Safely re-elected last November, President Obama waited barely a month (December 4, 2012) before suspending once again the provisions of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. That law required the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the permanent and undivided capital of Israel and to move the American Embassy there. In suspending the provisions of the act, President Obama was violating his own campaign commitments to Americans and to Israelis. As a candidate in 2008, he had said he was committed to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s permanent capital and keeping it united under Israeli rule.
Secretary of State John Kerry is now heading back to the Mideast in yet another effort to get direct talks going with Israel’s Arab peace partners. The only problem this time is the problem from last time. And all the times before that. There’s no peace. And there are no partners.
When the former PLO balked at peace with the Israelis in 2000, they initiated yet another intifada, an uprising of stone-throwing Arab youth. These are lethal outbreaks. The Israeli government of that day offered the former PLO more than 90% of Judea and Samaria, those historic homelands of the Jewish people, if the Arabs would simply agree to stop making war, stop seeking the annihilation of Israel, and stop funding terrorists.
The would not. Very shortly thereafter, Hamas, the openly terrorist branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, won the elections in Gaza and conducted a bloody civil war. Hamas won against the former PLO forces of the late Yassir Arafat, now headed by Arafat’s loyal deputy, Mahmoud Abbas.
The peace deal brokered by the Clinton administration in 2000, which was violently rejected by the former PLO and its Arab backers, has resulted in a greatly worsened situation for Israel.
Now is the time for American firmness and resolve. Now is the time for a dramatic shift in U.S. policy in the Mideast. Now is when the Obama administration should take its own advice. Liberals in the U.S.–a safe distance from Hezbollah rockets and bus bombings on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street–are forever urging Israel “to take a risk for peace.”
The Obama administration should recognize Jerusalem as the permanent, indivisible capital of Israel and move our U.S. Embassy there immediately. This is a calculated risk for peace. The Arab world needs to know that Americans will keep their word. Several U.S. administrations have pledged to move the embassy and several have backed down when push came to shove.
For eighteen years, 1948-1967, Jerusalem was split. Jordan ruled East Jerusalem, where Jews were not allowed to visit their holiest places. Jewish cemeteries and synagogues were desecrated.
Since Israeli tanks smashed through the Mandelbaum Gate in June, 1967, Jerusalem has been united. Throughout 3,000 years of history, Jerusalem was never the capital of any other kingdom or empire. Not the Persians, not the Greeks, not the Romans, not the Byzantines, not the Ottomans, not the British. Only the Jews have made Jerusalem their beloved capital city. Only the Jews face Jerusalem to pray.
Jerusalem can never mean to others what it means to the Jewish people. But Jerusalem also has vast meaning for Americans. Our Founding Fathers identified our struggle for freedom closely with that of the Jewish people. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson even tried to make the Exodus of the Jewish people out of Egypt the Great Seal of the United States. Abraham Lincoln, on the last carriage ride of his life, told his wife he wanted to visit Jerusalem. Harry Truman recognized Israel’s independence just minutes after it was declared. Millions of Americans, Jewish and Christian alike, know that God’s promise to Abraham applies to us as well: Who blesses you I will bless; who curses you I will curse.
Those same Arab leaders who have spent the last 69 years cursing Israel are today being swept away in a great intifada against their own corrupt rule. New rulers, some even bloodier, even more hateful toward Israel and America, are being thrust up.
They need to see a strong horse in America. They need to see us standing with Israel and respecting Israelis’ choice of their own capital. We obligingly moved our embassy in Germany to Berlin–when the Germans asked us to. We fought two world wars against Germany. The least we should do for our only ally in the Mideast is to pray for the peace of Jerusalem–and put our embassy there.