The Foreign Ministry of China has published a book about Jerusalem by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s foreign policy adviser Dore Gold, whose core thesis appears to contradict Beijing’s positions on the Middle East conflict.
Gold’s “The Fight for Jerusalem: Radical Islam, the West, and the Future of the Holy City,” first published in 2007, argues that the city needs to remain united under Israeli sovereignty, based on the Jewish people’s historical rights and Israel’s responsibility to safeguard the holy sites in the Old City. China’s official position, by contrast, requires a division of Jerusalem.
Last May, President Xi Jinping announced a four-point proposal to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calling for the creation of a Palestinian state on the basis of the pre-1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
According to Gold, who earlier this year rejoined the Prime Minister’s Office as a part-time foreign policy adviser, the new-found interest in his book has to do with Beijing’s increased focus on regional policy.
“China right now is in a learning phase. They want to understand the Middle East,” Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, told The Times of Israel last week in his Jerusalem office. “Therefore, a book that explains an Israeli view — I believe it’s a mainstream view in the state of Israel — on Jerusalem is something of interest to them. Not just purely to learn the facts but to see also the analysis: why does Israel claim that Jerusalem has to remain united under Israeli sovereignty, what’s the underlying logic of that?”
Gold, who still serves as president of the hawkish Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said his book — a former New York Times bestseller — explains that Jerusalem was always a Jewish city, and argues that its holy sites would be in danger of destruction if any authority other than Israel were to rule over the Old City.
The Chinese people and government have a deep appreciation for the ancient civilization of the Jewish people, as they see themselves as an ancient civilization as well, Gold said. “Their own diplomatic approach to territorial disputes is related to the issue of historical rights. I don’t think Israel is going to get involved in the question of historical rights in the South China Sea or in Tibet or other places. But it is interesting that that is an issue for them and the whole restoration of the Jewish state is based on historical rights,” he said.
Gold first connected with the Chinese government in 2012, when his center hosted in Israel a delegation from a think tank affiliated with the Communist Party’s Central Committee. After he delivered a briefing on Jerusalem, they expressed interest in translating his book, which in Chinese is simply called “Jerusalem.” According to Gold, “a few thousand” copies of his book were printed in China, aimed mainly at diplomats and people dealing with policy matters.
On the cover of the Chinese edition of “The Fight for Jerusalem,” Gold is described as a “famous Israeli politician.” On the back cover of the book, the translators note that “undoubtedly, in this book the writer expresses his own ideas of history, national feelings and value judgments, some of which we do not agree with. But we tried our best to keep the original text and do not abridge anything in order to maintain the integrity of the book, and also give researchers more Israelis views.”