By Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn
Religious Zionists of America
Different folks have different ways of commemorating Israel’s liberation of Jerusalem during the 1967 War from Jordan’s illegal occupation.
Jews in Israel put on festive events and parades. Jews in the Diaspora hold special study days and recite prayers for the safety of Israel’s capital. And Palestinian Arabs mark Jerusalem Day by trying to kill Jews in Jerusalem.
In one part of Jerusalem last Wednesday, Palestinian rock-throwers ambushed a city bus, injuring nine passengers. Near the Old City’s Damascus Gate, other Palestinians hurled rocks at Israeli police officers. And on the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, Palestinians threw rocks at a group of Jewish visitors.
The nine wounded bus passengers will quickly be forgotten. Their names, and the nature of their injuries, are not even publicly known. Was a woman returning from the market struck in the eye by a rock, or by the flying glass, leaving her blind? Was a little boy on his way to school hit in the face, leaving him with a permanent, disfiguring scar?
White House spokesman Jay Carney didn’t mention the Jerusalem rock attacks at his daily press briefing the next day. Neither did State Department spokesperson Jan Psaki, at her daily briefing for the Washington press corps. The New York Times did not report it. Neither did the Washington Post.
Of course when some Israeli soldiers, firing in self-defense, shot several Palestinian rock-throwers the previous week, it was big news and Ms. Psaki loudly demanded an international investigation.
Let’s be clear. Rock-throwing is not “non-violent resistance,” as New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has absurdly claimed. It is attempted murder. Residents of the Middle East, where stoning has been a mode of execution since time immemorial, understand this. In fact, so does the American legal system. Recall the case of three drunken teenagers who threw rocks at cars on the Capital Beltway in Washington, DC, in 1990. Thirty drivers or passengers were wounded, including a girl who suffered irreversible brain damage. The attackers were convicted of “assault with intent to murder” and were each sentenced to 40 years in prison.
In fact, an editorial in the Washington Post at the time correctly asked, “What’s the difference between assault with a deadly weapon—a shooting—and assault with rocks that hit cars at potentially lethal speeds?” One wonders why the Post kept silent over the comparable attack on the Jerusalem bus.
It’s not that the Obama administration is exactly uninterested in Jerusalem. It is, in fact, very interested. For example, it has devoted significant legal resources to trying to nullify congressional legislation that would allow Americans born in Jerusalem to list “Jerusalem, Israel” on their birth certificates and passports.
More recently, the administration focused on Jerusalem in trying to blame Israel for the breakdown of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Secretary of State John Kerry says that the talks “went poof” when Israel announced plans for the future construction of some apartments in Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood.
Note that the housing announcement was simply a routine, legally required notice permitting construction companies to bid for contracts to build some apartments that will be occupied only years from now.
And note that the apartments are to be built in Gilo, a major neighborhood of Jerusalem. Gilo is not some remote frontier outpost populated by wooly-haired, gun-slinging mountaineers. Physically inseparable from the rest of Jerusalem, Gilo is a huge neighborhood of high-rise apartment buildings, modern shopping centers, and 35 synagogues. It has a home for handicapped adults, a hostel for autistic young adults, and a community center that boasts—environmentalists, take note!—a hybrid water-heating system that minimizes pollution and energy usage. More than 40,000 Israelis live in Gilo—as many as in Tiberias or Afula, more than in Kiryat Yam or Dimona.
Gilo was not created by some extreme right-wing Israeli government as part of a secret plot to promote “Greater Israel.” It was established way back in 1973, by the Labor Party government of Prime Minister Golda Meir. Every Israeli government since then, regardless of its political orientation, has continued developing Gilo.
Like other Israeli cities, Gilo has ancient Jewish roots. It’s mentioned in the Book of Joshua and the Book of Samuel. It’s no coincidence that archaeologists digging in Gilo have discovered buildings, graves, and agricultural tools from both the First Temple period and the Second Temple period. During the 1930s, Zionist pioneers purchased the land where Gilo is situated. Their rights were not canceled just because Arab armies occupied the area during the 1950s and 1960s.
Neither the would-be murderers who attacked Jews throughout Jerusalem nor Secretary Kerry’s blame-Israel tactics can spoil the miracle that is Jerusalem Day. The capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years, the capital of the modern State of Israel for 66 years, and the reunited capital of the Jewish state for 47 years, Jerusalem will withstand the slings and arrows—literal and figurative—of foes and misguided friends alike, and remain, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu termed it, the heart and soul of the Jewish People. v