Kotel.jpg
William Henry Bartlett (1809-1854) – “Jews’ Place of Wailing.”

One of the key weapons used by Jews who advocate for the Palestinians, almost always by advocating against Israel, is that they blur the line of what constitutes “Pro-Israel.”

The argument usually goes something like this: “Of course we are pro-Israel, we are seeking to find a peaceful resolution for Israel that allows it to live securely without an occupation.” So far, it sounds good and when they pull out the “We want Israel to abide by international law and maintain human rights,” who can argue with that?

Then they advocate harshly against Israel and its society. Typically the criticism is bitter and harsh, unfair and without a reasonable context. The people who do this often align themselves with groups that are clearly anti-Israel and in some cases actually anti-Semitic. The language used is one that attacks Israel in a manner reserved for some of the world’s worst human rights offenders, which Israel isn’t (though many of the countries and origins of the groups attacking it are). The tactics used are often dishonest and hypocritical.

William Gale The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem - 1863

However, these groups and individuals maintain that they are “pro-Israel” and “pro-peace.” They do this even though many of them side with the Palestinian refusal to negotiate or come to a deal with Israel on the basis of the very solid peace offers Israel has made to them.

This week, however, the Palestinian Authority, which is the government of the Palestinians, has made public a research paper claiming that the Jewish people have no religious connection to the Kotel, the Western Wall.

Needless to say, that’s ludicrous.

However, it is the official position of the Palestinians. We don’t even need to bring Hamas in Gaza into the equation because their Charter has them rejecting all Jewish claims or historical link to Israel anyway. In other words, both Palestinian governments, representing the two key political Palestinian movements in Palestinian society and which have the support of the Palestinian people who voted for these parties in previously held elections that were ratified by Jimmy Carter, reject any Jewish connection or rights to the Western Wall.

My feeling is that every Jewish advocate for the Palestinians or Jewish advocates for a peace deal that is driven by Palestinian goals needs to do some serious soul searching. After all, the link to Jerusalem and the Temple goes back to the First Temple and Babylonian exile. The Second Temple goes back to Persian and Hellenist eras. Throughout, there was a Judean presence and a capital in Jerusalem. That is what our sources say. This is what external sources say.

We have Assyrian tablets and the Siloam Inscription proving millenia-old Jewish ties to Jerusalem, and we also have Roman and Greek historians verifying the existence of the Temple in Jerusalem, not to mention its importance. We find the same in the Dead Sea Scrolls and subsequently in the mishnah. Visit the Israel Museum and you will see ample evidence of the connection of Jews to the Temple, such as the “Trumpeting Place” stone from the Temple’s exterior wall where the priest would call the Israelites to pray on Fridays.

It is a fact also that Jewish tradition and faith over the past couple of millenia establish the location of the Temple at the Temple Mount and the Kotel as the outside wall of the barrier surrounding the Temple. This place has been, for as long as the Temple has been destroyed, the only physical location where Jews can connect to the holiest site in Judaism. When Judah HaLevy came to Israel in the 1100s, it was the Kotel to which he went to pray. How could he not? It was the heart of Zion and the Jewish people’s collective dream of return to their historic homeland.

None of this is disputable. It is history. It is also in our sources.

There is only one action open to pro-Palestinian Jewish advocates and that is to publicly, loudly and vociferously repudiate this Palestinian attack on Jewish history and Jewish rights in the Land of Israel.

Otherwise, call yourselves whatever you want and feel free to throw in all the key words you like such as “peace,” “human rights,” “apartheid” or whatever. But don’t call yourselves “pro-Israel” and stop lying about your support for the state called Israel which was founded because of a movement named for Zion. Har Zion. Jerusalem. And at its heart the Temple Mount.

If on this occasion you cannot come out and loudly criticize the Palestinian people for their absolute disrespect for Jewish history, Jewish faith and the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, just admit what you are: anti-Israel. You also put politics above integrity and reason.

And yes, J Street, Jewish Voice for Peace, Peace Now, Gush Shalom and similar groups and their advocates, I’m talking to you.

Illustrated London News - 1906 Wailing Wall

About the author

themiddle

12 Comments

  • Thank you, themiddle. The constant attack on Jewish claim to historic significance in Israel is not an attempt at peace, it’s justification for an inevitable future action to remove Jews from Zion. Anyone who doesn’t see the strategy here is either lying and complicit or incredibly shortsighted.

  • The Palis have been declared the Official Poor Dears of this conflict. For PC leftie Jews, this means that NO moral yardstick applies to their actions or pronouncements. Once you’re declared The Official Victim – your actions are always someone else’s fault.

    So: don’t hold your breath waiting for Jewish lefties to condemn – or even notice – these latest pronouncements.

    If you ask them about these – or other – whoppers of racist Pali revisionism, expect them to negate objective reality with the standard talk of “narratives”, and loop back to the fixed set-piece of Oppressor and Oppressed.

    As an Israeli who does hasbara (PR) work, I find that asking questions that imply a moral yardstick for Pali behavior quickly exposes people who are beyond rational discussion.

    “What tactics can the Palis use to further their just cause? We are now 20 years into an internationally sponsored peace process – and Israel has withdrawn from territory. Doesn’t this influence what Palis can do to further their cause? Can they still use violence even though Israel is willing to negotiate? Can they target Israeli civilians?”

    Questions like these quickly identify those so invested in PC leftie ideology that factual argument does not reach them. The very idea that Palis are adults responsible for their choices is astounding to them.

  • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    November 27, 2010

    CONTACT: Amy Spitalnick
    516.521.0128 (c)
    amy@jstreet.org

    J Street Condemns PA Official’s Denial of Jewish Connection to Western Wall

    J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami released the following statement in response to an online paper by a Palestinian Authority official that denies any Jewish connection to the Western Wall:

    J Street condemns this week’s denial by an official of the Palestinian Authority of any Jewish connection to the Western Wall. This blatant disregard of historical fact and disrespect for Judaism’s connection to its holiest of places is both disappointing and extremely unhelpful as the United States attempts to break the stagnation and resume direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.

    We call on President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad to remove this offensive paper from the Palestinian Authority’s website and to reiterate their prior acknowledgement of the long Jewish history of connection to Jerusalem and to the land of Israel.

    The U.S. must hold both sides accountable for counterproductive actions. Such issues must not become excuses that prevent an urgent push towards a two-state solution.

    We reiterate our belief that a two-state solution will involve both Israelis and Palestinians having their capital in Jerusalem under final status terms negotiated and resolved between the parties. This includes a negotiated resolution to the difficult issues surrounding sovereignty and administration of the Old City and the historic sites in the immediate vicinity that guarantees Jewish people freedom of access and worship at the Western Wall, and freedom of access and worship for all peoples to their respective holy sites.

  • It only took a week, but J Street did it. Good for them.

    Uh, except for one small problem.

    Well, two actually.

    The first is this incredible statement:

    “The U.S. must hold both sides accountable for counterproductive actions. Such issues must not become excuses that prevent an urgent push towards a two-state solution.”

    So in a press release denouncing the Palestinians for denying thousands of years of recorded Jewish history, J Street actually seeks to claim that there is a parallel in Israeli actions. Are you kidding? That paragraph should read “The US must hold the Palestinians accountable for such outrageous and counterproductive actions that undermine the very foundations of any prospective peace agreement.” I mean, come on!

    Thanks for encouraging the US, Israel’s only superpower ally, to punish Israel. It’s not enough that the Palestinians have the majority of the rest of the world firmly behind them, but J Street would like Israel to have a less committed defender in America. Brilliant tactic in support of Israel, guys!

    The second problem to your late condemnation of Palestinian denial of Jewish history is this:

    “This includes a negotiated resolution to the difficult issues surrounding sovereignty and administration of the Old City and the historic sites in the immediate vicinity that guarantees Jewish people freedom of access and worship at the Western Wall, and freedom of access and worship for all peoples to their respective holy sites.”

    There already is freedom of access and worship for all people (except when there are fears of pending violence at the Al Aqsa mosque after the Friday sermon) of all faiths in their respective holy sites under the current rule over the area by Israel. There is absolutely no excuse for support of any form of deal that will provide others with the possibility of negating Jewish access to their sites. Shouldn’t your position be that Palestinian assertions about the absence of a Jewish connection to Jewish holy sites are of grave concern primarily for this reason and these assertions and must not be permitted to be the basis of any deal?

    But yeah, way to go J Street for telling the Palestinians you condemn them! On this point we agree wholeheartedly.

    (btw, Amy, if you wish to have your name and phone number removed from the comment, please let me know and I will be happy to edit them out. I’m leaving them in because I assume you want them there.)

  • Looks like J Street’s strategy to recover from the recent Soros unpleasantness is to cloak itself in Obama administration policy. Nearly the entire press release could’ve come from Crowley et al.

  • Another way to view this is that Jeremy Ben Ami’s (he heads J Street) multiple visits to the White House either indicate influence on WH policy on Israel or give WH policy cover because at least one well-known Jewish advocacy organization supports WH policy.

  • So in a press release denouncing the Palestinians for denying thousands of years of recorded Jewish history, J Street actually seeks to claim that there is a parallel in Israeli actions.

    themiddle, perhaps it’s my naive optimism acting up again, but I think you’re being a bit harsh here in your response to the J Street press release.

    I can’t speak for J Street’s intentions, but when I first read the language you quote I didn’t interpret it as implying a parallel in the degree of offensiveness of Israeli and Palestinian “counterproductive” actions, but simply calling for criticism of all counterproductive actions on all sides (regardless of the degree of offensiveness). The US has been beating up on Israel a lot lately for things like the failure to extend the settlement construction ban, for example. So I read this language as calling for the US to be MORE fair to Israel–not using extremely offensive Palestinian posturing as an excuse to further attack Israel.

    Also, on the topic of freedom of access to holy sites, again I read what they wrote differently than you appear to have. It seems pretty clear to me that any real final peace deal is likely to require a new arrangement for controlling access to the Holy Basin. This isn’t because the Israelis have unfairly restricted access to Muslim sites, but because it’s far too symbolically important to Muslims that Israelis not unilaterally control access. On top of that, many leftists and other pro-Palestinian voices seem ignorant (some willfully so) of the fact that the kotel lays on the Jordanian side of the Green Line (and that Jews WERE actually denied access from 1948 to 1967). So I think J Street is simply reiterating that Jewish access to the kotel and other holy sites is not negotiable, not criticizing Israel’s handling of the current status quo.

  • TheMicah, I’ve already had my say, so you are certainly welcome to explain your reading of the press release. I’m sure plenty of J Streeters are happy to have you voice this opinion.

  • “If on this occasion you cannot come out and loudly criticize the Palestinian people for their absolute disrespect for Jewish history, Jewish faith..”
    A generalisation, is it not? Is this really to say there are no Palestinians advocating peace and understanding? And before you say absolutely not – what about the kids who attend Seeds for Peace?

    “None of this is disputable. It is history.”
    History as a discipline would cease to exist if there was never cause for dispute.

    “…to publicly, loudly and vociferously repudiate this Palestinian attack on Jewish history and Jewish rights in the Land of Israel.” That Palestinians should accept Jewish land rights will require at least the same in kind: Jewish acceptance of Palestinian land rights. The two are not mutually exclusive, as proven by two-state solution proposals (that fail because neither side is willing to accept the other, and not just because of one side’s unwillingness).

    “We want Israel to abide by international law and maintain human rights,” who can argue with that?”
    Those who, for some reason or another, consider those same basic human rights and international law to be preposterous and not deserving of adherence, despite their formulation by many societies around the globe.

    There are all sorts of legitimate arguments for Jewish people to inhabit (at least parts of) Israel, but the historical claims are almost irrelevant to the discussion. Germany is not, so many years on, fighting for Alsace-Lorraine, nor is Britain fighting for India, nor is Belgium fighting for the Congo. Again, there are other arguments for Israel – mere history is not one of them. Borders and nations change over time and will continue to do so.

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