Obama’s administration just blasted Israel for the new homes to be built in Gilo, a Jerusalem neighborhood where 40,000 Israelis live. For 19 horrible years, Jordanians and Palestinians controlled the neighborhoods now under Obama’s attack. Jews were summarily expelled. Property was seized. The historic synagogues of the walled enclave were gutted, trashed, some turned into makeshift barns.
Obama’s de-legitimization of Jerusalem’s post-1967 neighborhoods is nothing less than a renewed “Judenrein” (empty of Jews) policy. To decide, as a matter of policy, not to endorse the building of Jewish homes within existing Israeli areas is the abrogation of the right of Jews to live wherever they wish in Israel.
If Israel cannot build in Gilo without US approval, then it cannot build in Neveh Yaakov, Ramot Eshkol, French Hill, Pisgat Ze’ev and East Talpiot. Gilo is also a special symbol of the Israeli resistance during the Second Intifada, when Arab snipers fired at Jews from the village of Beit Jala. Gilo was turned into another Ireland. The Jewish residents began to evacuate. Fear, rage and worry dominated their minds. Belatedly, the Israeli government provided cement barriers and bullet-proof glass to protect the neighborhood’s residents.
Today, Gilo is a strategic neighborhood for the security of the entire State of Israel: Not building there means accepting a Palestinian belt around the capital of Israel, which could be in a state of siege. Gilo was the laboratory where Palestinian terrorists sought to discover whether they could force Jews into abandoning their homes. They failed. Now the US president is reviving this goal by “peaceful” means.
Return to Jewish ghettos?
Obama has also blasted Israel for new homes in Har Homa, another Jewish neighborhood on Jerusalem’s southern flanks, where in 1940 a group of Jews purchased 130 dunams of land. In 1948, the hill was rendered “Judenrein” by the Jordanians (Jews are still not permitted to live in Jordan).
Har Homa is a strategic impediment to Arab attempts to link up northern Bethlehem with Jerusalem. Har Homa is about a kilometer from the Palestinian Authority-controlled town of Bethlehem and the Old City of Jerusalem lies just 5.5 kilometers beyond. No wonder Palestinians are launching an attack on the new apartments.
Yet more surprising is Obama’s attack on any inch of land in Jewish neighborhoods built after 1967. In stark contrast to cities like Belfast, Beirut and Sarajevo, Jerusalem under Israeli control is a model of freedom and guaranteed rights for all.
Moreover, these neighborhoods, which house about one-third of Jerusalem’s population, also serve to protect the city. The neighborhood of Ramot serves as a buffer to the north; Mount Scopus, French Hill, Ramat Eshkol, and Sanhedria protect Jerusalem’s east.
In the 16th century, many Polish towns obtained the so called “privilegia de non tolerandis Judaeis”, cities in which the Jews were forbidden to live. Europe had the Jewish ghettos during the Middle Ages and the “zoning restrictions” for Jews in the Czarist Russia. Now, it’s Obama’s turn.
Giulio Meotti, a journalist with Il Foglio, is the author of the book A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel's Victims of Terrorism
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