Jerusalem: The Eternal City
We are told that President Trump is ready to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The threats from around the world, including locally, are pouring in faster than a burst dam. How absolutely ridiculous!
Every country in the world gets to name its capital. Jerusalem has been the undivided capital of the Jewish people almost since the beginning of recorded time, and certainly for as long as 3,300 years.
The City of Jerusalem is never mentioned once in the Holy Islamic Koran. In fact, the legend about Muhammad riding his white steed to heaven did not occur in Jerusalem, but rather in another location. The Muslims built the Al-Aqsa Mosque to commemorate Muhammad’s ride in Jerusalem.
A majority of the City of Jerusalem is Jewish and always has been, except when the City was ethnically cleansed from Jews several times over the millennia.
Recent history of Israel has the League of Nations and the United Nations adopting the San Remo Treaty as the homeland for the Jews. That would have included all of what is now modern Jordan.
You will hear lots about the 1947 Partition Resolution of the United Nations. That Resolution would have taken Jerusalem from the Jews and internationalized it. The Arabs rejected the Resolution forever. In 1947, the Arabs, including a number of Arab States and Jordan, with their German and British arms, attacked the Jews in Israel. In the Old City of Jerusalem, the Jewish freedom fighters were driven out, person by person. Proud and brave Jews fought for the City, but were simply overwhelmed. At that time, the United States had not yet recognized the Independent State of Israel, and the tiny country had no friends in the world.
Jordanian soldiers, armed with British weapons, stood outside the Old City with megaphones and told Jews they would be slaughtered like chickens if they did not surrender. After many Jews died, the few remaining rag-tag defenders did surrender to the Jordanians. From 1947 until 1967, no one called for an independent Palestine ruled exclusively by Muslims, and no one called either for the internationalization of Jerusalem or for it to be split between Jew and Arab. That never happened.
After Israel was again attacked in 1967, and decisively won that war, the State of Israel came into the total and complete possession of Jerusalem. Instead of barring Arabs from the City, as the Arabs had done for the Jews, the State of Israel permitted Arabs and Christians to control their own holy sites and have administered the City in a fair and internationally acceptable way. Notwithstanding the many attacks on Jews since 1967 within Jerusalem, the city has maintained its integrity and decency towards all citizens.
I have visited Jerusalem many times since 1969. My daughter, Kaila, lives in Har Hatzofim, Mount Scopus. This is the place of Hebrew University. Before 1967, it was almost impossible for Jews to go there. Now, Mount Scopus is an international community with Jew, Arab and Christian co-existing and living side by side. One of my daughter’s best friends lives in a nearby Arab town. Her father, the friend’s father, is a Christian-Arab from Nazareth and her mother is a Serbian. Her mom is a well-known Egyptologist. Everyone lives together and works together. That has not been so and would not be so under a Muslim-Arab regime which demands that Christians, Jews and others either be dead or subservient.
A failure to recognize Jerusalem as the international undivided capital of Israel is completely insane. Some would say it was anti-Semitic. Certainly among some, the failure to recognize Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem is anti-Semitic. For others, it is simply ignorance and misguided views about public policy.
In 1995, when President Clinton was still in office, Congress passed a law requiring that the United States move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Every single President since then has executed a waiver failing to comply with U.S. law. The United States Supreme Court turned down requests that the law be enforced. We should be embarrassed to live in a land where laws of Congress are outwardly flaunted by our Presidents and our State Department. Any individual who is so contemptuous of a congressional enactment would certainly be sitting down in Lewisburg or some other federal prison.
While President Trump certainly has his negatives and is an anathema to many people, this should not cloud the fact that every once in a while even a blind dog gets a bone. Trump is right on this move, and should be supported by left and right equally. Just as we should throw out of Washington, dismiss and prosecute Congressman Conyers for his sexual abuse, along with Republicans like Roy Moore, we should be on the same page when it comes to recognizing the undivided Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
There are those who say that the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and the acceptance of the City as Israel’s capital will cause problems, or even violence in the region. Really? Are you kidding me? Terrorists and their cohorts do not need any more reasons to be violent, to kill and maim. Israel, across the political denomination, certainly wants to see Jerusalem recognized as its capital, and Israelis are in the best position to know whether they can handle any alleged backlash. There is always a reason for those who hate Jews and disrespect the rights of Israelis to act violently. The recognition of Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel should go forward regardless of hollow threats.
Others say that for the Trump Administration to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would somehow be against international law. Hogwash and bunk. International law is all on the side of Israelis in this connection. Without boring the reader concerning the arcane intricacies of international law, it is simply enough to say that resolutions by the United States fostered by the worst enemies of the Christian West and Judaism do not constitute international law in any manner whatsoever. A close analysis of those determinations and treaties that are binding, provide to Israel far more land and territory than it currently is possessed of. A close analysis is not hard to come by, and I would be happy to supply anyone with an excellent summary that I have received.
The United States accepts designations of capitals by countries that have not even the slightest respect for international law. Russia has invaded and occupied the Ukraine. China controls Tibet. The United States essentially occupies as a colony Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Most African countries have been invaded and are partially or fully occupied by another nation. The Arab-Muslim nations are probably the worst offenders among all nations of civil rights and human dignity. We recognize their decisions in terms of internal management of their capital cities every day. It is outrageous and absurd to be critical of the Trump Administration for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, except for the fact that it took them so long. Had the administration immediately fulfilled its promise to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, a promise made by every other President of the United States since 1995, the fire and fury accompanying the move would have abated long ago. The problem is not that the United States is recognizing honest reality, but rather that it took so long.
When I walk the streets of Jerusalem, I am impressed with the variety of people, the feeling of freedom, and the ability to access any part of the City regardless of its ethnic makeup. I have walked from my daughter’s apartment on Mount Scopus through and past Arab neighborhoods, religious Jewish neighborhoods, secular places, right to the center of the City and the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. There are no barriers, blockades, and I have never seen any policeman or Army person blocking the way. This is not the way it was before 1967, and it is not that way in any Arab capital. Never has been, and never will be. Jerusalem is a free, independent, Democratic City and we should celebrate its unification as capital of our only free, Democratic ally in the Middle East, Israel.
Rieders is a board certified trial advocate in Williamsport and a past president of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association.