His writings and blog entries can be found at The Intermediate Zone and at the Los Angeles Jewish Journal blog On The Other Hand.
This article also appears in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal’s blog On The Other Hand