The human consequences of implementing the recent United Nations resolution about Israel would be devastating, say American representatives of Israeli schools, synagogues and other institutions in parts of Jerusalem that Israel captured in 1967.
UN Security Council Resolution 2334, adopted Dec. 23 with the United States abstaining, asserted that all “Israeli settlement activities” in “the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem” are “a flagrant violation of international law.” It stated that Israel must “immediately and completely cease” such activities and also take action to “reverse negative trends on the ground.”
A number of major Jerusalem neighbourhoods are situated in what the UN calls “East Jerusalem,” which is the area that Jordan occupied following the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Nineteen years later, those sections of the city were reunited with the rest of Jerusalem as a result of the 1967 Six Day War.
One of those neighbourhoods is French Hill, a major urban area located in the northeastern part of the city. “I live in French Hill,” award-winning Israeli author Yossi Klein Halevi told JNS.org. “So the recent UN resolution has criminalized me and my family as occupiers.”
“I’m not illegal, and I’m not a ‘settler,’” said historian Maurice Roumani, a professor emeritus at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, who resides in Armon HaNetziv (East Talpiot), a neighbourhood in eastern Jerusalem with a population of 14,000. “These artificial definitions by the UN do not reflect reality.”
The institutions that could be adversely affected if the UN resolution leads to international boycotts or other actions include the Ilan Residential Home for Handicapped Young Adults and the Beit Or Home for Young Autistic Adults, both of which are located in the Gilo neighbourhood; forests and housing projects sponsored in and around Jerusalem by the Jewish National Fund (JNF); and portions of the Hebrew University campus. Even the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives might be affected.
“My grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents, going back seven generations, are buried on the Mount of Olives,” Washington, D.C.-based attorney Alyza Lewin told JNS.org. “Does the UN propose to ban Jews from using the oldest and largest Jewish cemetery in the world? The notion that Israel is violating international law by burying its dead on this sacred spot is unthinkable.”
Could members of the British family find themselves accused of fostering the “illegal occupation” of eastern Jerusalem? Princess Alice of Battenberg, a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, is buried in a small Christian cemetery at the foot of the Mount of Olives. A number of British royals have visited her gravesite over the years, including Prince Charles during his trip to Israel last October.
There also are Arab residents in a number of across-the-line Jerusalem neighbourhoods, including Givat HaMatos, Gilo and Neve Yaakov. “Some of my neighbours [in French Hill] are Arab Israelis,” Halevi noted. “Are they occupiers, too, or is it only the Jewish Israelis? Now that I am officially outside of the law according to the UN, I imagine that anything can happen.”
Possible international action against those sections of Jerusalem would cut across Jewish denominational lines, affecting Orthodox and non-Orthodox institutions alike.
The Masorti movement – the Israeli branch of Conservative Judaism – sponsors a school and synagogue in French Hill, a school in Gilo and synagogues in the Ramot neighbourhood and the Jerusalem satellite community of Ma’ale Adumim. “The UN resolution is indiscriminate and historically obtuse,” said Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, who is one of the most prominent Conservative rabbis in the United States.
Read more at jns.org.