Alas, the cultural divide: Statesmanship in one society can be sacrilege in another. Consider that enduring symbol of peace in Western Civilization, the olive branch. Extending one in a bid to ease tension is regarded as a good thing — and can draw applause for any member of Congress.
But tell that to the Israeli cops who briefly detained Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton and another congressman who were visiting Jerusalem last week.
As reported by our sister publication the Washington Examiner, Tipton and fellow Republican U.S. Rep. David McKinley of West Virginia happened to be touring Jerusalem’s historic and venerated Temple Mount — a holy site for Muslims and Jews — when one of them absent-mindedly picked up a stray olive branch as the two strolled along.
That turned out to be a bad move — potentially the stuff of which international incidents are made. The two were stopped and questioned for a few minutes by police, the Examiner explains, “…after the Waqf, the Jordanian organization that governs the Temple Mount, had brought to their attention that the congressmen took a branch from an olive tree…”
The Waqf strictly prohibits visitors from taking anything from the grounds.
The Temple Mount, which is revered as a sacred holy spot for both Jews and Muslims, is currently under Jordan’s religious custodianship since an agreement was drawn up after the 1967 war. According to the agreement, Jews are allowed to visit the spot but not allowed to participate in worship or prayer.
Tipton spokeswoman Kelsey Mix later released a statement:
‘They picked up an olive branch, the symbol of peace, on the Temple Mount that was on the ground. … They did not remove it from the Temple Mount, it was eventually dropped along the way. No harm was intended and they were not aware that picking up leaves or branches is prohibited. They were briefly questioned and the situation was quickly resolved.’
The Examiner says the lawmakers were visiting Israel to discuss U.S.-Israeli relations and meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A great many, even among those who voted for Donald Trump, openly questioned his conservative bona fides during the 2016 campaign. Some of his most ardent supporters (see Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham) quickly migrated from being the self-appointed enforcers of “Principled Conservatism” within the Republican Party to an unqualified endorsement of the new “Trumpian Populism” to justify their support. Others weren’t so sure.
Gov. John Hickenlooper and state lawmakers on Wednesday afternoon participated in a celebration in honor of the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.
Remarks from Colorado politicians were streamed to events in Washington, D.C. and in Israel, where celebrations were taking place to mark the occasion.
“Fifty years ago, facing threats few countries have known, Israel accomplished what many thought impossible – uniting the city of Jerusalem,” Hickenlooper said in a video address.
“Even in the face of continued threats, Israel reaffirms its commitment to democracy, equality, and a free and open society. Coloradans celebrate Jerusalem Day with Israel, and we reaffirm our support for a lasting peace between Israel and her neighbors.”
Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, also provided remarks:
“Today, we pay tribute to the lives lost, the families torn apart by needless bloodshed, and the centuries long pain endured by the resilient people of Israel. But we also join our friends in celebration.”
Grantham urged President Trump to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The U.S. Senate on Wednesday also unanimously backed a resolution supporting the move.
“While you are a relatively young state, you are an ancient nation whose resolve serves as a model of prosperity for all who seek freedom and a better, brighter vision for the future,” Grantham said. “It gives me great pride to address you today, on the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s liberation, and affirm that the city that is home to all faiths will remain forever united.”
A tribute from the Colorado legislature also was read as part of the live event.
Before Grantham and other lawmakers spoke in the Colorado Senate chamber, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan delivered remarks, which were streamed to Colorado.
“Without Jerusalem, the Israel that we know today would simply not exist,” Ryan said.
Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, spoke of her personal experiences with Jerusalem, where several of her family members live. She encouraged people to travel to the city and “tell me you don’t feel the presence of God right there in Jerusalem.”
“It doesn’t matter what shape you wear on the necklace around your neck,” she said.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad is, as its name suggests, an organization committed to jihad — against Israel most urgently, though not exclusively. So when the U.N. Security Council on Dec. 23 passed a resolution condemning Israel, PIJ spokesman Dawood Shihab was pleased. He called it a “victory.” He wasn’t wrong.
Nor was Fawzy Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas, another organization openly committed to Israel’s extermination, as well as to “a jihadi revolution” that will be a “prelude to the establishment of the future Islamic caliphate.” He called the resolution an “important evolution in international positions.” He expressed Hamas’ “appreciation.”
Most deserving of their gratitude is Barack Obama who decided to spend his last days in office playing golf in Hawaii and throwing America’s most reliable ally to the wolves at the U.N., an organization that exhibits passivity when it comes to the ongoing carnage in Syria, the genocide of Christians, Yazidis and other minorities in the broader Middle East, the conflict in Yemen, failing states — the list goes on and on.
Thirty Years Ago This Week in the Colorado Statesman … A former state legislator was bestowed the honor of an ambassadorship. Former state Sen. Sam H. Zakhem was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain, he succeeded Donald Leidel. A well-known name in Colorado politics, Zakhem is Lebanese by birth, was educated in the United States and served Southwest Denver in both the Colorado House and Senate. From 1967 to 1972, Zakhem was an instructor at the University of Colorado extension and was also a foreign student adviser at the University of Denver from 1972 to 1973.
Zakhem served as a state representative from 1975-1979, and as a state senator from 1979-1983. While serving in the Colorado Legislature, Zakhem sponsored pioneering efforts dealing with solar energy, aid to the elderly and tougher penalties for drunk drivers and employers who hire illegal aliens. He then, thanks to Reagan's appointment, went on to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain from 1986 to 1989.
“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” This, as you may recall, was the slogan of the totalitarian state imagined by George Orwell in 1984, his classic novel.
Today, various groups of Islamists — which we can define as those committed to Islamic supremacism — are operationalizing this concept, attempting to alter the historical record in support of their totalitarian ambitions.
Six months before the attack of 9/11/01, Taliban leader Mullah Omar ordered the destruction of Afghanistan’s ancient Buddhas of Bamiyan. Why? Because those monumental statues were reminders of a time when the country was not Islamic.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper told a crowd of around 1,200 people at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum Tuesday night, Nov. 1, that he signed a bill opposed to what is known as the BDS Movement because "it is not the Colorado way."
You’re probably familiar with the old story about the inebriated guy looking for his wallet at night under a streetlight — not because that’s where he dropped it but because what would be the point of poking around in the dark? This, in essence, has been the American approach to resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict for years.
Over and over, the Israelis are asked to make concessions, to “take risks for peace.” Under pressure, they sometimes do. Reciprocal concessions are not demanded of Palestinian leaders because what would be the point of asking for what they can’t or won’t do? Hamas, which rules Gaza, rejects the very idea of peaceful coexistence with the Jewish state. Hamas’ openly stated goal is Israel’s annihilation. As for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, he can’t set foot in Gaza and, on the West Bank, his support has grown so thin he couldn’t sign a peace agreement with Israel even if he wanted to — and it’s by no means clear he does.