Monday, September 21, 2009
"OUR TIME HAS COME"
Yesterday I was enjoying a lovely Rosh Hashanah lunch with friends and several other guests, when someone pointed out that the US Embassy in Israel penalized American Jews who came to work at the Israeli Embassy. Specifically, if the employees allow their children to attend an American-English school, the educational costs are paid. But if they choose to send their children to a local school — where the children could learn Hebrew and immerse themselves in the local culture – the employees must pay for it themselves.
Inappropriately, I admit, I laughed and said something like, “That sounds like Obama,” whereupon the person sitting next to me – another regular civilian who didn’t know any more about it than I did – nearly exploded. “That’s INSULTING! Obama had nothing to do with it!”
Well, the Community Organizer wasn't with us yesterday, so I'm not sure who would have been insulted, but the other guest was quite right: It wasn’t the time or place to argue politics, especially when it was obvious any such discussion would have been pointless. Only 4% of Israelis have a positive opinion of Barack Hussein Obama, and without doubt, the person sitting next to me was one of them.
For obvious reasons that person isn't likely to be reading this blog, but now I’m wondering how many other people still think the Community Organizer operates its Israeli embassy and “east Jerusalem” consulate with any positive regard for the local Jewish population or – apparently – toward its employees who happen to be Jews.
So here’s a few ways that things have changed – there’s that word again – since the Community Organizer began his reign. It was NOT this way under previous administrations.
First: The US consulate in “East Jerusalem” serves part of Jerusalem, plus French Hill and Gilo, as well as all the citizens of Judea and Samaria, 800,000 of them Jews. But its website – check it out yourself -- http://jerusalem.usconsulate.gov – is designed to help Arabs only. The only two languages offered are Arabic and English, not Hebrew (which happens to be the language the majority of the residents, of all ethnicities, speak). Workers at that Consulate speak only Arabic and English, and no Hebrew option is available on the voice mail system.
Second, take a look at what programs and ‘cultural opportunities’ the Consulate offers. On today’s menu, nothing at all relates to Jews or Judaism. There are many different sites in which Ramadan is prominent – and not a single one in which Rosh Hashanah, which took place on Shabbat and yesterday, is even mentioned. Nor is any other Jewish holiday. The only reference is to Muslim holidays, practices, celebrations and greetings.
When asked why this is, the US Consulate officials explain that it’s because east Jerusalem – including all of Jerusalem’s Old City as well as the Western Wall -- plus all of Judea and Samaria are regarded as “occupied territory”.
That's familiar nonsense of course, but the absurdity of their claiming Jerusalem's entire Old City for the Arabs is patently obvious.
For those of you in the US who haven’t yet wandered in the glory of Jerusalem’s Old City, it’s home to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, for Jews; the Church of the Sepulcher for Christians, the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque for Muslims. The Old City itself is divided into four quarters, Muslim Quarter, the Christian Quarter, the Jewish Quarter and the Armenian Quarter.
But now the US Consulate that serves all the residents of those areas operates only in English and Arabic.
Among today’s news offerings on the Consulate website is a story about how the Consulate is honoring “Fifty University Graduates” in an internship program. The ‘honor’ ceremony is being held in Ramallah, Yasser Arafat’s old stamping ground, where Jews are forbidden to enter.
Then there’s a gushing story about kicking off a “month of Ramadan outreach” by the Consulate, starting with a Ramadan Quiz Night.
But none of that equals the headlined link to Hussein Obama’s way-beyond-disgusting September 11 memorial message – in which he switches the memorial from remembering those killed by Muslims on September 11 to a “Patriot Day and Day of National Service” instead.
All of this has been protested by the American Israeli Action Coalition (AIAC), which states that the Jerusalem Consulate website “totally denies the existence of Israel or Israelis.” AIAC chairman Harvey Schwartz commented. "The Obama administration`s continued efforts to marginalize Israel are becoming more evident daily. The U.S. Consulate`s efforts…demonstrate that those efforts are continuing unabated."
But it’s not just the US Consulate in “east Jerusalem” – it’s the main Embassy in Tel Aviv, too.
The Embassy website contains a link to their “Human Rights Report: Israel and the Occupied Territories” which criticizes Israel for being a Jewish state and laments the authority of rabbis who act according to traditional Jewish law.
Under the subtitle “Freedom of Religion,” the Embassy site states, “The Basic Law and Declaration of Independence recognize the country as a ‘Jewish and democratic state,’ while also providing for full social and political equality, regardless of religious affiliation. The government recognized only Orthodox Jewish religious authorities in personal and some civil status matters concerning Jewish persons. The government implemented policies including marriage, divorce, education, burial, and observance of the Sabbath based on Orthodox Jewish interpretation of religious law, and allocations of state resources favored Orthodox Jewish institutions.”
It charges that “many Jewish citizens objected to exclusive Orthodox control over aspects of their personal lives” -- all of this, without noting that traditional Judaism has been the basis of the Jewish people for 3,500 years.
The Embassy appears to complain that “legal missionaries faced harassment and discrimination by some haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) Jewish activists and organizations and certain local government officials.”
“Legal missionaries”?? What’s that? Missionary activity per se is illegal in Israel -- although the government is notoriously loose in enforcing the law.
In short, throughout, the Embassy website uses its authority to criticize the host state. I wonder how many other US Embassies around the world operate like that?
I did get a chuckle out of the fact that out of seven video links available, five feature Missus Bubba giving a speech or statement. I guess now we know that the website is being managed by her staff, not that of the Community Organizer. She's probably licking her chops, waiting for 2012 just like the rest of us.
Of course, none of this is much of a surprise for those of us who live here. Ask just about any American Israeli who’s had to visit the US Embassy for something – to register the birth of a child, renew passports, get help with Social Security benefits – and virtually everyone will tell you how nasty the US employees are, how rude and condescending. At times, it’s almost embarrassing to be an American in Israel, because almost everyone who had to contact the Embassy came out frothing at the mouth.
So. Do I know that the Embassy’s policy regarding education of Jewish children of American employees has changed recently? No. I don’t. And the link to “Embassy employment opportunities” on the website isn’t functioning at the moment.
But given what we do know about all the changes the Community Organizer has instituted the Embassy and the “east Jerusalem” Consulate, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit.
Oh, and thanks to reader Fred, who informs me that on September 25, there will be a national prayer gathering of Muslims on the west front of the U.S. Capitol Building. Some 50,000 Muslims plan to attend from mosques all across America, with prayers scheduled to run 15 consecutive hours, from 4:00 AM until 7:00 PM.
The site is where U.S. Presidents have been inaugurated since 1981, or as their website puts it, “Echoing off of the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and other great edifices that surround Capitol Hill.”
If you have a strong stomach, check that website yourself: www.islamoncapitolhill.com (Turn DOWN your speakers.)
Their final exhortation? “Our time has come.”