Amidst some questionable journalism about the American move to acknowledge the location of Israel’s capital, a passage in yesterday’s New York Times editorial stands out as particularly stunning and perverse.
The editorial, titled “Does Trump Want Peace in the Middle East,” effectively ratifies the cleansing of Jews from Jerusalem’s Old City and other formerly Jewish areas of Jerusalem during the 1948 Independence War.
In a paragraph criticizing the return of Jews to what the newspaper describes as “settlements” in those parts of Jerusalem, the editorial bases its disapproval on the fact that “East Jerusalem was exclusively Arab in 1967.”
It is true that this section of Jerusalem was exclusively Arab in 1967. This is because Jews, long a majority and plurality in these parts of the city, were forced out in 1948, when the area was seized by Jordanian troops. Jerusalem neighborhoods like the Jewish Quarter, Shimon Hatzadik, and Silan indeed became Jew-free, their synagogues razed and their cemeteries desecrated.
To consider the 19-year period during which Jews were exiled from the Old City and surrounding areas as the starting point of history, and to use it as a bludgeon to attack Israel and delegitimize the presence of Jews in eastern Jerusalem, effectively communicates the newspaper’s acceptance of the expulsion of the Jews and seeming endorsement of an ethnically cleansed eastern Jerusalem.
In 1948, the New York Times published the following account of Jews pouring out from the Old City walls:
Thus the Jews have been eliminated from the City of David for the first time since the sixteenth century. Except for sixty years in the sixteenth century they are believed to have been there continuously since the return from the Babylonian captivity. New Jerusalem was largely created in the last seventy years.
All last night and early today the noncombatants were trekking out through the Zion Gate over Mount Zion and through the Valley of Hinnon to the Yemin Moshe quarter from where they were driven to billets in the Katamon quarter. They are mostly orthodox and poor.