Clinton and Jerusalem
October 27 marks the day when President Clinton lost the Jewish vote. Fresh from the remarkable peace accord signing between Jordan and Israel and his attempt to move the immovable Assad in Damascus, Clinton arrived in Jerusalem. It could have been a day of triumph and an outpouring of support by the Jewish community. Instead it turned into a day of bitter disappointment.
What has happened? Ahead of his arrival in Jerusalem, Clinton sent word that he would refuse to have Mayor Ehud Olmert with him when he visited the Old City and the Temple Mount. It would annoy the Palestinians because it would signal American acceptance of Israeli rule over all of Jerusalem, he felt. Rabin, for once, showed principle and courage by responding that unless the president took the Jewish mayor with him, the planned visit to the Old City would be canceled.
This impasse was leaked widely through faxed news reports and unleashed a worldwide outcry of outrage and disappointment by practically all Jews, specially American Jews, who had voted for Clinton because -- he had vowed that Jerusalem would remain the united, undivided, eternal capital of Israel and that the American Embassy would be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
How then, could he now signal to the world that the Old City -- which is the real Jerusalem -- is not recognized by the United States as part of the Jewish capital? What else could be Israel's capital -- the new city with the King David Hotel, the Holiday Inn and the new suburbs?
Within hours, dozens of protests were faxed directly to the president at the King David Hotel, where he was staying. I myself mobilized many of these protests. Here are some specimens of the protests that faced Clinton on his arrival in his hotel room. The first one is signed by myself and Mr. Jack Avital of the World Committee for Israel:
"We are deeply disappointed at the news that you do not wish the mayor of Jerusalem, Mr. Ehud Olmert, to accompany you to the Western Wall in East Jerusalem, the holiest Jewish site on earth. We are reminding you that during your election campaign you committed yourself to the position that Jerusalem shall remain the united, eternal Jewish capital. On that basis 85 percent of the Jewish electorate voted for you. We cannot accept any rescinding of that promise and cannot believe that you would so openly defy your own promise by a demonstration, through your public act, that the holiest part of Jerusalem is not under Israeli sovereignty and jurisdiction.
"As Americans who voted for you, we appeal to you to take Mayor Ehud Olmert with you to any and every part of Jerusalem. It would be tragic if your excellent accomplishment in the Israeli-Jordanian agreement would be marred and totally eclipsed by this action of yours, which will be long remembered. Please remember that your most devoted supporters are watching your actions in Jerusalem."
Mr. Morton Klein, the ever vigilant defender of Zionism and president of the Zionist Organization of America, sent a long fax to Clinton, including the following passages:
"Your action is a grave disappointment and contradiction to the promise you made during the 1992 presidential campaign. In a letter to the Rabbinical Council of America on June 14, 1992, you wrote: `I recognize Jerusalem as an undivided city and the eternal capital of Israel.' "Many millions of Americans, Christians and Jews alike, were heartened by your campaign pledge regarding Jerusalem. Americans know that the Jewish claim to Jerusalem is anchored in biblical history and 3,000 years of uninterrupted Jewish inhabitation of the city, whereas Jerusalem is not even mentioned in the Koran.
"There is, as you know, strong Congressional sentiment in favor of recognizing Israel's right to sovereignty over all of Jerusalem. Earlier this month, 279 members of Congress signed a letter expressing their support for a united Jerusalem as Israel's capital "and only Israel's capital" ... I respectfully urge you to honor your 1992 campaign pledge by visiting the Old City of Jerusalem exactly in the same manner as you are visiting other parts of Jerusalem."
Mr. Leonard Horwin, former mayor of Beverly Hills and a staunch old-time Zionist faxed this message:
"On behalf of Christians and Jewish lovers of Zion, in the interest of peace with security, having in mind your campaign commitments for a united Jerusalem and moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, having in mind that Jerusalem has been Israel's capital for 3,300 years and is accordingly described 600 times as such in the Bible, having in mind that Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Koran, for reasons including that the Temple mount held a Christian church during Mohammed's lifetime, I most strongly recommend that if you visit the Temple Mount, you should be accompanied by the mayor of Jerusalem."
Similar faxes were sent by the National Council of Young Israel, WIMPAC of Washington, DC, American Academic Alliance for Israel, Likud-Florida and a host of other Jewish organizations. Individuals also expressed their outrage in faxes sent to the King David Hotel, among them Jack Friedler, a veteran Zionist, who faxed the following:
"We were shocked to hear that you refused to go to the Western Wall with the mayor of Jerusalem, Mr. Ehud Olmert. When Jimmy Carter visited Jerusalem, he paid respect to the holiest place to the Jewish people and went there accompanied by then Mayor Teddy Kollek.
"Mr. President, we attended a fund-raiser in New York when you put on a yarmulke and promised, if elected, to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and said that an undivided Yerushalayim is the eternal capital of Israel and the Jewish people.
"How can you spit in the face of every Jew in the world and disappoint the people who voted for you? We urge you to visit the Western Wall with Mayor Olmert and not send Hillary to `trouble-shoot' for you."
I faxed to Prime Minister Rabin copies of some of the faxes sent, and applauded his principled stand of refusing a visit by Clinton to the Old City without the Jewish mayor. I urged him to reinstate the visit in the company of Mr. Olmert.
Then the compromise was announced: Clinton would not visit the Old City, instead he would receive Mayor Olmert at his residence in the King David Hotel. His wife, Hillary would visit the Wall accompanied by Mayor Olmert. We still do not know if she went there as a private citizen, in which case the visit was pointless, or in the official capacity as the president's representative.
In the midst of this furiously fought crisis, I faxed Mayor Olmert a detailed report of my actions. He graciously responded promptly with a fax to me reading: "Dear Manfred, once again, I thank you for all your support and encouragement during these particularly vital and challenging times in our history. Your efforts on behalf of the City of Jerusalem, the State of Israel and the Jewish people are greatly appreciated by all of us."
The bizarre part of this crisis was that both the chairman and the executive director of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations were right there in the hotel with the president in Jerusalem when all this happened. There is no sign of them -- or AIPAC -- having as much as moved a finger to defend Jerusalem as the Jewish capital.
Maybe they did something silently, behind the scenes, but should they not have gone public in such a critical showdown over Jerusalem, which they always claim to be their unanimous rallying point -- despite the inclusion in the Presidents' Conference of Americans for Peace Now, the enemies of a united Jewish capital in Jerusalem? I hope we will hear the full story of their actions, so we do not have to wait until Mr. Pollack, chairman of the Conference, publishes his memoirs in years to come....
Maybe the time has come for the opinion of rank-and-file American Jews to be represented by a new organization, replacing the old establishment organs.
One thing is certain to come out of this fracas in 1996. Most of the Jews who made up the 85 percent who voted for Clinton in 1992 will have second thoughts. Clinton will have lost their vote. If this message is brought home, there will still be time for him to make some sort of amends, to repair the enormous damage he has wrought Israel by declaring to the whole world that he no longer sees Jerusalem as the eternal, undivided Jewish capital.
If you saw on television the triumphant face of Feisal Husseini -- the kinsman of one of the greatest Jew killers in history, mufti al-Haj Amin Husseini -- when he reported that Clinton would not come to the Old City with a Jew since "Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine, you know that Clinton delivered a resounding victory to Israel's enemies.
Another fact that has to be cleared up urgently is who advised Clinton during his trip to demonstrate that the Old City is not part of Jewish Jerusalem. It likely was the infamous Americans for Peace Now, with such spokesmen as Gail Pressberg, Letty Pogrebin, Michael Lerner and the host of assimilated, often intermarried (some interracially) Jews who have been working relentlessly for the PLO at the expense of Israel and for the dismantling of Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem. If this is proven, is it not time for the Presidents' Conference to cancel the APN's membership, which they earned by giving a written commitment stating that they favored a united Jerusalem?
I appeal to all my readers to send urgent protests to the president at the White House and to request amends by a renewed commitment that all of Jerusalem is the undivided, eternal Jewish capital. Use the following contacts:
White House:(202) 456-1111
1318 Midwood Place
Silver Spring, Md 20910
phone:(301) 589-4111 fax:(301) 589-3808
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