80. Khaled Abu Toameh, "Gaza’s Christians fear for their lives," Jerusalem Post, (June 18, 2007); "Catholic compound ransacked in Gaza," Associated Press, (June 19, 2007)
81. Aaron Klein, " ‘Christians must accept Islamic rule,’ " WorldNetDaily, (June 19, 2007); Daniel Schwammenthal, "The Forgotten Palestinian Refugees," Wall Street Journal (December 28, 2009).
82. Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, December 16–18, 2010; see also "Palestinian Public Opinion Poll #38."
83. "Excerpts from Interview with U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice," Washington Post, (September 22, 2009) and "Israel’s Bombardment of Gaza is Not Self-Defence—It’s a War Crime," The Sunday Times, (January 11, 2009).
84. Bernard Josephs, "Dispute Over ‘Biased’ Gaza Inquiry Professor," thejc.com, (August 27, 2009).
85. "Israel’s Initial Reaction to the Report of the Goldstone Fact Finding Mission," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, (September 15, 2009).
86. "UN Smears Israeli Self-Defense as War Crimes," Gerald M. Steinberg, Wall Street Journal, (September 16, 2009).
87. "Israel’s Analysis and Comments on the Gaza Fact-Finding Mission Report," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, (September 15, 2009).
88. "Israel’s Analysis and Comments on the Gaza Fact-Finding Mission Report," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, (September 15, 2009).
89. "Analysis: Blocking the Truth Behind the Gaza War," Jonathan D. Halevi, Jerusalem Post, September 21, 2009.
90. "Hamas and the Terrorist Threat from the Gaza Strip: The Main Findings of the Goldstone Report Versus the Factual Findings," Intelligence & Terrorism Information Center," (March 2010).
91. "IDF releases Cast Lead casualty numbers," Jerusalem Post, (March 28, 2009).
92. "Top UN official blasts Hamas for ‘cynical’ use of civilian facilities," Haaretz, (January 28, 2009).
93. "Hamas MP Fathi Hammad: We Used Women and Children as Human Shields," Al-Aqsa TV, cited in Dispatch #1710, MEMRI (February 29, 2008).
94. Richard Goldstone, "Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and War Crimes", Washington Post, (April 1, 2011).
96. Editorial, "Mr. Goldstone Recants", Wall Street Journal, (April 5, 2011).
97. Richard Goldstone, "Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and War Crimes", Washington Post, (April 1, 2011).
98. Colonel Richard Kemp, "Goldstone Gaza Report", UN Watch, (October 16, 2009).
99. David Harris, "Hamas Admits Up to 700 Fighters Killed in Operation Cast Lead", The Israel Project, (November 1, 2010).
100. Richard Goldstone, "Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and War Crimes", Washington Post, (April 1, 2011).
101. Barak Ravid, "Netanyahu to UN: Retract Gaza War Report in wake of Goldstone’s Comments", Haaretz, (April 2, 2011).188 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
103. Abraham Bell, "International Law and Gaza: The Assault on Israel’s Right to Self- Defense," (January 28, 2008) and "Is Israel Bound by International Law to Supply Utilities, Goods, and Services to Gaza?", (February 28, 2008), Jerusalem: Institute of Contemporary Affairs.
"Jerusalem is an Arab City."
Jews have been living in Jerusalem continuously for three millennia. They have constituted the largest single group of inhabitants there since the 1840’s. Jerusalem contains the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.
Jerusalem was never the capital of any Arab entity. In fact, it was a backwater for most of Arab history. Jerusalem never served as a provincial capital under Muslim rule nor was it ever a Muslim cultural center. For Jews, the entire city is sacred, but Muslims revere only one site—the Dome of the Rock—not the city. "To a Muslim," observed British writer Christopher Sykes, "there is a profound difference betweenJerusalem and Mecca or Medina. The latter are holy places containing holy sites." Besides the Dome of the Rock, he noted, Jerusalem has no major Islamic significance.1
190 MY T H S A N D FAC T S MYTH
"The Temple Mount has always been a Muslim holy place and Judaism has no connection to the site."
During the 2000 Camp David Summit, Yasser Arafat said that no Jewish Temple ever existed on the Temple Mount.3 A year later, the Palestinian Authority-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem, Ikrima Sabri, told the German publication Die Welt, "There is not [even] the smallest indication of the existence of a Jewish temple on this place in the past. In the whole city, there is not even a single stone indicating Jewish history."4
These views are contradicted by a book entitled A Brief Guide to al-Haram al-Sharif, published by the Supreme Moslem Council in 1930. The Council, the principal Muslim authority in Jerusalem during theBritish Mandate, wrote in the guide that the Temple Mount site "is one of the oldest in the world. Its sanctity dates from the earliest times. Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to universal belief, on which David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings."
"The Zionist movement has invented that this was the site of Solomon’s Temple. But this is all a lie."
—Sheik Raed Salah, a leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel5
In a description of the area of Solomon’s Stables, which Islamic Waqf officials converted into a new mosque in 1996, the guide states: " . . . little is known for certain about the early history of the chamber itself. It dates probably as far back as the construction of Solomon’s Temple . . . According to Josephus, it was in existence and was used as a place of refuge by the Jews at the time of the conquest of Jerusalem by Titus in the year 70 A.D."6
More authoritatively, the Koran—the holy book of Islam—describes Solomon’s construction of the First Temple (34:13) and recounts the destruction of the First and Second Temples (17:7).
The Jewish connection to the Temple Mount dates back more than 3,000 years and is rooted in tradition and history. When Abraham bound his son Isaac upon an altar as a sacrifice to God, he is believed to have done so atop Mount Moriah, today’s Temple Mount. The First Temple’s Holy of Holies contained the original Ark of the Covenant, and both the First and Second Temples were the centers of Jewish religious and so15. Jerusalem 191
cial life until the Second Temple’s destruction by the Romans. After the destruction of the Second Temple, control of the Temple Mount passed through several conquering powers. It was during the early period of Muslim control, in the Seventh Century, that the Dome of the Rock was built on the site of the ancient temples.
"Jerusalem need not be the capital of Israel."
Ever since King David made Jerusalem the capital of Israel more than 3,000 years ago, the city has played a central role in Jewish existence. The Temple Mount in the Old City is the object of Jewish veneration and the focus of Jewish prayer. Three times a day, for thousands of years, Jews have prayed "To Jerusalem, thy city, shall we return with joy," and have repeated the Psalmist’s oath: "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning."
"For three thousand years, Jerusalem has been the center of Jewish hope and longing. No other city has played such a dominant role in the history, culture, religion and consciousness of a people as has Jerusalem in the life of Jewry and Judaism. Throughout centuries of exile, Jerusalem remained alive in the hearts of Jews everywhere as the focal point of Jewish history, the symbol of ancient glory, spiritual fulfillment and modern renewal. This heart and soul of the Jewish people engenders the thought that if you want one simple word to symbolize all of Jewish history, that word would be ‘Jerusalem.’ "
"Unlike the Jews, the Arabs were willing to accept the internationalization of Jerusalem."
When the United Nations took up the Palestine question in 1947, it recommended that all of Jerusalem be internationalized. The Vatican and many predominantly Catholic delegations pushed for this status, but a key reason for the UN decision was the Soviet Bloc’s desire to embarrass Transjordan’s King Abdullah and his British patrons by denying Abdullah control of the city.192 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
The Jewish Agency, after much soul-searching, agreed to accept internationalization in the hope that in the short-run it would protect the city from bloodshed and the new state from conflict. Since the partition resolution called for a referendum on the city’s status after 10 years, and Jews comprised a substantial majority, the expectation was that the city would later be incorporated into Israel. The Arab states were as bitterly opposed to the internationalization of Jerusalem as they were to the rest of the partition plan.
In May 1948, Jordan invaded and occupied East Jerusalem, dividing the city for the first time in its history, and driving thousands of Jews— whose families had lived in the city for centuries—into exile. The UN partition plan, including its proposal that Jerusalem be internationalized, was overtaken by events.
"You ought to let the Jews have Jerusalem; it was they who made it famous."
"Internationalization is the best solution to resolve the conflicting claims over Jerusalem."
The seeming intractability of resolving the conflicting claims to Jerusalem has led some people to resurrect the idea of internationalizing the city. Curiously, the idea had little support during the 19 years Jordan controlled the Old City and barred Jews and Israeli Muslims from their holy sites.
The fact that Jerusalem is disputed, or that it is of importance to people other than Israeli Jews, does not mean the city belongs to others or should be ruled by some international regime. There is no precedent for such a setup. The closest thing to an international city was post-war Berlin when the four powers shared control of the city, and that experiment proved to be a disaster.
Even if Israel were amenable to such an idea, what conceivable international group could be entrusted to protect the freedoms Israel already guarantees? Surely not the United Nations, which has shown no understanding of Israeli concerns since partition. Israel can count only on the support of the United States, and it is only in the UN Security Council that an American veto can protect Israel from political mischief by other nations.15. Jerusalem 193
While in control of Jerusalem, Jordan ensured freedom of worship for all religions."
From 1948–67, Jerusalem was divided between Israel and Jordan. Israel made western Jerusalem its capital; Jordan occupied the eastern section. Because Jordan maintained a state of war with Israel, the city became, in essence, two armed camps, replete with concrete walls and bunkers, barbed-wire fences, minefields and other military fortifications.
Under paragraph eight of the1949 Armistice Agreement, Jordan and Israel were to establish committees to arrange the resumption of the normal functioning of cultural and humanitarian institutions on Mt. Scopus, use of the cemetery on the Mount of Olives, and free access to holy places and cultural institutions. Jordan violated the agreement, however, and denied Israelis access to the Western Wall and to the cemetery on the Mount of Olives, where Jews have buried their dead for more than 2,500 years.
Under Jordanian rule, "Israeli Christians were subjected to various restrictions during their seasonal pilgrimages to their holy places" in Jerusalem, noted Teddy Kollek. "Only limited numbers were grudgingly permitted to briefly visit the Old City and Bethlehem at Christmas and Easter."9
In 1955 and 1964, Jordan passed laws imposing strict government control on Christian schools, including restrictions on the opening of new schools, state control over school finances and appointment of teachers and the requirements that the Koran be taught. In 1953 and 1965, Jordan adopted laws abrogating the right of Christian religious and charitable institutions to acquire real estate in Jerusalem.
In 1958, police seized the Armenian Patriarch-elect and deported him from Jordan, paving the way for the election of a patriarch supported by King Hussein’s government. Because of these repressive policies, many Christians emigrated from Jerusalem. Their numbers declined from 25,000 in 1949 to fewer than 13,000 in June 1967.10
These discriminatory laws were abolished by Israel after the city was reunited in 1967.
"Jordan safeguarded Jewish holy places."
Jordan desecrated Jewish holy places during its occupation in 1948–67. King Hussein permitted the construction of a road to the Interconti194 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
nental Hotel across the Mount of Olives cemetery. Hundreds of Jewish graves were destroyed by a highway that could have easily been built elsewhere. The gravestones, honoring the memory of rabbis and sages, were used by the engineer corps of the Jordanian Arab Legion as pavement and latrines in army camps (inscriptions on the stones were still visible when Israel liberated the city).
The ancient Jewish Quarter of the Old City was ravaged, 58 Jerusalem synagogues—some centuries old—were destroyed or ruined, others were turned into stables and chicken coops. Slum dwellings were built abutting the Western Wall.11
"Under Israeli rule, religious freedom has been curbed in Jerusalem."
After the 1967 war, Israel abolished all the discriminatory laws promulgated by Jordan and adopted its own tough standard for safeguarding access to religious shrines. "Whoever does anything that is likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the various religions to the places sacred to them," Israeli law stipulates, is "liable to imprisonment for a term of five years." Israel also entrusted administration of the holy places to their respective religious authorities. Thus, for example, the Muslim Waqf has responsibility for the mosques on the Temple Mount.
The State Department notes that Israeli law provides for freedom of worship, and the Government respects this right.12
"I also respect the fact that Israel allows for a multifaith climate in which every Friday a thousand Muslims pray openly on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. When I saw that, I had to ask myself, where in the Islamic world can 1,000 Jews get together and pray in full public view?"
—Muslim author Irshad Manji13
"Israel denies Muslims and Christians free access to their holy sites."
Since 1967, hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Christians—many from Arab countries that remain in a state of war with Israel—have come to Jerusalem to see their holy places.15. Jerusalem 195
According to Islam, the prophet Muhammad was miraculously transported from Mecca to Jerusalem, and it was from there that he made his ascent to heaven. The Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque, both built in the seventh century, made definitive the identification of Jerusalem as the "Remote Place" that is mentioned in the Koran, and thus a holy place after Mecca and Medina. Muslim rights on theTemple Mount, the site of the two shrines, have not been infringed.
"There is only one Jerusalem. From our perspective, Jerusalem is not a subject for compromise. Jerusalem was ours, will be ours, is ours and will remain as such forever."
—Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin14
After reuniting Jerusalem during the Six-Day War, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan permitted the Islamic authority, the Waqf, to continue its civil authority on the Temple Mount even though it is part of the holiest site in Judaism. The Waqf oversees all day-to-day activity there. An Israeli presence is in place at the entrance to the Temple Mount to ensure access for people of all religions.
Arab leaders are free to visit Jerusalem to pray, just as Egyptian President Anwar Sadat did at the al-Aqsa mosque in 1977. For security reasons, restrictions are sometimes temporarily imposed on the Temple Mount, but the right to worship has never been abridged, and other mosques remain accessible even in times of high tension.
For Christians, Jerusalem is the place where Jesus lived, preached, died and was resurrected. While it is the heavenly rather than the earthly Jerusalem that is emphasized by the Church, places mentioned in theNew Testament as the sites of Jesus’ ministry have drawn pilgrims and devoted worshipers for centuries. Among these sites are the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Garden of Gethsemane, the site of the Last Supper, and the Via Dolorosa with the fourteen Stations of the Cross.
The rights of the various Christian churches to custody of the Christian holy places in Jerusalem were defined in the course of the nineteenth century, when Jerusalem was part of the Ottoman Empire. Known as the "status quo arrangement for the Christian holy places in Jerusalem," these rights remained in force during the period of the British Mandate and are still upheld today in Israel.
"Israel has refused to discuss a compromise on the future of Jerusalem."196 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
Jerusalem was never the capital of any Arab entity. Palestinians have no special claim to the city; they simply demand it as their capital. Nevertheless, Israel has recognized that the city has a large Palestinian population, that the city is important to Muslims, and that making concessions on the sovereignty of the city might help minimize the conflict with the Palestinians. The Palestinians, however, have shown no reciprocal appreciation for the Jewish majority in the city, the significance of Jerusalem to the Jewish people or the fact that it is already the nation’s capital.
The Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles (DoP) signed in 1993 left open the status of Jerusalem. Article V said only that Jerusalem is one of the issues to be discussed in the permanent status negotiations.
"Anyone who relinquishes a single inch of Jerusalem is neither an Arab nor a Muslim."
Most Israelis oppose dividing Jerusalem; still, efforts have been made to find some compromise that could satisfy Palestinian interests. For example, while the Labor Party was in power, Knesset Member Yossi Beilin reportedly reached a tentative agreement that would allow the Palestinians to claim the city as their capital without Israel sacrificing sovereignty over its capital. Beilin’s idea was to allow the Palestinians to set up their capital in a West Bank suburb of Jerusalem—Abu Dis. The PA subsequently constructed a building for its parliament in the city.
Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered dramatic concessions that would have allowed the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem to become the capital of a Palestinian state, and given the Palestinians control over the Muslim holy places on the Temple Mount. These ideas were discussed at the White House Summit in December 2000, but rejected by Yasser Arafat.
In 2008, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered a peace plan that included the partitioning of Jerusalem on a demographic basis. Abbas rejected the offer.
"Israel has restricted the political rights of Palestinian Arabs in Jerusalem."15. Jerusalem 197
Along with religious freedom, Palestinian Arabs in Jerusalem have unprecedented political rights. Arab residents were given the choice of whether to become Israeli citizens. Most chose to retain their Jordanian citizenship. Moreover, regardless of whether they are citizens, Jerusalem Arabs are permitted to vote in municipal elections and play a role in the administration of the city.
"I’ll urge the Muslims to launch jihad and to use all their capabilities to restore Muslim Palestine and the holy al-Aqsa mosque from the Zionist usurpers and aggressors. The Muslims must be united in the confrontation of the Jews and those who support them."
—Saudi King Fahd16
"Under UN Resolution 242, East Jerusalem is considered ‘occupied territory.’ "
One drafter of the UN Resolution was then-U.S. Ambassador to the UN Arthur Goldberg. According to Goldberg, "Resolution 242 in no way refers to Jerusalem, and this omission was deliberate. . . . Jerusalem was a discrete matter, not linked to the West Bank." In several speeches at the UN in 1967, Goldberg said: "I repeatedly stated that the armistice lines of 1948 were intended to be temporary. This, of course, was particularly true of Jerusalem. At no time in these many speeches did I refer to East Jerusalem as occupied territory."17
Because Israel was defending itself from aggression in the 1948 and 1967 wars, former President of the International Court of Justice Steven Schwebel wrote, it has a better claim to sovereignty over Jerusalem than its Arab neighbors.18
"East Jerusalem should be part of a Palestinian state because all its residents are Palestinian Arabs and no Jews have ever lived there."
Before 1865, the entire population of Jerusalem lived behind the Old City walls (what today would be considered part of the eastern part 198 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
of the city). Later, the city began to expand beyond the walls because of population growth, and both Jews and Arabs began to build in new areas of the city.
By the time of partition, a thriving Jewish community was living in the eastern part of Jerusalem, an area that included the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. This area of the city also contains many sites of importance to the Jewish religion, including the City of David, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. In addition, major institutions such as Hebrew University and the original Hadassah Hospital are onMount Scopus—in eastern Jerusalem.
The only time that the eastern part of Jerusalem was exclusively Arab was between 1949 and 1967, and that was because Jordan occupied the area and forcibly expelled all the Jews.
"The basis of our position remains that Jerusalem must never again be a divided city. We did not approve of the status quo before 1967; in no way do we advocate a return to it now."
—President George Bush19
"The United States does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital."
Of the 190 nations with which America has diplomatic relations, Israel is the only one whose capital is not recognized by the U.S. government. The U.S. embassy, like most others, is in Tel Aviv, 40 miles fromJerusalem. The United States does maintain a consulate in East Jerusalem, however, that deals with Palestinians in the territories and works independently of the embassy, reporting directly to Washington. Today, then, we have the anomaly that American diplomats refuse to meet with Israelis in their capital because Jerusalem’s status is negotiable, but make their contacts with Palestinians in the city.
In 1990, Congress passed a resolution declaring that "Jerusalem is and should remain the capital of the State of Israel" and "must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected." During the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton said: "I recognize Jerusalem as an undivided city, the eternal capital of Israel, and I believe in the principle of moving our embassy toJerusalem." He never reiterated this view as president; consequently, official U.S. policy remained that the status of Jerusalem is a matter for negotiations.15. Jerusalem 199
In an effort to change this policy, Congress overwhelmingly passed The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. This landmark bill declared that, as a statement of official U.S. policy, Jerusalem should be recognized as the undivided, eternal capital of Israel and required that the U.S. embassy in Israel be established in Jerusalem no later than May 1999. The law also included a waiver that allowed the president to essentially ignore the legislation if he deemed doing so to be in the best interest of the United States. President Clinton exercised that option.
"I would be blind to disclaim the Jewish connection to Jerusalem."
—Sari Nusseibeh, President of Al Quds University20
During the 2000 presidential campaign George W. Bush promised that as President he would immediately "begin the process of moving the United States ambassador to the city Israel has chosen as its capital."21 As President, however, Bush followed Clinton’s precedent and repeatedly used the presidential waiver to prevent the embassy from being moved. Since coming to office in 2008, President Obama has continued the policy of his predecessors.
While critics of congressional efforts to force the administration to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital insist that such a move would harm the peace process, supporters of the legislation argue the opposite is true. By making clear the United States position that Jerusalem should remain unified under Israeli sovereignty, unrealistic Palestinian expectations regarding the city can be moderated and thereby enhance the prospects for a final agreement.
"Palestinians have been careful to preserve the archaeological relics of the Temple Mount."
Though it has refused to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount, the Waqf cooperated with Israeli inspectors when conducting work on the holy site. After the 1993 Oslo accords, however, the Jordanian-controlled Waqf was replaced with representatives beholden to the Palestinian Authority. Following the riots that accompanied Israel’s decision to open an exit from the Western Wall tunnel, the Waqf ceased cooperating with Israel.
The Waqf has subsequently prevented Israeli inspectors from overseeing work done on the Mount that has caused irreparable damage to archaeological remains from the First and Second Temple periods. 200MY T H S A N D FAC T S
Israeli archaeologists found that during extensive construction work, thousands of tons of gravel––which contained important relics––was removed from the Mount and discarded in the trash. Experts say that even the artifacts that were not destroyed were rendered archaeologically useless because the Palestinian construction workers mixed finds from diverse periods when they scooped up earth with bulldozers.22
"They should be using a toothbrush, not a bulldozer."
—Dr. Gabriel Barkan on Palestinian excavations on the Temple Mount23
In August 2007, Israeli archaeologists discovered the Muslim authorities had begun fresh excavations on the Temple Mount to create a 500-foot trench for water pipes and electricity cables. By indiscriminately piling up earth and stones, Israeli officials say the Palestinians are once again harming a sensitive area. Archaeologists from the nonpartisan Committee Against the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount say the digging has damaged a wall that dates back to Second- Temple times and was likely part of the Temple courts.24
While an international protest was mounted when Israel began to renovate a bridge to the Temple Mount that caused no harm, the same people who expressed such great concern about the integrity of the site have remained silent while the Palestinians destroy priceless relics.
Given the sensitivity of the Temple Mount, and the tensions already existing between Israelis and Palestinians over Jerusalem, the Israeli government has not interfered in the Waqf’s activities. Meanwhile, the destruction of the past continues.
"There was never a Jewish temple on Al-Aqsa [the mosque compound] and there is no proof that there was ever a temple."
—Former mufti of Jerusalem, Ikrema Sabri25Notes
1. Encounter, (February 1968).
2. John Oesterreicher and Anne Sinai, eds., Jerusalem, (NY: John Day, 1974), p. 1; Israel Central Bureau of Statistics; Jerusalem Foundation; Municipality of Jerusalem; JTA, (May 20, 2009). Totals include those classified as "other."
3. Interview with Dennis Ross, Fox News Sunday, (April 21, 2002).
4. Sheik ‘Ikrima Sabri, PA-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem, Interviewed by German magazine Die Welt, (January 17, 2001), [Trans. MEMRI].
5. Leon and Jill Uris, Jerusalem, (New York: Doubleday and Company, 1981), p. 13.
6. "A Brief Guide to the Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem," Supreme Muslim Council, (1925).15. Jerusalem 201
7. Teddy Kollek, Jerusalem, (DC: Washington Institute For Near East Policy, 1990), pp. 19–20.
8. Sir Eveyln Shuckburgh, Descent to Suez; Diaries 1951–56, (London, 1986).
9. Kollek, p. 15.
10. Kollek, p. 16.
11. Kollek, p. 15.
12. "2010 Report on International Religious Freedom," Released by the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State, (Washington, D.C., November 17, 2010).
13. Pearl Sheffy Gefen, "Irshad Manji, Muslim Refusenik," Lifestyles Magazine, (Summer 2004), p. 29.
14. Jerusalem Day Address to Knesset, (May 29, 1995).
15. Voice of Palestine, Algiers, (September 2, 1993).
16. Saudi Press Agency, (July 15, 1986).
17. New York Times, (March 12, 1980).
18. American Journal of International Law, (April 1970), pp. 346–47.
19. Letter from President George Bush to Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek, (March 13, 1990).
20. Jerusalem Post, (November 12, 2001).
21. Speech to AIPAC Policy Conference, (May 22, 2000).
22. Jewish Telegraphic Agency, (February 13, 2001).
23. Martin Asser, "Israeli anger over holy site work," BBC News, (August 28, 2007).
24. Martin Asser, "Israeli anger over holy site work," BBC News, (August 28, 2007); Etgar Lefkovits, "Archaeologists: Muslim dig damaged Temple wall," Jerusalem Post, (August 31, 2007).
25. Mike Seid, "Western Wall was never part of temple," Jerusalem Post, (October 25, 2007).
16. U.S. Middle East Policy
"The creation of Israel resulted solely from U.S. pressure."
When the UN took up the question of Palestine, President Harry Truman explicitly said the United States should not "use threats or improper pressure of any kind on other delegations."1 Some pressure was nevertheless exerted and the U.S. played a key role in securing support for the partition resolution. U.S. influence was limited, however, as became clear when American dependents such as Cuba and Greece voted against partition, and El Salvador and Honduras abstained.
Many members of the Truman Administration opposed partition, including Defense Secretary James Forrestal, who believed Zionist aims posed a threat to American oil supplies and its strategic position in the region. The Joint Chiefs of Staff worried that the Arabs might align themselves with the Soviets if they were alienated by the West. These internal opponents tried to undermine U.S. support for the establishment of a Jewish state.2
Meanwhile, the Soviet Union also supported partition, the first foreign policy issue on which the soon to be Cold War rivals agreed.
Although much has been written about the tactics of the supporters of partition, the behavior of the Arab lobby has been largely ignored. Arab states and their supporters were, in fact, actively engaged in arm-twisting of their own at the UN trying to scuttle partition.3
"The United States favored Israel over the Arabs in 1948 because of the Jewish lobby."
Truman supported the Zionist movement because he believed the international community was obligated to fulfill the promise of the Balfour Declaration and because he believed that ameliorating the plight of the Jewish survivors of the Holocaust was the humanitarian thing to do. A sense of his attitude can be gleaned from a remark he made with regard to negotiations as to the boundaries of a Jewish state:16. U.S. Middle East Policy 203
The whole region waits to be developed, and if it were handled the way we developed the Tennessee River basin, it could support from 20 to 30 million people more. To open the door to this kind of future would indeed be the constructive and humanitarian thing to do, and it would also redeem the pledges that were given at the time of World War I.4
The American public supported the President’s policy. According to public opinion polls, 65 percent of Americans supported the creation of a Jewish state.5 This public support was reflected in Congress where a resolution approving the Balfour Declaration was adopted in 1922. In 1944, both national parties called for the restoration of the Jewish Commonwealth and, in 1945, a similar resolution was adopted by Congress.
Rather than giving in to pressure, Truman tended to react negatively to the "Jewish lobby." He complained repeatedly about being pressured and talked about putting propaganda from the Jews in a pile and striking a match to it. In a letter to Rep. Claude Pepper, Truman wrote: "Had it not been for the unwarranted interference of the Zionists, we would have had the matter settled a year and a half ago."6 This was hardly the attitude of a politician overly concerned with Jewish votes.
"The United States and Israel have nothing in common."
The U.S.-Israel relationship is based on the twin pillars of shared values and mutual interests. Given this commonality of interests and beliefs, it should not be surprising that support for Israel is one of the most pronounced and consistent foreign policy values of the American people.
Although Israel is geographically located in a region that is relatively undeveloped and closer to the Third World than the West, Israel has emerged in less than 60 years as an advanced nation with the characteristics of Western society. This is partially attributable to the fact that a high percentage of the population came from Europe or North America and brought with them Western political and cultural norms. It is also a function of the common Judeo-Christian heritage.
Simultaneously, Israel is a multicultural society with people from more than 100 nations. Today, nearly half of all Israelis are Eastern or Oriental Jews who trace their origins to the ancient Jewish communities of the Islamic countries of North Africa and the Middle East.
While they live in a region characterized by autocracies, Israelis have a commitment to democracy no less passionate than that of Americans. All citizens of Israel, regardless of race, religion or sex, are guaranteed 204 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
equality before the law and full democratic rights. Freedom of speech, assembly and press is embodied in the country’s laws and traditions. Israel’s independent judiciary vigorously upholds these rights.
The political system does differ from America’s—Israel’s is a parliamentary democracy—but it is still based on free elections with divergent parties. And though Israel does not have a formal constitution, it has adopted "Basic Laws" that establish similar legal guarantees.
Americans have long viewed Israelis with admiration, at least partly because they see much of themselves in their pioneering spirit and struggle for independence. Like the United States, Israel is a nation ofimmigrants. Despite the burden of spending nearly one-fifth of its budget on defense, it has had an extraordinary rate of economic growth for most of its history. It has also succeeded in putting most of the newcomers to work. Some immigrants come from relatively undeveloped societies, such as Ethiopia or Yemen, and arrive with virtually no possessions, education or training and become productive contributors to Israeli society.
In the beginning, Israel had a mixed economy, combining capitalism with socialism along the British model. After experiencing serious economic difficulties, created largely in the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War by increased oil prices and the need to spend a disproportionate share of its Gross National Product on defense, Israel gradually adopted reforms that reduced the role of the state and shifted the country closer to the free market system of the United States. America has been a partner in this evolution.
The special relationship is also reflected in a variety of shared value initiatives, which cover a broad range of common interests, such as the environment, energy, space, education, occupational safety and health. More than 400 American institutions in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have received funds from binational programs with Israel. Little-known relationships like the Free Trade Agreement, the Cooperative Development Research Program, the Middle East Regional Cooperation Program and various memoranda of understanding with virtually every U.S. governmental agency demonstrate the depth of the special relationship. Even more important may be the broad ties between Israel and each of the individual 50 states and the District of Columbia.
In the 1980’s, attention increasingly focused on one pillar of the relationship—shared interests. The Reagan Administration saw the Soviet Union as a threat to American Middle East interests and Israel as a bulwark of democracy in the region. Reagan formally recognized Israel’s role through agreements for strategic cooperation. After the end of the Cold War, Israel has continued to play a role in joint efforts to protect American interests, including close cooperation in the war 16. U.S. Middle East Policy 205
on terror. Strategic cooperation has progressed to the point where a de facto alliance now exists and the United States knows it can count on Israel.
"Most Americans oppose a close U.S. relationship with Israel."
Support for Israel is not restricted to the Jewish community. Americans of all ages, races and religions sympathize with Israel. This support is also nonpartisan, with a majority of Democrats and Republicans consistently favoring Israel by large margins over the Arabs.
The best indication of Americans’ attitude toward Israel is found in the response to the most consistently asked question about the Middle East: "In the Middle East situation, are your sympathies more with Israel or with the Arab nations?"
In 82 Gallup polls, going back to 1967, Israel has had the support of an average of 47 percent of the American people compared to 12 percent for the Arab states/Palestinians. Americans have slightly more sympathy for the Palestinians than for the Arab states, but the results of polls asking respondents to choose between Israel and the Palestinians have not differed significantly from the other surveys.
"The allied nations with the fullest concurrence of our government and people are agreed that in Palestine shall be laid the foundations of a Jewish Commonwealth."
—President Woodrow Wilson7
Some people have the misperception that sympathy for Israel was once much higher, but the truth is that before the Gulf War the peak had been 56 percent, reached just after the Six-Day War. In January 1991, sympathy for Israel reached a record high of 64 percent, according to Gallup. Meanwhile, support for the Arabs dropped to 8 percent and the margin was a record 56 points.
The most recent poll, reported by Gallup in February 2011, found that, for the second year in a row, sympathy for Israel was a near record 63 percent compared to only 17 percent for the Palestinians. Despite the violence of the preceding years, and a steady stream of negative media coverage, this is seven points higher than the level of support Israel enjoyed after the 1967 War, when many people mistakenly believe that Israel was overwhelmingly popular.206 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
Polls also indicate the public views Israel as a reliable U.S. ally. In a May 2011 CNN poll, for example, 82 percent of Americans said Israel is "friendly" or an "ally."8
"U.S. policy has always been hostile toward the Arabs."
Arabs rarely acknowledge the American role in helping the Arab states achieve independence. President Wilson’s stand for self-determination for all nations, and the U.S. entry into World War I, helped cause the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and stimulate the move toward independence in the Arab world.
Arab leaders assert that Middle East policy must be a zero-sum game whereby support for their enemy, Israel, necessarily puts them at a disadvantage. Thus, Arab states have tried to force the United States to choose between support for them or Israel. The U.S. has usually refused to fall into this trap. The fact that the U.S. has a close alliance with Israel while maintaining good relations with several Arab states is proof the two are not incompatible.
The U.S. has long sought friendly relations with Arab leaders and has, at one time or another, been on good terms with most Arab states. In the 1930s, the discovery of oil led U.S. companies to become closely involved with the Gulf Arabs. In the 1950s, U.S. strategic objectives stimulated an effort to form an alliance with pro-Western Arab states. Countries such as Iraq and Libya were friends of the U.S. before radical leaders took over those governments. Egypt, which was hostile toward the U.S. under Nasser, shifted to the pro-Western camp under Sadat.
Since World War II, the U.S. has poured economic and military assistance into the region and today is the principal backer of nations such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt and the Gulf sheikdoms. Although the Arab states blamed the U.S. for their defeats in wars they initiated with Israel, the truth is most of the belligerents had either been given or offered American assistance at some time.9
"The United States always supports Israel."
The United States has been Israel’s closest ally throughout its history; nevertheless, the U.S. has acted against the Jewish State’s wishes many times.
The U.S. effort to balance support for Israel with placating the Arabs 16. U.S. Middle East Policy 207
began in 1948 when President Truman showed signs of wavering on partition and advocating trusteeship. After the surrounding Arab states invaded Israel, the U.S. maintained an arms embargo that severely restricted the Jews’ ability to defend themselves.
Ever since the 1948 war, the U.S. has been unwilling to insist on projects to resettle Arab refugees. The U.S. has also been reluctant to challenge Arab violations of the UN Charter and resolutions. Thus, for example, the Arabs were permitted to get away with blockading the Suez Canal, imposing a boycott on Israel and committing acts of terrorism. In fact, the U.S. has taken positions against Israel at the UN more often than not, and did not use its Security Council veto to block an anti-Israel resolution until 1972.
Perhaps the most dramatic example of American policy diverging from that of Israel came during the Suez War when President Eisenhower took a strong stand against Britain, France and Israel. After the war, U.S. pressure forced Israel to withdraw from the territory it conquered. David Ben-Gurion relied on dubious American guarantees that sowed the seeds of the 1967 conflict.
At various other times, American presidents have taken action against Israel. In 1981, for example, Ronald Reagan suspended a strategic cooperation agreement after Israel annexed the Golan Heights. On another occasion, he held up delivery of fighter planes because of unhappiness over an Israeli raid in Lebanon.
In 1991, President Bush held a press conference to ask for a delay in considering Israel’s request for loan guarantees to help absorb Soviet and Ethiopian Jews because of his disagreement with Israel’ssettlement policy. In staking his prestige on the delay, Bush used intemperate language that inflamed passions and provoked concern in the Jewish community that anti-Semitism would be aroused.
Though often described as the most pro-Israel president in history, Bill Clinton also was critical of Israel on numerous occasions. George W. Bush’s administration was considered equally sympathetic, but also criticized Israel. During the first year of the Palestinian War, the U.S. imposed an arms embargo on spare parts for helicopters because of anger over the use of U.S.-made helicopters in targeted killings. The Bush Administration also punished Israel for agreeing to sell military equipment to China in 2005.10
In his first two years in office, Barack Obama was very critical of Israeli policy and publicly demanded a freeze in settlement construction. A number of other confrontations took place publicly and privately, along with reported threats of punitive measures if Israel did not accede to the president’s insistence that settlements be frozen. As a consequence of his approach to Israel and broader Middle East policy, polls in Israel found unprecedented distrust of the president’s commitment to Israel.11208 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
"The U.S. has always ensured Israel would have a qualitative military edge over the Arabs."
The United States provided only a limited amount of arms to Israel, including ammunition and recoilless rifles, prior to 1962. In that year, President Kennedy sold Israel HAWK anti-aircraft missiles, but only after the Soviet Union provided Egypt with long-range bombers.
By 1965, the U.S. had become Israel’s main arms supplier. This was partially necessitated by West Germany’s acquiescence to Arab pressure, which led Germany to stop selling tanks to Israel. Throughout most of the Johnson Administration, however, the sale of arms to Israel was balanced by corresponding transfers to the Arabs. Thus, the first U.S. tank sale to Israel, in 1965, was offset by a similar sale toJordan.12
The U.S. did not provide Israel with aircraft until 1966. Even then, secret agreements were made to provide the same planes to Morocco and Libya, and additional military equipment was sent to Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia.13
As in 1948, the U.S. imposed an arms embargo on Israel during the Six-Day War, while the Arabs continued to receive Soviet arms. Israel’s position was further undermined by the French decision to embargo arms transfers to the Jewish State, effectively ending their role as Israel’s only other major supplier.
It was only after it became clear that Israel had no other sources of arms, and that the Soviet Union had no interest in limiting its sales to the region, that President Johnson agreed to sell Israel Phantom jets that gave the Jewish State its first qualitative advantage. "We will henceforth become the principal arms supplier to Israel," Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Warnke told Israeli Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin, "involving us even more intimately with Israel’s security situation and involving more directly the security of the United States."14
From that point on, the U.S. began to pursue a policy whereby Israel’s qualitative edge was maintained. The U.S. has also remained committed, however, to arming Arab nations, providing sophisticated missiles, tanks and aircraft to Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Thus, when Israel received F-15s in 1978, so did Saudi Arabia (and Egypt received F-5Es). In 1981, Saudi Arabia, for the first time, received a weapons system that gave it a qualitative advantage over Israel—AWACS radar planes
Today, Israel buys near top-of-the-line U.S. equipment, but many Arab states also receive some of America’s best tanks, planes and missiles. In addition to the quality of U.S. weapons sold to Arab states, the quantity 16. U.S. Middle East Policy 209
also endangers Israel. In 2010, for example, President Obama agreed to the largest arms sale in U.S. history, a $60 billion transaction with Saudi Arabia. The qualitative edge may be intact, but it is undoubtedly narrow.
"Our society is illuminated by the spiritual insights of the Hebrew prophets. America and Israel have a common love of human freedom, and they have a common faith in a democratic way of life."
—President Lyndon Johnson15
"U.S. aid to the Middle East has always been one-sided in favor of Israel."
After Israel’s victory in its War of Independence, the U.S. responded to an appeal for economic aid to help absorb immigrants by approving a $135 million Export-Import Bank loan and the sale of surplus commodities. In those early years of Israel’s statehood (also today), U.S. aid was seen as a means of promoting peace.
In 1951, Congress voted to help Israel cope with the economic burdens imposed by the influx of Jewish refugees from the displaced persons camps in Europe and from the ghettos of the Arab countries. Arabs then complained the U.S. was neglecting them, though they had no interest in or use for American aid then. In 1951, Syria rejected offers of U.S. aid. Oil-rich Iraq and Saudi Arabia did not need U.S. economic assistance (yet the Saudis did get aid and continue to get assistance), and Jordan was, until the late 1950s, the ward of Great Britain. After 1957, when the United States assumed responsibility for supportingJordan and resumed economic aid to Egypt, assistance to the Arab states soared. Also, the United States was by far the biggest contributor of aid to the Palestinians through UNRWA, a status that continues to the present day.
Prior to 1971, Israel received a total of only $277 million in military aid, all in the form of loans as credit sales. The bulk of the economic aid was also lent to Israel. By comparison, the Arab states received nearly three times as much aid before 1971, $4.4 billion, or $170 million per year. Moreover, unlike Israel, which receives nearly all its aid from the United States, Arab nations have gotten assistance from Asia, Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union and the European Community.
Israel did not begin to receive large amounts of assistance until 1974, following the 1973 war, and the sums increased dramatically after the 210 MY T H S A N D FAC T S
Camp David agreements. Altogether, since 1949, Israel has received more than $100 billion in assistance. In 1998, Israel offered to voluntarily reduce its dependence on U.S. aid and over the next ten years economic assistance was gradually phased out. Arab states that have signed agreements with Israel have also been rewarded. Since signing the peace treaty with Israel, Egypt has been the second largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid ($1.6 billion in 2010 compared to Israel’s $2.7 billion). Jordan has also been the beneficiary of higher levels of aid since it signed a treaty with Israel (increasing from less than $40 million to $693 million in 2010). The multibillion dollar debts to the U.S. of both Arab nations were also forgiven.
"It is my responsibility to see that our policy in Israel fits in with our policy throughout the world; second, it is my desire to help build in Palestine a strong, prosperous, free and independent democratic state. It must be large enough, free enough, and strong enough to make its people self-supporting and secure."
—President Harry Truman16
After the Oslo agreements, the United States also began providing aid to the Palestinians.
Since 1994, Palestinians have received more than $2.9 billion in U.S. economic assistance via USAID projects—more than from any other donor country. In 2010, alone, financial aid exceeded $500 million.17More than 60 percent of the PA’s GNP comes from U.S., European Union, UN, and World Bank funds. The PA receives an average of $1,000 per year for every Palestinian citizen from foreign sources.18
"Israel doesn’t need U.S. military assistance."
Israel has peace treaties with only two of its neighbors and the longterm policies of both toward Israel came into question during the "Arab spring" of 2011. The relationship with Egypt, in particular, is a matter of grave concern and will not be clarified until that country’s political future is determined. Israel remains technically at war with the rest of the Arab/Islamic world, and several countries, notably Iran, are openly hostile. Given the potential threats, it is a necessity that Israel continue to maintain a strong defense.
As the arms balance chart in the Appendix indicates, Israel faces for16. U.S. Middle East Policy 211
midable enemies that could band together, as they have in the past, to threaten its security. It must, therefore, rely on its qualitative advantage to ensure it can defeat its enemies, and that can only be guaranteed by the continued purchase of the latest weapons. New tanks, missiles and planes carry high price tags, however, and Israel cannot afford what it needs on its own, so continued aid from the United States is vital to its security. Furthermore, Israel’s enemies have numerous suppliers, but Israel must rely almost entirely on the United States for its hardware.
"U.S. military aid subsidizes Israeli defense contractors at the expense of American industry."
Contrary to popular wisdom, the United States does not simply write billion dollar checks and hand them over to Israel to spend as they like. Only about 25 percent ($694 million of $2.775 billion in 2010) of what Israel receives in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) can be spent in Israel for military procurement. The remaining 75 percent is spent in the United States to generate profits and jobs. More than 1,000 companies in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have signed contracts worth billions of dollars through this program over the last several years. The figures for 2010 are below:
The Value of Foreign Military Financing (FMF) Orders by State19
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