The bottom-line truth is that the decision of the US Supreme Court to uphold official Washington’s pig-headed disconnect between Jerusalem and Israel doesn’t mean diddly-squat. It signifies zilch, zippo, nada, gurnisht, bubkes.
This is quite apart from of the fact that the court technically only dealt with American constitutional hairsplitting on who’s empowered to recognize what abroad. Such pedantry may perturb American jurists but for us Israelis it absolutely doesn’t change a thing.
We simply shouldn’t care if they say we aren’t who we know we are.
What any American higher-up in whatever bureaucracy in whichever branch of government finds it expedient to opine cannot factually alter our identity. It’s as straightforward as that and is in essence what 12-year-old Menachem Zivotofsky understood.
His battle against federal obduracy reached all the way to the highest US court but Menachem lost his appeal to have his American passport register his birth as having occurred in Israel rather than in an undefined Jerusalem.
The fussy legalistic quibbling that led to his defeat cannot obviate the fact that, irrespective of what shenanigans the justices subscribe to, Menachem did come into the world in sovereign Israel. The boy isn’t confused: “I am an Israeli and I want people to know that I am glad that I am an Israeli.”
What he said goes for us all. It doesn’t matter if by some screwy foreign diktats Menachem’s birthplace, the Shaare Zedek Medical Center (situated in West Jerusalem, well inside the unaccountably sanctified Green Line) is declared to be in Outer Mongolia. The hospital (whose name ironically translates into Gates of Justice) is still in Israel and always was.
It isn’t even in remotely disputed territory, wasn’t wrested from anyone and never belonged to another state or entity. Nothing anyone overseas says to the contrary will affect reality as it is here. Finicky interpretive nitpicking in Washington doesn’t impact facts on the ground in faraway Jerusalem.
The White House and its Department of State keep on pretending – against the elementary laws of physics – that time stood still in November 1947.
It’s no jest: by Washington’s arcane logic, all clocks came to a halt 68.5 years ago and there has been no movement since. All tribulations and transformations in the ensuing decades are figments of our willful Israeli imagination. Ongoing Israeli waywardness rankles the DoS‘s diplomatic wizards and earns Israel no brownie points in Obama’s halls of omniscient power.
It is utterly misleading to imply, as some of Israel’s left-leaning commentators did with undisguised relish, that the key date here is 1967 and that the Supreme Court’s ruling was inspired by Administration annoyance with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
According to our voluble talking heads, this is yet another comeuppance resulting from Netanyahu’s perceived intransigence about territories Israel won in 1967. Hence the jubilation with which the news of Menachem’s defeat were imparted to the fretful nation.
Not unexpectedly, the Palestinian Authority gloatingly chimed in with Israel’s homegrown Left and crowed that the US Supreme Court did nothing less than send a message to the Jewish state that “Jerusalem is occupied territory.”
So what if the American court never considered the actual conflict and only gave Obama carte blanche to make whatever call he deems fit? Since when did a few key facts interfere with brazen mega-distortions?
But the Ramallah spin is telling just the same. As soon as Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies classified West Jerusalem – inside the Green Line where Shaare Zedek resides – as occupied territory, they gave the lie big-time to their two-state malarkey.
If there was a scintilla of sincerity in their contentions that all they want is a return to the June 4, 1967 lines, they wouldn’t characterize West Jerusalem as occupied.
If they genuinely only hankered after a re-division of the city, they wouldn’t lay claim to the other side.
If they earnestly only desire compromise, they wouldn’t begrudge Israel sections of Jerusalem that were always indisputably Jewish.
Had a trace of honesty invaded Arab rhetoric, Abbas and his crew would admit that the relevant date is November 29, 1947 when all Arabs spitefully spurned the UN Partition Resolution. It’s high time Abbas admits that it was Arab military contravention of that resolution which split Jerusalem – a city that has had a solid Jewish majority since the first census was taken there in the early 19th century, well before the advent of modern political Zionism.
Thumbing their noses at the 1947 UN Resolution, the Arabs assailed day-old Israel, violently expelled the Jews of the eastern half of Jerusalem and attempted to take all of it by starving out the Western neighborhoods. But all that occurred after the timepieces of US diplomacy opportunely ceased ticking, which is why official America takes no cognizance of post-1947 upheavals.
The first diplomatic showdown over Jerusalem took place in the UN’s arena a mere two years after the onset of the great American time-freeze. Israel’s legendary first premier, David Ben-Gurion, refused to kowtow to the bizarre decree that the hands of the clock be moved back to 1947 and that the UN Partition Resolution be imposed on Jerusalem after the Arabs had violated it. That resolution earmarked a status of corpus separatum (separate entity) for Jerusalem, to be overseen by international administrators.
Since the Arabs had already belligerently scuttled the Partition Resolution, besieged Jerusalem, conquered and occupied its eastern parts, forced out all Jews from the Old City and demolished sacred Jewish sites, Ben-Gurion saw no logic in unilateral Israeli adherence to impotent UN proclamations.
On December 5, 1949, five days before the UN General Assembly was to reiterate the internationalization of Jerusalem (and kick off preparations to take control), Ben-Gurion defiantly declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Without trepidation he told the Knesset: “We consider it inconceivable that the UN would attempt to sever Jerusalem from the State of Israel or infringe upon Israel’s sovereignty in its eternal capital… Jewish Jerusalem will never accept alien rule after thousands of its youths liberated their historic homeland for the third time, redeeming Jerusalem from destruction and vandalism.
“We do not judge the UN, which did nothing when member-nations of the UN declared war on its resolution of 29 November 1947, trying to prevent the establishment of Israel by force, to annihilate the Jewish population in the Holy Land and to destroy Jerusalem, the holiest city of the Jewish people.
“Had we not been able to withstand the aggressors who rebelled against the UN, Jewish Jerusalem would have been wiped off the face of the earth, the Jewish population would have been eradicated and the State of Israel would not have arisen. Thus, we are no longer morally bound by the UN resolution of November 29, since the UN was unable to implement it.
“…The attempt to sever Jewish Jerusalem from the State of Israel will not advance the cause of peace in the Mideast or in Jerusalem itself. Israelis will give their lives to hold onto Jerusalem, just as the British would for London, the Russians for Moscow and the Americans for Washington.”
These words should reverberate in American ears even now – although the UN was impervious to them. On December 10, 1949, its General Assembly voted by a whopping majority (38–14, with 7 abstentions) to uphold its 1947 resolution and place Jerusalem under the auspices of a UN Trusteeship Council, to be governed by the Council’s own appointees.
On that occasion the US opposed the resolution but only because it was considered unworkable. Nonetheless, the State Department’s overriding organizational spirit and predisposition didn’t dovetail with America’s pragmatic vote. The DoS balked at recognizing Israeli rights to any part of Jerusalem.
That same contrariness prevails to this day. America’s de facto policy is to confine the hands of the clock to 1947.
But that’s only vis-à-vis Israel which aroused ill-will in Washington even in its infancy – just after having repelled a concerted genocidal attack. It was as if the Jewish state’s survival disappointed DoS experts who avidly predicted its demise. All that while, Washington brought no pressure to bear on synthetic Transjordan (now synthetic Jordan) whose Arab Legion had illegally occupied half of Jerusalem. That illegality (which lasted 19 years) has since been pronounced an Arab birthright from time immemorial.
Fledgling Israel found itself pitted against immense odds but, despite them, Ben-Gurion didn’t bow to pressure – American or otherwise. He mounted the Knesset rostrum yet again on December 13 to repeat what he had enunciated a few days earlier: “We cannot assist in the forcible separation of Jerusalem, which would unnecessarily and unjustifiably violate the historical and natural rights of the Jewish people.”
He assertively stressed that “the State of Israel has had, and will always have, only one capital—eternal Jerusalem. This was so three thousand years ago and so it will be, we believe, to the end of time.” Ben-Gurion then put to the plenum’s vote his proposal to transfer the Knesset and the government from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It was approved.
Washington, however, sternly disapproved and still disapproves. Although the General Assembly’s resolution was ignobly consigned to history’s rubbish bin, the US Embassy never budged from Tel Aviv.
Israel was incalculably weaker when it dared to stand up against sinister designs to install foreign overlords in Jerusalem. There literally wasn’t enough food to feed the population. We clearly and painfully weren’t the world’s darlings even when we fought for our very lives merely three years post-Holocaust.
During their entire long UN-flouting invasion of newborn Israel, the Arabs were actively aided and abetted by the Brits. The UN, which didn’t impede the Arab assault, found nothing better to do than send observers to keep tabs on “illegal” Israeli moves. The Americans chillingly slapped an arms embargo on the terrifyingly endangered Jewish state.
Yet embattled little Israel didn’t cower.
This is something for today’s successful and incomparably stronger Israel to remember. Current alarms are being raised by obsessive Osloites with political axes to grind, who anyhow serially advocate Israeli retreats under all circumstances and for any pretexts.
If our knees don’t buckle, we won’t fall and won’t be swept away. If we survived the massive multinational onslaught on our bond to Jerusalem in our most vulnerable days, we can certainly survive the US Supreme Court’s sustenance for the stupidity of American statecraft.