Trump and Jerusalem
Israelis’ gratitude to President Donald Trump for his twin decisions to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state and to commit to moving the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv was on display throughout the capital.
The Old City’s Ottoman-era walls were lit up on Wednesday night with red, white and blue lights. And the American flag was flying from posts along the streets of Jerusalem.
Trump’s decision finally righted a historic injustice on a number levels. Most fundamentally, it recognized the historical ties of the Jewish people to the city of Jerusalem that stretch back over 3,000 years.
But it also put an end to the absurdity of relating to Jerusalem as though it were a corpus separatum – a separate body – as stipulated in the 1947 UN Partition Plan. Seventy years ago, before the Palestinians and the Arab nations rejected outright the idea that the land that now makes up Israel could be shared between Jews and Muslims, the nations of the world envisioned a Jerusalem under international control. Sites holy to Islam, Christianity and Judaism would be respected and developed and members of all faiths would be given access and be allowed to worship freely.
Much has changed since. The Arab nations’ failed attempt to snuff out the Jewish state at its inception left Jordan in control of eastern Jerusalem. For 19 years between 1948 and 1967 Jews were banned from the Temple Mount. Synagogues and other Jewish sites in the Jewish Quarter were left in ruins.
In a miraculous turn of events in 1967, a second attempt by the combined armies of Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, supported by eight additional Arab countries, to destroy Israel resulted in their resounding defeat and left Israel in control of a united Jerusalem.
For the first time in recent history Jerusalem became a free city that protected the religious rights of all faiths, as envisioned by the UN. The capital of Israel, the city has flourished as a home to a diverse population – Jewish, Muslim and Christian. Yet, the world – including the US – continued to relate to Jerusalem as though it were 1947.
Finally, a US president has given official recognition to the reality on the ground. Anyone who has visited Jerusalem has seen first-hand how Jerusalem has thrived as Israel’s capital – not just for Jews but for Arabs as well. It is a bustling city where hi-tech exists alongside historical sites resonant with meaning for the three great monotheistic faiths.
All of Israel’s major state institutions are in Jerusalem: the Knesset, the Supreme Court and almost all of the government ministries.
The international community’s failure to recognize and appreciate the transformation of Jerusalem under Israeli control and to honor Israel’s choice of capital was a long-standing injustice finally righted by US President Donald Trump.
Trump’s many detractors say that the decision was a bad one because it will spark unrest and discord among radical Muslims who have provided ample proof of their propensity to use violence to register complaints and get what they want.
We sympathize with those who seek peace and wish to avoid unnecessary confrontations. But we also believe Americans should not compromise their own beliefs and values out of a desire to appease those who have a long history of using terrorism to further their interests.
Appeasing extremists never works for a number of reasons. First, because it only leads to more extremism by proving that bullying tactics work and providing an incentive for more violence. Also, it tends to distract attention from the real issue: that there are many Muslim extremists who refuse to reconcile themselves to the existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East within any borders no matter what its capital. Why else would Palestinians and other Muslims be opposed to international recognition of parts of Jerusalem that will remain part of Israel in any conceivable peace deal?
Though the Jewish people does not need international recognition for proof of its historic ties to the city of Jerusalem, we are nevertheless grateful to the US president for having the courage to stand up for what is right.