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An Idea for Resolving the Israeli Settlement-Building Situation

March 17, 2010

The New York Times printed a very thoughtful Letter to the Editor regarding the current situation in Israel. I’m reprinting it here because it seems to me the most sensible compromise yet considered.

To the Editor:

Netanyahu Offers Apology, but No Shift in Policy, on East Jerusalem Housing” (news article, March 15) accurately portrays Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as caught between two demanding constituencies — his right-wing coalition partners on the one hand and America (plus all who hope for progress toward peace in the Middle East) on the other. Yet to build or not to build the 1,600 apartments in Ramat Shlomo, a Jewish neighborhood of East Jerusalem, need not be the question.

There is another, more visionary path whose time may have come at last: If the government permitted the construction of these apartments but discontinued discriminatory policies in deciding who would occupy them, we could indeed move forward toward a lasting peace.

This could be done in one of two ways: affirmative action (reserving 800 of the apartments for Palestinians) or nondiscriminatory rentals (for instance, a lottery for each apartment with an equal number of Jews and Muslims allowed to apply).

If an eventual Palestinian state and Israel are to coexist, they must do so as neighbors, and a mixed housing complex could be a model of how this could happen. I do not imagine that the residents of Ramat Shlomo will instantly welcome their new neighbors. But keeping the peace there would be an appropriate role of government in a civilized society; constructing housing (or permitting the construction of housing) for one ethnic group is not.

Leslie Brisman
New Haven, March 15, 2010

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 17, 2010 10:20 am

    Leslie forgot that that’s how the conflict actually started.

    Jews tried to buy land, construct homes and live among the Arabs starting, in the modern era, from the mid-1800s. But the Arabs basically said “we’ll kill you, rape you, burn you, if you try that”. In Jerusalem in 1920, Jaffa in 1921, Hebron and Gaza in 1929 and then throughout the country during 1936-39.

    And you know what? That’s what they did. Ethnic cleansing, discriminatory residency, terror, forcing the British Mandate to close the gates to immigration on the eve of World War II, etc.

    They didn’t – and don’t – want us among them. They deny it’s our national home. They deny the Temple existed.

    Nice try.

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