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About Howard Linett
Howard Linett is an attorney, an independent journalist, a lecturer, sniper instructor in the Israeli Police Civil Guard and the author of "Living With Terrorism: Survival Lessons from the Streets of Jerusalem." He maintains a website here.
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Howard Linett
Another Modern ‘Modest Proposal’
March 15, 2010

My wife and I woke a week ago last Tuesday at 06:00 to the news on our radio alarm-clock. The top story was how American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was critical of the construction of 600 additional apartments in Pisgot Ze'ev, a northern Jerusalem neighborhood of 50,000 families, including my family. Secretary Clinton openly opposes the construction believing that any new construction in the "Pisga" (what we call our neighborhood - I'm not quite sure how the US Department of State categorizes my neighborhood - East Jerusalem or over the 1967 "Green Line") will be an impediment to, if it does not totally derail the efforts to get the Palestinian Authority to return to the negotiating table across from the waiting Israeli Government. Secretary Clinton thinks my neighborhood, which shelters perhaps a majority of the Christian Arabs left in Jerusalem, is Palestinian territory. That fifteen-second news item was all it took to give me a week-long headache. Friday Secretary Clinton pretty much blamed the entire Middle Eastern mess on Israel and my headache returned. This op-ed is my headache remedy.

I understand that neither fact nor history has any relevance to what goes on in modern Israel and the West Bank. But "For the Record," as we attorneys are found of saying, back in the 1940s the Pisga, the adjacent neighborhood to our north, Neve Ya'akov, and Attarot a five-minute drive north of Neve Ya'akov, were little more tiny Jewish farming communities dotting the otherwise empty and almost barren rocky hillsides between Jerusalem and Ramallah. The communities had been created on land legally purchased from its rightful owners. The City of Jerusalem, whether the predominantly Arab Eastern neighborhoods or the predominantly Jewish Western neighborhoods, ended about six miles away from the beginning of my modern neighborhood.


My father-in-law was part of Israel's pre-state Jewish Defense Force, the Hagana. He spent a week protecting Neve Ya'akov. During Israel's War of Independence against six invading Arab armies in 1948, the Hagana lost its battle with the Jordanian Legion to retain the Jewish areas to Jerusalem's north. My neighborhood fell to the invading Jordanians, as did the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Most of the Jewish defenders were killed. A few defenders, some of the wounded and those civilians who could not or chose not to flee, were taken prisoner and hauled off to prison in Jordan.

It was not until June, 1967, that Jews were once again allowed into Jerusalem's Old City and were able pray at the Western (Wailing) Wall. Foolishly, believing the outrageously false tales of Egyptian and Syrian victories, Jordan attacked Israel. Israel recaptured the areas Jordan had conquered twenty years earlier. By the mid 1970s construction of the "new" neighborhoods of Pisgot Ze'ev, Neve Ya'akov and of the Attarot industrial area and airport were well underway.

We purchased an apartment in a 10 year-old 13 family building and moved-in in April, 2000. The value of our 6 room "pent-cottage" has appreciated enormously. We are located 100 yards from the Pisga's not-to-shabby Mall and across the street from us is the Pisga's Community Center, several schools and a soon to be finished Station (originally to be completed December, 2003) of the Jerusalem Light Rail, an above-ground Subway optimistically most recently rescheduled to be running by April, 2011.

Well, I am a red-blooded, patriotic American and I certainly do not want myself or my family to be an Impediment to Peace, even if only in the opinion of the Obama Administration and that of the US Department of State. So here goes.

I propose that the US Government spend a thimble-full of the money it gives the Palestinians and purchase all of the homes in my neighborhood. Start by purchasing mine! Special for the United States of America - just $400,000.00 plus all closing costs, taxes, attorney fees, etc. Then buy up all the other homes. Sell them to whomever you want at whatever price you want. While this remains Israel it is possible. In Israel discrimination is prohibited. It still isn't the Palestinian Authority where there is a Death Penalty for selling one's real property to unwanted types and to Jews. In my Pisga anyone can live anywhere, except that non-religious Jews can't live in neighborhoods of ultra-orthodox Jews.

But for the sake of Democracy, once all the home and apartment sales are finished, the US Government must assure that all the members of the newly, presumably ethnically cleansed neighborhood (question - do you allow in Christian Arabs or only Moslems), be afforded the opportunity to vote in a free, fair and uncoerced secret ballot referendum, deciding for themselves whether they would rather be part of Israel or of the Palestinian Authority. The result is so clearly that they would want their neighborhood to remain part of Israel and that they would want to remain Israeli, that while such referendum are imposed worldwide where others are in conflict, the USA would never permit a referendum here.

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