Israeli flag and Temple Mount .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Following last Monday’s announcement by the Czech Education Ministry that it would no longer identify Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in students’ textbooks, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat sent a letter to Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka imploring him to reverse the decision.
The Czech daily newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes reported that textbook publisher Shocart was told by the government to rewrite all its books listing Jerusalem as the capital, or lose certification as a recognized Czech school book.
The ultimatum reportedly came after Palestinian Ambassador to Prague Khlaed Alattrash filed a formal complaint with the government.
Alattrash argued that the maps – which identify Jerusalem as the capital – are not only unacceptable to Palestinians, but do not follow international law or the official position of the European Union.
As a result, Czech Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Irena Valentova told Mlada fronta Dnes
that “the Czech Republic does not consider East Jerusalem a part of the State of Israel.”
“The EU member countries, including the Czech Republic, view Jerusalem as the future capital of both states, i.e. the State of Israel and the future State of Palestine,” Valentova clarified.
Claiming that Shocart’s management described the atlases listing Jerusalem as the capital “a mistake,” the company said it will list Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital by the start of the new year, the paper reported.
Noting Jews’ strong ties to the Czech Republic, Barkat sent an open letter to Sobotka over the weekend calling for an immediate reversal of the politically loaded decision.
“The friendship between our peoples has deep historical roots,” the letter stated. “After Jerusalem’s destruction, Jews made Prague the Jerusalem of Europe – a center of Jewish thought, history, and culture. Prague shaped Jewish life, and Jewish thinkers, writers, and artists shaped Prague.
“When we returned to our homeland, the Czech government supported our fight for independence and Israel’s rebirth. When the Czech people won back their freedom, Israel was among the first countries President Václav Havel visited. Our capitals represent our countries’ strong and steadfast alliance.
Just as Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic, so too is Jerusalem the eternal capital of Israel.”
Moreover, Barkat warned of the far-reaching implications of such a change.
“Future generations of Czech students deserve nothing less than the truth: Jerusalem’s rightful place as the capital of Israel, and the heart and soul of the Jewish people, cannot and should not, be denied,” he wrote.
“I invite you to come to Jerusalem,” Barkat continued. “Walk where kings and prophets walked, and where the State of Israel was reborn after 2,000 years of longing. I am certain that your visit will reaffirm the longstanding friendship between our countries, and ensure that hateful, ignorant voices will never be able to unravel the bonds between the Czech Republic and Jerusalem – the heart and soul of the Jewish people.”