Dear Fellow Jews everywhere,
We are at a moment in Jewish history, a rare moment where we have an opportunity to achieve a level of unity unlike anything that has been seen in half a century or more. Let me expain why—
UN Resolution 2334
At 936 words, UN Resolution 2334 is a short read. It’s imperative you spend a few minutes to read it.
The resolution deals primarily with two issues.
1) Peace: The notion that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are by far the single largest barrier to peace. UN 2334, “… Stresses that the cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential for salvaging the two-State solution.”
2) Occupation: The assertion that all territory captured by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War was, up until the outbreak of the war, wasthe legal possession of the Palestinian people. 2334 audaciously asserts that “ … the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity … Underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, [the day before the Six Day War began] including with regard to Jerusalem …”
Peace & Occupation: Debate and Weight
It is crystal clear that in the opinion of the United Nations, the best, most viable road to peace is via the two-state solution. And the largest obstacle blocking that road is Israeli settlements.
Is a two-state solution truly viable? Will it lead to peace? Have Palestinian leaders prepared their people to live in peace with their Jewish neighbors? Are Israeli ready for peace? Will a Palestinian state inevitably become a Hamas led radical Muslim state? These are real, important and valid questions to consider. Many intelligent, well-intentioned, passionate people have debated these, and other points, for quite a while. And the jury is still out.
My friends, my sisters and brothers, we need to understand that there is something else going on here.
Something that I think is even more profound than the issue of peace. It’s something more fundamental than whether or not the city of Efrat, a city of 10,000 Jews where I frequently teach, where many of my closest friends live, and where I went to celebrate Chanukah last night, is or isn’t an obstacle to peace. It’s something that transcends the deep animus between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu.
You see, the passage of 2334, and the participation of the United States, has stirred what may be unprecedented fury, outrage and acrimony over the past week. This is true on the governmental level as well as on the street.
To me, and many others, this resolution highlights more than a red line. It raises a yes-I-would-be-willing-to-die-for-this issue that shakes us to our very core.
Weight and Jerusalem
In addition to the two-state solution, and the many questions that are up for debate, in 2334, there’s a question of weight.
The question is: What is the strongest, most weighty assertion of the resolution? Is it that Israeli settlements are the greatest threat to any hope for peace—or—is it the assertion of occupation, that all the land Israel captured on 7-8 June, 1967 is stolen Palestinian land held illegally and immorally by the Jewish state?
There are huge numbers of Jews, my guess is most Jews, that read this resolution and one word cries out to them far, far louder than any other. Far louder than peace, far louder than settlements, and far louder than any mention of “acts of violence, acts of terror, acts of provocation.” The word that cries out is: Jerusalem.
To me, and countless Jews like me, the word Jerusalem is the weightiest word in the resolution. Everything else pales in comparison.
The resolution itself uses the term East Jerusalem, but everyone knows that East Jerusalem is Jerusalem. East Jerusalem is where the heart and soul of the city lays. East Jerusalem is where King David and his son Solomon lived. East Jerusalem is where the ancient capital of Israel always was. East Jerusalem is where the two Temples stood. East Jerusalem is where the Western Wall of the Temple Mount is. East Jerusalem is the city that was conquered, destroyed and ravaged by the Babylonians, Romans, Christians, Muslims and Jordanians. East Jerusalem is the city towards which Jews prayed for a thousand years before the birth of Islam. East Jerusalem is the city Jews returned to, and longed to return to, from the time of the Roman destruction, to this very day. East Jerusalem is the city that all Jews, everywhere, had in their hearts century after century when they said, L’Shana Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim, next year in Jerusalem.
And so, when 2334 asserts, “Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity,” what Jews across Israel, around the world, and throughout Jewish history hear is: JERUSALEM! They hear: Jerusalem is Palestinian, not Jewish.
Not only is that 100% historically incorrect, it, is, out-rageous!
Jerusalem: All Bets Are Off
Once you assert that Jerusalem isn’t Jewish, everything else falls by the wayside. Think of it this way. For Am Yisrael, for the collective Jewish nation—for this new-ancient people that spans the globe and the millennia—Jerusalem is our heart and soul.
The question of peace, and quest for peace with the Palestinians, is an issue of colossal importance. But for Am Yisrael, for the Jewish People, it is a leg, or perhaps two legs, but it’s not our heart and soul. Israel has proven; with Egypt, Jordan and Gaza, that it is prepared to take great risks, and part with large portions of land, in its pursuit of peace. But if for the sake of peace you want us to cut out our heart and snuff the spirit out of our soul, then what is left of us? Strip Jerusalem from the Jewish people, from Judaism, and from Jewish life, and all that remains are lifeless limbs and bones. No heart that beats, weeps, loves, cries or sings. No soul that yearns, longs, prays and dreams.
After the destruction of Jerusalem, the Psalmist expressed what would become the overarching theme of Jewish history for the next two thousand years:
If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not raise Jerusalem above my greatest joy.
And that is why I believe that we are at a rare moment in Jewish history, a moment in which we have an opportunity to achieve a degree of unity unlike anything that has been seen in half a century, perhaps in thousands of years.
As a people united, we have the opportunity to stand as one and say to the world:
“Jerusalem is Jewish. Period. It always has been, and it always will be.”
You want to talk about Palestinians, you want to talk about two states, you want to talk about incitement and terror, you want to talk about settlements, that’s fine. We can talk, discuss and debate; and we can also negotiate. But Jerusalem? There is nothing to discuss. It’s Jewish. Period. Stolen, perhaps, but only from the Jews, never by the Jews.”
Dear Fellow Jews,
As a Jew that has the remarkable good fortune of living in Jerusalem, and of praying many mornings a week at the Kotel, the Western Wall, I can tell you this—
Jerusalem is calling.
Jerusalem is calling.
Jerusalem is crying out.
To stand up on her behalf.
To the UN Security Council. To UNESCO. To the world.
If you dare to claim in one voice that Jerusalem is not Jewish, then we will summon not only every one of our voices, but every Jewish voice that has ever uttered the word Yerushalayim, and say, with our every breath, and our last breath, JERUSALEM IS JEWISH. Last year, this year, next year, and forever.
L’Shana Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim
Next Year—this year—in Jerusalem