The United States Consulate in Jerusalem continues its “separate-and-not-equal” policy. In a previous post last June, I highlighted its promotion of the concept of a “Palestinian heritage” to the possible detriment of Jewish archaeological sites and historical cultural locations. In another post, I also pointed out what I call “State Department diplomatic creationism”. This is exhibited in that the first-choice bureaucratic preference location for American citizens who fill out birth registration forms for their children born outside of Jerusalem and within Judea and Samaria, the place-names, by the way, used in the 1947 UN Partition recommendation to geographically delineate the proposed borders (and see this matter, as well), is something called “The West Bank”. You''ll recall that "Jerusalem" is never linked to Israel by the Consulate. It exists somewhere, all by its own.Alerted, belatedly, by a Facebook announcement, I found out that the Muslim singing group, NativeDeen, has been brought over to perform in Jerusalem, Jordan and…”Palestine.”
To be clear, the details for the Jerusalem gig read:
NATIVE DEEN IN PALESTINEWhen: Monday, February 14th 2011 @ 8:00pm Where: Al Hakawati Theatre in East JerusalemContact: [email protected]
NativeDeen describes itself as an inspiring story of: Three Muslim youth possessing unique talents and a passion to spread the uplifting message of Islam…Native Deen has become a fusion of Hip-hop and R&B flavors...in order to highlight issues confronting Muslims living in America. These three young African-American men who were raised as Muslims...Drawing their own inspiration from the message of Islam, Native Deen''s music calls listeners to keep the faith, to live better lives, and to NOT succumb to the pressures and temptations of modern society…This visit, arranged by the Consulate which, I can confidently presume is participating financially in this ''entertainment and cultural event'', is taking place, I emphasize, in "Palestine". Is that a country? A real country?We are all well aware that President Obama is on record in favor of an independent state of Palestine as is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and also Israeli leaders. However, as far as I am aware, it doesn''t yet exist (I am also fairly sure that promoting a religiously-motivated music show is the prerogative of the US government unless, perhaps, Matisyahu is the next artist to have his trip paid for to come to Judea and Samaria?). In fact, that state''s current pre-statehood administrative apparatus is split between two sections of the local Arab populace, in two geographical locations and now the Palestinian Authority is in the throes of resignation and realignment. There is a land area that could be termed "Palestinian Authority Territory". As we have seen, the State Dept. prefers "West Bank" and there''s also "Palestinian-administrated territory" that could be used. But there is no "Palestine".This is not the sole instance of US-sponsored events. The US Consulate in Jerusalem sponsors many events, all of them, as far as I can see, for the Arab population of Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem only. At the Consulate’s website, one can read of the launch of a new environmental initiative in partnership with An-Najah University including a press roundtable discussion with USAID Mission Director Michael Harvey. And there was a joint-hosting there of a symposium entitled “Mapping American Studies in...Palestine”. In late January, U.S. Consulate General’s Public Affairs Officer Frank Finver hosted a reception at his residence for 50 guests to display the artwork of two prominent West Bank-based Palestinian artists, Hosni Radwan and Mohamed Saleh.
I think this is admirable work. Truly. It is an important element in the eventual development of a civic-driven society that will not need, for example, a Tahrir Square-style chaos. I just think that the over 300,000 Jews who reside in the same territory are discriminated against in that we do not merit any similar cultural, artistic, entertainment events. This policy that I have outlined is, it would seem, discrimination and it is ethnically-charged and religiously grounded.
Not only that, but in consistently ignoring the Jewish population, the US Consulate is avoiding what peace in the region should be: coexistence. If the Jews and Arabs are always kept apart, what kind of peace can emerge? Essentially, this direction of staging events is predicated on separation (did I hear ''
apartheid'' ''segregation''?) and encourages local Arabs to assume that once some sort of peace is in place, the Jews will be nowhere found. Jews arren''t there when these events took place and so they surely won''t be there when some form of future political administration assumes full control. And that will be what "Palestine" will look like, if it comes to pass, just as the Consulate is promoting.
I think the time has come for Congressional oversight on this issue and the first items on the agenda of the democratically elected representatives of the American people - unlike appointed officials - should be an instruction to Consulate-General Daniel Rubinstein that there is no "Palestine", on the one hand, and that there are Jews resident in the region under his jurisdiction who deserve increased attention.