City Journal Winter 2016

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Winter 2016
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Michael J. Totten
Between the Green Line and the Blue Line « Back to Story

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I always feel a little awed by people who have served in the military – whether they’ve gone to war or not – because I have to acknowledge that they’ve made sacrifices and acquired discipline that is totally absent from my own personal experience, and I think a lot of us feel that way. One person who doesn’t, and can’t, is a principal here, Halifax Corderoy, whose best friend Mickey Montauk is about to ship out for Iraq as the story begins.
An excellent overview of the concepts underlying the division of a city which is vitally important to different groups. Can an arbitrary division work or last? Of couse not. Should the Blue Line hold? Of course, as it is a "fact on the ground", and these facts are the most important of all in the long run.
As a resident of Jerusalem for the past 35 years, I want to applaud your very accurate and balanced report, Michael.
Both Arabs and Israelis recognize that demographics play a big part in the issue of whether Jerusalem can be divided, and if so, how. Jews have been moving into Arab neighborhoods, steadily increasing the Jewish population in them, in order to make division more difficult or even impossible. On this topic, see
i am sure that this has been said a million times but i think that jerusalem should become an INTERNATIONAL city since the 3 main world religions lay claim to it but cant get along for whatever reason. have it overseen by the UN with a rotating security teams made up of arab and non arab countries that must work together on patrols/etc. example american soldiers/police with jordanian soldiers/police with 2 translators. since israel and the palestinians cant make it work, take it away from them. the can obviously still work, live and visit, but the day to day running will be by the UN.
Excellent report, but please note that Fatah DID NOT “change” its charter in 2010; rather, it merely adopted (in 2009) a new "Internal Charter," which incorporated by reference and expressly maintained adherence to the terms of the old Basic Charter (as has been pointed out by Barry Rubin and others).

Also, it’s worth noting that the Geneva Initiative is just a continuation of the same non-governmental proposal made back in 2003 by various unofficial representatives (most particularly Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abd Rabu), that resulted in the controversial Geneva Accord.
One sided indeed, Dr Finlay. I read the sum of your position in your sentence, "...because there has never been enough on offer on the refugee issue." Historically, the Palestinians (read that Muslim world) never see "enough" from the Jews. Time and time again the Israelis have agreed to concessions only to be bombarded, both with weapons and words. You consider what's happening in Egypt (and I suppose Libya, etal) to be a transition to democracy which the treaty must survive. I do not share your assessment. The so-called Arab Spring is a push by Muslims to put the own special version of oppressive theocracy in place. The war will never end for them until all infidels are eradicated. That doesn't leave much room for folks who disagree, as they would in a democracy, now does it?
All of which supports my view that Jerusalem should be an open city and the capital of both Israel and Palestine, administered by a joint Israeli-Palestinian municipal government. Any crime against the peace of Jerusalem should be tried at the Hague
The second line should read:
Jews have every right to live in Hebron, terrorism (whether done on 9/11/2011 or in the 1930's) will not succeed.
@Thomas McGonigle
Jews lived in Hebron for hundreds of years before they were massacred (and I do mean butchered by mobs) by the - ARABS!!!

Jews have every right to live in Hebron, terrorism (whether done on 9/11/2011 or in the 1930's).

Learn some history.
DrFinlay there is only one solution for the 'refugee issue.' Resettlement: like the way the Israelis did with nearly a quarter of a million refugees from Europe and well over a half a million refugees from the Arab world. Or indeed the others of millions of displaced and stateless in post World War 2 Europe.
The Arab regimes keep the refugee problem alive to keep the crisis alive for their own purposes and not to benefit the Palestinians.
I'd appreciate if you'd actually read the Geneva Initiative's annex on the practicalities of dividing Jerusalem ( In particular, your comment about the absurdity of dividing an Old City building by story completely ignores the solution in that document, which is to establish the Old City as a condominium of the two states, with a separate police force, border checks at the gates leading into each state, and special arrangements to allow citizens of each state residing in the Old City to enter and exit quickly and easily. They even go down to the details of finding space for the crossing facilities. I've been there frequently, and the solutions laid out seem eminently practical. Perhaps you would be a better judge of their proposals for Abu Tor (in the last chapter of that document).
I guessed someone missed the part where it said Hebron is the 2nd holiest site in Judaism. But of course that does not matter if it has to do the the Jews. Just utter that something is a Muslim holy site and watch all the secular left wingers nod their head and say "of course".
Great article!
Just so one sided. I appreciate that this is a partisan pro-Israel website, but you still need to do better. Lots of quotes from Israelis about what Palestinians think, balanced by the convenient views of two shop-keepers. What next, the opinions of London cab drivers on the feasibility of cold fusion?

Jerusalem is only part of the peace process and not as significant as the refugee issue. The reason why successive Palestinian leaders have not been able to negotiate successfully is because there has never been enough on offer on the refugee issue. Any leader who had tried to settle would likely have been rejected by the Palestinian people.

The whole tone of the article is that peace will be based on what the Israeli Government chooses to offer the PA. I suspect that the Arab Spring may have changed this. The treaty with Egypt and the support of the USA has enabled successive Israeli Governments to procrastinate and obfuscate. If the Treaty with Egypt does not survive that country's transition to democracy, then Israel may yet have reason to regret the lost opportunities to make a meaningful peace.
Very enlightening. Thanks once again for a great piece.
Of course the question what are those 500 Israelis doing in Hebron?