Apparently, the Israeli government’s decision to allow construction of 238 new housing units in East Jerusalem at the precise moment when peace talks are on hold pending word on whether Israel will extend its 10-month freeze on new construction on the West Bank means that Palestinians don’t want peace. It seems that Palestinian objections to building new Jewish settlements on land that does not belong to Israel (because it is territory captured in war and its ownership status is subject to a final peace treaty which has not taken place) springs not from outrage over Israeli attempts to deny Palestinians any part of an ancient city that is just as sacred and holy to Arab and Christians as it is to Jews, but from Palestinians’ desire to keep East Jerusalem “Jew-free.”
… The houses will go up in Ramot and Pisgat Ze’ev, Jewish neighborhoods that were created in the 1970s after Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War struck down the barriers that rendered those parts of the city that had been occupied by Jordan between 1948 and 1967 Jew-free. Approximately a quarter of a million Jews already live in East Jerusalem, and the notion that they will all be chucked out of their homes in order to allow the city to become the presumably Jew-free capital of a Palestinian Arab state is a fantasy. If the PA doesn’t want to negotiate with Israel, and it is more than obvious that by calling for building freezes they are looking for an excuse to bug out of the talks to which they have been dragged by President Obama, then whether or not Jews build homes in existing Jewish neighborhoods in their own capital won’t make a difference.
All of this is sickening enough on its own — but right now I am in the midst of reading Sandy Tolan’s The Lemon Tree, and when I see Jonathan Tobin’s tripe about Jewish settlers being “chucked out of their homes” and “existing Jewish neighborhoods in their own capital” in the larger context of the Israeli military’s forced expulsions of Palestinian Arabs from their lands and the expropriation of their homes, livelihoods (crops, farm animals), and possessions (furniture, personal valuables) in 1948 (in what Israelis call their “War of Independence” and Palestinians call “Nakba” — which means “Catastrophe”), I really feel like I could lose my most recent meal.