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Op-Ed: Former Prime Minister Olmert is the Real Extremist

A simple review of the importance of Jerusalem for the Jewish state can show how extreme Olmert’s viewpoints are. Consensus in Israel (and even a Palestinian poll) prove him wrong.
Published: Sunday, May 06, 2012 8:01 AM


Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is an extremist – despite his claims on CNN this weekend that that the "extreme right wing" in the United States helped derail a peace plan with the Palestinians.

In 2008, Olmert sought a "full comprehensive peace between us and the Palestinians" – but thankfully the plan was never realized – and if it is true American Jews derailed the process, world Jewry should hold a big party thanking these people.

Olmert told Christiane Amanpour that his concessions to the Palestinians met resistance from “superior powers,” including “millions and millions of dollars” from the extreme right-wing Americans who “aimed to topple me as prime minister of Israel.”

Had he presented any such plan as his platform when running for any Israeli office, he would never have won any election as his current sentiments are well outside mainstream Israeli political opinion.

Olmert is an extremist with his current political viewpoints, and he conveniently declines to mention that these Americans were major financial benefactors for very many years – and that without the help of these fine people he wouldn’t have ever been Mayor of Jerusalem, or Prime Minister of Israel.

 
if it is true American Jews derailed the [Olmert 'peace'] process, world Jewry should hold a big party thanking these people.
Had Mr. Olmert’s plan succeeded, he would have permitted segregation – as Jews cannot live in Arab controlled areas – even though Arabs live in Jewish controlled areas.

Nowhere else in the civilized world is segregation based on one’s religion permitted. Is Olmert suggesting it is extreme for Jews to live in all areas of Jerusalem – yet they can live Harlem or Paris, Moscow or Melbourne? But not Jerusalem?

It is no secret that segments of American Jewry put their money where their mouth is –supporting building in all areas of Jerusalem to ensure that Jerusalem remains the eternal and undivided capital of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

A simple review of the importance of Jerusalem for the Jewish state can show how extreme Olmert’s viewpoints are:

  • -Israel was first forged into a unified nation from Jerusalem some three thousand years ago, when King David ascended the throne at the request of the tribes and united the twelve tribes from this city...
  • -For a thousand years Jerusalem was the seat of Jewish sovereignty, the household site of kings, the location of its legislative councils and courts.
  • -In exile, the Jewish nation came to be identified with the city that had been the site of its ancient capital. Jews, wherever they were, prayed for its restoration." (To Rule Jerusalem)
  • -"The Jewish bond to Jerusalem was never broken. For three millennia, Jerusalem has been the center of the Jewish faith, retaining its symbolic value throughout the generations." Jerusalem- the Holy City, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • -"The centrality of Jerusalem to Judaism is so strong that even secular Jews express their devotion and attachment to the city and cannot conceive of a modern State of Israel without it... For Jews Jerusalem is sacred simply because it exists... Though Jerusalem's sacred character goes back three millennia...". The Holy City: Jerusalem in the theology of the Old Testament,
  • -In Judaism, the daily prayers contain numerous references to Jerusalem. The amidah prayer, which is recited three times on regular weekdays, must be said facing towards Jerusalem. The following supplication is contained in it:
    • "And to Jerusalem, Your city, may you return in compassion, and may you rest within it, as you have spoke. May you rebuild it soon in our days as an eternal structure, and may you speedily establish the throne of King David within it. Blessed are You, God, the builder of Jerusalem...May our eyes behold your return to Zion in compassion. Blessed are you God, who restores His presence to Zion."
  • -In the Grace After Meals which is recited after partaking of a meal eaten with bread, the following is said:
  •          "Have mercy Lord, our God...on Jerusalem Your city, on Zion the resting place of Your glory, on the monarchy of King David Your  
  •           anointed, and on the great and holy Temple upon which Your name is called...Rebuild Jerusalem, the holy city, soon in our days. Blessed 
  •           are you God who rebuilds Jerusalem in His mercy, amen."

Mr. Olmert’s current viewpoints would also be deemed extremist by Arabs living in Jerusalem - In a November 2010 poll which 1,039 East Jerusalem Palestinians conducted via face-to-face interviews, fully 35 percent said they would prefer remaining Israeli if a two-state solution emerged, compared to only 30 percent who preferred Palestinian citizenship. The remainder declined to answer or said they didn’t know.

Since a Palestinian who openly prefers Israel would be deemed treasonous by most of his compatriots, the fact that a majority of those who actually answered the question nevertheless chose Israel is stunning – especially because the interviews were conducted by Palestinian pollsters (the poll was officially conducted by Pechter Middle East Polls and the Council on Foreign Relations, but they hired a West Bank firm, Dr. Nabil Kukali’s Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, to do the actual interviews).

That makes it likely that among those who declined to answer, an even larger majority would have chosen Israel.

The same preference emerged from a different question: Would you relocate to Israel (or Palestine) if your neighborhood of Jerusalem ended up in the other? Fully 40 percent of respondents said they would move to remain in Israel, while only 27 percent said they would move to become part of Palestine. Again, the likelihood is that those who declined to answer would break even more strongly for Israel.

Sixty-six percent of Israelis polled by a Geocartography Knowledge survey exactly a year ago said they are against allowing the Palestinian Authority to have control of any part of the capital.

There seems to be an obsession with “extreme right wing American Jews” – whether it’s the heroic Dr. Irving Moskowitz, or the Jerusalem Reclamation Project, Beit Orot, Keep Jerusalem, Arutz Sheva, City of David and The Israel Land Fund or others – they do the vital job of protecting Jerusalem and ensuring the Jewish roots of the city remain in all aspects of the city.

In fact in every synagogue in America or the world one would find people who believe Jerusalem must remain Jewish. That’s called Judaism – and in fact, the extremist is Olmert who has done a complete 180 degree shift since being removed from politics due to his alleged corruption.

Count me among those who are proud to support financially and in other manners the brave Jews who work tirelessly to ensure that Jerusalem will remain Jewish.

Colonel Josiah Clement Wedgwood, (aka Josiah Wedgwood IV), a British Liberal Labour politician,  was a British ally of Ze’ev Jabotinsky who said in May 1939: “We like people who will fight even though we think they are entirely wrong… the Arabs stand up and fight and massacre. Make no mistake - they have killed as many of their own people as they have Jews, and they are murderers.

"On the other hand, the Jews are always complaining and begging for justice. That of course is the result of 1800 years of servitude. For 1800 years they have been dependent on the good graces of government and never on their own right arm… that attitude of supplication of living on your knees has a very bad effect among the respectable nations with the Jews.”

Mr. Olmert should take wise note of these comments – and stop inciting the world against Israel with his extreme viewpoints.

(Ronn Torossian is the CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR agency and an active Jewish philanthropist proud to support many causes in Jerusalem.)