Looking over Jerusalem
Trump vows Israel won’t be destroyed on his watch
US President Donald Trump’s personal pledge to protect Israel from its enemies, particularly Iran, won him the hearts of his audience during his keynote speech at the Israel Museum on Tuesday afternoon.
“Israelis have experienced firsthand the hatred and terror of radical violence,” Trump said.
“Israelis are murdered by terrorists wielding knives and bombs. Hamas and Hezbollah launch rockets into Israeli communities, where schoolchildren have to be trained to hear the sirens and run to the bomb shelters – with fear, but with speed. ISIS targets Jewish neighborhoods, synagogues and storefronts. And Iran’s leaders routinely call for Israel’s destruction. Not with Donald J. Trump, believe me.”
Thunderous applause greeted his words. It lasted for almost a full minute.
“Thank you,” Trump said four times, waiting for the applause to die down, before ad-libbing: “I like you too.”
Trump spoke to some 300 people, including Israeli ministers, politicians, business leaders, ambassadors and visiting dignitaries, including former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, US billionaire Sheldon Adelson and former Hawaiian governor Linda Lingle.
As the Israeli politicians waited for Trump to enter the museum’s small auditorium, decked with an Israeli and US flag, they spoke with reporters about the high and low points of Trump’s two-day trip.
National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said that Iran had been the “main topic” of the visit, both on the president’s first stop in Saudi Arabia and in Israel, as Trump sought to create a common regional alliance to Tehran.
Iranian aggression all over the Middle East – in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Gaza – is the main threat for Israel for the Sunni Arab states, Steinitz said, adding: “I am happy that the US, finally after three or four years of appeasement of the Iranians, decided under the Trump leadership to create some kind of regional alliance.”
He was, however, concerned that the $110 billion dollar arms deal the US signed with Saudi Arabia during Trump’s visit could, in the future, harm Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region.
“No one can say in the Middle East what will be the Saudi position five or 10 years from now,” Steinitz said. “Therefore this is a matter of concern for Israel.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) spoke of his disappointment that Trump had not made good on his preelection pledge to move the US Embassy to Tel Aviv.
“I think it is time that the world community recognizes the laws of gravity. Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and will remain so undivided,” he said. “I am pretty confident that gradually the world will recognize Jerusalem as its capital,” and that “it’s unnatural that it has not happened yet.”
Trump’s trip, Bennett said, underscored the bond between Israel and the American people, even though he was not able to promise the Israeli people everything they wanted to hear.
Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) said that Trump’s visit to the Western Wall was more important than relocating the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
Hopefully this will happen, he said, but the embassy will “be moved to west Jerusalem, a place that is not in dispute. The Kotel and the Temple Mount are in a disputed area, in the Old City,” Hanegbi said.
By visiting the Western Wall, a US president was exposed for the first time to the love and the linkage the Jewish feel for their holiest sites, Hanegbi said, adding: “I believe that we heard an American president that loves Israel and understands Israel” and “is not going to change his commitment to this holy place.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Llkud) said Trump’s speech “was an expression of deep friendship to Israel and a fresh way of thinking,” particularly with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Unlike his predecessors, Hotovely said, Trump did not try to dictate the terms of any future agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. She was particularly pleased that Trump has spoken out against the Palestinian Authority payments to terrorists and their families, and that he did not criticize settlement building, “after so many presidents speaking of an agreement that should be reached between Israelis and Palestinians in a certain way, and only in one direction.”
MK Michael Oren (Kulanu), a former Israeli ambassador to the US, said Trump’s visit was a message of support and love for Israel. He added that the Trump administration created the possibility of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by removing the two key demands: a two-state solution to the pre-1967 lines, and a settlement freeze as a precondition for talks.
Instead, Oren said, Trump has given the Palestinians and Arab leaders incentives to come up with more appropriate formulas for peace-building in the region.
He added that no Israeli government could have met the demands set by the Obama administration, which put so many obstacles in the path of peace that progress was impossible.
During this visit, Oren said, Trump “removed those obstacles.”
Former foreign minister MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) said that Trump “needs to know that in Israel there is a majority to make a big deal, peace between us and the entire Arab world. I agree with the president that there is an opportunity here, but it is time for leaders to seize that opportunity.”
Livni said that “the trip to Israel is very important,” but that “no less important is the day after. This is the visit embracing Israel. We embrace the US and the president as well. Now it is time for policy making.” (Jerusalem Post)
Trump seeks ‘common sets of principles’ to build momentum for peace, official says
The US is working on building strong relationships in the Middle East between Israel and its Arab neighbors that will build momentum for a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, a senior White House official said late Tuesday after US President Donald Trump wrapped up a visit to the region, first in Saudi Arabia then in Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The official said that “the first step [toward peace]… is to bring relationships that are warm and strong privately and bring them more public and also set forth a common set of principles that everyone wants to abide by.”
The official, who gave a press briefing aboard Air Force One en route from Israel to Italy, did not provide details on what these common principles may be, but said efforts should be “quiet and discreet.”
“Hopefully the more we can build trust the more we can have open dialogues around these things in a way that has not happened before, I think that gives us a better chance of having success in this issue.”
The official hailed the “very successful” and “historic” trip to Saudi Arabia and Israel, saying Trump “united the entire Muslim world in a way that it really hasn’t been in many years.”
“The overall objective that we want to accomplish here is really try to find a peaceful way to create a new direction for the Middle East,” said the official, and “build very strong relationships with all the different people, not just the parties involves, but all the people in the neighborhood. And also try to create a lot of momentum and optimism around the prospect for peace.”
The trip was also “essential towards trying to reestablish America’s credibility in the region,” the Trump official said.
Trump has repeatedly said he was looking to broker the “ultimate deal” with Israelis and Palestinians and is convinced he could do so. Trump has tasked his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and former real estate lawyer Jason Greenblatt with charting a course forward. Still, White House officials had downplayed the prospects for a breakthrough on this trip, saying it was important to manage their ambitions as they wade into terrain that has tripped up more experienced diplomats.
In a speech Tuesday at the Israel Museum, the president heaped praise on Israel, while calling on both sides to make compromises toward peace. He urged them to put aside the “pain and disagreements of the past” and declared that both sides were ready to move forward.
The president notably avoided all of the thorny issues that have stymied peace efforts for decades. He did not mention Israeli settlements, the status of Jerusalem or even whether the US would continue to insist on a two-state solution giving the Palestinians sovereign territory.
In a meeting with opposition leader Isaac Herzog on Tuesday, Kushner said Washington intended to move fast to advance a renewal of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, a spokesman for Herzog said, with Trump’s envoy Jason Greenblatt reportedly set to return next week so as not to leave a “diplomatic vacuum.”
Herzog met with Trump, Kushner and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for several minutes, after the US president’s speech at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and just before Trump departed the country.
Kushner, who along with international negotiations envoy Greenblatt has been tasked by Trump with relaunching the peace process, reportedly told Herzog: “We are planning to move fast in starting a diplomatic process in order to reach a deal.”
According to Channel 10’s Moav Vardi, Kushner also said Greenblatt would be returning to Israel next week for followup discussions with the sides, reportedly telling Herzog that the US did not want to leave a “diplomatic vacuum.”
Greenblatt accompanied Trump during his two-day visit in Israel and had held a series of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials ahead of Trump’s arrival.
Trump, meanwhile, told Herzog, the Zionist Union leader: ““I am serious about a deal and I am determined.”
Herzog told Trump that Netanyahu would receive the support of the opposition in advancing the peace process.
Channel 2 news reported that American billionaire businessman Sheldon Adelson — an ally of both Trump and Netanyahu — was also present during the meeting. This was not confirmed by officials. (the Times of Israel)
Netanyahu: Temple Mount will forever remain under Israel’s control
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Isaac Herzog went head-to-head in the Knesset on Wednesday over Jerusalem, with the premier saying Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish state and its capital in any borders is the root of the conflict, and pledging that the city, including the Temple Mount and Western Wall, will forever remain under Israeli sovereignty.
A day after US President Donald Trump concluded a 28-hour visit to Jerusalem, the prime minister vowed the city would not be divided again.
During a plenum session marking the passage of 50 years since the Six Day War and the reunification of the city’s western and eastern halves, Netanyahu pointed to the US president’s visit to the Western Wall as having “destroyed UNESCO’s propaganda and lies,” referring to a series of resolutions by the UN cultural body that ignored Jewish ties to the city and Israeli sovereignty.
Herzog, meanwhile, implored Netanyahu to seize a “historic” opportunity for peace and downplayed the importance of moving the US embassy to the city, which was a campaign promise made by Trump.
“We liberated Jerusalem, we made it one city, imperfect but whole,” Netanyahu told lawmakers, at a session also attended by President Reuven Rivlin and Chief Supreme Court Justice Miriam Naor.
Before the Jews came to the city, there was “nearly nothing” in it; it was “forsaken and in constant crisis,” the prime minister said. During the 19 years between 1948 and 1967, the city again reached “a low,” he added.
“We will never return to that situation” of the city divided, he pledged. “The Temple Mount and the Western Wall will forever remain under Israeli sovereignty,” he later added.
Israel captured the Temple Mount — the holiest site for Jews — and the rest of the Old City and East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, and extended sovereignty there, but it left administrative authority atop the Mount in the hands of the Jordanian Waqf (Muslim trust), and instituted a status quo agreement that sees Jews permitted to visit but not pray there. The Temple Mount is one of the issues at the heart of tension between Israel and the Palestinians, with the latter frequently accusing Israel of changing or planning to change the existing arrangements — which Israel firmly denies.
After the prime minister concluded his remarks, Herzog took to the podium, delivering a speech in which he called on Israel to separate the Arab neighborhoods from Jerusalem, urged Netanyahu to seize Trump’s peace offers, and promised to back the prime minister in the “brave, historic” process.
Herzog said Trump came with the message that “the region is ready for peace, the region wants peace.”
“Mr. Prime Minister, this is the time to go to a brave and historic process to separate from the Palestinians and the implementation of the vision of two states for two peoples. This is the time, 50 years on from the Six Day War, to shake off the heavy burden of millions of Palestinians and ensure the continued existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and homeland of the Jewish people for generations,” he said, vowing his party’s political support for peace talks.
“This is the time for leadership, not defeatism, the time to lead and not be led,” he said.
“I urge you, Prime Minister, not to miss the opportunity,” Herzog added. “Don’t allow your name to go down in the history books of the State of Israel as the prime minister who missed the greatest opportunity that Israel has known to avoid 50 more years of tears and bereavement.”
He also took a dig at efforts to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem, saying the city was desperate for other social and economic reforms and citing poverty and the rapidly growing Arab population threatening to eclipse its Jewish population.
“Therefore, will all due respect, it is not the US embassy that is the more important thing the city is lacking, but rather tools and resources and significant decisions on changing directions,” he said.
Following Herzog’s speech, the prime minister addressed the plenum again, emphasizing that moving all embassies — but specifically the US embassy — to Jerusalem was “not a trivial matter.”
“The current situation is absurd,” Netanyahu said, referring to the fact that nearly all international embassies are in Tel Aviv.
The prime minister also defended his comparison of the Manchester bomber to Palestinian terrorists in his response to the deadly attack on Tuesday. He had said that had the attacker been Palestinian, he would have received a stipend by the Palestinian Authority.
“The root of the matter is the stubborn, violent refusal of the Palestinian side to accept the Jewish state — and the capital of the Jews — in any borders,” he said. “Everything else is interesting, important, and certainly open for discussion and dialogue. These are the basic facts.”
Herzog then returned to the plenum again, reiterating his call for peace talks, before the session was dispersed.
The sparring came a day after Trump, in his visit, stressed a unique opportunity for Israel to make peace with the Palestinians and Arab world. While he met with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, the US president made no mention of Palestinian statehood or the US embassy move during his visit. (the Times of Israel)
Public Security Minister Erdan : New opportunity for anti-terrorism coalition
Israel faces new prospects for establishing an anti-terrorism coalition together with Arab and European countries due to the US president’s personal interest, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday after the president left the country, Erdan said he believes Donald Trump can act to build relationships between Israel and European and Middle Eastern countries via intelligence sharing, capacity building and social-media monitoring to better combat terrorism and Iran’s influence.
“That’s why I try to emphasize that the personal involvement of Trump is so important,” Erdan told the Post, later adding, “It will be easy to cooperate.”
In the Middle East, Erdan hopes the Trump administration will help create a grand coalition against Iran, similar to the Obama administration’s anti-ISIS coalition, “but even bigger.”
Trump echoed such sentiments during a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin on Monday: “What’s happened with Iran has brought many of the parts of the Middle East toward Israel.”
As public security minister, Erdan oversaw the country’s handling of a wave of lonewolf Palestinian stabbing attacks. Along with the police, Erdan expanded Israel’s ability to monitor social media for alleged incitement and oversaw the expansion of police presence into Arab towns.
“[In 2015], we did not have a lot of intelligence, it was very hard to predict where they are going to attack you,” Erdan said. “You have to change the way the police functions, the way you get information and intelligence.”
These are the kinds of strategies Erdan looks forward to sharing, along with increased cooperation with Europe and the Trump administration over “combating online incitement.”
“In Europe you have neighborhoods that were like black holes,” he said. “Also in Arab-Israeli cities, the presence of the police wasn’t enough. You don’t have intelligence. Not enough police [officers] who speak Arabic.”
Under Erdan’s watch, lonewolf attacks have dwindled, but he is routinely accused of “lying” and “inciting” by Arab lawmakers who say he is scapegoating the country’s Arab population and is too fast to label them as terrorists.
Erdan acknowledged the strained relationship between segments of Arab society and the Israel Police, but argued that his policies have largely benefited the undeserved community.
“Even if the relationships are not good enough, it will never be a justification to kill a woman or a child,” he added.
Still, Erdan hopes his model can be exported to help combat violence, like the recent suicide bombing in Manchester.
“Some Scandinavian countries sometimes say now, ‘We understand you much more,’” Erdan remarked, although he was reluctant to name specific countries. (Jerusalem Post)
1,800 medals awarded to Six Day War veterans
Jerusalem Day began Tuesday evening with the official ceremony marked at the Western Wall, attended by officials that included President Reuven Rivlin, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, Central Command head Maj.-Gen. Roni Numa, Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin and Police Commissioner Insp.- Gen. Roni Alsheikh.
Rivlin called Jerusalem the “heart of the State of Israel” and described the Western Wall as the heart of the city.
“We gave our all for Jerusalem because we knew that on Jerusalem we must insist,” Rivlin said. “We will always insist on Jerusalem. There never has been, there never will be any other reality. Here, in these stones, beats the heart of the Jewish people. Jerusalem is the heart of the State of Israel and the Kotel is the heart of Jerusalem.”
IDF Soldiers Marching on Yom Yerushalayim
IDF soldiers march during a Jerusalem Day ceremony at the Western Wall in the Old City marking 50 years since the capital’s reunification in the 1967 Six Day War
During a separate video address for the occasion, Rivlin said he clearly remembered the moment he heard confirmation of the liberation of Jerusalem’s Old City while serving as a reserve intelligence officer in the Jerusalem Brigade.
“When I heard over the two-way radio the voices of my fellow soldiers, we could hardly believe it: ‘The Temple Mount is in our hands!’ I can never forget this,” the president said.
“We all felt the history – and the future – of Israel, of the Jewish people, rested on our shoulders. And with that, a great joy filled us all, across the city, across the world. We had returned home – to Jerusalem, to Yerushalayim.”
A ceremony was held earlier in the day at Ammunition Hill to honor the soldiers who fought in the battles for Jerusalem.
During the ceremony, which was attended by Numa and Elkin, medals were awarded to some 1,800 commanders and veterans of the Six Day War, as well as to the families who lost loved ones to the war.
More than 180 Israeli soldiers fell along the Jerusalem front over the course of three days of fighting against Jordanian troops, in what was considered one of the fiercest and bloodiest battles of the war.
Ammunition Hill was a critical part of the fight for the capital, and a contingent of paratroopers fought to oust the Jordanian legionnaires entrenched there in order to link central Jerusalem with the Israeli enclave on Mount Scopus. Seventy-one Jordanians and thirty-seven Israeli soldiers lost their lives in that battle.
Ten of the soldiers who fought in the battle were given citations by the chief of general staff.
The medals awarded on Tuesday by Numa and Elkin contained symbols of the city of Jerusalem, the State of Israel and the IDF Central Command.
“I am proud to stand here today in front of you, the veteran fighters and commanders, and I am excited to award you this medal as a token of appreciation and in honor of your dedication, courage and heroism,” Numa said, adding that stories of the Six Day War are rich with tales of their heroism as well as that of those who fell.
“The war also brought to life wonderful and rare discoveries of courage and heroism, alongside personal revelations of togetherness of soldiers and friendship. Generations of IDF soldiers have enlisted to realize the goals of the army, to defend the country and ensure its existence,” Numa told the crowd.
While Israel faces “many challenges that are different from the challenges that you faced 50 years ago, the IDF stands stronger than ever and if forced to prove this in war, we will do just as you did 50 years ago with speed, decisiveness and firmness,” he concluded. (Jerusalem Post)
Rocket fired into Israel from Sinai
The IDF confirmed a projectile was launched Tuesday morning from the Sinai peninsula and fell in open space in Israel. No damage or injuries were reported.
There were no incoming rocket sirens and according to a spokesman for the region, the projectile fell in an open area and troops are currently looking for its area of impact.
Israel has a 240-kilometer border with the Sinai. There, an Islamic State group operates. Despite the small size of the group in the peninsula, it is considered by many to be one of the most effective ISIS franchises outside Syria and Iraq.
The group was previously known as the al-Qaida linked Ansar Beit al Maqdis until it pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in November 2014.
Several rockets have been launched at Israel this past year by the Islamic State Group in Sinai, including in April when a Grad rocket landed in a greenhouse in southern Israel’s Eshkol Regional Council. One person suffered from shock as the result of the strike which landed in the community of Yuval next to the Egyptian border.
In February, the group claimed responsibility for a rocket barrage fired towards Israel’s Red Sea resort of city of Eilat. The Iron Dome missile system intercepted three projectiles while a fourth landed in open territory. There were no casualties, but four people were treated for anxiety. (Jerusalem Post)
Saudi Arabia vows not to use weapons procured from US against Israel
The United States demanded that Saudi Arabia agree that weapons purchased from America in the deal signed on Saturday will not be used against U.S. allies in the region, Israel Hayom learned Monday.
Saudi officials agreed and provided the pledge, paving the way for one of the biggest arms deals in Middle East history.
The nearly $110 billion deal was the central achievement of Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia over the weekend. Under the agreements, Saudi Arabia will buy U.S. arms to help it counter Iran, with options running as high as $350 billion over 10 years.
On Sunday, Israel expressed muted concern over the deal. While Israel also sees Iran as a threat to its security, it fears that the deal could diminish its regional military advantage.
“This is a matter that really should trouble us,” Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said prior to the weekly cabinet meeting, although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made no mention of the deal in his customary public remarks.
A senior U.S. official traveling with Trump said Washington understands what he described as Israel’s “completely legitimate” concerns, and pledged to help the Jewish state maintain its military advantage.
“We’re taking a whole bunch of measures, some apparent, some not so apparent, to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge. That will in no way be compromised,” the official told Reuters.
“You’ll hear a really strong statement from the president on his commitment to Israel and to Israel’s defense,” the official added.
According to senior officials in the Egyptian and Jordanian security apparatuses, the arms deal was made in coordination with Israel, Egypt, Jordan and other U.S. allies in the region. The officials said the deal would have been signed regardless of opposition from the U.S.’s allies, but in light of their fears the Americans resolved to insist on a guarantee from Saudi Arabia.
In the 1980s, Israel expressed its concern at a U.S. sale to Saudi Arabia of advanced F-15 fighter jets that were stationed at a Red Sea airfield. But the desert kingdom has never threatened to use them against Israel. (Israel Hayom)
Trump’s success is not being Obama, but he still really wants peace
President’s visit was historic in many ways, but the lack of explicit policy statements does little to clarify how he plans to reach the ultimate deal
By Raphael Ahren The Times of Israel
In many respects, Donald Trump — the impulsive populist — is the exact opposite of his predecessor Barack Obama, the calculating, liberal and composed intellectual. This difference was on stark display during Trump’s visit to Israel this week.
After visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem in March 2013, Barack Obama wrote the following statement in the guestbook: “We are ever mindful of the incredible human cost of the Holocaust — an evil unprecedented in the annals of history. And yet we recognize, through this place, the triumph of the Jewish people and the human spirit, and vow to be ever vigilant in preventing such horror from ever happening again.”
Trump’s guestbook entry Tuesday had a somewhat different vibe. “It is a great honor to be here with all of my friends,” it read. “So amazing + will Never Forget!”
From Yad Vashem, the president rushed to the Israel Museum to deliver an address that was billed as the political centerpiece of his first-ever visit to the Holy Land. The speech was warmly welcomed by senior members of the Israeli government, who noted that Trump vowed Iran will never obtain a nuclear weapon, condemned Hamas and Hezbollah, talked about Israeli children who have to hide from terrorists’ rockets, and even cited Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism.
Four years ago, Obama had said pretty much the same things in a speech held at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center. He also denounced Hamas and Hezbollah, promised to prevent a nuclear Iran, and recalled meeting children in Sderot who were “fearful that a rocket would land in their bedroom simply because of who they are and where they live.” He also referred to Herzl — in fact, he took the time to lay a wreath at his grave, which is standard fare for state visits but which Trump decided to skip.
Of course there were sharp distinctions between the two presidential speeches. Trump did not call for the establishment of a Palestinian state or urge Israel to cease settlement construction. Israeli right-wingers cheered these omission as a victory, while left-wingers warned that, sooner or later, the White House will have no choice but to realize that the two-state solution is the only realistic path to peace. Trump, they added, also did not announce moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem or recognize the city as Israel’s capital.
So what did Trump actually say?
Trump said the “ties of the Jewish people to this Holy Land are ancient and eternal” and reaffirmed Washington’s unwavering support for Israel. “I stand in awe of the accomplishments of the Jewish People, and I make this promise to you: My administration will always stand with Israel,” he declared.
The centerpiece of Trump’s address was reserved for his quest for peace; he mentioned the word “peace” over a dozen times.
But as opposed to Obama, who came to Israel after four years in the White House, Trump did not arrive here with clearly enunciated policies. He made no effort to outline the contours of a possible deal, save for vague references to an alliance against violent extremism that would include Israel and Arab states.
“Diverse nations can unite around the goal of protecting innocent life, upholding human dignity, and promoting peace and stability in the region. My administration is committed to pursuing such a coalition, and we have already made substantial progress during this trip,” he said, without elaborating.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long spoken about an Arab-Israel detente preceding Israeli-Palestinian peace, but a comment Trump made in Bethlehem Tuesday appears to suggest that the president does not subscribe to this so-called inside-out approach. “I also firmly believe that if Israel and the Palestinians can make peace, it will begin a process of peace all throughout the Middle East,” he said, standing alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Like he did Sunday at a summit in Saudi Arabia, at the Israel Museum Trump used strong religious motives in his bid to boost peace and reconciliation. (Since we’re counting, in Riyadh, he mentioned the word “God” nine times, in Jerusalem 11 times.) He lectured about Jerusalem revealing the “longing of the human heart to know and worship God” and entreated his listeners to pray for peace.
“Let us dream of a future where Jewish, Muslim and Christian children can grow up together and live together in trust, harmony, tolerance and respect,” he implored.
In the coming days Israeli politicians and pundits will endlessly dissect the president’s 28-hour trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories. In many respects, it was truly a historic visit. It marked the first time a US president came to Israel during his first trip abroad. It opened with the first direct public flight from Saudi Arabia to Israel. And during it, a sitting US president for the first time visited the Western Wall.
But it did precious little to nail down the specifics of Israeli-Palestinian rapprochement, besides making clear to Jerusalem and Ramallah that the president truly, deeply, wants to reach peace.
Terrorism Persists Because It Works
by Alan M. Dershowitz The Gatestone Institute
Every time a horrendous terrorist attack victimizes innocent victims we wring our hands and promise to increase security and take other necessary preventive measures. But we fail to recognize how friends and allies play such an important role in encouraging, incentivizing, and inciting terrorism.
If we are to have any chance of reducing terrorism, we must get to its root cause. It is not poverty, disenfranchisement, despair or any of the other abuse excuses offered to explain, if not to justify, terrorism as an act of desperation. It is anything but. Many terrorists, such as those who participated in the 9/11 attacks, were educated, well-off, mobile and even successful. They made a rational cost-benefit decision to murder innocent civilians for one simple reason: they believe that terrorism works.
And tragically they are right. The international community has rewarded terrorism while punishing those who try to fight it by reasonable means. It all began with a decision by Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian terrorist groups to employ the tactic of terrorism as a primary means of bringing the Palestinian issue to the forefront of world concern. Based on the merits and demerits of the Palestinian case, it does not deserve this stature. The treatment of the Tibetans by China, the Kurds by most of the Arab world, and the people of Chechen by Russia has been or at least as bad. But their response to grievances has been largely ignored by the international community and the media because they mostly sought remedies within the law rather than through terrorism.
The Palestinian situation has been different. The hijacking of airplanes, the murders of Olympic athletes at Munich, the killing of Israeli children at Ma’alot, and the many other terrorist atrocities perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists has elevated their cause above all other causes in the human rights community. Although the Palestinians have not yet gotten a state – because they twice rejected generous offers of statehood – their cause still dominates the United Nations and numerous human rights groups.
Other groups with grievances have learned from the success of Palestinian terrorism and have emulated the use of that barbaric tactic. Even today, when the Palestinian authority claims to reject terrorism, they reward the families of suicide bombers and other terrorists by large compensation packages that increase with the number of innocent victims. If the perpetrator of the Manchester massacre had been Palestinian and if the massacre had taken place in an Israeli auditorium, the Palestinian authority would have paid his family a small fortune for murdering so many children. There is a name for people and organizations that pay other people for killing innocent civilians: it’s called accessory to murder. If the Mafia offered bounties to kill its opponents, no one would sympathize with those who made the offer. Yet the Palestinian leadership that does the same thing is welcomed and honored throughout the world.
The Palestinian authority also glorifies terrorists by naming parks, stadiums, streets and other public places after the mass murderers of children. Our “ally” Qatar finances Hamas which the United States has correctly declared to be a terrorist organization. Our enemy Iran, also finances, facilitates and encourages terrorism against the United States, Israel and other western democracies, without suffering any real consequences. The United Nations glorifies terrorism by placing countries that support terrorism in high positions of authority and honor and by welcoming with open arms the promoters of terrorism.
On the other hand Israel, which has led the world in efforts to combat terrorism by reasonable and lawful means, gets attacked by the international community more than any other country in the world. Promoters of terrorism are treated better at the United Nations than opponents of terrorism. The boycott divestment tactic (BDS) is directed only against Israel and not against the many nations that support terrorism.
Terrorism will continue as long as it continues to bear fruits. The fruits may be different for different causes. Sometimes it is simply publicity. Sometimes it is a recruitment tool. Sometimes it brings about concessions as it did in many European countries. Some European countries that have now been plagued by terrorism even released captured Palestinian terrorists. England, France, Italy and Germany were among the countries that released Palestinian terrorists in the hope of preventing terrorist attacks on their soil. Their selfish and immoral tactic backfired: it only caused them to become even more inviting targets for the murderous terrorists.
But no matter how terrorism works, the reality that it does, will make it difficult if not impossible to stem its malignant spread around the world. To make it not work, the entire world must unite in never rewarding terrorism and always punishing those who facilitate it.
Compiled by Inbal Rechtman-Shalev Ynet News
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the capital’s reunification, President Reuven Rivlin, Chief Justice Miriam Naor, Actress Mayim Bialik, Philosopher and author Bernard-Henri Lévy, State Comptroller Yosef Shapira and others write about Jerusalem from their own perspective.
President Reuven Rivlin: A thousand shades of Jerusalem
I spent my childhood and youth in a Jerusalem of a thousand shades. On my way to school, running to a soccer game with my friends in the afternoon, during family meetings, in the scouts’ activities—my legs would walk, run, slip between delicate and invisible borderlines. Between the secular Rehavia neighborhood and the ultra-Orthodox Sha’arei Hesed; between my father, the expert on Middle Eastern affairs, a translator of the Quran, and his Arab friends, and a Revisionist mother who sometimes cared for the Irgun’s wounded. Between the admiration for my venerable teacher Menachem Begin and the respect for David Ben-Gurion, when we agreed to stop the soccer game we were playing at the field in front of his house if it bothered his afternoon nap.
The borderlines and the meeting between identities played a key role in shaping my personality. I grew up within them and among them naturally, as I received a deep-rooted education that allowed me to take part in the meeting between identities and values from a safe place. A stable education which was not shamed and did not avoid touching on painful matters, when necessary.
From my parents, from my teachers and from my friends, I learned that a society is tested when it battles with one hand for its existence, while pursuing a partnership, tolerance and equality with its other hand. It is tested by its attitude towards its friends, as well as by its conduct vis-à-vis its enemies. It is tested when it knows how to respect those who are different, far and close.
Jerusalem of the big ideas and Jerusalem of the small details were and will always be the same Jerusalem to me. Like a glass prism, I always imagine the world’s light waves refracted on it in their different lengths, creating a magnificent rainbow of colors. That’s the way it is in its beauty and in the complexity of its challenges, and that’s the way it is in its shades.
Actress Mayim Bialik: A 16-year-old’s love
My first memories of Jerusalem are from my first visit to Israel when I was 16 years old. That winter, snow actually fell in Jerusalem. Most of the days were cold and rainy. During that first visit, we arrived at the Western Wall on Hanukkah in the rain. It was magical.
I bargained for every penny with the peddlers at the market, searched for tokens in old telephone booths when I really needed them, and collected thousands of gifts, hand-made in Jerusalem, for friends and family in the diaspora, all conveying the message: “Look what Jerusalem has to offer.”
My entire Jewish history takes on a meaning in Jerusalem. It echoes from houses’ walls, from the letters on the street signs and the Old City alleys, which merge into an identity of one “Jewishness.” The falafel at the top of the stairs leading to the Western Wall is the best I have ever eaten. The tourist shops along the arched street are engraved on my memory.
In my Jerusalem, I managed to experience kosher food that represents all ends of the universe. I prayed while swinging, I prayed while running, I warmed myself up in the sunlight, the moonlight and all the stars shining on Jerusalem.
Something touched and moved my soul. I kissed loved ones and fell in love, again and again, with a city which was redeemed so that we could love it again and again.
Former soccer player Uri Malmilian: Playing at the YMCA
I was born in the Mamilla neighborhood in 1957, exactly 60 years ago. We were nine children living in a three-room apartment, near the Old City walls, which were the landscape of my childhood at the time. I remember the period before the Six-Day War—the snipers who fired bullets from the embrasures in the wall, the neighborhood, the Beit Yaakov school.
As children, we created a field for ourselves on the sand, where we would play. When the ball flew across the fence leading to the Jordanian side, which we were not allowed to cross, we would crawl under it and return the ball to the improvised field.
After Jerusalem was united, we walked freely to the Old City. On holidays, we would walk down the stairs, the entire family, from the house to the Western Wall. There was a strong sense of security—we were not afraid of walking at night or alone, we did not feel the need to look back or search for the security guards as we do today.
My second home was the YMCA court. From the morning to the evening, we would play there a soccer-like children’s game called “stanga” and train in futsal. In the afternoon, everyone would come to see the Beitar Jerusalem Football Club. At the age of six, I already knew it was an inseparable part of me.
The city was clearly divided between those who lived in the Musrara neighborhood and were Beitar fans, and the Katamon residents who supported Hapoel Jerusalem. I was an ardent Beitar fan, but I admired Hapoel player Eli Ben Rimoz.
For me, Jerusalem of that era symbolizes the simplicity, the familiality, the “people,” the equality—and the days in which there were no big people or small people. A person’s greatness is always knowing where he came from and where he is going. I may have left the city, but it is always carved in my heart and soul and is above anything else.
Chief Justice Miriam Naor: A wonderful and divided city
My Jerusalem. My beloved city, the one and only, unlike any other in the world. The city I have lived in my whole life.
I was born on Mount Scopus at the end of 1947. I was one of the last children born on the mountain before the city was separated and Mount Scopus remained an enclave.
I am a proud Jerusalemite. I grew up and studied here. This is where I married my husband Aryeh, and this is where our children were born. This is where I worked at the public’s service—in the State Attorney’s Office and in the Magistrates’, District and Supreme courts. Mahane Yehuda Market is an inseparable part of my life.
During the Ben Yehuda Street bombing in February, 1948, a wall fell on the stroller I was lying in as a baby, but when the ruins were exposed it turned out that I had suffered nothing but a few scratches. I don’t remember any of it, but my parents would often talk about how my life was saved in that bombing, which was one of the first terror attacks in the city. Since then, I have felt protected from all evil in the terror-stricken city.
As children, my friends and I used to try and observe the Old City from every possible angle: From the Abu Tor neighborhood, where we saw the golden Dome of the Rock, and from the Mamilla rooftops. The Old City was so close yet so far away. I got to see our dream come true. Jerusalem was united. We returned to the Western Wall, to the Temple Mount, to the alleys of the Old City, to Mount Scopus and to my grandfather’s grave on the Mount of Olives.
As a judge in this city and as president of the Supreme Court, I hope that the city of Jerusalem will soon receive proper judicial halls for the public of litigators. I hope that the State of Israel will find the required budget to build these judicial halls, on the 50th anniversary of the city’s reunification, for the glory of the State of Israel and its capital Jerusalem.
My Jerusalem is wonderful and spectacular.
Today, unfortunately, the city is divided and torn. The separation barrier, which is required for security reasons, is wounding its landscapes. My dream is that we will be blessed with a city where peace and harmony will prevail between its residents. Inshallah, God willing. Lu yehi, let it be.
Philosopher and author Bernard-Henri Lévy: The last place in my life
Joy and anticipation. Serenity and hope. Time stands still, as if hanging in the air. A city-sign. The violence in the calm. A city of conversion—in other words, of reversal. Blind light. A category of the world and of the entity, of the space and of the spirit. History and counter-history. In the daily routine and outside the daily routine. The arena and center of the contemporary war of (almost) all against all—and, simultaneously, a necessary introduction of any future peace.
My friend Benny Levy, shortly before he died, said to me (and I quote from my memory): “The Jerusalem stone is the only thing that calms me down.” It was the same for me, from the very first moment. I can’t visit Israel without staying, even for a few hours, in the only city in the country which, according to Yeshayahu Leibowitz, is non-negotiable from an ontological perspective.
In 1984, the hero of the first novel I wrote, which was called Le Diable en tête (The Devil in the Mind), ended his days in Jerusalem. His name was Benjamin and he was sort of a future plan. I am not there yet, for course, but it’s a thought that has crossed my mind and I know that, one way or another, it will shape into an idea. To be more accurate, I believe that Jerusalem will one day be the last place in the long and beautiful adventure of my life.
State Comptroller Yosef Shapira: The education of the past
Since the State of Israel’s establishment, the issue of education in its different forms has had an important place in Jerusalem’s existence. I studied at a secular elementary school, Beit Hinuch Katzenelson, in the Romema neighborhood. At the time, I lived at the end of Rashi Street on the corner of Rabbeinu Tam Street (Rashi’s grandson) in the Yegia Kapayim neighborhood. Some of its residents were religious and studied in schools in the area which reflected the different branches of Judaism.
There were many synagogues in the neighborhood as well. The closest one to my home was Sephardic synagogue Yegia Kapayim. The manager, Rabbi David Sapia, taught us to sing Psalms twice a week. After we learned them by heart, we would go with the rabbi to mourners’ homes to offer our condolences through these liturgies.
As children, we spent time with the families of friends from the neighborhood, who immigrated to Israel from different countries and ethnic groups, each with their own customs and food. Sometimes, when I came home late and didn’t ask to eat anything, my mother understood that I had eaten at the neighbors’ house. I found the Sephardic food tasty.
The Nimrodi family, whose son Yaakov served in the Intelligence Corps, lived in my childhood building. When he came home on army leave, he would tell the neighborhood’s children fascinating stories.
We were educated on values at the time, both in content and in action. And so, in addition theoretical studies with Naomi Anavi and Aliza Guri, the educators who no one can ever forget, we had an “agriculture day” once a week, in which we grew vegetables in the garden adjacent to the school. And there were of course sports: From basketball in the Gvurot Hall, through marksmanship, to games with marbles and apricot stones (“ajuim,” as we called them in Jerusalem at the time).
The spirit of the era may have been different, but the basic values did not change. And so despite our different descents and mother tongues, we lived together in harmony (like the name of the synagogue we all prayed in), as one big family. At the end of the day, education is acquired in the formal system—but not just there.
Musician Shaa’nan Streett: Construction or destruction
It’s the 50th anniversary of the current phase of Jerusalem. Fifty years since June 1967. That’s a long time in human life, but it’s absolutely nothing in a city’s life.
I have loved Jerusalem all my life. I love it in spite of everything, I love it because of everything and I love it thanks to everything. I love it and I understand very well that it has yet to internalize and embrace its biggest relative advantage. Whether it likes it or not, Jerusalem serves as a test case. On its regular days, the test appears to be succeeding. “Yes,” the cypresses node, “of course”—of course it is succeeding, of course it has a future. Yes, there are different sectors and contradicting opinions and vibrant emotions here—on, above and beyond every square meter—but it’s still working. It’s still succeeding.
And on its burning days—the exact opposite. On its burning days, the hope disappears not only from Jerusalem but from the entire Israeli domain—and some will say much further.
As we celebrate, I hope I live to see the day when Jerusalem understands that it cannot survive without each of the sectors manning it. that it’s no coincidence that we are all in it and that it is so important to us. That the choice is in our hands—we can all take part in its construction, or we will all carry the shame of its destruction.
Video: Why Did Israel Go to War in 1967?
The regional atmosphere leading up to the 1967 Six-Day War.
(Six-Day War Project-Jerusalem U)
President Rivlin’s address on Yom Yerushalayim