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Does World Jewry Have a Say on Jerusalem ?Recent remarks by leading Jewish-American and Israeli officials against Diaspora Jewry's right to speak out against plans to give away Jerusalem continue to draw fire. Labor MK Collette Avital - former Israeli Consulate-General in New York and currently Prime Minister Barak's designated campaign spokesperson to the English-speaking community in Israel - was particularly strong, saying last week:
"I think it's a dangerous thing [that officials] of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations are coming to take part in a political rally of the opposition against the prime minister. The major Jewish organizations of the U.S. are supposed to represent and to speak on behalf of the government of Israel... [or else] they de-legitimize themselves."
In a letter to Natan Sharansky last week, Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman called for American Jewry to step back and allow Israel to negotiate the status of its capital by itself. Foxman had earlier stressed that in his view, "all the issues, including Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, are entirely in the authority of the State of Israel and its citizens."
"I am most surprised and deeply disappointed by various statements in regard to the Jerusalem rally organized by Nathan Sharansky and Ehud Olmert.
"This non-partisan event is a proud demonstration for the continuation of an undivided Jerusalem. It is important to understand that the fight for Jerusalem is not only shared by religious parties in Israel, by the representatives of Russian immigrants as well as the Likud. Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg, a prominent Labor party member, will not agree to any division of Jerusalem. I know at least five members of the narrow government of Barak who will vote against any attempt to question Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount. I was fortunate to have been a friend of the late Yitzhak and Leah Rabin, and it is important to note that Leah, as late as ten days prior to her death, told me that Yitzhak would never even have considered at all negotiating Jerusalem because he saw himself as representative of Jewish history. Yitzhak felt strongly that the protection of the essence of a proud Jewish heritage in Jerusalem must be maintained.
"Perhaps naively so, I would have assumed that significant leaders of American Jewry all take the same view. But then, we hear that taking part in a pro-Jerusalem demonstration would be considered as interference in Israeli politics.
"Is Jerusalem only politics? Was Jerusalem not the center of Jewish life and tradition for the Jews all over the world who directed their prayers and dreams towards the Eternal City? How can any Jewish leader endeavor to prevent Jews from expressing their concern about the future of Jerusalem, the center of Jewish experience since generations and generations? Was it not Ehud Barak who said explicitly before the elections: "We have red lines: A united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty as capital of Israel." And now, because Barak changed his mind so drastically and is ready to divide the city, every Jew around the world has to accept this silently?
"Unfortunately, Barak maintains no spirit of democracy. He thinks that a Prime Minister who has resigned, and who for months has not commanded a Knesset majority, can determine an agreement about the division of Jerusalem. What else can the frustrated Jewish public around the world do except show its disagreement and take part in the planned demonstration?
"It is difficult to understand that there are people who take the view that while a million Arabs in Israel can vote about the Jerusalem issue and be part of that decision, Jews around the world who continuously show their active support for Israel in many ways are silenced and prevented from proudly demonstrating their deep affiliation to that city. How absurd can things become? If this trend of seeing pro-Jerusalem statements as an interference in Israeli politics continues, the old Jewish slogan "Next year in Jerusalem" will be come a one-sided, "right-wing" political policy statement..."
Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Executive Vice President of the National Council of Young Israel, who participated in the recent Presidents' Conference meeting that debated the issue of participation in the non-political pro-Jerusalem demonstration organized by MK Natan Sharansky, said,
"Clearly, with the division of Jerusalem being a central point in [Clinton's] bridging proposals, now is the time for all Jews to stand up and speak out in support of an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of a Jewish State of Israel and as the ancient birthright of Jews throughout the world since the dawn of Jewish history. Ms. Avital continues to polarize and divide American Jewish support for Israel by her latest partisan and inflammatory remarks. Before the damage becomes irreversible, we urge her to retract her latest statements, which are an insult to all Jews around the world who hold Jerusalem to be an indispensable part of our Jewish identity and heritage."
Shlomo Z. Mostofsky, the National President of the National Council of Young Israel, said:
"By her remarks, Ms. Avital has only de-legitimized herself and the government whom she represents by admitting that the sanctity and unity of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, which had been a sacrosanct concept for every Israeli government for thirty years, has, for Prime Minister Barak, become a partisan political issue."
Mostofsky had earlier written to Ehud Barak:
"While many of us have disagreed with the Oslo peace accords, we never questioned the right of the lawfully elected Israeli government to enter into such agreements. Until now. The State of Israel, created as the Jewish national homeland, does not own the land of Israel, but rather holds it in perpetual trust for the Jewish people. The government of Israel is, in fact, the guardian of the eternal heritage of generations of Jews yet unborn around the world. Thus, even a duly elected and fully empowered Israeli government does not have the right to bargain away the birthright bestowed upon all Jews at the dawn of Jewish history... Your name will go down in Jewish history, but not as a peacemaker for the Jewish nation as you may have hoped. Instead you will become a tragic figure, as the first leader in the history of the Jewish people to give up voluntarily the Temple Mount and our heritage in Jerusalem... This is your crucial moment in Jewish history, Mr. Barak. It is up to you to decide whether you will be recorded in that history as a hero, a latter day Maccabee, willing to stand up against the greatest power in the world and fight to save the Jewish heritage from its defilers, or whether you will succumb..."
Source: Arutz 7
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