More than 700 rabbis, cantors and rabbinical students protest E1 construction

jahalin
Jahalin Bedouin encampment in E1, in front f Ma’ale Adumim. (Photo: Reuters/Jahalin.org)

Despite an announcement on Friday that Benjamin Netanyahu delayed construction in the E1 corridor between Jerusalem and the West Bank, Jewish religious leaders delivered a letter to the Prime Minister’s office today signed by more than 700 American rabbis, cantors and rabbinical students decrying the controversial settlement plan. E1 is situated in the last large open space of land between an Israeli settlement bloc in the West Bank and Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem. If the plans go into effect to built the 3,000 new units that were approved in late 2012 following the successful Palestinian United Nations non-member statehood bid, the religious leaders fear it will be the end of a future viable Palestinian state.

“We fear that building settlements in E1 would be the final blow to a peaceful solution. If Israel builds in E1, it will cut East Jerusalem off from its West Bank surroundings and effectively bifurcate the West Bank. In doing so, E1 will literally represent an obstacle to a two-state solution,” said the letter.

The statement against E1 construction was circulated by J Street, Rabbis for Human Rights-North America, and Americans for Peace Now. The letter in full reads:

We write as American rabbis and cantors who are deeply committed to the long-term security and viability of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. We have lived in Israel, visited frequently, brought our communities there, and preached and taught about Israel within our synagogues, schools, camps, and other institutions. Many of us have children, parents, siblings, and other relatives and friends living in Israel. Some of us hold Israeli citizenship.

We and our communities have worked hard to build bipartisan support for Israel. We have raised millions of dollars to develop the State of Israel and its civil society. And we have vigorously opposed efforts to delegitimize the Jewish State.

All of us believe that the ultimate safety and security of Israel as a Jewish state will depend on reaching a peace agreement that also allows Palestinians to live safely and securely in their own state.

For these reasons, we are deeply concerned about the recent announcement to advance the construction of settlements in the E1 area of the West Bank, as well as to authorize the building of thousands of new settlement units in East Jerusalem. The current situation in the occupied territories violates Palestinian human rights and undercuts the very values on which Israel was founded – democracy, liberty, justice, and peace.

We fear that building settlements in E1 would be the final blow to a peaceful solution. If Israel builds in E1, it will cut East Jerusalem off from its West Bank surroundings and effectively bifurcate the West Bank. In doing so, E1 will literally represent an obstacle to a two-state solution.

As American rabbis and cantors, we also fear that construction in E1 damages the critical relationship between Israel and the United States. Construction in E1 would violate repeated commitments to the United States, dating back to 1994, not to build settlements in the area.

The Mishna (Pirke Avot 1:12) tells us, “Be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving humankind and bringing them closer to the Torah.” The commentary on this saying in Avot d’Rabbi Natan tells us that it is not enough merely to love peace, but that one must pursue it as strenuously as Aaron did.

For the sake of the State of Israel and the Jewish people, we urge you to cease plans to construct new settlements in E1, elsewhere in the West Bank, or in East Jerusalem. We pray that you follow Aaron’s example by returning to the negotiating table as quickly as possible.

We cannot afford to weaken the strong bond between Israel and the United States. Nor can we risk sabotaging our best chance to end the decades-long conflict that has claimed too many Israeli and Palestinian lives.

With prayers for the peace of Jerusalem,

Yet inside of Israel there is a consensus amongst officials to pressure Netanyahu to move forward with construction. But outside Europe is leading the international battle to undo settlement expansion. Today Israel Hayom reported 27 European Union foreign ministers will met on Monday to discuss strategy, while yesterday the Jerusalem Post reported the mayor of Ma’ale Adumim is awaiting the Prime Minister’s signature on the proposed new buildings.

Despite international outcry against developing E1, it should be underscored that the area currently severs East Jerusalem from the West Bank—even without Israeli outposts. Although there are no permanent structures inside of E1 aside from a police station funded by American settlement mogul Irving Moskowitz, the land is enclosed by a highway system and its only inhabitants are Jahalin Bedouins. In order to connect to the outside road system, residents from the Khan-Al-Ahmar community, one of several Jahalin villages inside E1, are forced to jump over a highway median. And meanwhile, pipes carrying settlement sewage run underneath the encampment.
 

About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.
Posted in American Jewish Community, Israel/Palestine, Israeli Government, Occupation, One state/Two states, US Politics

{ 13 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Mooser says:

    I should set that letter to music, and call it “The Schlimazel Oratorio”

    My Dad explained the word “schlimazel thusly (accompanying the exposition with several good cuffs, to make sure I listened) : “The Schlemiel, he’s a guy who, he walks through the forest, and the trees fall down! The Schlimazel follows him, and he’s the one the trees fall on”
    That my Dad would steal so shamelessly from Leo Ruston really opened my eyes, but let it go. And the sniveling whining nature of that letter is pretty alarming too.

    “We have raised millions of dollars to develop the State of Israel and its civil society”
    I guess it wasn’t enough, huh? So American Jews, who have accomplished….have to grovel before those….who can’t even…. Oh, I might as well stop hyperventilating.

  2. inside of Israel there is a consensus amongst officials to pressure Netanyahu to move forward with construction. But outside Europe is leading the international battle to undo settlement expansion.

    i urge everyone to listen to this interview with Akiva Eldar to better understand the ‘pressure’ on netanyahu.
    link to mondoweiss.net

    he explained the 2 times likud lost their PM/hold at an election was under pressure from the US, when they had to make a choice between kowtowing to outside pressure or cutting backon settlements. both times they didn’t kowtow (they stuck w/settlements), because if they did cave under pressure, like if netanyahu does now (or goes ‘moderate’ which is his positioning when compared to home party and rtwg religious nationalists) he will loose over half his MK’s, they will go over to bennet/home party and it will bring down the government (or whatever they call that there). so the nation is going right regardless. the only thing that can stop that is outside intervention.

    i don’t know how far the EU is willing to go to ‘undo’ settlement expansion but anything less than full on BDS is not likely to have much effect. a slap on the wrist will do nothing.

    • seafoid says:

      “So the nation is going right regardless. the only thing that can stop that is outside intervention. ”

      Annie

      That Drang nach rechts is by design. They have been working on this moment for the last 40 years. They have destroyed their society to get to today.
      The only thing that will wake them up is if the ATMS stop working. It’s gone way too far for American Jews to have any leverage.

      • Mooser says:

        “It’s gone way too far for American Jews to have any leverage.”

        Seafoid, what would you say if I said, it’s gone too far for American Jews to have any leverage as Jews, but they could have leverage as concerned Americans who happen to be Jewish? Remember, we are very affluent and influential in America. It’s not like Israel, where Jews are subject to Zionism by coercion.

  3. pabelmont says:

    As ever, I applaud those who oppose settlement BROADENING but must ask why they do not expend equal effort opposing settlements-in-place. They are all equally illegal (that is, formally illegal, but protected by the USA’s thumb on the scales of justice). If E-1 would be permanent if built, then such permanence is a fact of the existing settlements as well. If E-1 would be removable if built, then so would the settlements-now-in-place.

    I earnestly suggest that all who oppose settlements speak of Israel’s illegal-and-therefore-temporary settlements and work as hard to oppose existing settlements as as-yet-unbuilt ones.

  4. Mooser says:

    I’m sorry about all the persflage (I got a surplus of that) but when, oh when, will American Jews assume their correct relationship with Israel? As far as I can see, the correct relationship would be one between a segment which has succeeded, succeeded in every aspect Jews have dreamed about for a thousand years- to live as citizens, to avoid persecution, to live in religious tolerance and economic and social success, to follow their religion any way they please, or damn it, just live, if they feel like it. In fact, in America, Judaism is a voluntary association, not an enforced identity, the stupid Israelis can’t even do that!…Okay, back down to simmer… a relationship between those who have succeeded in their Jewishness, and those who have miserably, terribly, and purposefully failed, and taken advantage of and endangered a lot of Jews (oh, not to mention all those non-Jews, which we have no right to touch, they didn’t sign on to this.) in the process. And we can do all this, and fight among ourselves between Ortho-Cons.-Ref. and others! Only in America!
    My goodness, Israel is our remittance state, and we beg them for co-operation?
    I’m sorry. but it’s just outrageous. We have suceeded, they have failed. We should be telling them what to do, take it or leave it, not reminding them they have our relatives as hostages.

    “We cannot afford to weaken the strong bond between Israel and the United States.”

    Oh my heavens! Why don’t you just fall on your knees, and wail that Judaism is finished if the ethnic-cleansing and apartheid and theft and murder doesn’t succeed.
    Afford to weaken the bond? Screw that, tell ‘em that the way they are acting, we’d be better off without them (anybody want to argue that?) and they better think hard about it, before we cut them off. Just infuriating, the simpering, courting tone.
    Damn it, I just popped the sphygmomanometer. I better go lay down.

    • Mooser says:

      Sorry, I guess I forgot that American Jews still have not accounted for their actions during the Civil Rights era in America. I’d hate to have to explain to a Zionist why we betrayed them like that.

    • seafoid says:

      “We write as American rabbis and cantors who are deeply committed to the long-term security and viability of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”

      Also in the series

      “We write as American parents who are deeply committed to the long term happiness of our children. That’s why we buy them crack cocaine.”

  5. eljay says:

    >> “We write as American rabbis and cantors who are deeply committed to the long-term security and viability of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. … All of us believe that the ultimate safety and security of Israel as a Jewish state will depend on reaching a peace agreement that also allows Palestinians to live safely and securely in their own state.”

    IOW:
    - we want Israel to remain a supremacist “Jewish State”, rather than become a secular, democratic and egalitarian state of and for all Israelis, equally); and
    - we need a Palestine to exist so that we can support the migration to it of “undesirable demographics”.

    Their concern is touching.

  6. seafoid says:

    We write as American rabbis and cantors who are deeply committed to the long-term security and viability of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state

    link to youtube.com

    stayed in bed all morning to pass the time….

  7. Mooser says:

    “We write as American rabbis and cantors who are deeply committed to the long-term security and viability of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state”

    I guess it’s a case of ’700 Rabbis, one opinion on what constitutes a “Jewish and democratic state”. That’s nice for a change.

  8. seafoid says:

    Settler outfit Ahava express my sentiments exactly, although not perhaps in the manner intended …

    AHAVA Dead Sea Cosmetics: Everything Must Go‏

    link to judaicawebstore.com