Let’s cut straight to the heart of the “peace process” in Israel.
If there’s ever going to be a successful “two-state” solution in Israel, the Palestinians, the Arab countries around Israel and the United Nations are going to have to admit that Israel is one of those two states.
Surely you’ve seen the uproar caused by President Donald Trump’s decision to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem. There have been riots, rock-throwing clashes with Israeli soldiers and the ever-present “rockets” coming out of Gaza that are aimed indiscriminately at Israeli families.
In other Islamic countries, thousands have protested while news commentators gush over the horrible decision Trump made. More radical Islamic leaders are calling for acts of terrorism and “days of rage.”
“Why,” we should ask, “is the idea of moving an embassy to Jerusalem so offensive to Palestinians?”
Isn’t it obvious that Israel’s capital is Jerusalem? The Israeli governing body – the Knesset – has been in Jerusalem since Dec. 26, 1949. World leaders making official trips to Israel have long disembarked airplanes and headed immediately to Jerusalem. Israel and the Jewish people have indisputable historic and religious ties to Jerusalem.
In addition, the idea of moving the embassy to Jerusalem is not a new one for the United States. Congress passed a law that required the move in 1995. Unfortunately, lawmakers gave presidents a loophole to delay the move every six months. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barak Obama and even Donald Trump have all signed off on this delay tactic.
As a result, the embassy has stayed put in Tel Aviv and an idea has taken root that Israel has no right to be in Jerusalem at all.
Six days before President Trump’s announcement that America would move its embassy to Jerusalem, the United Nations passed yet another resolution condemning Israel (there have been hundreds of them). This time, the UN said that Israel had no ties whatsoever to Jerusalem and could not govern the city. It also used only the Islamic names for the Temple Mount and Jerusalem’s Old City holy sites.
Lest this sound absurd, make sure you get the full measure of the insanity. The vote for removing Israel’s ties to Jerusalem at the UN was 151-6!
Therefore, Trump’s move was a massive blow to those who’ve convinced themselves that Jews have no right to be in Jerusalem. When the world’s most powerful country honors Israel with such a symbolic move, it damages all efforts to return Jerusalem to Islamic control.
Between 1948 and 1967, Jordan ruled Jerusalem. If you had visited the famous city before the Six-Day War in June of 1967, you would have discovered that Christians, Muslims and nearly everyone else was allowed to visit the holy sites inside the Old City. The only group excluded? Jewish people.
The Western Wall is the holiest place in the world to Jewish people, but for 19 years, Jordan wouldn’t allow Jews to visit it. Jews had known very limited access to the wall since 1840. Occasionally, violence broke out against the Jews at the Wall.
Once the Six-Day War dramatically changed that situation, Israel has controlled Jerusalem. But from the first day Israel had control of Jerusalem, the city’s holy sites were open to all people, of all faiths. Israel even voluntarily handed over control of the Temple Mount to Jordanian police forces!
In recent years, Muslim young men will approach tourists and tour guides on the Temple Mount and start arguments with anyone describing Israel’s connection to the ground. To hear them talk, Jews have never had a connection with the Temple Mount! History, of course, insists that David and Solomon were there 1,500 years before the Prophet Muhammad (and Islam) was even born.
We’ve all heard a lot of talk about a “two-state solution” in Israel. To listen to world leaders and American media, Trump’s decision will “derail” that dream.
Ready for a dose of reality? It is the Palestinians themselves that have derailed the two-state solution. The breaking point came in 2000 when Yasser Arafat was given everything he wanted in the “two-state” framework … but then rejected it. He would only accept a “two-state” solution if Israel no longer existed!
There is also a long history of Israel giving up land for hoped-for peace, only to be met with violence, threats of violence and full-scale war.
In the meantime, Israel has used its resources to build an incredible infrastructure and the strongest democratic government in the Middle East. Visit Israel and you’ll see good roads, schools, hospitals and utilities. You’ll find some of the most advanced technology being created there, from water desalinization to software development. You’ll find Arab Israelis, too. They get to vote in Israeli elections and take advantage of the best living conditions for Arabs in the entire Middle East. Most of Israel looks a lot like most of America. You’ll even find the same stores and fast-food restaurants scattered among modern buildings.
On the other hand, Palestinian leadership in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and in neighboring Lebanon uses far too much of its energy and resources in trying to eliminate Israel and “liberate Palestine.” Visit Jericho, Gaza or Nablus and you’ll find breathtaking poverty, terrible schools, poor health care and roads filled with potholes. This is true despite an amazing amount of wealth being poured into the areas for the express purpose of helping the Palestinian people.
But the Palestinian leaders have long cared more about their eternal fight with Israel than the well-being of their own people. They’ve also lined their own pockets with money meant to help their own people.
Do you remember the news articles that circulated after Arafat’s death in 2004? He had a personal wealth of more than $1 billion and had once held more than $3 billion! Corruption at all levels of PLO leadership was exposed, painting a picture of ruthless leaders skimming international aid intended to help their people and putting it in their own pockets.
In more recent years, leadership in Gaza secretly diverted millions of aid dollars to digging tunnels designed to attack Jewish families outside the Gaza Strip and throwing thousands of rockets into Israeli territory. When they finally got the war they wanted, Israel turned the area into rubble. No Arab nations came to their aid.
And yet somehow, Israel is constantly accused of being the oppressor and cruel occupier of the Palestinians.
You want to see peace in the Middle East? This is simple. Convince the Palestinians to stop attacking Israel. There would be peace overnight.
Need evidence? Come to Israel with me. You’ll learn quickly to distinguish between Arab, Palestinian and Israeli communities. The Israeli communities are the ones with walls, fences and intensive security measures. Why would only the Israeli communities need all the security?
Because Israel doesn’t attack innocent families. Israel only attacks its military enemies. Even now, you’ll see that Israel responds to violent protests with rubber bullets and tear gas. It could just as easily use deadly force, and from time to time, it must.
Israel isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. The history of how Israel was even given land in the Middle East following World War II is clearly still infuriating to Palestinians. But the land has been owned and ruled by countless empires over the years, including both Jewish and Islamic rulers. If the argument of who owns the place is based on who used to be in charge, or what a group’s holy scripture claims to be the truth, we will never make progress.
At the moment, it is simply time to recognize reality. Israel is here. Israel has done amazingly well in establishing a modern-day state. Israel has proved to be a good neighbor to its former enemies who’ve made peace with her. And Israel has the military means to confront any force that attacks it.
Moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem is the right thing to do. Punishing terrorists of any flag is the right thing to do. Living peacefully with the neighbors life has given you is a mark of wisdom and maturity.
It is possible that one day a Palestinian state inside Israel could also claim Jerusalem as its capital. But clearly, the Palestinians and enemies of Israel don’t want to share Jerusalem. They don’t want to share the land. They still want to “push the Jews into the sea,” despite having lost every military battle that attempted to do that.
It’s high time the world stopped making decisions based on who might riot, commit acts of terrorism or make unwarranted claims of oppression. Such cowardly leaders have rewarded bad behavior long enough.
The sooner the American Embassy can stand as a monument to Israel’s presence in Jerusalem, the better.