There were two pieces in the news the past few days that I want to pass on.

1 – Leonard Fein, founder of Moment magazine and well-known op-ed writer, recently published an important column outlining developments going on right now in Jerusalem that will make a two state solution impossible within the next 12 to 24 months. I covered this in a post on January 16th titled A Virtual Tour of Jerusalem. You might want to click on that title to view it in conjunction with Fein’s column below since the virtual tour will show you on a map what he is discussing.

You can read the full article, ‘Decapitating’ Palestine, Killing Peace, at http://www.jewishjournal.com/opinion/article/decapitating_palestine_killing_peace_20120208/ . Here are some excerpts:

“This needs to be said as urgently and as clearly as possible: Israel’s settlement policy in and around Jerusalem is not merely controversial; it is calamitous.  Unless it changes, it will within a year render a two-state solution to the conflict impossible….

But most Jews, according to survey results, here and in Israel, prefer a two-state solution, even if they think it unlikely in current or readily foreseeable circumstances. 

Because my concern here is specifically with Jerusalem and its relevance to a two-state solution, I set to the side all the controversial and all the illegal (according to Israeli law) Jewish outposts and settlements that dot the West Bank, all the violence that emanates from more than a few of them, all the land theft they have practiced and all the current governmental efforts retroactively to legalize them….

In East Jerusalem the pace of Jewish construction now borders on the frenetic.  The goal is so thickly to expand the Jewish presence in what was traditionally the heart of the national Palestinian community and so to encircle the remaining Palestinian neighborhoods as to separate Jerusalem completely from the rest of Palestine.  It amounts, from a Palestinian perspective, to a policy of decapitation. 

Thus, if building projects now under way or already approved are completed, it will not be possible for Palestinians from Bethlehem to Jerusalem’s south or from Ramallah to its north, to access Jerusalem.  And if, as seems likely, Israel finally begins active development of the area known as E1, East Jerusalem will be hemmed in on all sides.  It will not be available as the capital city of a new Palestine, nor as Palestine’s commercial and intellectual center. The northern half of the West Bank and its southern half will have been bisected, Palestine will successfully have been cantonized, transformed into a set of disconnected towns and villages. Palestine will not be a viable state. 

The acknowledged leading expert on what is happening in and to Jerusalem is Daniel Seidemann, founder of Ir Amim (A City of Nations). In his own writings and in the work of Ir Amim, it is made clear that the grim prospect of a de facto separation between all of Jerusalem and the Palestinian hinterland is no longer a distant hypothetical; it is around the corner. Seidmann himself is convinced that by 2013, currently unfolding facts on the ground will have destroyed the prospect of a two-state solution.”

I wonder how many rabbis and other Jewish communal leaders in America or in other countries are aware of this? I suspect very few. For sure the average person in the broader Jewish community is not. I hope they wake up soon. As always, I encourage you to forward this on.

2 – To gain some insight into how some of Israel’s policies have devastated Palestinian life in East Jerusalem, here is an interesting article from the Los Angeles Times about one neighborhood that was severed from the rest of Jerusalem by the separation wall: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-jerusalem-barrier-20120207,0,4118563.story

Reporting from Jerusalem— With a fire extinguisher in his hand and a cellphone pressed to his ear, principal Sameeh abu Rameelh battled an electrical fire in his Jerusalem high school’s computer lab while pleading with the fire department to come to his aid.

But when the emergency dispatcher heard that the school was in Kafr Aqab, separated from the rest of Jerusalem by a 36-foot-high concrete wall, he told Abu Rameelh that firetrucks wouldn’t cross Israel’s separation barrier without army protection.

The principal turned to the West Bank city of Ramallah, hoping Palestinian Authority fire crews would help. Sorry, they responded, but they were not permitted to enter Jerusalem.

Eventually, Abu Rameelh said, he and some volunteers put out the blaze. No one was hurt, but the lab, with 40 computers and desks, was gutted….

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