The online edition of The Christian Science Monitor is today publishing my opinion piece Can Obama Stand Up to Israel?, which focuses on the extremely precarious situation our delegation found during its time in Jerusalem.
The piece is also archived here.
The core of the argument is contained here:
Today, Jerusalem is a tinderbox. If it ignites, American interests will be at risk, because Washington is seen as acquiescing in Israel’s harmful actions there.
In decades past, when policy differences arose between Israel and the United States, many of Israel’s supporters argued that it was on the front line against terrorism, so Americans should not second-guess its judgments or policies.
That was never a wholly convincing argument. But now, the situation has turned quite around. Today, it is American men and women who are on the front lines and it is their – and our – interests that are most at risk.
By not holding Israel to account, Washington is needlessly – and recklessly – offending hundreds of millions of Muslims on whose goodwill our troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere depend.
While in Jerusalem, we saw Israel’s destructive policies firsthand. The Jewish state is:
• Expanding the large Israeli-only settlements that ring the city to the east, north, and south.
• Supporting smaller settler “outposts” in the heart of Jerusalem’s remaining Palestinian enclaves.
• Completing the 24-foot-high Separation Wall that encloses many Palestinian portions of the city and slices through the center of others.
• Delegating responsibility for archaeological excavations in sensitive areas to settler organizations that have worked feverishly – and quite unscientifically – to push tunnels right under the historic “Muslim Quarter” of the walled Old City.
•Making it almost impossible for the city’s Palestinians to expand their housing stock, and conducting regular demolitions of Palestinian housing it deems “illegal.”
All these Israeli actions are themselves illegal under international law, since Israel controls East Jerusalem and the surrounding West Bank only as a military occupying power, not a rightful sovereign government…
Anyway, please go and read the whole piece and then post comments either here or on the CSM’s website.
(I already received one hysterically angry response from someone called Mark Austen, who wrote: “Your anti Jewish propaganda is enough to make Joseph Goebbels proud. Palestinians indigenous to Jerusalem? Are you kidding me? As a Christian that is insulting to me….But then again, I am writing to someone that Hitler would be proud of.” … I have no idea how who Mr. Austen thinks the world’s first Christians were. But by every account I’ve ever read– including the New Testament– they were people indigenous to Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine, many of whom were Jewish until their conversion. Maybe he has another explanation of how Jesus’s word took root and spread?? Has he even been there and seen some of those very ancient Christian holy sites?? Ah well, there’s nowt so strange as folk…)