We Israelis love walls. They can be so tall, provide us with a sense of security (who cares if it’s real or not), and serve as a manifestation for that blindness to the ‘others’.
Whatever you do, don’t take our walls from us.
But lo and behold, those American Consulate diplomats, they took our Western Wall away from us, this Monday! How could they do this? Indeed, how did they?
Well the story is that the diplomats stationed at the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem refused to hold talks with Israeli officials about arrangements for U.S. President Donald Trump’s planned visit to the Western Wall during his trip to Israel next week. The diplomats claimed that the site is in the West Bank, and therefore the Israeli government has no authority over it, as Haaretz noted.
Oh boy, you can imagine what a storm that was. The Israeli officials found the position simply “unacceptable”, and the Israeli Prime Minister Office was “astonished”. Israel quickly demanded an explanation from the White House, which hastened to say that
“These comments, if true, were not authorized by the White House. They do not reflect the U.S. position, and certainly not the President’s position.”
But US Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley, the “new Sheriff in town”, whom Gideon Levy regards as the “Habayit Hayehudi [Jewish Home party] representative in the United Nations”, she went much further. Now she’s not only saying that she believes the “Western Wall is part of Israel” and that “we’ve always thought the Western Wall was part of Israel”, but also that the Israeli capital “should be Jerusalem and the embassy should be moved to Jerusalem”.
She obviously means the united, Jewish, Israeli Jerusalem. Eternally perhaps. From time immemorial. Of course there’s that little other thing, which is that East Jerusalem is simply not recognized as Israeli territory by any country in the world besides Israel, really. As well as the fact that it’s meant to be a capital of Palestine. But for Haley, this is not a huge issue. It’s just a “touchy”, “tricky” issue, as she says:
“the tricky part is where the Palestinians come in on this and where the Israelis come in on this. The Israelis don’t want to give on Jerusalem at all, and we have to see how strong the Palestinians stand on that. That’s your touchy part”.
So, Israelis don’t want to give, and the occupied Palestinians, who are under Israel’s mighty military boot (which is supported and armed by the American sheriff), we just have to see how strong they ‘stand’ on it. And if they fail to ‘stand’, well too bad. That’s how “touchy” and “tricky” it is.
But back to the wall. Let’s never forget our walls.
So, this Western Wall, where is it really?
It’s in East Jerusalem. And you know, it’s funny, because sometimes even the most fundamentalist religious-nationalist outlets come to spill the beans on this. Last year, the religious-nationalist outlet Israel National News, based in the settlement of Beit El (which is US Ambassador David Friedman’s ‘baby’), did a count on Jewish settlers. The count neared 800,000 settlers. It wrote that
“Based on the Population Registry of Israel’s Interior Ministry, there are 406,302 Jews in Judea and Samaria as of December 31, 2015. As clearly stated in the report, the statistics do not include eastern neighborhoods of Jerusalem (e.g. Pisgat Zeev, Ramat Shlomo, Ramot, Gilo, Ramat Eshkol, etc.) which are technically part of the West Bank and are home to another approximately 360,000 Jews” .
Get that? “part of the West Bank”. They know it. They obviously had an interest to state it in that context, because it bolstered their point that the “realities on the ground”…“have rendered the Jewish presence there irreversible and block any chances of a Palestinian State ever being established”. Had they missed out on the settlers of East Jerusalem, as mainstream media often does, they would have a much lower count. So they obviously had an interest to state the fact, that East Jerusalem is part of the West Bank. But they did state it. It’s from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.
That means that the Western Wall is part of the West Bank. Why is it so hard to understand? And why is it such a big deal that American diplomats state the obvious?
It is ostensibly because that wall is so “Jewish”. And a Jewish State just has to have a Jewish wall. Saying that wall is not part of Israel is like saying Jesus wasn’t buried in the Vatican. Oh, wait a minute, he wasn’t. Where is he buried? In East Jerusalem!! Do we now need to make East Jerusalem part of a Christian State for the Holy Sepulcher to be a viable Holy place for Christians?
But that wall, it has become the wall of division. We seem unable to perceive walls in any other way.
Whilst it may be “touchy” and “tricky”, the fact is, that the Western Wall is in the West Bank. The Americans know it and we Israelis know it. Although the wall of denial is several meters thick.