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July 21, 2009

LA Times Ignores Kadima Opposition to US Pressure

Ignored by LA Times: Kadima MK Otniel Schneller

The Los Angeles Times falsely portrays "Conservative voices" in Israel as standing alone in opposing U.S. pressure on Jewish building projects in eastern Jerusalem. Yesterday's article by Jeffrey Fleishman and Batsheva Sobelman ignores the fact that a Kadima MK has spoken out against Israeli building restrictions in the eastern part of the city:

For the last two months, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and special U.S. envoy George J. Mitchell have met several times to try to resolve what has turned into the most publicly pointed disagreement in years between Israel and Washington.

The Israeli activist group Peace Now said construction in East Jerusalem -- home to holy sites for Christians, Jews and Muslims -- is not supported by all Israelis and "undermines the chances of the city becoming the joint capital of Israel and the future Palestinian state."

Conservative voices, however, fear that forgoing construction in East Jerusalem will only invite more outside pressure on Israel to curtail its development within the city. Ophir Akunis, a Likud Party member of the Knesset, Israel's parliament, said: "All countries in the world must understand that on the issue of Jerusalem, we will not receive dictates."

By apparently relying blindly on the unreliable Peace Now, Fleishman and Sobelman missed this Jerusalem Post article also from yesterday:

As if to prove the point that this was an issue that crossed party lines, Kadima MK Otniel Schneller said Monday he was calling for assistance from Jewish organizations worldwide to help stop what he described as Obama's policy that was "not very different from that of [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas."

Schneller sent a letter to new Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, asking him for assistance in enlisting Jewish communities abroad to defend Jewish sovereignty over the area known as the "holy basin," the neighborhoods immediately surrounding Jerusalem's Old City.

"As head of the Jewish Agency, you bear the obligation of declaiming the nation's distress before the American administration - and no less importantly, before advisers to the current administration who are members of our own people," wrote Schneller in the letter, which he sent Monday.

Schneller also drafted a second letter on Monday, this one directed at Jewish community leaders in the US, asking for their assistance in convincing the administration to back down from its opposition to the project in Sheikh Jarrah. In this letter, he drew parallels between Tisha Be'Av - a day of fast that falls next week commemorating the destruction of both the First and Second Temples - and Obama's demand.

"A foreign superpower - call it Rome, Greece, whoever - came and destroyed the walls of the Jewish people in Jerusalem and took away their symbol of Jewish authority in Jerusalem - the Holy Temple," he wrote. "Today in the 21st century, the world's most powerful state is trying to call into question the walls of our authority in Jerusalem. The thought makes me shudder, even though I know that the United States is our greatest friend, and I understand how much our physical existence is dependent on it."

Posted by TS at July 21, 2009 04:31 AM


Schneller is a former Secretary-General of the Yesha Council, so of course he opposes restrictions on Israeli building in the occupied territories. Kadima is a catch-all party that includes in its ranks plenty of conservatives, such as Shaul Mofaz. Don't let Kadima's status as an opposition party fool you into believing that all its members oppose current government policy.

Posted by: reader at July 21, 2009 09:01 AM

Fact check on the posted comment, "Schneller is a former Secretary-General of the Yesha Council, so of course ..."

Schneller has not been a die-hard conservative in the past three years. See the New York Times article on Schneller, published on April 2, 2006, titled "Israeli Angers a Settlement by Accepting Withdrawal." See also the Washington Post article published on May 2, 2006, titled "Israel Offers Outline to Divide Jerusalem," where Schneller is described as the "architect of the plan."

Posted by: Anonymous at July 21, 2009 03:09 PM

You want a fact check on Schneller's background as former Secretary General of the Yesha Council? Have a look at his bio page on the Knesset website:

Posted by: reader at July 21, 2009 03:41 PM

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