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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"Sometimes people need to move"

The title of this post is a statement made by US Ambassador to Israel Richard H. Jones yesterday after touring several overcrowded Jerusalem neighborhoods.  I pulled it from a Jerusalem Post article infuriatingly entitled, "US concerned over building in Jerusalem".

Although not specifically stated in the article, such a tour should have caused any reasonably intelligent observer to reach the conclusion that 'natural growth' in and around Israel's capitol city is an internal issue and not something open to international debate.  Yet the conclusion that the U.S. Ambassador reached was exactly the opposite.  He decided that rather than allow natural urban sprawl, such as surrounds nearly every major city in the world, Israel must instead relocate its growing population to unspecified remote locales.

Well I have a few news flashes for His Excellency, Mr. Jones:

We've done enough moving thankyouverymuch.  We've spent the last two millenia moving from one place to another, all the time trying not to give offense to our hosts and neighbors.  Yet despite being an industrious, peaceful people that has enriched our hosts far beyond all proportion to our modest numbers, we've been systematically victimized, caged, enslaved, slaughtered, disenfranchised, outlawed and expelled more than any single people in recorded history.  And ... though we are (very) occasionally tolerated for short periods of time by progressive people like yourself... these periods of relative quiet are inevitably followed by more victimization. 

Lather rinse repeat.

So guess what... now that we've finally managed to regain sovereignty over the only patch of land to which even your own family Bible gives us undisputed ownership, we're done moving.  Go sell your plan elsewhere.

To the east of us is a spanking new country called Jordan that was created out of whole cloth by the British Mandatory power (at our expense).  Not only is more than three-quarters of that country's population ethnically 'Palestinian', but there are huge, unused tracts of land east of the Jordan river that nobody is even looking at, much less fighting over.  If you feel the burning need to find some suitable contiguous land to offer the poor Palestinians, why not start there?

But wait... I'm not done yet, there's more!

To the west of us is a vast empty chunk of land called the Sinai peninsula that is nominally administered by Egypt, but is for all intents and purposes abandoned.  While the interior of Sinai is largely un-arable desert, the long fertile Mediterranean coastline, up to and including the Gaza strip, is nearly unparalleled in potential to provide a crowded, downtrodden people with a spacious (and contiguous) future paradise.  Why not try that?

Why are you demanding that Israel eviscerate herself to make room in her soft underbelly for a Palestinian state that will have no natural resources, little potential for development and above all, no chance for contiguity (at least so long as Israel remains stubbornly extant)? 

Could it be because you know perfectly well that Jordan and Egypt won't consider having a real or defacto Palestinian terror state stirring up discord and unrest in their midst?  Could it be that it is much easier to bully little Israel into slitting open its belly and allowing an openly antagonistic and parasitic entity to metastasize inside her than to ask Jordan or Egypt to tolerate a restive and radical Palestinian entity on their flank? 

Is Bush's presidential legacy so all-encompassing important to you and the US State Department that you would rather work to establish a rudderless Palestinian terror state that will have one hand on the sword and the other on Israel's Aorta, rather than force the countries who are severally and collectively responsible for causing and perpetuating the 'Palestinian refugee problem' to clean up their own mess?

For you as an American, the idea of moving has positive connotations which are enshrined in the concept of 'Manifest Destiny'.  This concept gave your intrepid (and mobile) fore-bearers the 'right' to all of north America despite the niggling issue of those Mexicans and Native Americans who were inconveniently 'squatting' there between the U.S.'s burgeoning population and the great Pacific Ocean.  Even today, it is considered a foolish American who doesn't flee his neighborhood at the first sign of trouble, or move his/her family across the country at the drop of an opportunity.   

The very fact of your easy mobility seems to be a tremendous source of pride to most Americans, so you can't imagine why these stubborn Jews (or Native Americans, for that matter) would show some small preference for one particular rocky plot of land over another.  'What's the big deal?' you seem to be asking us.  You've likely moved your family a dozen times for diplomatic postings around the world!  So you're probably wondering why it's so hard for these stubborn Israelis to move 15 miles this way or 20 miles that way in the name of peace?'

The answer to that is that we no longer have to.  We are done moving at other people's whims.  Our only reason for existence in this world is the stony soil on which we now stand.  Zionism, a word that is considered to be a curse pretty much everywhere except within our borders, is the simple belief that after two thousand years of exile... after remaining faithful to our dream of one day returning... that this is the only place that is rightfully ours.  The moment we entertain an alternative to our historic homeland our very right to exist becomes open to debate.

It may seem to you that after two thousand years of diligent practice, we Jews are a mobile, malleable entity whose primary skill-set consists of being able to pack a bag quickly and be ready to move on a moment's notice.  But I think you underestimate the strength of our historical connection to this land we were forced to leave at the point of a sword.  I think you have mistaken our stated (and demonstrated) goal to live in peace with our neighbors for a willingness to hand our neighbors the keys to our father's house.

Israel is routinely bludgeoned with a quote from the 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights' that states: "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country".  This simple statement is used by most to champion the 'Palestinian refugees' right of return. 

However nobody, least of all our good friend the United States, seems willing to acknowledge that the provenance of the Jew's right of return to his own country is far older, and better documented, than any other in history.  Our origin in this land is not a matter of faith.  It is indisputably recorded on the very stones beneath our feet... in the Bible that sits on your bookshelf... and even in the Koran!  The Jewish people's right of return to the land of Israel trumps the relatively modern claims made by this so-called Palestinian people that nobody ever heard of before the second half of the 20th century and whose name you will not find carved on a single stone!   

Therefore, Mr. Jones, I must respectfully disagree with you.  Sometimes people don't have to move.  Sometimes we need to stay exactly where we are... in the only place on earth that is rightfully and legally ours.

Posted by David Bogner on March 18, 2008 | Permalink

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Wow. Even better than your usual posts.

Have you sent this (or something similar to it) on to the friendly ambassador?

Methinks this could do with some publishing in a newspaper or three...

Oh, by the way, in case this hasn't been said to you lately, you rock, David. Big time.

Posted by: tnspr569 | Mar 18, 2008 3:21:55 PM

Therefore, Mr. Jones, I must respectfully disagree with you.

The hell with respect, give it to him in a plain and unvarnished truth. They seem to think that there is nothing wrong with administering a prostate exam without the necessary "grease."

Let them "feel" that momentary discomfort.

Posted by: Jack | Mar 18, 2008 4:34:24 PM

Wow! Absolutely brilliant Trep! I second tnspr69's recommendation that you send this to the good Mr. Jones personally. With a copy to the State Department, the White House, the BBC, the NY Times, and even Ynet and Haaretz.

Posted by: annie | Mar 18, 2008 5:54:38 PM

Where can we send this to our idiot gubmint? I want them to be forced to ignore this.

Posted by: Jauhara al Kafirah | Mar 18, 2008 6:08:11 PM

Did you say Manifest Destiny?

Posted by: soccer dad | Mar 18, 2008 6:35:29 PM

"However nobody, least of all our good friend the United States, seems willing to acknowledge that the provenance of the Jew's right of return to his own country is far older, and better documented, than any other in history."

Nobody? Don't paint with a broad brush. There is a large segment of the US population that supports the existence of Israel on religious or idealogical grounds.

Posted by: Karl Newman | Mar 18, 2008 6:35:43 PM

thanks. couldn't have said it better myself. (i know, i know, you're a giver!)

Posted by: nikki | Mar 18, 2008 7:12:33 PM

thanks. couldn't have said it better myself. (i know, i know, you're a giver!)

Posted by: nikki | Mar 18, 2008 7:12:49 PM

I am (surprisingly) in general agreement with you on this one, David. I do think, though that part of the incredible housing pressure in Jerusalem proper (not the outlying areas - Givat Ze'ev, Har Homa, etc.) is a problem of our own making.

We've controlled Jerusalem for nearly 41 years now, and I think some serious mistakes were made in its urban planning. The solution to burgeoning population pressures (both from a high fertility rate and large immigration rate to the city) can't be dealt with on a project-by-project (or even neighborhood-by-neighborhood) basis. The infrastructure of the city is terribly lacking if it truly aspires to be a metropolis, and the government has ignored most of East Jerusalem in its development efforts. If Israel truly wants an eternal, undivided capital, it needs to settle Israelis (not just identity-card carrying Palestinians) in East Jerusalem, fix up the infrastructure there, and create a contiguous region, rather than a festering sore in the middle surrounded by various affluent settlements and suburbs. There have been some small-time (yet admirable) efforts in this area, largely by private enterprise, but the fact of the matter is that Jerusalem is still largely segregated, and the demarcations are very clear - socially, economically, religiously (and not just Jew/Muslim!), etc.

For that matter, while I agree that it's ridiculous to demand that those seeking housing in Jerusalem as part of 'natural growth' (or in the West Bank, for that matter) just move elsewhere, I do think that other portions of the country have been neglected during a single-minded push to develop the center, including Jerusalem. While Jerusalem has some special significance, so does much of the Galil and the northern parts of the Negev. I think that those who are staying in Jerusalem despite mounting housing pressures because of some Zionist ideal of 'we will never leave our land' are ignoring that there are very viable options to concretely advance the Zionist cause elsewhere in the country. We can make the desert bloom, and we can make the beautiful Galil both Israeli and Jewish. I'll be the first to agree that we shouldn't let the world reduce the Jewish state to a few tens of kilometers around Tel Aviv... but given the short-sightedness of the government in providing for a reasonable development plan for Jerusalem (and the current political issues therein), there are other places to stake a valid claim. This is not a value judgment of one over the other, but rather a point that some 'moving' is not in fact bad from an ideological perspective.

Posted by: matlabfreak | Mar 18, 2008 7:38:01 PM

Sometimes people need to move. Other times, they need to arm themselves and kill their enemies.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Mar 18, 2008 8:09:23 PM

The Merkaz Harav Tragedy a week ago ,
Today the stabbed Rabbi at the Old City entrance ,
And now that outrageous dhimmi Jones`s slander.
He got some nerves that redneck !

Your post is right on .

Posted by: Joseph . E- Givatayim-Israel | Mar 18, 2008 9:24:28 PM

Yasher Koach, David. VERY VERY well articulated. And I doubt any of us would disagree with you, here.

Posted by: Helene Rock | Mar 18, 2008 9:31:31 PM

Yasher Koach, David. VERY VERY well articulated. And I doubt any of us would disagree with you, here.

Posted by: Helene Rock | Mar 18, 2008 9:31:35 PM

Brilliant post, David. One of your best.

BTW, I've had several conversations with folks who said variations on the "why can't they just move" theme. I give them an alternative scenario: What if an affluent African-American family moves onto a formerly lily-white block somewhere in suburbia? And what if the neighbors make life, um, incredibly uncomfortable for said African-American family? Why not just ask them to move? It would only make everyone happier, right? "Well, that's different," the folks answer me - but they can never exactly tell me why.

Posted by: psachya | Mar 18, 2008 9:33:29 PM

This one is a keeper.

Posted by: Ari | Mar 18, 2008 9:34:18 PM

Bravo! Extremely well written! Definitely needs to be sent on to the man himself.

Posted by: Hadassah | Mar 18, 2008 10:17:59 PM

Quote - Israel is routinely bludgeoned with a quote from the 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights' that states: "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country". This simple statement is used by most to champion the 'Palestinian refugees' right of return. - End Quote.

Once they have a country, they may return. I advocate Uganda.

Posted by: Back of the Hill | Mar 18, 2008 11:02:27 PM

If the Palestinians reject Uganda, perhaps Alaska.

Posted by: Back of the Hill | Mar 18, 2008 11:06:05 PM

If the Palestinians reject Uganda, perhaps Alaska.

Posted by: Back of the Hill | Mar 18, 2008 11:06:13 PM

Well said, darn it!

Posted by: QuietusLeo | Mar 18, 2008 11:07:28 PM

You go, David!

Posted by: Sarah | Mar 19, 2008 3:51:12 AM

ohpleaseohpleaseohplease tell me the AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL actually said that! I have an open spot right next to my "Let Them Eat Cake" tattoo!

Posted by: Wry Mouth | Mar 19, 2008 4:07:51 AM

And, just so's yah know, there are a whole Bunch of your Gentile, yet not gentle Brethren out here who support you and yours. May G-d Bles Israel and give Her People strength.
Wollf

Posted by: Wollf | Mar 19, 2008 7:51:33 AM

Good piece.

"Could it be because you know perfectly well that Jordan and Egypt won't consider having a real or defacto Palestinian terror state stirring up discord and unrest in their midst?"

I know it's old hat to discuss this, but it grates on my nerves the way Jordan and Egypt are simply exempt from this discussion, and from any serious criticism of their behavior in this, the longest-running human rights crisis on Broadway. Feh.

Posted by: balabusta in blue jeans | Mar 19, 2008 7:32:02 PM

This definitely needs to be sent to the Ambassador, as well as to leaders in every country, newspapers, etc. It is time Israel stood her ground and everyone else backed off. We are Christian Canadians who love Israel, stand with her and her people, and can't wait to return to Israel in May, because to us it also feels like we are "going home". We love you.

Posted by: Walter & Diana Fiege | Mar 21, 2008 9:13:06 PM

I'm sharing this on Twitter. Now, let's see if Type Pad will remember my info...

Posted by: Amanda | Mar 25, 2008 12:54:37 AM

Great piece of writing. As an American I encourage you to stand strong. I agree the land belongs to the Jewish people.After all, G-d Himself said so.

Posted by: brenda erratt | Mar 25, 2008 7:58:38 PM

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