Koch, Goldstone and MJ keeps me busy


Via MJ Rosenberg (at Media Matters), I find out about Ed Koch’s proposal (at Huffington Post) on Jerusalem — share it:

My suggestion is to situate the new Palestinian capital in that part of East Jerusalem that is occupied overwhelmingly by Palestinians, allow the inhabitants of East Jerusalem — Jews, Christians, Muslims and those living elsewhere in the city — to pick the state to which to pledge their allegiance and to cast two votes – one in municipal elections for one mayor to govern the entire city of Jerusalem, and a separate vote in national elections related to the Jewish and Palestinian states living peacefully side by side.

Jerusalem is now roughly two-thirds Jewish and one-third Muslim. The Christian population is about 2 percent. All under the proposal would be voting for a single city council and one mayor. Based on the current population, the mayor would be Jewish. If the demographics changed over the years in favor of the Muslims, a Muslim mayor could be elected.

New York City with its model of five borough presidents is a good model to emulate with Muslim and Jewish areas electing borough presidents to respond to the local needs of the inhabitants. If I could live and govern when I was mayor with Andy Stein as borough president of Manhattan, the mayor of Jerusalem can live and govern with a borough president elected in the Palestinian part of East Jerusalem.

As for the peace talks currently underway, I think that it is ridiculous that they are indirect, since heretofore, the talks were direct. Also, the fact that the leader of the Palestinian Authority, Abu Mazen, is unwilling to say he on behalf of his people recognizes the legitimacy of the Jewish state of Israel is grounds for understandable suspicion on the part of the Israelis. What President Obama should do through Mr. Mitchell is ask that there be matching statements at the beginning of the talks and before the fate of Jerusalem is discussed, with Israel recognizing once again the need for a two-state solution, and the Palestinians publicly announcing in Arabic, Hebrew and English their acceptance of the Jewish state of Israel living side by side in peace with a Muslim state.

MJ, a critic of settlement policy, is kind of amazed that he agrees with Koch, as strident an Israel defender as anyone, on anything Middle East related:

This is such a good idea that I nominate Koch for Mayor of Jerusalem.  He seems to understand, as the current leaders of the municipality do not, that Jerusalem belongs to the people who live there — all of them.

Couple of things:

* As MJ notes, Koch advocates making Jerusalem an issue for the talks, now. That stands directly in opposition to the Netanyahu government’s strategy of leaving it for last, endorsed recently by the Obama administration.

* This, indeed, is a creative, unusual proposal — but it shouldn’t be. It bugged me a couple of years ago when the Palestinian Authority complained after candidate Barack Obama told AIPAC that he saw Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and did not want to see it divided again: There is not necessarily a contradiction between a united Jerusalem and one that is capital to both Israelis and Palestinians. This was the common assumption during the Oslo negotiations.

* Koch does not address what to do about the Holy Basin. That’s historically the deal-breaker.

Also, MJ, in the same post, links to Stephen Walt’s counterfactual on the latest Richard Goldstone controversy — that he ordered at least 28 blacks to the gallows as a South African judge, before he became a human rights prosecutor and long before he charged Israel and Hamas with war crimes in last year’s Gaza war:

Suppose Goldstone’s U.N. report had exonerated Israel’s conduct during the Gaza War, and placed most if not all of the blame on Hamas. Suppose further that a prominent Palestinian group had then delved into Goldstone’s past and tried to discredit the report by disclosing the same information about him. Do you think Israeli officials and/or media pundits like Jonathan Chait, Jeffrey Goldberg, and Alan Dershowitz would have rushed to pile on Goldstone, as they have leapt to do over the past few days? Isn’t it more likely that they would have rallied to his defense, and denounced those unscrupulous Palestinians for trying to confuse the issue? Do these guys really think they are fooling anyone?

I would add one thing to Walt’s counterfactual: The excuse commonly profferred for dredging up Goldstone’s past is that his Gaza war report is somehow compensation for his own sins. I’m not a big fan of mind-reading — dismantle or defend the report on its merits or demerits, methinks.

But as long as we’re counterfactual, one could imagine Walt’s theoretical Palestinian group claiming Goldstone "whitewashed" Israel as a means of living with his past. What would Goldberg, Chait and Dersh make of such an "insight"?

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