Israel, Uncategorized

With all due respect, Mr. Lantos, you're wrong about Jerusalem

Ariel Sharon and Congressman Tom Lantos

It’s hard to be mad at Tom Lantos.
First of all, he’s a dyed-in-the-wool progressive. As Wikipedia notes,

Lantos is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and has repeatedly called for reforms to the nation’s health-care system, reduction of the national budget deficit and the national debt, repeal of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, and has opposed Social Security privatization efforts. He supports gay marriage rights and marijuana for medical use, is a strong proponent of gun control and is adamantly pro-choice.
Lantos is a well-known advocate on behalf of the environment, receiving consistently high ratings from the League of Conservation Voters and other environmental organizations for his legislative record

“One of us! One of us!”
But what makes Lantos even more admirable and worthy of my respect is the fact that he risked his own life for the sake of his fellow Jews as a member of the Hungarian Underground resistance, and despite being captured and brutally beaten by the Nazis, he survived the war and lived on to become the first-and-only Shoah survivor in the U.S. Congress.
Lantos has credibility, as far as I’m concerned. His experience lends authority and weight to his voice. Which is why I’m so troubled by Mr. Lantos’ proposed resolution [PDF], “Relating to the 40th anniversary of the reunification of the City of Jerusalem,” which upholds The Official Zionist Narrative™ as the capital-T “Truth” and as the final word on the status of Jerusalem as “the eternal, undivided capital” of Israel.
I could spend the next hour or so disputing the kashrut of some claims made by Lantos in his resolution, and outright debunking others (such as his statement that since Israel captured East Jerusalem, “the rights of all faiths have been respected,” whereas even the U.S. State Department’s commission on human rights condemned Israel’s “institutional, legal, and societal discrimination against the country’s Arab citizens”), but that’s not really the point.
I appreciate the fact that Tom Lantos is a committed supporter of Israel. Israel has few friends in the world, and the last thing I am seeking here is to turn a friend and supporter of Israel into an opponent of the state. I also recognize that Lantos in all likelihood composed this resolution in response to the State Department’s decision to steer clear of Yom Yerushalayim this year, and in that respect, I view it as an respectably chutzpadik act.
Yet as a progressive, I believe that Lantos is betraying his own ideals by promoting an entirely one-sided view of the so-called “reunification of Jerusalem” (which, in actuality, was merely its redivision), and is more so doing Israel little service by failing to act as an impartial broker, as is a necessary precondition to negotiating “a peaceful, two-state solution to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.” (I am also curious as to how Mr. Lantos believes “a peaceful, two-state solution” can be obtained, when his position on Jerusalem is irreconcilable with the Palestinian demand to see East Jerusalem as their capital.)
What Israel truly needs are supporters who are honest about the situation on the ground, rather than parrots of a one-sided narrative that evades ever addressing the reality that is perpetuating the conflict. Israel needs friends who are willing to tell Israel when it’s in the wrong, and who are willing to intervene for the sake of Israel’s better interests.
That said, Mr. Lantos, the situation in East Jerusalem is simply not like you say. But don’t take my word for it. Next time you’re in Israel, skip lunch at the Inbal with Dore and Mort, Malcolm and Abe. Go to East Jerusalem, and see for yourself.
I’m sure Mr. Lantos has spent countless hours receiving briefings from organizations like Aipac, the Conference of Presidents, the American Jewish Commitee, JINSA and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. But what I request of Mr. Lantos is that next time he visits Jerusalem, that he arrange visits with Ir Amim, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). Mr. Lantos should tour the Jerusalem envelope with Ir Amim. He should hear about pending civil rights cases from ACRI. And he should attend a house demolition in East Jerusalem with ICAHD.
After he’s learned, first hand, about the plight of Arabs in East Jerusalem and the institutionalized discrimination they face, I invite Mr. Lantos to come back and look me in the eye, as one progressive to another, and tell me he still stands by this resolution.
If he can still do that… Well, at the very least I can write him off as a lost cause. And if he can’t, thank G-d, we’ll have gained one more sensible representative working towards a truly just peace in the Middle East.

26 thoughts on “With all due respect, Mr. Lantos, you're wrong about Jerusalem

    …as quoted in the September 30, 2002 edition of the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, [Lantos] told Minister of Knesset Colette Avital, “My dear Colette, you won’t have any problem with Saddam. We’ll be rid of the bastard soon enough. And in his place we’ll install a pro-Western dictator, who will be good for us and for you.”

  2. Why in the world should the US be the “honest broker” between Israel and the Muslims? Why shouldn’t the US be on the side of right, truth and justice, ie Israel. And as to the relinquishing to E. Jerusalem being the necessary ingredient for a two state solution, yes if your definition of the two states is two Syrias. Isn’t it clear after all these years, with the latest lesson being the murdering of Jews from the base of Gaza, that the precondition for peace with the Arabs is the death of the Jews?

  3. incorrect, read the news. The Arab League has already made the offer of normalized relations with Israel in exchange for a return to the ’67 borders. Twice. No preconditions.

  4. I am also curious as to how Mr. Lantos believes “a peaceful, two-state solution” can be obtained, when his position on Jerusalem is irreconcilable with the Palestinian demand to see East Jerusalem as their capital.)
    just to be clear: there are plenty of Israel’s positions that are “irreconcilable with Palestinian demands.” this does not necessarily render those positions invalid, nor does it render the Palestinian demands valid. the so-called right of return is a good example: it is still a “Palestinian demand” insofar as most Palestinians want it and the PA has never officially given it up. it’s an issue for negotiation, just like Jerusalem.
    but why can’t the quality-of-life issues on the East side that Mobius alludes to be rectified within the framework of a unified, Israeli-administered Jerusalem? why is the city’s re-division seen as a solution to the social gaps between East and West? are we really to believe that the PA will rectify these gaps? on what basis can we assume this?

  5. Lantos’ position as a holocaust survivor, powerful politician who favors, ahem, the installation of pro-Western dictators in Iraq and the current Israeli domination of the Palestinians helps draw the lines between ‘shoah business’ and support of Israeli intransigence.
    (was that all once sentence? whew!)
    It’s a line that when invoked by Jews in support of Israel, appears to cause warm fuzzies among the blue haired synagogue set. But let a single left wing academic draw the same line yet invoke different conclusions…. oy vey.
    Lantos is hopeless. I think though that Pelosi could be pushed.

  6. nice post. not any of the insane stuff mobius is usually talking about. very reasonable and well put. thanks.

  7. Jerusalem has been undivided for 3000 years and divided 1948-1967. Mobius, why are those 19 years more valid than the rest? Jerusalem is one of the few cities that has historically had a majority of Jews living in it. Moreover, Arabs may not be treated well, but they’re still allowed on the mount and the waqf still has authority. The same access was not given to Jews 1948-1967

  8. Kung Fu Jew (Hi) I don’t think it matters what the preconditions on the Saudi 2002 proposal were, as the conditions were untenable to Israel (and to many Arabs). see Al Jazeera:

    Arab leaders have always demanded full peace with Israel -meaning a return of all occupied lands – in return for normalisation.
    The Jordanian proposal is meant to amend a Saudi Arabian peace initiative adopted at the 2002 Arab League summit held in Beirut, which offered Israel peace with all Arab nations on condition it returns all land seized in the six-day war of 1967 -including East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Syria’s Golan Heights – in line with UN resolutions 242 and 338.
    It also calls for the creation of a Palestinian state and a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue.
    Arab League officials said the proposal had little support among Arab nations. Syria has always staunchly opposed any normalisation.
    Palestinian delegates to the summit’s preparatory discussions said the Jordanian proposal was unacceptable because it ignored the “fundamental basis for a just and comprehensive settlement”.
    “This is like giving a thief more than he had already stolen,” one senior Palestinian official said.

    Also, note that the borders in question are not actually, borders, but cease-fire lines drawn in 1949. Arabs certainly have the right to not be occupied, but it wouldn’t be occupation if they’d quit blowing themselves up and just either declared their own state and made peace or became Israeli citizens (more likely the former). If Israel just gave up the West Bank today, do you think it would be any more peaceful than the constant rockets from Gaza?

  9. Hey mob,
    great post. the irony of lantos’s otherwise progressive positions is well noted.
    another sad observance about this resolution is that comes out in the middle of another upsurge of violence in Gaza. I see the headline, “Gaza burns 2007; Congress responds by celebrating glorious victory of 1967” ugh
    MJ Rosenberg’s strikes a similar note in his post this week, “Congressional Time Warp.”

  10. OJ writes:
    Jerusalem has been undivided for 3000 years and divided 1948-1967.
    This is misleading, because the definition of “Jerusalem” has changed significantly. For most of those 3000 years, “Jerusalem” was just what is now the Old City, plus some areas south of there that used to be inside the walls. By that definition, Jerusalem has never been divided (in terms of political status); it has simply passed back and forth between different countries. It’s much more recent that the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem have been expanded as far as possible in all directions, in part to make the “eternal, undivided capital” include as much as possible.
    It seems like Israel could make everyone happy by designating parts of East Jerusalem as “not Jerusalem”, so that the Palestinian state could have a capital there, and Israel could still have an undivided “Jerusalem”.

  11. Maybe the reason that Lantos has this particular view is because he lived through a time when Jews were killed because they were Jews.He doesnt want a repeat of that in Israel. Giving in to demands like the Arab Leagues plan is a sure way for Israel to be destroyed. Can u name one thing the Arabs have lived up to in all of their agreements that suddenly if Israel goes back to 67 we’ll all sit down and sing ‘haveinu shalom aleichem’? B4 67 there was a peace?

  12. “I am also curious as to how Mr. Lantos believes “a peaceful, two-state solution” can be obtained, when his position on Jerusalem is irreconcilable with the Palestinian demand to see East Jerusalem as their capital.”
    That’s not much of an argument: The Palestinians also demand a right of return, but genuine supporters of a two-state solution simply don’t give it any credence because it’s fictional, bogus, not to mention impossible to implement.

  13. “its hard to be mad at tom lantos”
    it seems its very easy to be mad at him. If he doest follow the party line to a t hes someone to be mad at

  14. If someone finds Rep. Lantos generally sound in his political positions and admires Rep. Lantos but disagrees with Lantos on a single issue, perhaps it is time for that person to examine his own views on that issue, to determine whether he, or Rep. Lantos is wrong.

  15. I highly doubt that the view that Jews should get all of Jerusalem is exclusive to the “official Zionist vision” or whatever Mobius called it. A lot of people for some reason don’t seem to think that the Jews and Palestinians would get along in capitals that are in virtually the same place.

  16. Funny how liberals don’t like it one someone can’t be stereotyped.
    Funny how shitheads think they can engage in sweeping unsupported generalizations about groups of people they don’t like, yet believe they shouldn’t be criticized for their hypocrisy or mind-numbing stupidity.

  17. Lantos is a phoney. He is the only survivor I have ever heard of who is a devout Mormon with 14 devout Mormon grandchildren. He was an ardent supporter of both Gulf Wars. During the first he made up a story about the Iraqis killing babies in incubators and actually held a hearing on it. Turns out Lantos made up the story with a PR firm.
    Frankly, I don’t even believe he’s a survivor because no survivor would be married to a devout Mormon and have a dozen Mormon geandchildren.

  18. Am I correct on the source of the title:
    “With all due respect, sir, you’re wrong about the beards.”

  19. I have mixed feelings about Tom Lantos. I respect his participation in the Hungarian Resistance, and anybody whom’s people call a “whining, arrogant Jew” must have at least a few good points.
    On the other hand, it is difficult for me to understand how anyone who participated in a Resistance group can oppose the Second Amendment. The Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto considered themselves lucky to find a few small arms and a few dozen rounds of ammunition (see the movie “Uprising”). For a Holocaust survivor, and especially the veteran of any Resistance group, to support gun licensing, registration, and similar legislation astonishes me.
    I agree with Lantos that Jerusalem should be the undivided capital of Israel. The Palestinians have proven themselves unwilling to live in peace, with Israel and even with each other, ever since being given autonomy in Gaza. Their government consists of terrorists (Hamas). They are now firing rockets at Israel, which would probably result in retaliation with overwhelming force by any country but Israel. As far as I am concerned, the Palestinians long ago forfeited any rights, legal or moral, that they might have had to an independent state or to any stake in Jerusalem.
    OJ wrote, “Moreover, Arabs may not be treated well…” I suggest that you look up Israel and its neighbors at Freedom House. Israel has the highest ratings in the region for political freedom and civil rights, while its Arab neighbors are rated “Partly Free” at the very best. (Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia are rated “Not Free.”) Gay Palestinians try to get INTO Israel to avoid being brutalized by their own people, with the full approval and even participation of the Palestinian Authority.

  20. The Palestinians lost. They should be thankful that they weren’t expelled en masse in 1967 the way Jews were who had the misfortune of falling under the jurisdiction of the Jordanian Legion. A redivision of Jerusalem is and ought to be a non-starter.

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