A City of Two Tales

Richard N. Weltz
Jerusalem has been much in the news these days as President Obama has used the announcement of a procedural step in the eventual construction of 1,600 housing units as a reason to excoriate and humiliate Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu over the past week, ending with a very frosty White House reception and a demand for an Israeli response by tomorrow (Saturday) so that the US can take its "victory" over Israel to the Arab League table in Libya.

Officials in the Prime Minister's Office continued to throw a blackout on the Netanyahu-Obama meeting, as well as give only very sketchy information about the commitments that the US is demanding of Israel as a precursor to starting the proximity talks with the Palestinians. According to officials, the US wants these commitments by Saturday so it can take them to the Arab League meeting in Libya and receive that organization's backing for starting proximity talks.

There are, however, apparently two different tales about this city and its capital. The area in question, Ramat Shlomo (Solomon Heights) is described by The New York Times as: "an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood on land wanted by the Palestinians for their future capital...".

That jibes with the view being promulgated by the Obama administration and the Times, to the effect that Israeli perfidy in planning to build additional housing in Ramat Shlomo has been a deal-breaker causing the Palestinians to refuse further participation in negotiations toward a peace settlement.

On the other hand, National Review's Rich Lowry, writing in The New York Post, explains that:

To call the administration's reaction to the Israeli announcement of the next stage in planning for 1,600 Jerusalem housing units disproportionate is a rank understatement. It's perverse.

The housing is in north Jerusalem, in a historically Jewish neighborhood no negotiations have ever contemplated handing over to a Palestinian state.

Israeli blogger "Matzav" goes even a step further, writing from Jerusalem of Ramat Shlomo that:

...it was one of the few places over the Green Line that Abbas told former prime minister Ehud Olmert that Israel could keep in a final-status agreement.

According to a
December 8 Channel 10 report, when Olmert offered the Palestinians 94.5 percent of the West Bank and another 5.5% of pre-1967 Israel, Abbas responded with his own map in which Israel would keep only 1.9% of the area over the Green Line. Ma'aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion and some Jewish Jerusalem neighborhoods were not included in the 1.9%, but Ramat Shlomo specifically was.

As one can see from these political and demographic maps, the neighborhood in question is more North or Northeast of the so-called "West Jerusalem," is part of the area recovered from Jordanian occupation in the 1967war, and is in an area of heavily Jewish population with no significant Arab presence.

Small wonder that interviews conducted by the Jerusalem Post with Ramat Shlomo residents produced a uniform attitude of puzzlement over the fuss and comments such as these:

"If this is not an inseparable part of Jerusalem, than what is?" asked Pini Gamliel, a shopkeeper on the neighborhood's HaAdmor M'Lubavitch Street. "Where do they want us to put our houses?"

"Once you get here, you can easily see that this is simply another neighborhood in Jerusalem," Hechtman said. "But the media makes it seem like this is some kind of far-removed settlement, when in reality it's right next to Ramot."

"The Palestinians are trying to turn every construction project into an international incident, even though construction in Jerusalem is as natural as it would be in any other city."

So, is this a case of Israeli audacity crossing the boundaries of international diplomacy; or is it simply a routine, previously acceptable occurrence that is being used as an excuse to beat up on the Jewish State and win "brownie points among the Arab countries and Muslims worldwide? Columnist Ralph Peters opines:

Wednesday in Washington was dedicated to shooting down one Israeli compromise offer after another. Of course, we haven't asked those valiant Palestinian freedom fighters (unfairly considered terrorists by reactionaries like me) to compromise a fraction of an inch.

The Palestinians dictate, the White House obeys.

This is madness. Rewarding terror and intransigence, we're undercutting the single rule-of-law democracy and defender of human rights in the Middle East. "The rockets' red glare"? Last time I saw it, the rockets were raining down on civilians in northern Israel. But Obama truly believes that the Palestinians are the good guys.

Which, then, of the two "tales" describes Jerusalem: the eternal, undivided capital of the Jewish State of Israel (as then-candidate Obama declared it to be in 2008), recovered from post-1949 Jordanian occupation; or a lever being used by Palestinians to advance their goal of eventual destruction of Israel by one way or another, and by their supporters as a lever to curry favor with the vast Islamic ummah?
Jerusalem has been much in the news these days as President Obama has used the announcement of a procedural step in the eventual construction of 1,600 housing units as a reason to excoriate and humiliate Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu over the past week, ending with a very frosty White House reception and a demand for an Israeli response by tomorrow (Saturday) so that the US can take its "victory" over Israel to the Arab League table in Libya.

Officials in the Prime Minister's Office continued to throw a blackout on the Netanyahu-Obama meeting, as well as give only very sketchy information about the commitments that the US is demanding of Israel as a precursor to starting the proximity talks with the Palestinians. According to officials, the US wants these commitments by Saturday so it can take them to the Arab League meeting in Libya and receive that organization's backing for starting proximity talks.

There are, however, apparently two different tales about this city and its capital. The area in question, Ramat Shlomo (Solomon Heights) is described by The New York Times as: "an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood on land wanted by the Palestinians for their future capital...".

That jibes with the view being promulgated by the Obama administration and the Times, to the effect that Israeli perfidy in planning to build additional housing in Ramat Shlomo has been a deal-breaker causing the Palestinians to refuse further participation in negotiations toward a peace settlement.

On the other hand, National Review's Rich Lowry, writing in The New York Post, explains that:

To call the administration's reaction to the Israeli announcement of the next stage in planning for 1,600 Jerusalem housing units disproportionate is a rank understatement. It's perverse.

The housing is in north Jerusalem, in a historically Jewish neighborhood no negotiations have ever contemplated handing over to a Palestinian state.

Israeli blogger "Matzav" goes even a step further, writing from Jerusalem of Ramat Shlomo that:

...it was one of the few places over the Green Line that Abbas told former prime minister Ehud Olmert that Israel could keep in a final-status agreement.

According to a
December 8 Channel 10 report, when Olmert offered the Palestinians 94.5 percent of the West Bank and another 5.5% of pre-1967 Israel, Abbas responded with his own map in which Israel would keep only 1.9% of the area over the Green Line. Ma'aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion and some Jewish Jerusalem neighborhoods were not included in the 1.9%, but Ramat Shlomo specifically was.

As one can see from these political and demographic maps, the neighborhood in question is more North or Northeast of the so-called "West Jerusalem," is part of the area recovered from Jordanian occupation in the 1967war, and is in an area of heavily Jewish population with no significant Arab presence.

Small wonder that interviews conducted by the Jerusalem Post with Ramat Shlomo residents produced a uniform attitude of puzzlement over the fuss and comments such as these:

"If this is not an inseparable part of Jerusalem, than what is?" asked Pini Gamliel, a shopkeeper on the neighborhood's HaAdmor M'Lubavitch Street. "Where do they want us to put our houses?"

"Once you get here, you can easily see that this is simply another neighborhood in Jerusalem," Hechtman said. "But the media makes it seem like this is some kind of far-removed settlement, when in reality it's right next to Ramot."

"The Palestinians are trying to turn every construction project into an international incident, even though construction in Jerusalem is as natural as it would be in any other city."

So, is this a case of Israeli audacity crossing the boundaries of international diplomacy; or is it simply a routine, previously acceptable occurrence that is being used as an excuse to beat up on the Jewish State and win "brownie points among the Arab countries and Muslims worldwide? Columnist Ralph Peters opines:

Wednesday in Washington was dedicated to shooting down one Israeli compromise offer after another. Of course, we haven't asked those valiant Palestinian freedom fighters (unfairly considered terrorists by reactionaries like me) to compromise a fraction of an inch.

The Palestinians dictate, the White House obeys.

This is madness. Rewarding terror and intransigence, we're undercutting the single rule-of-law democracy and defender of human rights in the Middle East. "The rockets' red glare"? Last time I saw it, the rockets were raining down on civilians in northern Israel. But Obama truly believes that the Palestinians are the good guys.

Which, then, of the two "tales" describes Jerusalem: the eternal, undivided capital of the Jewish State of Israel (as then-candidate Obama declared it to be in 2008), recovered from post-1949 Jordanian occupation; or a lever being used by Palestinians to advance their goal of eventual destruction of Israel by one way or another, and by their supporters as a lever to curry favor with the vast Islamic ummah?