Back in 2003 I warned in several columns and editorials that by acquiescing (for seemingly pragmatic reasons) to the delegitimization of settlements we also delegitimize our standing in Jerusalem.
“For much of the world,” I noted in an editorial for Jerusalem Day 2003, “many sections of Jerusalem are settlements – no less than Ariel or Ofra. The neighborhood of Gilo, home to more than 45,000 Jerusalemites, is routinely described abroad as ‘the Gilo settlement.’ This can impact on the continued development of many city quarters. It’s not inconceivable that the Arabs will decry any development as an infringement of strictures set in the ‘Roadmap to Peace’ while the International Quartet, slated to oversee the process, may well agree.”
At the time, I recall, the reaction was that I had “exaggerated wildly” and “stretched things out of all proportion” to make a point that was in itself quite outlandish, if not outright scaremongering. No way would our claim to Gilo ever be compromised and no way would any friendly force ever dare insist we curtail construction in so quintessentially an Israeli neighborhood.
So a short while later, by way of defending my “peculiar predictions,” I
elaborated on them in one of my “Another Tack” columns. “Too many
professed Zionists regard settlers as enemies, frequently heaping more
scorn upon them than on Arab terrorists,” I observed.
“Settlers are often political pariahs, whereas it’s politically
incorrect to refer to any Arabs as enemies. There are only potential
peace-partners on the other side, and they can be placated with the
sacrifice of a few settlements we’ve never been to, inhabited by folks
we don’t wish to associate with.
“And if the small sacrifices won’t do, they’ll be followed by bigger,
more painful concessions… Via a process of rationalization we convince
ourselves that what we cede is ‘undesirable.’ No beyond-the-Green-Line
community is immune. This is why it behooves us to constantly bear in
mind that overseas the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo is called the ‘the
settlement of Gilo.’ “But in Arab parlance Petah Tikva too is a
This point is lost on us. Ideologically fatigued, we shrink from
supporting the settlements, particularly those founded by political
opponents. We refrain from reminding the world that we aren’t like the
greedy French in Africa, the presumptuous Brits in India or even the
expansionist Americans in Texas. We are literally at home, both in terms
of geographical proximity and historical pertinence. Failure to realize
this is tantamount to adopting the Arab view of Jews as foreign
interlopers (which some of our more sensitive leftist souls already
That was eight and a half years ago – almost a decade.
Sadly my premonitions were vindicated.
As Jews around the world ushered in the New Year, German Chancellor
Angela Merkel, of all foreign heads of state, couldn’t contain herself
and phoned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to vent about permits to
construct 1,100 housing units in Gilo because, heaven forfend, Gilo is
beyond that sacrosanct Green Line (and we all know what sticklers for
the rules Germans, alas, are).
This of course leads us to wonder why it was that Germans/ Europeans
kept so strictly silent when seven Arab armies forcefully defied 1947’s
UN Partition Resolution that earmarked Jerusalem as a corpus separatum
(separate entity), to be overseen by international administrators.
Nobody squawked when, in violation of that resolution, Arabs besieged
Jerusalem’s Jewish areas aiming to starve out and evict their
Nobody complained when, in 1948, the Jordanians divided Jerusalem and
occupied its east illegally. They remained for 19 years, destroyed 58
synagogues, sadistically despoiled the ancient incomparable Jewish
veritable pantheon on the Mount of Olives and denied Jews the right to
pray at the Western Wall.
German cool and world composure were immaculately maintained as the
Jordanians erected public urinals at Judaism’s holiest site to
underscore the desecration and disdain. The Germans and the rest of the
righteous international community stayed remarkably mum vis-à-vis the
expulsion of every last member of the ancient Jewish community of
Jerusalem’s Old City, which was rendered perfectly Judenrein (as per the
then-recent German blueprint). Clearly Jews are perceived as portable
and may be uprooted without excessive commotion.
Indeed there was no global outrage until, in 1967’s Six Day War, Israel
undid the Arab illegality (only following extreme belligerent
provocation). Only then did it emerge that the Arabs’ 19-year illegality
was perceived as the legality that must be restored. It still is. Just
ask Ms. Merkel.
Arab conquest and barbarism must be rewarded and recognized by all
decent onlookers as the status quo ante. Thus it’s forbidden to develop
Gilo and avail Jews of housing in a city that was ever only their
capital and theirs alone, in which their history dates back 3,000 years
and where Jews constituted the largest ethnic group as far back as the
first obtainable testimonies and records of the earliest decades of the
19th century (borne out by noted travelers like Richardson, Carne and
The first official census of 1844 showed 7,130 Jews and 5,760 Muslims.
By 1875 the number of Jews exceeded 12,000 and the Muslims increased to
By the 20th century the Jewish majority was incontrovertible – 45,000
Jews and 12,000 Muslims in 1909. On the eve of the 1948 Arab
contravention of the UN Partition Resolution and the Arab Legion’s
illegal occupation of east Jerusalem, the city included some 100,000
Jews and 36,680 Muslims.
But facts won’t interfere with the expedient opinions of Merkel and her
like. Netanyahu, therefore, made a tactical error when he retorted to
Merkel’s meddling by stressing that “Gilo isn’t a settlement.” Thereby
Netanyahu drew distinctions that the morally obtuse world anyhow doesn’t
accept and never did.
As I warned in my aforementioned then-disparaged “peculiar predictions,”
our confidence in any artificial distinctions we make – and
subsequently take for granted – is misplaced. If we renounce the
settlements, we forfeit everything. Hence, Netanyahu merely amplified
yesteryear’s fundamental errors.
He’d have done better to paraphrase and update what David Ben-Gurion
said when in December 1949 the UN reiterated its proclaimed
internationalization of Jerusalem. Ben-Gurion saw no logic in unilateral
Israeli adherence to impotent decrees and defiantly declared Jerusalem
as Israel’s capital, explaining tongue-in-cheek that: “We do not judge
the UN, which did nothing when member-nations of the UN declared war on
its resolution of 29 November 1947, trying to prevent the establishment
of Israel by force, to annihilate the Jewish population in the Holy Land
and to destroy Jerusalem, the holiest city of the Jewish people.
“Had we not been able to withstand the aggressors who rebelled against
the UN, Jewish Jerusalem would have been wiped off the face of the
earth, the Jewish population would have been eradicated and the State of
Israel would not have arisen. Thus, we are no longer morally bound by
the UN resolution of November 29, since the UN was unable to implement
“…The attempt to sever Jerusalem from the State of Israel will not
advance the cause of peace in the Mideast or in Jerusalem itself.
Israelis will give their lives to hold onto Jerusalem, just as the
British would for London, the Russians for Moscow and the Americans for
Washington” – or the Germans for Berlin, as Netanyahu should have added
for Merkel’s benefit.www.sarahhonig.com