Rebuild East Berlin? Sure! Rebuild East Jerusalem? No Way!
The Wall Street Journal recently covered an interesting story about the rebuilding effort underway in East Berlin. Since German reunification took place peacefully and democratically in 1990, many private and government sources have sought to restore some of the Baroque grandeur of German architecture in the war-ravaged city.
Much of the heart of Berlin had been blasted by Royal Air Force (British) and U.S. bombers during WWII. Those historic structures that survived the allies’ bombs often fell victim to the massive, 10,000-piece artillery assault of the Red Army as the Soviets closed in on Hitler’s doomed Fűhrerbunker.
When the German Bundestag voted in 1990 to move their capital from Bonn back to Berlin, and scheduled the transition to be completed in 1999, the embassies of every nation that had diplomatic relations with the Federal Republic of Germany quietly began preparations for the move. There was no controversy about the right of Germans to name their own capital. And the largely blameless conduct of free Germany since 1945 underscored the need to fully incorporate this vital member of NATO into the modern European community.
There have been controversies about the rebuilding of some of the Old Regime’s monumental structures. But these have tended to be disputes over architectural style -- nasty fights among traditionalists and modernists. These, however, have largely been confined to the architecture sections of the newspapers. Members of the Bundestag, when they have been dragged in, have mostly wrestled over funding levels for the billion-dollar restorations under consideration.
Americans have a stake in these debates, to be sure. We are the ones who were pulled into two world wars by the military, diplomatic, and royal officials who were the planners and decision-makers in these Baroque buildings. America lost approximately 100,000 young men in World War I and 185,924 in the European Theater of Operations in World War II.
The costs to American taxpayers of these two world wars were staggering. Then, too, there was the cost of occupation and afterward of stationing troops in West Germany to defend against Soviet aggression.
Germany’s Ambassador to the U.S., Klaus Sharioth, took the occasion of celebrating NATO’s 60th anniversary in 2009 to thank an audience of Americans at Washington’s Heritage Foundation. The ambassador graciously acknowledged America’s commitment of 60 million young soldiers to Germany’s defense in the period 1945-1990. Ambassador Sharioth noted that no nation on earth had ever done such a generous thing. That polished diplomat was applauded vigorously for this rare and moving tribute from the representative of a former enemy.
All of this is heartwarming to be sure, the reconciliation of two peoples, the coming together of former bitter foes in the spirit of peace and friendship.
This is what makes the Obama administration’s angry assault on Israel’s East Jerusalem development such an outrageous thing. We can hail a united Germany, we can applaud her diplomats, we can embrace former adversaries, and yet this administration denounces our Israeli allies for doing no more in East Jerusalem than the Germans are doing in East Berlin.
The first of the Four Questions Jews ask at their Passover Seders is: “Why is this night different from all others?” We might just as earnestly ask of the Obama administration’s relations with the Jewish state: “Why is this ally different from all others?” Why do we attack Israel’s democratic government for building housing for Jews in the city that has been the Jews’ city almost since the beginning of recorded time? We have not only biblical accounts of the Jews inhabiting Jerusalem, we can look to archeological evidence and to the writings of Greek and Roman historians.
This unconscionable stance of the Obama State Department is even more incomprehensible when we consider that they are intervening in behalf of the Arabs of the PLO, the barely-reformed terrorist group that invented airline hijacking for terror purposes. The Arabs on the West Bank celebrated the terrorist attacks of 9/11 by dancing in the streets, giving candy to their children, and firing their Soviet-made rifles in the air in jubilation on the Day of Fire for America.
The Obama administration is proceeding on the assumption that if the U.S. twists the Israelis’ arms and forces the Netanyahu coalition government to make more dangerous concessions to their sworn enemies that somehow this appeasement policy will result in “A Pathway to Peace.” It won’t. It is especially troubling to see the Israelis put under the ban of international disapproval when they are opening their gates to endangered Jews. In Europe today, Jews are under assault. Jewish cemeteries in that previously safe haven, Malmő, Sweden, have been desecrated and vandalized with swastikas and al Qaeda graffiti.
When these newly threatened people make “Aliyah” and seek refuge in the Jewish homeland -- a land promised to the Jewish people by Britain as long ago as 1917 -- they are today subject to denunciation by the Obama administration. This is a scandal.
President Obama precipitately tossed the bust of Winston Churchill out of the Oval Office when he first entered it. Too bad. Mr. Obama could have profited from Churchill’s wisdom: “Let the Jews have Jerusalem. It is they who made it famous!”
Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison are senior fellows at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.