last updated: May 2, 2013
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“One Jerusalem is an educational foundation that does not accept government funding and is entirely supported by friends of Israel. We have one objective – maintaining a united Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel. Only Israeli sovereignty will protect access to the holy sites of all three major religions. One Jerusalem organizes, educates and rallies supporters in Israel and all democratic countries, so that we can educate elected government officials with a powerful voice in support of Israel's claim to sovereignty over Jerusalem.”
One Jerusalem, a rightist New York-based organization devoted to maintaining a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, was originally created in 2000 to combat peace proposals pushed by then Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Among its founding members were Natan Sharansky, Douglas Feith, David Horowitz, and former JINSA head David Steinmann.
The group appeared to be largely inactive as of 2013, with its website offering links to months-old news stories, talking points, and a generic petition about keeping Jerusalem united, but little else.
One Jerusalem held its inaugural event in January 2001. The group claims it was "the largest rally in the history of Jerusalem. More than 400,000 people filled the hills around Jerusalem's Old City for an unprecedented demonstration of support for Israel's beleaguered capital city, just four months after the launch of a deadly Palestinian-Arab assault against the Jewish state. The world watched as the people pledged their allegiance to the preservation of Jerusalem as the eternal, unified capital of the State of Israel."
One Jerusalem supported much of the George W. Bush administration's rhetoric regarding the "war on terror." During the Bush administration, the group’s online forum and news service frequently posted opinions hyping threats from countries like Iran and Syria. In November 2007, for example, it held an "exclusive bloggers conference call" with former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, during which he discussed his 2007 book Surrender is Not an Option. "We urge you to buy this important book, written by a great American," the blog appealed.
One Jerusalem also launched a well-funded campaign attacking the Annapolis peace talks supported by the Bush administration and the government of Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. It opposed the talks because the Israeli government was considering ceding some Arab parts of Jerusalem to Palestinians. According to the Israeli Ynet.com news service, U.S. businessman Ronald Lauder, a scion of the Estee Lauder cosmetics empire, provided funding for the $1 million anti-Annapolis campaign.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the Sharansky-led campaign was to “include radio and newspaper advertisements” and “special bus tours of Jerusalem,” as well as “an interactive Internet site” and “the distribution of golden ribbons for the unity of Jerusalem—a spin-off of the orange ribbon used by the settlement movement." Voice of America had further details: "Israeli right-wing activists have launched the 'One Jerusalem' campaign, demanding that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert not make concessions on the Holy City at this week's peace conference in the United States. Activists are passing out half a million gold ribbons at intersections, urging Israelis to tie them to their cars in solidarity with a united Jerusalem."
Before the Annapolis talks began, One Jerusalem also posted on its homepage a report titled "Olmert to World Jewry: Shut Up." The report derided the prime minister for allegedly ignoring the opinions of "world Jewry," arguing: "It is clear that Olmert, who has the support of about 5% of the Israeli electorate, sees himself as the sole voice on the future of the capital of the Jewish people. His contemptuous remarks are in sharp contrast to the views of [David] Ben-Gurion, [Menachem] Begin, Sharansky, and [Yitzhak] Rabin. While he is willing to bend to the wishes of Israel's enemies who are demanding Jerusalem as their capital he is not interested in what world Jewry has to say."
Aside from private individual donors like Lauder, One Jerusalem has received support from the New York-based One Jerusalem Charitable and Educational Fund, which according to its 2010 Form 990 tax return "operates exclusively to perform and to assist in carrying out the charitable and educational purposes and functions of One Jerusalem, Ltd., an organization exempt under IRC section 501(c)(4), in order to provide the public with full and fair information about the danger of Jerusalem being divided." The foundation, which is led by Allen Roth and Nelson Warfield, listed a little over $113,000 in revenues in 2010, more than half of which was attributed to “foreign grants.”
Past reports have linked One Jerusalem to the Policy Forum (PF) and the Case for Freedom (CFF), two now-defunct right-wing groups both linked to U.S. neoconservative activist Devon Gaffney Cross. In March 2008, an investigation by U.S. foreign policy LobeLog discovered that the websites for all three groups shared the same Israel-based IP address (along with the personal website of former Jerusalem Post editor Caroline Glick), leading journalist Jim Lobe to conclude at the time that PF and CFF “work very closely with and may well be fronts for One Jerusalem.”
The connection is important because One Jerusalem claims to be a privately funded organization. Nevertheless, in 2008 the Pentagon policy office headed by Eric Edelman awarded a no-bid contract valued at nearly $80,000 to PF and Cross. Noting the group’s apparent ties to One Jerusalem and the group’s strident opposition to a U.S. backed proposal for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Lobe questioned: “Why is the Pentagon policy office awarding a no-bid contract to an organization whose institutional relationships and affiliations appear so opposed to official U.S. policy and which is so utterly lacking in transparency?“