I was reading Sarah Honig's latest column on the coming 'tsunami' at the UN with Palestinians. While I have very little to quibble with Honig's column, I was struck by one incredible and existential 'why'. Let me quote Honig at length to set up the existential 'why'.
The 1947 UN partition plan earmarked a status of corpus separatum (separate entity) for Jerusalem, to be overseen by international administrators. Since the Arabs had already violently rejected the Partition Resolution, besieged Jerusalem, conquered and occupied parts of it, expelled all Jews from the Old City and demolished sacred Jewish sites, Ben- Gurion saw no logic in unilateral Israeli adherence to impotent UN proclamations.
On December 5, 1949, five days before the UN General Assembly was to reiterate the internationalization of Jerusalem (and kick off preparations to take control), Ben- Gurion defiantly declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Without trepidation he told the Knesset: “We consider it inconceivable that the UN would attempt to sever Jerusalem from the State of Israel or infringe upon Israel’s sovereignty in its eternal capital…
“Jewish Jerusalem will never accept alien rule after thousands of its youths liberated their historic homeland for the third time, redeeming Jerusalem from destruction and vandalism.
“We do not judge the UN, which did nothing when member-nations of the UN declared war on its resolution of 29 November 1947, trying to prevent the establishment of Israel by force, to annihilate the Jewish population in the Holy Land and to destroy Jerusalem, the holiest city of the Jewish people.
“Had we not been able to withstand the aggressors who rebelled against the UN, Jewish Jerusalem would have been wiped off the face of the earth, the Jewish population would have been eradicated and the State of Israel would not have arisen.
“Thus, we are no longer morally bound by the UN resolution of November 29, since the UN was unable to implement it.
“…The attempt to sever Jewish Jerusalem from the State of Israel will not advance the cause of peace in the Mideast or in Jerusalem itself. Israelis will give their lives to hold onto Jerusalem, just as the British would for London, the Russians for Moscow and the Americans for Washington.”
The UN remained impervious. On December 10, 1949, its General Assembly voted by a whopping majority (38-14, with seven abstentions) to uphold its 1947 resolution and place Jerusalem under the auspices of a UN Trusteeship Council, to be governed by the council’s own appointees.
That was the tsunami of 1949. It threatened to engulf fledgling Israel. But Ben-Gurion didn’t lose his cool. Instead of bowing to pressure, he mounted the Knesset podium yet again to repeat what he had enunciated a mere few days earlier: “We cannot assist in the forcible separation of Jerusalem, which would unnecessarily and unjustifiably violate the historical and natural rights of the Jewish people.”
He assertively stressed that “the State of Israel has had, and will always have, only one capital – eternal Jerusalem. This was so 3,000 years ago and so it will be, we believe, to the end of time.”
Ben-Gurion then put to the plenum’s vote his proposal to transfer the Knesset and the government from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It was approved.
There is probably not one city more contentiously claimed than Jerusalem, the historical capital of the Jews and the heart of Judaism. There were periods when Christians claimed exclusive domain of Jerusalem and expelled the Jewish presence from Zion. In an act, now of historical irony, the Jews were only allowed to return when the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem from the Christians was complete. It was only the magnanimity of Muslim rule which allowed the Jews to dwell once more within Zion's walls. Of course, if the Jews were not despised by the Christians would the Muslim forces been so magnanimous? I think not.
No one, who claims to be a supporter of the so-called two-state solution, is suggesting that Jerusalem should be internationalized, but rather, divided between two states. The western half would remain in Israel's control and capital while the eastern half would come under Palestinian control to be their capital. What I find most curious is that there is a general international consensus that no government will recognize even western Jerusalem as Israel's capital. But these same states, are willing to recognize western Jerusalem as Israel's capital providing the Israelis allow the Palestinians to destroy the unity of the eternal capital of the Jewish people.
While I agree with Honig, that all Israelis and Jews need to do is to stand firm in the face of international perfidy and intransigence, I am struck by this singular fact. Only are the Jewish people are denied the right to determine their own capital. Only the Jewish people are told they must divide and share their ancient capital with a people who never existed as a separate distinct group until the re-establishment of the ancient Jewish state.
So the 'why' becomes simply this; why is it that only the Jewish nation is not allowed to determine their own capital?