With Prime Minister Ehud Olmert preparing to offer parts of the Old City of Jerusalem to the Arabs next month, an apolitical association has begun a public campaign to prevent it from happening.
The campaign is being run by the "If I Forget Thee - On Behalf of Jerusalem's Future" Association not only in Israel, but also in Jewish communities throughout the Diaspora. The goal is to emphasize the need to prevent Jerusalem from becoming a negotiable issue, and find ways to ensure that this does not occur.
The association's ads have run in all of Israel's major newspapers - but have been rejected for airing on Israel's Second Television and Radio Authority, a governmental body, because they are said to be "politically controversial." On Wednesday afternoon, the Authority instructed its regional radio stations to remove the ads that were already accepted and not to air them.
The "If I Forget Thee" people say that the Second Authority officials simply don't know Israeli law, and that if they don't change their mind, "we will take them to court."
"Jerusalem's status as a united and complete city," says Jerusalem City Councilman Nir Barkat, a leader of the Association, "is anchored in law. Clause 1 of Basic Law: Jerusalem states clearly, 'Jerusalem, united and complete, is the capital of Israel.' There is nothing political or controversial about this. It appears that the Second Authority has a misunderstanding of the law."
"By relating to us as a political body," Barkat says, "the Second Authority is simply making a grave mistake, bordering on slander. We are simply a group of public figures who love Jerusalem and who are working to strengthen Jerusalem in a totally apolitical framework."
"I do not understand why the Second Authority clerks think they have the authority to determine that Jerusalem's sovereignty is a controversial issue, thereby placing themselves above the Knesset that legislated differently," Barkat concludes. He is currently abroad, raising support and money for the initiative.
Barkat has run, and plans to run again, for Mayor of Jerusalem. His spokesman told Arutz-7 that while the association currently does not include well-known figures, "many people from across the spectrum have turned to us and wish to take part. By next week, I believe I will be able to give you some names."