I am concerned that the two June 3 columns you featured regarding Jerusalem may have given your readership a false impression. The Orthodox representative spoke out for Jewish rights in a united Jerusalem and the director of Rabbis for Human Rights spoke out for the “real” Jerusalem, giving the distinct impression that recognizing the “pain” of Jerusalem’s Arab population means reconsidering the status of Jerusalem as the united capital of Israel. Orthodox Jews are for Jewish rights and “liberal” rabbis are for human rights. This is a false impression, a false dichotomy.
As a liberal/Conservative rabbi myself, let me state, unequivocally, that I see Jewish rights and human rights as one and the same. We, the Jewish people, as human beings, have the right to a united capital, our historic capital, of our one and only country. Israel’s record of stewardship over a united Jerusalem is remarkable. The holy places of all faiths have been honored, well-maintained, and made accessible. The city’s residents, all the city’s residents, have prospered under Israeli authority.
No doubt some Arab residents of Jerusalem may feel that their rights have been violated. In Israel, they are given the opportunity to have their grievances heard and redressed when legitimate. It seems to me, though, that the Arabs’ major grievance is that they must forfeit their “right” to be rid of the Jews. That is just fine by me. The Arabs of East Jerusalem will have to live under a Jewish authority that gives them more rights than they would have in any other corner of the Arab world. My conscience as a rabbi, a Jew, and a human being can live with that arrangement even if Arabs cannot. After all, Jews have human rights as well.