That’s a strange view of friendship. Wright and the Obama administration are in a frenzy over the view that Jews in certain Jerusalem neighborhoods are the biggest obstacle to peace in the Middle East. Wright certainly knows that most Palestinians consider all of Israel a “settlement.” They don’t want Jews in Jerusalem, and they don’t want them in Tel Aviv. They don’t want a Jewish state period.
The disputed area of Jerusalem, Ramat Shlomo, is not a settlement. It’s not in a Palestinian neighborhood. Twenty thousand Israeli Jews live there. The idea that neighborhoods like Ramat Shlomo should be relinquished has never been on the negotiating table. It’s not a neighborhood that the Palestinians have ever had any intention of taking control of until the Obama administration raised it as an issue.
Wright also, in criticizing remarks by Abe Foxman, says more “settlements” in East Jerusalem makes it “harder to find a two-state deal that leaves Palestinians with much of their dignity intact.” But it’s wrong to suggest that Palestinians’ dignity would be endangered by Jews living in their own country. Arabs are free to live anywhere in Israel. Does Mr. Wright think Jews would be welcomed and be able to live safely in a new Palestinian state?
During the 19 years that Jordan occupied East Jerusalem, it expelled all the Jews living in what was historically the Jewish Quarter, and it destroyed all the synagogues and the homes of Jews. In contrast, when Israel reunited Jerusalem, it allowed Jews and Muslims to live in any part of the city and to worship freely.
There are some who publicly insist that America’s support for Israel irritates Middle East Muslims. But those in the Muslim world who hate America do so for many reasons. They dislike our support for Israel, but they also loathe our freedom. The truth is that many Muslims hate America—as they hate Israel—because we exist and insist on pluralism and tolerance.
Finally, there is the pernicious idea that our traditional support for Israel outrages Muslims and thus endangers American soldiers’ lives. I guess one could say our support of Great Britain in the 1930s outraged the Nazis too, and thus endangered American soldiers’ lives. But of course standing with Britain was the right thing to do against the Nazis just as being a supporter of Israel today against the Islamofascists who strap bombs to their children to blow up Jews is the right thing to do.
Israel has never asked for a U.S. soldier to fight to defend it. In fact, our relationship with Israel has saved U.S. lives. The Israeli military has shared valuable intelligence with our military, and during the Cold War it supplied us with many Soviet weapons systems. Israeli technology is being used today by the U.S. military in Iraq to protect our soldiers from IEDs.
An America that prostrates itself before the Muslim world for fear of irritating it would be an America that no other American ally could count on.
So, in spite of Mr. Wright’s efforts to redefine what it means to be a friend to Israel, I will continue to support the traditional definition that recognizes the little democracy as the only reliable friend, and only truly free nation, in a “neighborhood” of thugs, dictators, and self-anointed kings.