Jerusalem: The Eternal Capital of Israel
Many people have been asking me what I think about the U.S. recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Let me lay it out for you.
First of all, let me say that it is very difficult to predict anything in the Middle East. Since 1948 when the State of Israel was declared, so much has happened that has completely defied logic.
Our once ambassador to the UN Abba Eban quipped “If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions.” As absurd and illogical as that may sound, it unfortunately rings true.
So, with logic being unreliable here in the Middle East, I offer my thoughts in that context.
For those who believe in the Bible as the unmitigated word of God, no declaration by any government or location of their embassy has any influence on the status of Jerusalem. Some 3000 years ago King David made Jerusalem the capital by knocking the Jebusites off the hill just south of the Temple Mount, known until today as the City of David. It is the location where it all began and Jerusalem became the capital of the twelve tribes with David as king. Previously, David had his capital in the city of Hebron for over seven years.
I recognize that not everyone believes in the Bible or does not take the Bible as a source to inform their politics.
For those who oppose the U.S recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the embassy to Jerusalem, their main argument is that it hurts the chances for peace and may lead to violence.
If recognition and moving the embassy is just a symbolic gesture without any teeth beyond what it represents, then perhaps the naysayers are correct and is it really worth the possible violence that may ensue. For what? A symbolic gesture?
Others would argue that no, a symbolic gesture is very powerful. In the U.S. there are constant debates about putting up Confederate symbols. Symbols mean a lot and we should not diminish what it means. We should not capitulate to terror and doing and saying the right thing is always just. Right is not always easy and easy is not always right.
But I think that recognizing Jerusalem and moving the embassy is far more than just a symbol. It actually will help pave the road to peace.
Let me explain with an example. Imagine a child in school keeps getting in to fights. The teacher talks to this child and he tells the teacher that he is fighting because the other kids are calling him names. Later the teacher finds out that it is not true that he was being teased. In truth, this boy’s parents were getting divorced so he was acting out at school by hitting other kids.
In the example, until the teacher knows what is really going on, a solution to the boy’s aggression in school will never be found.
If you want to achieve real and lasting peace, the cards must be on the table. As in my example, you need to know what is really going on. You cannot negotiate in good faith when you keep hiding what is and what is not negotiable. When both sides are honest about what they want, then there is hope.
The Jewish people can never and will never relinquish Jerusalem as our capital. Period. Until we are willing to stand up and say so we will never have real peace. For decades the U.S. has tried to move the peace process forward in Israel. By the U.S. recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel it once and for all closes the book on the possibility that Jerusalem will be relinquished or divided.
Confronted with that honest reality, I believe that it will move the peace process forward in the long run. While the initial reaction of the Palestinians and the Arab world in general will be negative and perhaps violent (God Forbid), they will eventually come to realize that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and future negotiations will begin at that point.
The real problem is that Israel does not feel that it has a peace partner in Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority.
Why? Because we feel that he is dishonest in his quest for peace. He is not serious. He recently signed a unity agreement with Hamas, a terror organization that calls for the destruction of Israel! His PhD thesis called the Holocaust a myth!
If Abbas would be honest, he would say that his vision of peace is a one state solution—the State of Palestine with no room for Israel. He will not recognize the State of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.
So, for true peace, you need two partners that are honest and realistic about their needs and expectations. President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem and the subsequent move of the U.S embassy is the honest and bold move needed that has the potential to move the peace process forward.
Now all we need is a Palestinian leader like Anwar Sadat (president of Egypt who signed a treaty with Israel) who will be honest about wanting peace and who will understand what the U.S. does—-Israel is not giving up our eternal capital.