Monday, July 12, 2010

Ben Gurion vs. Obama on Jerusalem


by Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger


The views of David Ben Gurion – The Founding Father of the Jewish State – on Jerusalem are particularly pertinent at a time when President Obama entices illegal Arab construction in Jerusalem (by threatening Israel against demolition of illegal Arab homes), while pressuring Israel to refrain from legal Jewish construction in the Capital City of the Jewish People.  1,100 illegal Arab homes are built annually in Jerusalem and only 50 are demolished. Ben Gurion’s position on the unique role of Jerusalem is very relevant at a time when the Oslo Process – and its derivatives until today – have demoted Jerusalem, the Heart of the Jewish People and its eternal capital to a “Negotiable Item.” It is doubly relevant against the backdrop of a construction freeze in eastern Jerusalem, which was initiated by President Obama and has been enforced by the Israeli government.

Against awesome odds – including a US military embargo and a UN resolution to internationalize JerusalemBen Gurion was determined to preserve Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem.  He reacted constructively to US and global pressure: Constructing new Jewish neighborhoods on Jerusalem’s 1949 cease-fire lines, settling tens of thousands of Jewish Olim (immigrants) in Jerusalem, upgrading transportation infrastructure to Jerusalem and relocating government agencies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  Currently, the Jewish State is under pressure – by the Obama Administration – to repartition Jerusalem, thus rewarding terrorism and fueling further violence.

 “We have to resettle, immediately, the Old City of Jerusalem (Ben Gurion’s Diary, June 8, 1967).  “The Six Days War has reinstated the eternal capital of the Jewish People… We must, as soon as possible, transfer university faculties to Mount Scopus and construct there students and faculty housing.  We must erect high tech factories north and south of the Old City [beyond the cease fire lines].  We have to settle 20,000-30,000 Jewish families in the Old City(Ben Gurion Diary, July 31, 1967).”

“As you know, the UN General Assembly has decided, with a sizeable majority, to internationalize Jerusalem. This decision will not be implemented under any circumstances… We shall not collaborate with such a decision, which breaches the natural and historical right of the Jewish People in Zion… The State of Israel has had only one capital, the eternal Jerusalem. It was our capital 3,000 years ago and it will remain our capital until the end of times.  As soon as the [1948/9] battles were over, we relocated government agencies to Jerusalem and installed the necessary transportation, economic and technical infrastructure to Jerusalem (Ben Gurion, Knesset speech, December 13, 1949). “ “Jerusalem is an integral part of Israel and its eternal capital.  No UN vote can change such a historical fact (Ben Gurion, Knesset speech, December 10, 1949).”

Jerusalem is equal to the whole of the Land of IsraelJerusalem is not just a central Jewish settlement.  Jerusalem is an invaluable global historical symbol.  The Jewish People and the entire world shall judge us in accordance with our steadfastness on Jerusalem (Ben Gurion, “We and Our Neighbors,” p. 175. 1929).”

Will contemporary Jewish leaders follow in the footsteps of Ben Gurion, or will they succumb to President Obama’s pressure, thus elevating the failed Oslo Process over the future of Jerusalem?



Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

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