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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The world wants to kill Jerusalem

All the people who hyperventilate over new buildings, projects and plans for Jerusalem seem to forget the most basic fact there is: Jerusalem is a modern, living, growing city.

It is not a fossilized museum piece.

Jerusalem has not always been as dynamic as it is today. The portions of the city under Jordanian rule from 1948-67 did not grow to an real extent. In fact, the Jordanian municipality of Jerusalem was a mere 2 square miles in size. Its population decreased, and many citizens moved to Amman.

Under Israeli rule, however, Jerusalem has flourished. Its population has nearly tripled since 1967. It boundaries have grown in all directions.

Any vibrant city needs to make plans. Jerusalem, by its nature, requires very sensitive urban planning, as many of the religious populations want to remain in homogeneous areas but at the same time discrimination is to be discouraged. Children want to live near their parents. Growth is inevitable in a living city and it needs to be managed. Much of that management must be in terms of the mundane facets of everyday life - building approval, zoning laws, creating residential and business districts.

In Jerusalem it is even trickier, as you need to add enforcing the unique character of certain neighborhoods, protecting holy sites, and ensuring equal access to all.

The international community, however, wants to stop the municipality from acting as all cities must. It wants to treat every new initiative and approval as an international incident. It wants to give veto power over Jerusalem to people who do not live there, who never lived there and who showed no interest in the city when they had the means to do so.

In short, the world wants to kill Jerusalem.

The immediate consequence of President Obama's shortsighted and, frankly, stupid censure of Israel over the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood is that it is now open season on every single municipal project in Jerusalem, no matter how small or how important. Topics that were rightly ignored as a local issue are now considered international provocations. Reporters are now camped out near the Jerusalem municipal offices ready to create headlines for every new apartment expansion that gains approval. The neighborhoods that would remain under Israeli control in any realistic peace agreement are now considered up for grabs again, and this is emboldening the Arabs to demand more and more.

The main loser is Jerusalem itself.

One of the great ironies of the entire Palestinian Arab quest for independence is that the result would almost certainly be worse for the citizens of that very state. In the interests of a fake quest for "justice," the people for whom the justice is meant will lose. The quality of their lives will go down, and the odds are pretty good that sooner or later "Palestine" will turn into an Islamic theocracy with little concern for the rights of its members.

The same idiotic type of thinking is now being used to kill a beautiful city, a city that by any objective measure has grown, flourished and improved vastly while under Israeli rule.

Imagine if the Dutch wanted to re-assert their claim to New York City (which should properly be called New Amsterdam, in their theoretical lawsuit brought before the ICJ.) Imagine them getting UN resolutions to condemn any new New York planning until the parties could resolve their differences. This is effectively what is being demanded from Jerusalem today.

The world's most beautiful city is in danger of being choked to death by world politicians and diplomats. They don't care about the consequences of their actions. They think that they are as wise as Solomon but they really want to divide the baby in half.

Who will defend the Holy City? Who cares enough to make a stand to save Jerusalem?