Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Jerusalem Day 2013

This just in from the Jewish National Fund. My notes are in italics. 

Today we celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem, a monumental day in Jewish history. It was 46 years ago that the Jewish people regained sovereignty over their spiritual capital for the first time in 2,000 years.
It is true that June 1967, the Six Day War, was a monumental day in Jewish history. But Jerusalem, more precisely: West Jerusalem, was already the internationally (though not universally) recognized capital of Israel. Only after Israel conquered East Jerusalem by force and annexed the city, extending Israeli civilian jurisdiction to a dramatically enlarged municipal area called "Jerusalem", only then did many countries decide to move their embassies back to Tel Aviv. -- What does it mean to have sovereignty over a "spiritual capital"? Isn't that a contradiction in terms? A forcing of end-times?

Yet the United States, as an ally nation, has not yet embraced Jerusalem with the same enthusiasm as the Jewish nation. As a friend to the only democratic nation in the Middle East, should we not show our support by recognizing the same capital as they do?
Good for the US and others who have resisted the false rhetoric of unification. As Bernard Wasserstein shows in his excellent book Divided Jerusalem, Jerusalem is anything but united. It is a highly segregated city of Israelis and Palestinians, and also includes a significant expatriate community with a strong and long-standing interest in the sacred places in and around the Old City. 
Jerusalem is the lifeblood of the Jewish people and the heart and soul of our nation.

Sentimental nonsense. Our collective soul is damaged by chauvinism and the oppression of others. 

[Addendum: My calling of "Jerusalem is the lifeblood" etc "(s)entimental nonsense" has clearly shocked some readers, as this entire piece seems to have enraged someone enough to call me a 'hater of Israel.' -- So let me clarify: We need to distinguish between Jerusalem shel ma'lah and Jerusalem shel mata, the upper and the lower, the spiritual and the mundane. Our attachment to the lower mundane city must not come at the expense of our spiritual attachment to the upper city. But to be attached to the upper city means that we must heed the warnings of the prophets and sages of Israel. To imbue the mundane struggle for dominance and sovereignty with supreme spiritual importance exploits our genuine attachment to the heavenly city and radicalizes us. It has the potential of rendering us odious to the rest of the world. This is not the Judaism to which I subscribe.]

This Jerusalem Day is the perfect time to show Israel our support and send a message to the world that the United States is, and will continue to be, the greatest ally that Israel has in this world.

I support Israel. It is an amazing place with an amazing history and an interesting culture. As a Jew I am grateful that the US and other states support Israel. I am also grateful when supporters of Israel, Jews and non-Jews, can distinguish between supporting Israel and supporting every policy of the Israeli government. As a friend of Israel and someone who loves Jerusalem, I would like to see Jerusalem's holy basin internationalized and not run aground by Israeli chauvinists or national-religious radicals. The Arabs are people, too. They have rights and interests. Jerusalem's holy places should not be exploited for political purposes. The future of Jerusalem needs to be negotiated and settled between Israelis, Palestinians, and the wider world, which also has a stake in Jerusalem. It is not just a Jewish holy city, it is also a Christian holy city, let alone a Muslim holy city. We need mutual respect, not infinite feeding of the self-assertion of just one party in this cluster of communities.  
Send this message to President Obama urging him to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel today. Be sure to share this message with your friends, family members, and social circles to help us reach as wide an audience as possible.

Don't send this message.

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