Vail Daily letter: Looking for trouble with world
Vail, CO, Colorado
I have been receiving phone calls from people who want to know why Israel is starting a fight with the United States over building in Jerusalem.
I think it’s the other way around, and I’d like to clarify the situation, since little written in the press is factually correct.
The projected building in a neighborhood in Jerusalem that Vice President Joe Biden was so offended by is called Ramat Shlomo. Ramat Shlomo is an enormous neighborhood that is already home to 20,000 people and which is situated in north Jerusalem between the even larger Jewish neighborhoods of Ramot and Sanhedria.
People have asked me, why did they have to announce the approval of the building permits while the vice president was there? Please understand, this was only the fourth step in a seven-step process. No one in Israel thought that this meant building was to start tomorrow. If the vice president had even asked before publicly condemning Israel, he would have know that there are three more steps to go and that building was not even scheduled for three more years. This was a process carried out through the city of Jerusalem’s planning board and not the national government. Netanyahu had nothing to do with the decision, nor was he even aware that it was being publicly reported. Should every municipality in the country come to a standstill because a dignitary is visiting?
My feeling is that Vice President Biden was sent to Israel to find some excuse to castigate the government of Israel. There were several things that he could have zeroed in on, like the refurbishing of the Tomb of the Patriarchs or the uncovering of an ancient synagogue, which clearly prove that Jews were in the area long before Islam was created. But no, he chose once again to take a gaffe from a government official and turn it into a major incident. To me, it shows he came looking for trouble.
Let’s look at what the Obama administration has done in such a short time. For almost 20 years (since Oslo) Israelis and Palestinians carried on negotiations face to face. Once Obama made the big scene over building activity in Judea and Samaria, the Palestinians were given tacit approval to walk away from the negotiating table. And they did!
He has made it quite clear that America will negotiate for the Palestinians and will demand all the concessions the Palestinians want. Why else have indirect talks after years of direct talks?
With Obama’s single-minded interest in “settlements” (so far, he hasn’t learned the difference between a city of 20,000 and a hilltop post with one caravan and a generator) he has created an excuse for the Palestinians that never existed before. Egypt made peace with Israel while there was building in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. The same is true for Jordan. Building in the liberated territories was not a stumbling block for Palestinian negotiations until Obama made it one.
Obama had little to say about the “Day of Rage” that took place in Jerusalem or the Hamas rocket that hit and killed a civilian that same week. When Obama took office, there was no great love affair between Israelis and Palestinians, but there was reasonable quiet.
A third “intifada” was nowhere on the radar screen, but Obama’s blunderings in the Middle East have now restored the region’s previous tinderbox qualities.
The latest Internet joke is, “Surely something must be terribly wrong with a man who seems to be far more concerned with a Jew building a house in Israel than with Muslims building a bomb in Iran.”