Monday, February 15, 2010

When It Comes To Jerusalem, The Washington Post and President Obama Rewrite History

The Washington Post had an article by Howard Schneider yesterday about the dispute over property in in Sheikh Jarrah, a small Arab neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem. I have no problem with an article that presents both the Israeli and Palestinian side of a story like this. I have a huge problem with asserting facts which simply are not in evidence and skewing the picture in favor of one side, in this case the Palestinians.

The article plays fast and loose with the facts. For example, it states that
"Israel asserts its jurisdiction over the entire city -- including Arab areas it captured in a 1967 war and annexed in a step not recognized by the international community."

First, the United States did recognize all of Jerusalem as part of Israel in The Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act, passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton. In addition there are several countries which do have embassies in Jerusalem. To say that the "international community" as a whole doesn't recognize Israel's sovereignty over eastern Jerusalem is inaccurate. The international community is not monolithic and is divided on this issue unless, of course, you don't consider the United States part of the international community.

Yes, the Obama administration has protested the eviction of Arabs from Sheikh Jarrah. They argue that any change of the status quo undermines the peace process. Never mind that the land was taken by force from Jewish owners in 1948. Never mind that the United Nations, which moved the original 28 Arab families into the neighborhood, never obtained or provided any title to the property. Never mind that the families would have had tenancy rights and could not be evicted under Israeli law if they paid rent to the rightful owners. Never mind that the issue was decided through a very long legal process, complete with appeals and due process of law. None of those facts matter. The Obama administration has decided, in advance of any negotiation, that Jerusalem will be divided again. Never mind that President Obama has no say in the matter whatsoever, has no jurisdiction over Jerusalem, and is in effect ignoring American law.

Yes, the article does mention the Jewish ownership but it assumes that "East Jerusalem" is rightfully somehow Palestinian. Please read my post on the relevant parts of the history of Jerusalem from 2007. One point which every article like this ignores:
What made east Jerusalem Arab? 19 years of illegal Jordanian occupation ending in 1967. In 1948 when Jordan captured the old, walled city they destroyed 58 synagogues. 58! I somehow don't think Arabs were worshiping in those synagogues. Yep, in 1948 there were still lots of Jews in "Arab East Jerusalem".

As the article correctly points out, Silwan, another eastern Jerusalem neighborhood embroiled in a property dispute, was a haven for Yemeni Jews in the 1800s. These were Jews escaping persecution in the Arab world. Why are changes which are a result of Jordanian occupation just fine while reversing those changes as a result of Israel capturing the eastern part of the city unacceptable? Somehow it's acceptable to ignore the fact that there were Israeli controlled enclaves in "East Jerusalem" between 1948 and 1967 and there never was a clean east/west division of the city.

Certainly the Obama administration is working under false assumptions when it comes to Jerusalem. The President of the United States should know better. Unfortunately, the position of his administration is nothing new. It is a continuation of misguided Bush administration policy. The last President who seemed to understand the history was Bill Clinton. How do those who claim that American Jews or a pro-Israel lobby have some sort of undo influence on U.S. foreign policy explain a decidedly pro-Palestinian position on an issue so critical not only to Israel but to Jewish identity as a whole?

The article assumes, like so many others, that "East Jerusalem" is Arab, period, end of story. To the Washington Post this clearly isn't open to debate. They even have the Office of the President agreeing with this incorrect assertion. History to the contrary is conveniently ignored. This is a sort of pernicious, almost hidden media bias in favor of the Palestinians and against Israel. Since the Washington Post is so well respected their assumptions become the assumptions of many in the American public. After all, who has the authority and credibility to challenge the Washington Post, especially when their misinformation is repeated at the highest levels of government?


REAL American said...

Barack Hussein Obama is an Islamist agent and a well known associate of the PLO. Most people do not know half the truth about him. If they did, our brave men in uniform would remove him from power immediately. Obama is in league with the forces who hate freedom and those forces have an intense hatred for real Americans and Jews.

Caitlyn said...

Thank you for demonstrating the real danger to American freedom. It isn't Islam or even radical Islam. It's home grown right wing extremism. The idea that you would want a military coup in this country to overthrow a democratically elected President illustrates just how insane the far right has become.

If President Obama is an Islamist agent he is doing a miserable job of it. He has increased aid to Israel. Yes, he is ignorant of the history of the Middle East but he is hardly the first President to be. He certainly hasn't materially damaged Israel the way President George H.W. Bush did when he froze loan guarantees over the settlement issue. President George W. Bush made precisely the same errors when it came to Jerusalem.

Ever since an African American was elected President the far right fringe has been in an absolute panic and has tried unsuccessfully to delegitimize President Obama. Sorry, while I may disagree with the President's policy vis a vis Israel I don't believe for one little minute that he is working against American interests. You, on the other hand...