This week marks the 71st birthday (or rebirth) of Israel as a nation. Happy Birthday, Israel! And a big congrats to our friend and the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi), for winning his fifth term in office this past month!
For those who might not be real familiar with the rebirth of Israel as a nation, let me briefly summarize the story. In 1947, the newly established United Nations officially accepted the idea to divide or partition the Holy Land – including Jerusalem – into a region for the Jews (Israel) and a region for the Arabs (Palestine). As a result, Britain relinquished its stronghold in the area on May 14, 1948, when Israel gave its Declaration of Independence
Tel Aviv became the temporary seat of government until the state of Israel moved it to Jerusalem in December 1949. Despite the shift in location, the U.S. embassy was built in Tel Aviv in 1966. At the same time, believe it or not, the U.S. consulate has had a presence in West Jerusalem since 1844. Yes, you read that year correctly. (It is further interesting to note that other countries – like Britain and France – have their consulates in East Jerusalem – yes, East Jerusalem.)
The new U.S. embassy officially moved last year under president Trump’s direction on the site of the U.S. consulate general. We are the first country to open an embassy in Jerusalem since before 1980, while 86 countries continue today to have their embassies in Tel Aviv.
The U.S. recognized Israel as a sovereign state in 1948, and it has needed to acknowledge Israel’s capital and move its embassy there for over 20 years. Last year, President Trump fulfilled what three previous administrations promised to do but never did.
By doing so, the president fulfilled what Congress set out to do over two decades ago when a bilateral majority vote passed the “Jerusalem Embassy Act,” which formally recognized the sacred city as the country’s capital and called for the U.S. Embassy to be moved there from Tel Aviv by 1999. Yes, 20 years ago was the deadline for Washington to move our embassy – just another broken promise from the swamp!
The Washington Post explained that 25-year-old majority decision: “Support for the bill was overwhelming. It passed the Senateby a 93 to 5 vote, with four Republicans and one Democrat voting no. It passed the House 374 to 37, with 153 Democrats joining most of the new Republican majority that had swept into power in 1994.”
Dennis Ross is the former American envoy to the Middle East and counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. David Makovsky is the Ziegler Distinguished Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where he directs the Project on the Middle East Peace Process. In 2013-2014, he served in the Office of the Secretary of State under former President Obama, where he was a senior advisor during the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. He just released a high-tech interactive map called Settlements and Solutions.
Together, Ross and Makovsky wrote a piece for the website Foreign Policy, “Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem Is Not a Disaster,” which commended the president’s approach: “There is a logic to this duality. Israel’s prime minister and parliament are located in the part of Jerusalem that is not contested, and there is an honesty in ending the fiction that the city is not the Israeli capital, which has gone on for close to 70 years.”
It is still absolutely remarkable to me that a piece of land so small – only roughly 263 miles long and 71 miles wide – has been at the center stage of Middle East politics and war for centuries, and its capital Jerusalem at the very heart of the debate and battles. Ethnic and religious tensions even ran high back in Jesus’ day.
The truth is, Palestinian and other Islamic leaders have always been deadlocked with Israel over the Holy Land. They accuse Bibi and others of fighting against the peace process, but what peace process are they referring to? There’s neither peace nor a process.
Here is a five-minute video history summarizing 4,000 years of upheaval in that sacred city. I also encourage everyone to watch WND’s inspiring and educational documentary, “70 Years,” and the movie, “In Our Hands: The Battle for Jerusalem” to understand the historical perspective about Israel and its capitol. The latter describes how Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day War. Since then, the whole city has been under Israel’s power and government. However, Palestinians and others in the international community continue to see East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
What’s ludicrous is this: Israel is the only country in the world not allowed to choose it’s own capital, at least in its enemies’ eyes around the world. However, one of Israel’s Basic Laws, the 1980 Jerusalem Law, refers to Jerusalem as the country’s undivided capital. As a response, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution condemning Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, declaring it a violation of international law. However, that hasn’t ever stopped Israel from occupying and fighting for its capital, which is also why Bibi has also encouraged other countries to move their embassies to Jerusalem just as he did president Trump and our former presidents.
As Israel celebrates its 71st birthday as a nation, it’s high time for the rest of the world – particularly Israel’s allies – to make demonstrable actions to reaffirm its statehood and capital, too. It’s high time for the U.S. and the world also to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which I wrote about in my March WND column.
Historically, Israel has been the strongest ally of the U.S. in the Middle East, and the U.S. has been Israel’s strongest ally outside the Middle East. And it needs to stay that way.
My wife, Gena, and I couldn’t be more in support of Israel, though we respect all peoples of the world. All of our lives we have had a love for Israel. I filmed three of my action movies there – “Delta Force” being my favorite. And Gena and I have also formed many great friendships in the Holy Land, including with Bibi and his beloved wife Sara. (You can see us visiting there two years ago on the prime minister’s YouTube page.)
We believe what I encourage everyone else to do: follow what the Tanack (Hebrew Bible) commands: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you.’” (Psalm 122:6).