Sometimes, a situation just calls for decisive action. Sometimes, a leader just has to have the conviction to do what he thinks is the right thing, regardless of what others, friend or foe, may think or do, regardless of politics, regardless of the polls. That is what makes a strong leader. That is what President Trump did last week when he announced that the US recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will be relocating its embassy there.
Thus, the president deviated from seven decades of US Middle East policy. For decades, one president after another has promised to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and one after another they have reneged on that promise. The entire international community has maintained that Jerusalem, which contains sites sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike, should remain a neutral site believing that to be the lynchpin of a lasting peace settlement.
That approach has failed miserably and unequivocally. A state of tension, conflict, terrorism and, at times, war has continued to exist between Israel and its Arab neighbors for those seven decades. Many of these neighbors have never recognized Israel’s sovereignty and have threatened to destroy it. So, one could argue that the region is further away from a lasting peace than it has ever been. It wasn’t as if the region was on the cusp of a lasting peace settlement, which is now ruined anyway.
Mr. Trump followed through on his campaign promise. Why should we be so shocked? “Today, we [the US] finally acknowledge the obvious, that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” he said. “This is nothing more than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do.”
In anticipation of the fallout Mr. Trump reiterated the US’s commitment to remaining neutral and helping the Israelis and the Palestinians reach a peaceful settlement. Moreover, he stated that this action does not mean the US is taking any stance on the final status or boundaries of Jerusalem. “Those questions are up to the parties involved,” he opined.
Reaction was swift and predictable:
- Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, opined on CNN that it would “move the ball forward for the peace process. ….. What this does is just [recognize] what’s real.”
- Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, characterized the president’s action as “courageous and just,” and he pledged that “Israel will always ensure freedom of worship for Jews, Christians and Muslims, alike.” I believe that, and I also believe that it would not be the case if Muslims controlled the city.
- Saeb Erakat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said President Trump’s decision “disqualified the US [from playing] any role in any peace process.”
- Jordan’s King Abdullah claimed it would “undermine efforts to resume the peace process and [would] provoke Muslims and Christians alike.”
- Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el Sissi stated it would “undermine the chances of peace.”
Predictably, the aftermath included riots and clashes between Palestinian protestors and Israeli police in Jerusalem and elsewhere. Protestors burned American flags and pictures of President Trump. In addition, Palestinians declared “three days of rage,” which caused many schools and business establishments to close.
I applaud President’s Trump’s action as well as his courage and conviction to do what was right. My opinion is that he made a campaign promise, and he fulfilled it. Isn’t that what we want our politicians to do?
I believe Israel, like any other country, has the right to designate its own capital city. Furthermore, Jerusalem has been functioning as the de facto capital of Israel anyway.
In my view, for years, the world has been bending over backwards to appease the Palestinians in hopes of encouraging them to cease hostilities, and it has not worked. It is long since time to recognize reality. Besides, what, really, is there to lose. The peace process has been stalled anyway. The region is as far away from a lasting peace as ever. Many of the Arab states in the region provide funding, training sites, personnel and safe havens for terrorists. For the most part, their hatred for Israel and the US is intractable and will remain so regardless of what we do. So, I repeat, what, really is there to lose?
I look upon this action as signaling to the world steadfast support for a strong, reliable ally. I think that all Americans, not just Jews, should support it.