If the Obama administration goes all the way in its demand for a total settlement freeze, if it stands firm against Israeli emotional blackmail, we may have this week’s debacle in Sheikh Jarrah to thank.
The eviction of two Palestinian families from their homes in Arab east Jerusalem where they’d lived for over 50 years, and the takeover of the houses by Israeli zealots intent on “re-Judaizing” the neighborhood, revealed our settlement policy in all its glory. It reminded everyone that the issue isn’t houses and zoning, it’s justice and decency – or, rather, injustice and indecency.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denounced the evictions as “provocative” and a violation of Israeli commitments. In Washington, the State Department called in our ambassador to make the point in person. The Brits, the Swedes, the UN, everybody’s up in arms over the spectacle of hundreds of Israeli cops going into an Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem, tossing two Palestinian extended families into the street and protecting the Jewish nutters moving in.
This is what’s known as a wake-up call. And it didn’t come a moment too soon.