Making the old city young again

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Press Release by Jerusalem Chai on Current Situation in Jerusalem

April 15, 2010

The American Friends of Ateret Cohanim/Jerusalem Chai organization has expressed its “great disappointment and sadness” at the U.S. government’s recent harsh verbal attacks against its closest Middle East ally, the democratic State of Israel. For more than 30 years Ateret Cohanim has encouraged and supported the establishment of  educational institutions including yeshivas, nursery schools, day care centers and playgrounds throughout the Old City of Jerusalem. It is one of the leading groups that supports the right of Jews to freely live in all parts of their Holy City and urges Arabs and Jews to live harmoniously together.

Targeting the legitimate construction of homes in portions of Jerusalem, from which the Jewish majority was forcibly evicted by Jordan in 1947 but liberated during the Six Day War, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shockingly lashed out at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with unprecedented rhetoric and demands. Allegedly, the current crisis was prompted during Vice-President Biden’s visit to Israel, when a lower echelon Israeli official announced plans to expand the northeastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo two years from now.

Prime Minister Netanyahu promptly apologized for the poor timing of the announcement which, incidentally, did not violate the 10 month moratorium on new housing construction. Ramat Shlomo, a Chareidi neighborhood in the northeastern part of Jerusalem, has approximately 18,000 residents. Once just a forested area, it is now a beautiful, built-up area near that, until the current “brooha over nothing”, has never been questioned by anyone including the Palestinian Authority. 
“The astonishing disrespect  showed to Israel, particularly by Secretary Clinton,” said Jerusalem Chai Executive Vice-President, Shani Hikind, “has infuriated many U.S. Senators and Congressmen, not to speak of the American public at large.


“Indeed, we and they are extremely dismayed,” Hikind declared, “that, in the quest for peace – however sincere that may be -  the leadership of our great nation is quick to cast aside its long-time friendship with Israel. The administration has  disregarded the sovereignty of a fellow democracy; it has ignored the intransigence of the Arabs and their open expressions that nothing less than the total destruction of Israel  will suffice for them. When the Palestinian Authority urges the banning of Jews from their own City of Jerusalem and the U.S. administration concurs in such discriminatory practices, all Americans should consider that to be a personal affront to their own beliefs of fairness and equality”.
It seems quite clear that in dealing with the State of Israel, the White House is practicing a “double standard” – something this country has always deplored.  While seemingly upset over legitimate housing plans, the administration remains surprisingly silent about the Palestinians’ failure to recognize Israel. It ignores recent terrorist attacks on innocent civilians and the rioting by Arabs a few days ago, obviously emboldened by the administration’s scolding .  When America flexes its muscles at its friend, the State of Israel, but continues to meekly wag a finger at Iran, we become the laughing stock of the Moslem world.


And instead of praising the allotment of huge sums for the renovation of national heritage sites including the Tomb of Rachel and Hebron’s Cave of  Machpelah (where both Moslems and Jews pray), the U.S. castigates Israel for its “provocations”.  Sadly, when Palestinian TV incites Arab children to hatred of Jews and Israelis and encourages terrorism through its use of offensive cartoons with fuzzy bunny rabbits, no one in the western world considers that to be “provocative”. 
Something is amiss here.


With the greatest respect for our President,  Barack Obama, the American Friends of Ateret Cohanim/ Jerusalem Chai urges Mr. Obama and his administration not to allow America’s friendship with Israel to falter;  nor should our country embark on a path of appeasement that only encourages the Palestinians and other Islamic nations to  believe that terrorism, or the mere threat of same, succeeds.

Surrendering to the arbitrary and baseless demands of undemocratic and tyrannical regimes at Israel’s expense is merely the selling of the American soul to those who mock us.  Only if America stands tall and proud and courageously adheres to the biblical principles of truth, integrity and justice upon which it was founded will true peace be achieved.

D Bernard Hoening