Today, President Biden is expected to visit the Augusta Victoria hospital in eastern Jerusalem, which since 1948 has provided healthcare to Palestinians under the auspices of the Lutheran World Federation. Israeli officials had wished to accompany the president, but his team denied the request. To Robert Silverman, this was an “ill-considered” decision:
First, allowing an Israeli presence on the visit is consistent with the policy of recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem. Conversely, denying such a presence looks like a small step toward the former U.S. policy, when the U.S. saw Jerusalem not as part of Israel but as a corpus separatum (Latin for “separated body”), whose status would be decided in future negotiations. That policy was rejected first by Congress and later by administrations of both parties. It didn’t facilitate negotiations with the Palestinians and a return to it in any form would be a surprise to all.
Second, history matters in Jerusalem. Augusta Victoria Hospital is not only an important Palestinian institution located in the city of Jerusalem. . . . Founded in 1898 by Kaiser Wilhelm as a hostel for German pilgrims and named after his wife, it . . . remained Germany’s flagship site in the Holy Land, serving as a German military hospital during World War I, a German Lutheran church and later as a Nazi Party meeting site in the 1930s. During that period, the hostel barred Jewish visitors.
This information and much more is available on Augusta Victoria’s Wikipedia site. Once again barring Jews from entering Augusta Victoria seems tin-eared public policy, not designed to influence either the Israelis or the Palestinians along the way to coexistence and eventual peace.
More about: Jerusalem, Lutheranism, US-Israel relations