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Jerusalem, Israel’s Eternal Capital: Why President Trump Did the Right Thing

On December 6, 2017, President Trump finally did what American Presidents and politicians have said they would do for decades. Both Democratic and Republican candidates have said they believe that Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of Israel and the Jewish people. Until now, neither Democratic nor Republican Presidents have actually followed through with their campaign rhetoric.

The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv

December 6 changed all of that. President Trump finally delivered.

Just last week I posted on social media a picture of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv. My caption for the picture was this, “Looking forward to the day that this building is for sale. The embassy belongs in Jerusalem, the one, only, and always capital of the Jewish State.” I really never dreamed that within a week my prayer would be so much closer to being answered.

A Little History

The land of Israel has been under the dominion of many conquering nations, but Jerusalem has never been the capital of any nation other than the Jewish nation. From 586BC, when the city was destroyed by the Babylonians, to 1948, when the modern nation was reborn as a political state, the city was often an administrative center of the occupying forces, but never the capital of any nation, never the home of the sovereign of any people. The Jews alone have had Jerusalem as their capital.

On May 14, 1948, President Harry Truman was the first world leader to recognize the rightful existence of the new modern State of Israel. He attributed his desire to recognize Israel to Sunday School lessons on the Persian King Cyrus, who allowed the Jewish exiles freedom to return and rebuild their capital. The new nation immediately placed their capital in Jerusalem, the city which is the only capital that the nation has ever had.

From 1948 until the Six Day War of 1967, the city was divided between east and west. The east was controlled by Jordan from Amman. The new western city was the capital of Israel. After the Six Day War, Jerusalem was under the complete control of Israel, and has been for 50 years. In these 50 years, Presidents have all stated their support for Israel, candidates have repeatedly pledged to move the embassy to the capital (as it is in all other countries), and the US Congress overwhelmingly passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

All this resulted in zero progress. Until now.

Should we stir the pot?

One of the biggest objections to Trump’s decision is the inevitable conflict it will bring to the Middle East. Indeed it will cause protests, rioting, terrorism, and more. I am writing this article from Jerusalem, so I certainly care about what happens on the local level.

But I’m also level-headed enough to know that the doctrine of appeasement has never worked in the Middle East. In fact, there is not a single example of victory. There is only one thing that works in the Middle East, and that is S-T-R-E-N-G-T-H. This is a “push and shove” society if there ever was one. So appeasement does not appease. In fact, it emboldens. The one who thinks that status quo will bring peace in the Middle East is simply delusional.

In fact, status quo is what American Presidents (largely led by the consistently yellow-bellied and lily-livered bureaucrats at the State Department) have maintained since 1967. It hasn’t worked. It won’t work.

If history means anything, then it means that waiting “safely” on the sidelines will only mean more bloodshed in the long-run. The truth is, it is time for action in the Middle East. It is time to make real and substantive changes to solve the the very real problems of the region. These problems are largely created by the governments of the world in catastrophic errors of judgment and international decrees after the two World Wars. Will today’s changes bring ultimate resolution? Not at all (I’ve read the Bible). But they can bring a generation of peaceful coexistence between Israel and her neighbors. This is worth the cost, even if it does bring rioting and uprisings in the short term.

Is it any of our business?

The second objection to Trump’s executive action is that the USA should not meddle in the regional affairs of the Middle East. This is only marginally different than the previous objection, and can be addressed quite simply.

First, the United States of America is an ally of the State of Israel. Friends help friends. If we do not want to help, we should state our displeasure with the nation and make our intents known.

Second, the USA has an embassy in the nation. It is in Tel Aviv. It is the only embassy not in the hosting nation’s capital. The US Ambassador and staff must travel to Jerusalem to conduct official business. As in any nation in which we have an embassy, we have established diplomatic relations because we want to influence the activities within the nation, and to do so in a way that serves our nation’s best interest.

If the United States of America does not believe that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, then it should close its embassy and go home. Our very presence is offensive under such circumstances, and the duplicity on our part is unacceptable. Imagine such an arrangement in any other country. For example, in 1999, after the reunification of Germany, the new German government was established in Berlin. Within 10 years, all 152 embassies from around the world that had been located in Bonn (the capital of West Germany) had moved to Berlin, including the US Embassy. And if today, hypothetically, the US Capital was moved from Washington, D.C. to Luckenbach, TX, then all the nations of the world would soon be purchasing property and building embassies in Luckenbach. This is simply the way embassies work.

So is it our business where the capital is? No, it isn’t. Our business is simply to put our embassy in the capital that the host nation has selected. If we do not want our embassy in the capital city chosen by the people with whom we have diplomatic relations, then we should simply pack up and go home. In fact, if I was Prime Minister of Israel, I would take measures to cease diplomatic relations with countries that refuse a Jerusalem embassy.

What Happens Next?

Soon the USA will begin making arrangements to move the embassy to Jerusalem, using land purchased years ago. Hopefully, the administration doesn’t make this a decades-long process.

Also soon (tomorrow?) the Muslim nations will protest, throw rocks, whine, send rockets, and blow up their sons to advance their agenda. This is what they do when they don’t get their way. But it’s time a US President stand with Israel to build a strong Israeli state. This strength and display of permanent support will go a long way toward establishing a new and peaceful status quo in the Middle East.

Mazel Tov, Mr. President. Well done!