Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Goldberg or Lozowick ???

Two of my favorite bloggers are Jeffrey Goldberg of Goldblog fame and Yaacov Lozowick. While I would imagine that Jeffrey Goldberg is much more widely read than Dr. Lozowick, I view them as being two of the leading voices on Israel.

I have said here that Goldberg is one of my intellectual heroes, but I don't agree with him 100% of the time. A recent example is the case of the Shepard Hotel in Jerusalem. Both Goldberg and Lozowick wrote about the issue and I respect the opinions of both of them, but I think that I have been more convinced of late by Dr. Lozowick and his perspective that Jerusalem can't and shouldn't be divided.

First this is what Goldberg had to say on the issue:
Peace will not come without the birth of a Palestinian state on the West Bank which has its capital in East Jerusalem. I'm as sure of that as I am of anything in the Middle East. Of course, peace may not come even with the birth of this state -- I'm no longer quite so sure in the possiblity, or at least in the availability, of peace -- but it will surely never happen without it. This is why, of course, certain right-wing Jewish groups, aided and abetted by different factions in Israel's chaotic government, are seeking to populate East Jerusalem with Jews: to prevent the birth of a Palestinian state. These particular Jews operate under the delusion that Israel< can keep control of the Arab neighborhoods of forever, and most of the West Bank forever, without negative consequences. They are drastically wrong. Eventually, something is going to give. At a certain point in the not-so-distant future, Israel will either cease to be a Jewish state, or it will cease to be a democracy. Attempts to abort the birth of a Palestinian state only hasten this moment of decision.

First, I share Goldberg's pessimism about peace. There isn't going to be a negotiated solution here for many reasons and Jerusalem is certainly chief among them. But I disagree that Jews are moving to Jerusalem specifically for the purpose of preventing the creation of a Palestinian state. I think most Israeli Jews, my self included, see Jerusalem as a separate issue and one that has a value that is completely separate from Israel's control of the West Bank. No matter what the right says, Hebron, Shiloh, and Schem are not the same as Jerusalem. Most Israelis want to separate from the Palestinians and to leave the West Bank. But I'm not certain that a majority of Israelis are ready to withdraw from the parts of Jerusalem, namely the old city, that would be necessary for a successful division.

Now let's see what Dr. Lozowick has to say on the issue. You really must read the whole post he wrote. It is far more educational than anything you will find in a main stream publication:
Near the top of the building you can see the logo of Briyut Klalit - twice. Once in Hebrew (right) and once in Arabic (left). Briyut Klalit is the name of the largest health insurance organization in Israel. The building, and the compound around it, is an Israeli institution, but since this particular branch serves the Arab population of Wadi Jose, most of its staff are Arab, and the language spoken in its hallways is mostly Arabic. So if you're dividing the city along ethnic lines, what is it? Do you go by the identity of the organization or the identity of the clients? If you decide it's Palestinian, the Israelis will of course shut down the building and its services, leaving the locals with no health service. If it's Israeli, then you're going to have to draw an international border between the health center and its clients, who will live in a different country and won't be eligible for its services. (And why should they be? Health services are paid by from the Israeli budget, from taxes collected from Israeli citizens. Not citizens of Palestine.
If the health center stays in Israel, the fence between it and the Shepherd Hotel compound will then be an international border. If there are Israelis living in the Shepherd area by the time the border gets drawn, the other fence of the compound will be the border. It's hard to see how either scenario is an existential threat to peace making, since the two fences are about 150 yards apart.
On the other hand, it's easy to see why the whole concept of drawing an international border along fences of properties might perhaps not be such a good idea. In the real world, I mean. From time to time I take foreign visitors for walks along the line the peace-makers propose, and am often asked why they don't see the division can't possibly work. I have no answer to this. Then my visitors ask me what the solution will be: if dividing the city will be a calamity, how do we reach peace? So far as I know, no-one has an honest answer to that.
This is something that Lozowick offers that almost no one else does; an up-close, realistic look at what it would take to divide Jerusalem. The really interesting thing is that this example would be relatively easy to resolve compared to the nightmare that is the old city. And of course, it's the old city that really matters anyway.

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