At our seders this week we will recite at the outset, "let all who are hungry come and eat."
It's a reminder of the universal as well as particular aspect of the seder in general, and of Judaism in general, a timely reminder at a point of deep tension between Washington and Jerusalem over Israel's treatment of its Arab minority and neighbors. The Obama administration wants Israel to stop building in east Jerusalem, even though the neighborhood in question is Jewish and surrounded by the Jewish neighborhoods of French Hill and Ramot.
The irony is that when east Jerusalem was under Jordanian control, from 1948 until the Six Day War of 1967, the Western Wall and its environs were banned to Jews. And there is no discussion of a future Palestinian State allowing Jews to live within its borders. By contrast, Israel has allowed access to its holy places to all since 1967, ceding control of the Al-Aksa Mosque to the Arabs, even though it includes the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.
Why is it acceptable to the U.S. that Palestinian areas be Judenrein while Israel is condemned for allowing Jews to build in Jewish neighborhoods of a city that is open to all?
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