United States administration officials have voiced harsh criticism over advertisements in favor of Israel's position on Jerusalem that appeared in the U.S. press with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's encouragement. The authors of the most recent such advertisements were president of the World Jewish Congress Ronald Lauder and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel. "All these advertisements are not a wise move," one senior American official told Haaretz.
In the advertisement, Wiesel said that for him as a Jew, "Jerusalem is above politics," and that "it is mentioned more than 600 times in Scripture - and not a single time in the Koran." Wiesel called to postpone discussion on Jerusalem until a later date, when there is an atmosphere of security allowing Israeli and Palestinian communities to find ways to live in peace.
The ongoing confrontation with the U.S. administration over construction in East Jerusalem was present in many of the comments made by senior Israeli officials during Independence Day.
Netanyahu himself said in an interview to ABC that freezing construction in the east of the city was an impossible demand, and refused to answer questions on the Israeli response to demands from Washington. Instead, he called on Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to return to the negotiating table without preconditions.
Foreign Minister Lieberman, meanwhile, made Jerusalem the focal point of his speech in a festive reception for the diplomatic corps at the President's Residence in Jerusalem. President Shimon Peres spoke first, calling for progress in the diplomatic process. Lieberman, who took the podium immediately after Peres, made diametrically opposed statements in his speech, stressing that the Palestinian Authority is no partner for peace.
"Jerusalem is our eternal capital and will not be divided," Lieberman said. Many of the ambassadors in the audience left feeling stunned and confused, some of them told Haaretz. "The gap between Peres and Lieberman is inconceivable," one of them said. "We couldn't comprehend how Lieberman can say all that in front of all the international community delegates."
Speaking at the torch-lighting ceremony on Mount Herzl on Monday, Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin said that there was "an attack on Jerusalem" and that Israel "will not apologize for the building of Jerusalem, our capital."
Meanwhile, Israel National News reported that thousands are preparing to protest in New York this Sunday against the Obama administration's "increasing hostility towards Israel." The event is scheduled to take place outside the Israeli Consulate on Sunday, April 25 at 1:00 p.m. EDT. A partial list of organizations who endorsed the demonstration is below.
Among the organizations who have officially endorsed the rally are:
Americans for a Safe Israel
Artists 4 Israel
Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors
Christians and Jews United for Israel
Coalition for Israel
Crown Heights Women for the Security and Integrity of Israel
Dr. Joseph Frager, Jerusalem Reclamation Project
NY Assemblyman Dov Hikind
Israel Day Concert in the Park
Jewish Political Education Foundation
Dr. Michael Ledeen, Center for Defense of Democracies
Unity Coalition for Israel
Dr. Herbert London, The Hudson Institute
AMCHA, Coalition for Jewish Concerns
Stand With Us
Endowment for Middle East Truth
World Committee for the Land of Israel
Zionist Organization of America
This unprecedented level of anti-government rhetoric in the Zionist community is dangerous and demands our response. True Torah Jews Against Zionism is currently working on both newspaper and radio ads to publicize the views of American Orthodox Jewry against Zionism, as well as our loyalty to America.