Supporters of Israel and a united Jerusalem must adopt strategies to ensure that the rusty, failed and dangerous narratives regarding an Arab capital in Jerusalem are not reintroduced.
By Dr. Shmuel Katz and Chaim Silberstein
What does it mean for Israel that the free world has a new leader, Joseph R. Biden, Jr.?
Will it be a third Obama presidency, based on coldness towards Israel, or will Biden choose to forge his own path?
It could very well be the latter, based on the following:
– Broad popular American support for, and President Biden’s personal sympathy towards, Israel;
– The basic logic of strengthening America’s most trusted ally;
– The two countries’ mutual desire to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons;
– The positive international dynamic generated following the Trump Administration’s Middle East initiatives.
Regarding Jerusalem specifically, however, we must still reinforce the importance of having a united Jerusalem under Israeli control. We understand that the new administration will be under tremendous pressures, both from within and without, to take steps liable to compromise the future of united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.
One positive stabilizing sign is the fact that both President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken have already committed not to roll back the reality of the US Embassy in Jerusalem and the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Yet, they both also expressed continued commitment to the ‘two-state solution,’ while recognizing that it will not quickly return to the negotiating table. Blinken added that he will wish to ensure that neither party “takes steps that make the already difficult process even more challenging.”
We must make every effort to be more creative in planning for the future and avoiding the repetition of mistakes. In plain terms this means the following:
– Refrain from freezing construction and plans in Jewish neighborhoods in the eastern part of the Holy City of Jerusalem. – This is especially significant due to the fact that nearly half of Jerusalem’s 570,000 Jews live in those neighborhoods. Note that under Obama, most building was frozen for over 6 years but it did not bring the parties closer to any peaceful resolution.
– Israeli enforcement of the rule of law should continue to address all necessary issues, including illegal building, tax collection, municipal fees, and crime fighting – This will strengthen Israeli sovereignty over eastern Jerusalem and the peaceful coexistence between all the citizens, should they be Jews, Muslims or Christians.
– A stable Israeli government will prevent emboldening Palestinian terrorism and civil unrest due to the eventual expected ‘liberation’ from Israel.
Any peaceful resolution of the conflict will need to have the agreement of both parties and a commitment to stop incitement and dismantle all terror infrastructures and activities. There are multiple ideas addressing the eventuality of a peaceful resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which include also the option of a two-state solution. Even if considering the option of implementing a two-state solution it should not include the disastrous division of Jerusalem into two capitals due to multiple, historical, religious, social, safety and practical reasons.
Supporters of Israel and a united Jerusalem must adopt strategies to positively impact and inform all their contacts, to ensure that the rusty, failed and dangerous narratives regarding an Arab capital in Jerusalem are not reintroduced.
Keeping Jerusalem United and Secure
The following are some important points that you can use to improve, educate and advocate for keeping Jerusalem united and secure. The goal is to share the facts with the American public and others who are wise enough to form an opinion and with legislators on both sides of the Congressional aisle and in their own states.
Among the negatives of dividing Jerusalem are:
– Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish People for over 3,000 years – and never of any Arab or other entity. The only period of time when Jews did not live in Jerusalem was the 19 years of Jordan’s illegal occupation of the city between 1948 and 1967. During that period of time the Jewish quarter was destroyed, including multiple historical synagogues, and the Jews were not allowed to visit their holiest sites for even a short prayer.
– Placing major parts of the holy city under Arab sovereignty is a high-risk security danger to residents and visitors. Prior to 1967, Arab snipers targeted Jewish pedestrians and residences, and areas near the partition were danger zones. Today, Hamas and Fatah terrorists would have little trouble repeating this scenario – but much more intensely.
– Social and security unrest would cause large numbers of residents to leave Jerusalem permanently , thus weakening the capital city and the morale of the entire country. Tourism would drop drastically, and the city’s economy would cave.
– Urban development and growth would be stifled.
– Almost all of the strategic high ground in the city and its surroundings would be left under Arab control, with severe security risks to all the residents.
A united Jerusalem is a huge asset for all peace-loving citizens should they be Jews, Christians or Muslims, and for the US:
– US support for Israel is motivated both by Judeo-Christian values and America’s own strategic interests:
– A stable and strong Israel has successfully limited the success of radical nationalist movement victories in Lebanon, Jordan, and PLO-controlled areas. In addition, Israel assists America in intelligence gathering, in covert operations, and in many other projects. A weakened Jerusalem significantly weakens Israel and its value to the USA.
– Unfettered unrest and radicalism in a divided Jerusalem would quickly embolden Jihadists to export their ideology to the US and its allies.
The benefits of a united Jerusalem for the Christian world:
– A large portion of the American Christian public feels strongly that Jerusalem must remain under Israeli control and sovereignty. The absolute majority of Christian tourists to Israel visit Jerusalem – safely.
– Pre-1967 Israeli history, and current events around the world, show that Christian holy sites in Muslim-controlled areas do not fare well, and are often destroyed. Only Israel can guarantee that Jerusalem remains an open city, embracing all religions with holy sites freely accessible to all.
Keeping Jerusalem united will benefit the Arab population:
– Most Arabs in Jerusalem do not want to be under Palestinian Authority or Hamas control, under which they would lose their freedom, financial stability, and other Israeli benefits. Surveys of eastern Jerusalem Arabs by international groups continually reflect this fact.
– Dividing Jerusalem would imperil the jobs of over 40,000 eastern Jerusalem Arabs who work in western Jerusalem daily at salary scales often four times higher than in PA-controlled territory.
Hatem Abdel Kader, a former PA Minister for Jerusalem Affairs, has said, “Jerusalem is at the bottom of the [PA’s] list of priorities. The Israelis have a plan and vision for Jerusalem, while the Palestinians have nothing to offer.”
Be Part of the Solution!
Sharing knowledge with all your contacts will help improve the lives of peace-loving citizens of all religious beliefs and backgrounds, in the Middle East and beyond. It will also strengthen the United States’ pro-Israel, pro-Arab and pro USA policies, and will prevent many of the mistakes of the past failed policies.
You and your friends can be a part of the solution! Get informed about the real facts, share them with others, and help make our world a better place to the benefit of all.
Dr. Shmuel Katz is on the board of many pro-Israel organizations. Chaim Silberstein is the Founder of Keep Jerusalem, a private initiative devoted to solving the immensely complex issues facing Jewish Jerusalem.
Sign the Declaration to Keep Jerusalem United
Jerusalem Must Remain the United Capital of Israel
I declare that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish People and support all efforts to maintain and strengthen a united Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel.