Immediately after the General Assembly voted to accord the Palestinian Authority observer status as a state within the 1967 borders, the rabbis and lay-leadership of congregation B’nai Jeshurun, a popular synagogue in Manhattan praised the U.N. and described its vote as “a great moment for us as citizens of the world.” When they made this statement, did the rabbis realize that, according to the vote, the Western Wall (the holiest site in Judaism) is being illegally occupied by the Israeli government? Did they realize that the decision of the government to set aside the area for Jewish prayer could now be deemed a war crime punishable by the International Criminal Court? Do the rabbis intend to pray at the Kotel next time they visit Israel? Or are they prepared to advise their congregants not to set foot on this Palestinian land now illegally occupied by Israel?
Do the rabbis realize that under the General Assembly vote the access route to Hebrew University on Mount Scopus is now on illegally occupied Palestinian land and that the Israeli government’s decision to reopen the Mount Scopus campus following the 1967 War may now also be considered a war crime? Do the rabbis intend to advise their congregants not to attend Hebrew University or to boycott the scholars who now illegally traverse Palestinian land to get to their offices and research facilities?
Do the rabbis understand that according to the General Assembly vote, the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, where Jews lived for more than 2,000 years until they were ousted by Jordan in 1948, is illegally occupied Palestinian territory, and that Israel’s decision to rebuild the synagogues destroyed by the Jordanians can now be deemed a war crime? Do these rabbis intend to stay away from the Jewish Quarter when they next visit Israel and advise their congregants to do the same?
I doubt very much whether these well-intentioned but extraordinarily naïve rabbis and lay-leaders understand the implications of the vote they so heartily approve. For them the vote was a symbolic gesture in favor of the two-state solution.