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October 7, 2010: From His Mouth…

February 13, 2011

From his mouth…to G-d’s ear.  That is the saying.
 
In this instance I am referring to the perhaps unlikely figure of Knesset Speaker Ruby (Reuven) Rivlin (Likud).  In an interview with the JPost, featured on the front page this morning, he said that in spite of the pressure that would be put on him in the months ahead, “I faithfully believe that Netanyahu won’t think about dividing Jerusalem.” 
 
Is Rivlin a politician?  Absolutely. And I cannot say that he’s not providing cover for his prime minister at some level.  In fact, a good case could be made for this, as I observe that he didn’t say he faithfully believes Netanyahu won’t concede on extending the freeze.  This could be an attempt to allay concerns: Don’t worry, in the end it will be fine.
 
The reason I note this at all is because I know Rivlin’s own passionate devotion to Jerusalem.  I have gone to hear him give a talk, only to find that he used half his time waxing emotional about the several generations of his family who have lived in Jerusalem.  
 
When he says that “I am positive that Netanyahu is incapable of dividing Jerusalem because he realizes that it is the heart of the matter, the reason for the state to exist,” he may be expressing his own perceptions.  But would a man with this passion for Jerusalem provide Netanyahu with cover if he feared that the prime minister might divide the city?
 
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When asked about whether giving away Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem really constituted “dividing” the city, his answer included information that I think is important:
 
He and other Israeli leaders explained to Obama when he was here as a presidential candidate in July 2009, that dividing the city was impossible because Jewish and Arab neighborhoods are interspersed.
 
I have written about this, I just recently cited Abu Toameh on this.  But this is the first time I hear that this fact was explained to Obama.  This tells us (as if we didn’t know!) that the president is not concerned with genuine success in negotiations, with bringing true peace to the area, but rather with surface impressions.  He doesn’t care if what he supports is viable or not.
 
Continued Rivlin, “People tell me that the Jewish people did not pray for 3,000 years to return to Wallaje [an Arab neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem].  But the people who say that don’t know where Wallaje is, and how important it is.  And the Jewish people obviously prayed to return to the Temple Mount — so giving it up must be unacceptable.”
 
As I said, “From his mouth…”  Let’s hear more expressions of devotion to our heritage from Israeli politicians.
 
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On Sunday, Netanyahu intends to bring to the Cabinet for approval an addition to the oath of loyalty taken by naturalized citizens: [Israel] “a Jewish and democratic state.”
 
It would not apply to anyone who is already a citizen, nor to any Jew coming under the Law of Return.
 
Said the prime minister: “Israel is the national state of the Jewish people.  This is a basic principle that guides the government in its policies, foreign and domestic.  It is a cornerstone of Israeli legislation….it is fitting that this principle will appear in the declaration of loyalty for anyone who wants to become a citizen.”
 
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This proposal, at this particular time, has political connotations, with Israel demanding that the PA recognize us as the Jewish state and the PA refusing.
 
Naturally, Arab MKs are incensed, saying that this is “fascist” as well as “racist and stupid.”  This position, that Israel is “racist” if she represents herself as Jewish — not just via requirements for a loyalty oath, but with a Jewish star on the flag, or the lyrics of Hatikva, etc. — is hardly new.  It is an attempt to weaken Israel from within.
 
The irony is breathtaking.  So many Arab/Muslim states surround us, many forbidding a Jewish presence and denying Jewish freedoms.  Yet here in little Israel, where Muslims are citizens, and have freedom to worship, and to vote, and run for the Knesset, and are granted equal protection under the law, and receive all perqs of citizenship, we are called “racist.”
 
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A clarification is necessary here, as already there is confusion in the media: Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party had proposed a loyalty oath for people who were already citizens — it was, in fact, a plank in the party’s campaign. 
 
(While Lieberman’s proposal was motivated in good part by the outrageously anti-Israel attitudes and behaviors of some Arab Israeli leaders, including MKs, he also had his eye on certain hareidi sectors of the nation that are not loyal to the state for religious reasons.)  
 
However, what Netanyahu is bringing to the Cabinet is not the same thing.
 
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I am quite frankly weary of the same news recycled in slightly different versions each day regarding whether Netanyahu is going to agree to a 60 day extension of the freeze and what the Cabinet might say, the demands from the PA side for a total freeze and their claim that our building is destroying peace, etc. etc. 
 
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But there is one piece of news/potential news/rumor that I think is worth sharing here.  According to a few sources, the first being Yediot Ahronot in Hebrew: in return for extending the freeze, Netanyahu has been seeking US approval of the commitments made by the Bush administration in the letter to then prime minister Sharon of April 14, 2004 — which the Obama administration subsequently refused to honor– regarding our right to retain settlement blocs. 
 
Netanyahu is looking for a clear American commitment, that cannot be reinterpreted later, which he would hope to use to convince members of the coalition to approve a freeze extension.  So far there has been no agreement from Obama, and so he has not brought this to the Cabinet.
 
My betting is that Obama would not agree to this, because the Arabs would have apoplexy.  He has already promised them he would take a stand endorsing the ’67 line as border. 
 
I do not want to see the freeze extended. But I confess to a certain delight at envisioning the catch-22 situation in which, if this is true, Netanyahu has now placed Obama. I’m also glad that apparently he is refusing to settle for glib promises.  The bottom line is that the president is totally untrustworthy, and Netanyahu knows it.
 
Along with this story, the press is replete with messages of fear: Netanyahu is afraid Obama might do this, might do that. Might refuse to help us with Iran.  Might go to the UN and ask for a unilateral endorsement of a Palestinian state.  What I notice, however, is that it is mostly left wing press that is running this stuff.  The right is talking about the need to stand strong.  A nation cannot be governed from a place of fear.
 
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Tomorrow is the Arab League meeting.  I will not be writing again until after Shabbat.
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