Fundamentally Freund: Staring down Israel's segregationists
August 6, 2009
Michael Freund, THE JERUSALEM POST
The Left, once again, is in an uproar. Along with its international comrades, it is bristling at the recent court-approved move by Jewish families into homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem.
This is in addition to the fury it expressed previously over plans to build apartments for Jews at the site of the privately owned Shepherd Hotel in the eastern part of the capital.
Mustering all the righteous anger at its disposal, the Left has now launched into a heated round of pious pontification, hurling invective and frenzied rhetoric as if the world itself were coming to an end. The Ir Amim organization, for example, recently warned that if the Shepherd Hotel plan moves forward, it might "deal a fatal blow not only to [US President Barack] Obama's efforts but to the two-state solution."
No less hysterical was the reaction of Robert Serry, the UN's special envoy to the Middle East, who released a harshly worded statement saying: "I deplore the totally unacceptable actions by Israel in which Israeli security forces evicted Palestinian refugee families... to allow settlers to take possession of their properties." Calling the move "provocative," Serry asserted that it will "heighten tensions" and "undermine international efforts" to bring about peace.
Have these people fallen on their heads? The Left and its supporters repeatedly stress the need to end "settlement activity," as though it is Jewish housing construction rather than Arab intolerance which lies at the root of the Middle East conflict.
But even more perplexing is the fact that they are willing to embrace an openly discriminatory stance - prejudiced against Jews - to advance their political agenda.
You see, once upon a time not very long ago, it was considered unacceptable to tell people where to live because of their racial or religious identity. To suggest that Jews or blacks or any other ethnic group should not be allowed to live and build freely in a certain area because of who they are was seen as a detestable form of bigotry and segregation.
Yet that is precisely what the Israeli Left and much of the international community now so ardently profess as they seek to bar Jews from living either in eastern Jerusalem or in Judea and Samaria. Ironically, they have in effect embraced the worldview of the Ku Klux Klan, insisting that peace can be based only upon the imposition of apartheid-style restrictions against Jews and their choice of domicile.
Yet here too the Left fails to maintain even a modicum of intellectual consistency, as it selectively applies its principles to just one side of the conflict. Take, for example, the issue of illegal construction in Judea and Samaria. The Left has vociferously called for uprooting the unlicensed outposts erected by Jewish residents of the territories. It sends teams of monitors to track the development of these budding communities and compiles and issues reports and press releases on the subject.
The reason? Ostensibly, it is all about law and order. Many of the Jewish outposts are said to have been built without the necessary permits from the government; hence, the Left demands that they be dismantled.
Now, I am all in favor of respecting the law, but a key element, in democracies at least, is the idea that all are equal before it. Yet when it comes to illegal building in Judea and Samaria, the Left seems to make noise only about Jewish structures, not Arab ones.
As anyone who has driven through the territories knows, untold thousands of illegal structures have gone up in Arab villages and towns and along roads overlooking Jewish communities. If the law is supreme as far as the Left is concerned, then it should not care whether the person erecting an illegal structure follows Moses or Muhammad. But, quite clearly, it does.
When was the last time you heard the Left take such a stance?
Obviously, something is very rotten in the land of liberalism if today's self-proclaimed progressives are willing to come out so openly in favor of religious discrimination.
Consider the absurdity of it all: To be liberal nowadays means to support imposing segregation in Jerusalem and prohibiting Jews from living in certain neighborhoods. And to be considered peace-loving, you must approve of restricting where Jews can purchase apartments. Go figure.
I say it's time to call the Left on this point and challenge it to address the issue head-on. Let's stare down Israel's segregationist Left and its supporters, and compel them to face up to the folly of their position.
We need to hammer home the fact that a peace based on injustice, which fails to respect the most basic of human rights for Jews, is no peace at all.
Civil rights for Jews, like any universal human right, cannot and must not be restricted in time or place. That kind of bigotry went out of fashion in the United States four decades ago.
There is no reason to begin applying it now in the Middle East.
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