Just about a week and a half ago was the 17th day of the month Tammuz in the Jewish Calendar. It marks the anniversary of the day the Roman siege broke through the walls of Jerusalem almost 2000 years ago. It is also the start of a three week mourning period leading up to Tish’a B’Av (this year starting on the evening of July 29th) which is (along with Yom Kippur) the only full day fast on the Jewish calender it marks the day that both of the Jewish Temples were destroyed.
This year it is not the Romans trying to separate Jerusalem from the Jewish People, it is Americans, specifically President Obama and his “anti-Jew crew.”
Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren was summoned urgently to the State Department over the weekend to hear a demand that Israel must stop a private construction project in its capital. The project is being carried out at the site of the Shepherd Hotel in Sheikh Jarrah, near the Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem on land that has been owned by Jews for nearly 25 years.
The owner of the property, is Dr. Irving Moskowitz, who has built other projects in eastern Jerusalem – most notably the Maaleh HaZeitim neighborhood in Ras el-Amud, below and to the south of the Temple Mount.
Reportedly the Ambassador told the state department that it will not stop the construction and the Prime minister and other Knesset members blasted the US Demand:
Jerusalem is the “unified capital of Israel and the capital of the Jewish people, and sovereignty over it is indisputable,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday, responding to an American demand to put an end to a housing project to be built in east Jerusalem.
“Hundreds of apartments in the west of the city were purchased by Arabs and we didn’t get involved. There is no prohibition against Arab residents buying apartments in the west of the city and there is no prohibition barring the city’s Jewish residents from buying or building in the east of the city,” Netanyahu added at the weekly cabinet meeting. “That is the policy of an open city that is not divided.”
“We cannot accept the notion that Jews will not have the right to buy apartments specifically in Jerusalem. I can only imagine what would happen if they were forbidden from purchasing apartments in New York or London; there would be an international outcry. This has always been Israel’s policy and this is the policy of the current government,” the prime minister added.Source
Interestingly enough, Obama’s new demands might prevent compromise with his demands about settlements in Judea and Samaria as his new stance may succeed in rallying all but the radical Israeli politicians to support Netanyahu:
MK Danny Danon (Likud) said: “President Obama is employing the salami system. First he wants an end to construction for natural growth in Judea and Samaria, and now we learn that he wants an end to Jewish building at the foot of Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus. Only the Israeli government has the right to decide what happens within the borders of united Jerusalem.”
Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein said, “This proves how dangerous it is to enter into a discussion over halting construction in the settlements in Judea and Samaria. It will lead to a demand to totally freeze Jewish life in general in the entire State of Israel.”
Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch, speaking on Army Radio, similarly defended the capital: “Jerusalem is a united city with municipal borders that are clear and defined to the whole world. Wherever the city and country has given a permit, there will be construction.”
Science Minister Rabbi Prof. Daniel Hershkovitz, head of the Jewish Home party, said, “The American demand proves that whoever demands a freeze in Judea and Samaria will end up demanding a halt to Jewish building in a neighborhood that houses government offices. I invite American officials to visit my office in Sheikh Jarrah so that they will see Israel’s sovereignty in united Jerusalem.” (Source)
This latest Obama demand is further reinforcement of the fact that the President doesn’t know what he is doing in the middle east. He is simply taking the anti-Israel position to look good to his Arab allies, without forethought or concern about the consequences. His previous demands about natural growth of settlements has not won him any points with those in the Israeli Left, who would normally be his allies. As reported by Michael Doran in is blog about Obama’s Middle East strategy:
If Obama found Netanyahu difficult to coerce, he failed to charm the Israeli Left. Israeli pundits have noted the conspicuous absence of a pro-Obama coalition on the Israeli political scene—this, despite the fact that the Israeli Left detests the settlements as much as or more than Obama himself. Many Israelis simply do not understand how the country’s security dilemmas fit into Obama’s larger scheme. With respect to the issue of gravest concern, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Obama’s strategy remains worryingly opaque. And with respect to the Palestinian question, many Israelis are skeptical about the power of any American president to overcome the Hamas-Fatah split, and to create conditions on the Palestinian side that will achieve a two-state solution capable of guaranteeing Israeli security. In a context fraught with uncertainty, Obama is inviting the Israeli Left to join with him in a fight against Netanyahu in order to achieve… well, what precisely?
In addition to the vagueness of his goals, Obama’s body language has dealt the Israeli Left a weak hand. The Cairo speech cast Israel as a bit player in a U.S.-Muslim drama. The president, stressing his Muslim ancestry, did not take the time to fly to Jerusalem, where he might have reasoned with the Israeli public about the value to it of abandoning the Bush-Sharon agreement. Instead, his advisors denied flatly (and falsely) that such an agreement had ever existed. As a consequence of this disingenuousness, many Israelis fear that the administration aims to buy goodwill from the Muslim world by distancing itself from Israel, and they wonder whether settlements are not simply the first of many concessions that will be demanded. With such doubts swirling in the air, it is difficult for the Israeli Left to trumpet the Obama agenda.
Nice Going Mr. President, your hatred of the Jewish state has caused you to screw up your own strategy.