Blog: A desire for Jerusalem to be capital
April 12, 2017
Filed under Opinions
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Dear President Donald J. Trump,
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, following Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War, when it defended itself from Egypt, Syria and Jordan. The state of Israel declares Jerusalem as its capital, but the United Nations does not recognize this on the basis of Security Council resolution 181, which defines Jerusalem as a special international regime administered by the UN. There is currently a debate whether the US should officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Recognizing the self-declared capital of a country means recognizing its sovereignty. Israel is one of the most strategic allies of the US, yet it is singled out by the US’s lack of recognition of its own capital.
Jerusalem is, and always has been the capital of the Jewish people. The Jews’ love for Jerusalem goes back thousands of years, to King David’s time, long before the modern state of Israel was even created. Psalm 137 in the Bible is 2400 years old, and emphasizes the importance of Jerusalem to the Jewish people. Its text reads, “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not; if I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy.” This prayer is still recited today and is filled with the longing that is shared by the Jewish people for Jerusalem.
Another example is depicted in the work of a medieval Hebrew poet, Yehuda Halevi. In his poem, Jerusalem, he described his feelings of love for his homeland. He wrote, “Beautiful heights, city of a great King, from the western coast my desire burns towards thee. Pity and tenderness burst in me, remembering thy former glories, thy temple now broken stones. I wish I could fly to thee on the wings of an eagle and mingle my tears with thy dust.”
Even I, a 15 year old Jewish girl living in Brookline, Massachusetts, has a bond with Jerusalem that can never be broken. I have visited Israel every year of my life, but I gained a whole new connection with Jerusalem on the day of my bat mitzvah. We held the ceremony in the City of David, which is the core of ancient Jerusalem. It is the place where, 3,000 years ago, King David established Jerusalem as the capital of Israel’s twelve tribes and is the place where King Solomon built the first Temple. It is a place of history and creation.
Beyond the history and ties the Jewish people have to Jerusalem, their right to their capital is much more than just spiritual. There has been a Jewish presence in Jerusalem for centuries in the Jewish Quarter of the old city, and they’ve built a flourishing community there. In the mid 1800’s, as Zionism gained momentum, Jews from all around the world began to migrate to their homeland in Palestine.
They were the first people to settle outside the city walls and began building up Jerusalem with the intention of creating a thriving city there. They built a historical neighborhood called, Yemin Moshe. In 1934 they created the successful Hadassah Medical center with the mission of extending a “hand to all, without regard for race, religion or ethnic origin.” They even established the Hebrew University, which now holds the world’s largest Jewish Studies library. The Jews’ commitment to the city is not just historical. It is current. They’ve developed it into an international success of industry, medicine, and politics.
Mr. President, you promised that you would move the US embassy to Jerusalem, but now you are facing opposition by people in the government and the mainstream media.
The most frequently used argument against recognizing Jerusalem is the UN’s Security Council resolution 181, which was passed in 1947. It entailed that the British mandate over Palestine would end, and the land would be split between a democratic Jewish state and a democratic Arab state. “The City of Jerusalem shall be established as a corpus separatum under a special international regime and shall be administered by the United Nations,” (Resolution 181).
Israel accepted this resolution, but the Arabs rejected it with prejudice. They waged a war against Israel with the objective of annihilating it. In addition, the Jordanians conquered old city, including the Jewish Quarter, and expelled all the Jews who had lived there for centuries. This directly and completely violated the resolution and rendered it obsolete. Why should Israel be held accountable to a resolution that was never truly in place?
Furthermore, the US should not be bound by the UN’s position in the matter of recognizing Jerusalem, as it has set a precedence in recognizing Kosovo, a disputed country not recognized by the UN. Why can’t it similarly descend from the UN in the matter of Jerusalem?
Another objection is that American recognition might disrupt the peace process. The Palestinians have rejected three peace deals that were offered to them, two of which actually called for Israeli concessions in east Jerusalem. Their intransigence has lead to a halt in this so-called peace process for more than a decade. If anything, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital may reignite the peace process as it may awaken a sense of urgency in the Palestinians to re-engage in negotiations.
Finally, a concern that arises, in this debate, is that it may antagonize the Muslim world and, therefore, threaten US entities with terrorism. This argument is weak. No appeasement by the US, in the past, has reduced the motivation to conduct acts of terror against us. Moreover, since when does America yield to terror?
Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. It is where the Israeli government, Parliament and Supreme Court reside. Israel developed it and allowed it to blossom. Recognition would be in both America’s and Israel’s best interests.
Mr. President, I urge you to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as it has been for thousands of years and will be for eternity.