Look forward, not backward
Last week’s editorial on Jerusalem, “Too High a Price,” regretfully looked backward rather than forward.
No one who supports the two-state solution envisions a divided city with checkpoints, gates or walls. Jews will never again be denied access to the Jewish Quarter, the Western Wall or to Mt. Scopus; 1967 settled that.
But Jerusalem today is a divided city. Two communities separated by language, religions, historical consciousness and world outlook live in the city and each one venerates its sanctity and loves its unique aura. Both communities place this city at the center of its respective national narrative and cannot imagine any other location as the capital of its national home. In fact, as we know, the non-recognition of that reality has rankled Jews for more than 60 years.
A viable Palestinian state living peacefully alongside of Israel will require a Palestinian citizenry that will be eager to build its homeland and will seek to make it a viable state to which all Palestinians can look to with pride. Without Jerusalem as its capital, such a state will never exist.
So, I encourage you to write editorials that look forward and challenge politicians and diplomats to think creatively and act responsibly in order to make the City of Peace a true capital city for both Jews and Arabs. Jerusalem should become more than a symbol, it must become that reality which demonstrates the possibility of mutual tolerance and co-existence.
(The author is the director of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh.)
Many thanks to Toby Tabachnick for the excellent interview and article about me and my composition “All the Walls” and my opera, ‘Deuteronomy III.’
Let me make one correction and then an addition that was part of the interview but did not come out in the print.
King Josiah lived in the seventh century, 649-609 B.C.E.
As in the world of Judaism, lineage is an important factor in the world of the arts. I would like the readers of the The Jewish Chronicle to know something about my professor and the lineage of which I am now a part. I am a student of Leonardo Balada, a world-renowned composer who studied under Vincent Persichetti and Aaron Copland. Balada has premiered five international operas, hence my reason for coming to CMU. In Pittsburgh, he is known for his Steel Symphony, which was commissioned by the United Steelworkers Union and performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
It appears the Chronicle has taken a 90-degree turn to the left. It has done so by bringing in a commentator whose only position is severe criticism of Israel. It has also given page space and platform to a supposedly Jewish political action committee, namely J Street.
In the March 4 Chronicle, Joel Rubin wrote an opinion column titled “The American national security case for forging Middle East peace.” Forging is a code word for forcing. Mr. Rubin seems to forget that Israel is a sovereign state, not a vassal of the United States. His opening paragraph mentions the U.S involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and closes the same opening paragraph with talk of the poor American-Muslim relations of the past decade.
What does this have to do with Israel and the Palestinian peace process? The inability of President Obama to implement his vision of Middle East peace is not the fault of Jewish/American/Israeli groups, but is rather the effect those groups standing up for what is best for Israel.
Let’s not forget that 73 percent of the Jewish vote was for President Obama. For Mr. Rubin to imply that President Obama’s failures are the fault of the pro-Israel groups and individuals is stunningly insensitive to the realities of the situation, and ultimately damaging to Israeli concerns and to the image of Jews.
Israel is truly in a fight for its survival. Ultimately, the policies of Israel have to be based on what is best for Israel, not what serves President Obama and his foreign policy goals.
This is difficult for me, as a survivor of Bergen-Belsen. To witness the erosion of the love of Israel by some Jews in America and around the world, I can only recount Lamentations 1:16: “For these things I weep; mine eyes, mine eyes runneth down with water.”