The Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will absent himself from the ceremony to reinaugurate the "Hurva" Synagogue in Jerusalem's wall old city neighborhood next week it has been reported. The presumption is that he doesn't want to annoy the Obama Administration.
Netanyahu, if anything, is a wizard at public diplomacy. How can he allow an event like this to pass by? What is he thinking?
The structure was built at the beginning of the 18th century, 300 years ago (that's longer than the United States of America has been around, with or without Obama). It was destroyed by Arabs. The building, along with others, symbolizes that Jerusalem, Green Line or not, is Jewish and that we are determined to assure, maintain and develop its Jewishness by increasing our presence there.
Of course, there are other opinions. Here's from this week's editorial of The Forward, which has just closed a co-distributive deal with Ha-Ha-Haaretz, the post-Zionist daily of Israel's progressive left camp, commenting on Vice-President Joe Biden's visit here and the 'surprise' announcement:-
As Americans, we feel insulted. Contrary to the spin generated in some quarters, the Obama administration has gone out of its way to support Israel and the Netanyahu government...Some Jews believe that all of Jerusalem belongs under Israeli control, but that is a political position, not an indisputable fact. Another people also lays claim to this holy city.
What really is the "fact" that the radical editorial writer ignored is that Jews who believe otherwise, that the city is actually all Israel's, are perhaps 98% of all world Jewry, excluding maybe Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni and Rahm Emanuel. Not only that but there is a common misconception. The claim is made is that Israel unnaturally "expanded" the city when it absorbed eastern areas after 1967.
But if we review the UN recommendation of November 29, 1947 (Part III, B) to partition the Mandate area, we will see that the borders of Jerusalem, as a corpus separatum, extend to Shuafat, past Abu Dis and to Bethlehem as well as to Motza, larger than the municipal boundaries today. So what are they talking about, these concessionists who wish to yield, surrender and kowtow?
In not showing up, Netanyahu will not be taking advantage of a wonderful opportunity to say this. To remind the world of Jerusalem's place in the soul of the Jewish people, its religion, culture, literature, art and history. To recall to his listeners that not only was the Hurva Synagogue destroyed by Arabs, but another 30 or so synagogues were desecrated after 1948, and that thousands of graves on Mount of Olives were destroyed and that on the Temple Mount, the Waqf authorities are destroying and ransacking Jewish artifacts.
We, as Zionists, as Jews returning to our homeland, build. We create. They destroy.
And as for that Forward editorial "another people lays claim to this holy city", let us remind them that the League of Nations decision, international law, by the way, obligated us to protect and preserve religious rights and holy sites of non-Jews, no more. No prerogative more than we.
I would assume that Prime Minister Netanyahu could have said all this, and more, perhaps more eloquently than I. But to do so, he would have to truly believe in these ideas and facts.
And, he would have to be there at the ceremony.
But he won't be there.
And that is too bad.
P.S. That doesn't mean that thousands of other Jews need stay away.