Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is running away. It's unclear to where, but the remarks he made on Sunday in the name of "national responsibility" not only neglect that very duty but also avoid coping with reality, which he preached about for many years. No one ever promised us a rose garden in Jerusalem. This city, the essence of our identity, is a testament to endurance, but Olmert has grown tired and weak. His comments Sunday in Maariv about partitioning Jerusalem and making concessions in the Old City and the Temple Mount convey panic and infirmity.
It is hard to believe that the man, who saw the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo being fired upon for four years from the nearby Beit Jala, is now advocating putting additional Jewish neighborhoods in similar danger: Mount Scopus and French Hill near Issawiya, East Talpiot near Jabel Mukaber and Pisgat Ze'ev near Beit Hanina. After all, Israel doesn't really stand a chance in preventing the transfer of small arms into these Arab neighborhoods, into Palestinian hands, just like it wasn't able to prevent weapons from reaching the Beit Jala gangs.
In his address, Olmert failed to mention what happened in the past when Jerusalem was divided. In 1948 a quarter of the Jewish residents abandoned Jerusalem because they were not willing to live in a divided city. He also did not mention what happened in the early 2000s, when the separation fence in the northern part of the city essentially removed parts of Jerusalem from sovereign Israel. Some 70,000 Palestinians voted with their feet and relocated to the Israeli side of the fence, just to avoid being on the Palestinian side.
Partitioning Jerusalem would not only wreak security and demographic havoc, it could also threaten freedom of religion for Jews and Christians in the city. The Muslim track record in this realm is extremely poor; for proof of this, consider the Mount of Olives, Joseph's Tomb, Rachel's Tomb and synagogues in Gush Katif communities in the Gaza Strip. Partition would also severely damage the city's social fabric. Olmert himself previously said that dividing the city would transform its fabric into "hell." He said that despite gaps in investments in the eastern and western parts of the city, the Jewish and Arab neighborhoods are so entwined that separating them would cause untold suffering for their residents.
It is true, Mr. Olmert, we do not turn toward Issawiya or Jabel Mukaber when we pray, but we also don't pray in the direction of Tel Aviv or Teddy Stadium — that's no reason to hand them over to the Palestinians. You can't correct the injustice of discrimination with an even greater injustice — the foolishness of partition. That would only add insult to injury.
And another thing: A nation does not sell its soul, even for peace. The Temple Mount is our heart and soul. Or, Mr. Olmert, as you yourself once put it, anyone willing to give up the Temple Mount is essentially saying, "I have no rights anywhere in the Land of Israel."