.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Some symbols are worth dying for

Let's pretend that somehow, a terrorist group manages to place a series of impossible-to-defuse remote-controlled bombs at the Mall of America. Their demands are simple - if the United States wants to save the lives of the shoppers at the mall, we must concede a tiny island to the terrorists, irrevocably. The United Nations would ensure that this island becomes part of the terrorist state, legally, under international law. 

The island just has one major feature - the Statue of Liberty.

Logically, this is a no-brainer. What good is a hunk of copper compared to hundreds of human lives? 

Yet most patriotic Americans would be loathe to submit to such a plan. Of course, we would try to do everything possible to avoid either losing Lady Liberty or human lives, but it is inconceivable that we would give up the Statue without a fight.

Symbolism might be pooh-poohed by "progressive" thinkers as meaningless primitivism, but it is important in the coherence of any group of people. The flag, the anthems and the symbols are part of what gives a people their collective identity.

For Jews, there is no more important symbol than Jerusalem. The very idea of compromising on the holy city, the singular object of nearly two thousand years of longing, is anathema. Yet the Jews aren't the people who are saying this explicitly - we have ceded the emotional attachment to Jerusalem to the Arabs.

We have recently seen some reactions to Bibi Netanyahu's statement that Jerusalem will remain undivided and under Israeli rule:
The Palestinians warn that Israel's "continued construction and appropriation of land" in east Jerusalem may be grounds for another uprising.
France accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday of prejudicing the outcome of the Middle East peace process by declaring that Jerusalem would forever be Israel's undivided capital.
"Jerusalem is a final status issue. Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to resolve its status during negotiations. We will support their efforts to reach agreements on all final status issues," a State Department spokesman said when asked to respond to Netanyahu's proclamation that Jerusalem would always remain under Israeli sovereignty.
For years, the world has stood by, mute, when Palestinian Arabs make absurd claims such as the idea that a Palestinian Arab state is impossible without Jerusalem, and their threats of violence if they don't get their way. It is far past time to take a page from their playbook.

If Netanyahu is serious, this is the time to push back. He should declare in no uncertain terms that Jerusalem is a red line, and that if anyone tries to take it away - Arabs, the UN, the EU or the US - they should expect a fight. It should be clear that Jews are willing, and eager, to die for the heart and soul of their nation.

The past decade of allowing the thought of Jerusalem being up for negotiation was an aberration and a travesty, and now is the time to repair the damage. The argument for Jerusalem is not logical and Jews should not be put in a position of defending their love of the city logically any more than anyone should have to justify love, loss, and millennia of longing. The fact is that it is simply inconceivable that any representative of Jews in any capacity can bargain away our capital. No other people gave a damn about rebuilding Jerusalem for over 1800 years.

The idea that Muslims have a significant claim on the city is historically laughable and provably recent. Their supposed ties to the city are derivative of the deep Jewish historical and religious ties; a claim based on jealousy rather than anything real.

It is well past time for Israeli politicians to start speaking in this language. If we are to learn anything from the Palestinian Arabs, it is that the world will not try to reason with people who are not open to reason.

And the Jewish ties to Jerusalem are not open to reason.