Rumor has it that later this week US President Trump will announce that the US officially recognizes Jerusalem, or some part thereof, as the capital of Israel but will stop short of announcing a move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I am one Israeli who would urge him not to make that statement.
The statement itself is not new. In February 1992 former President Bill Clinton came out in support of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. But when he finally took office cooler heads prevailed and he never issued a formal proclamation to that effect.
But now the US has a president who wants to do everything he can to placate those who elected him. So while he promised to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem if elected, President Trump has been reluctant to do so. Instead he may decide to throw a bone to his constituency by declaring that the US officially recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Now, in fact, those of us living here already recognize that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. The seat of government is in Jerusalem, the headquarters of all of the government ministries are here as are the Bank of Israel, the Israel Museum, the Supreme Court, and all of the national agencies that operate in the state such as Bituach Leumi (social security administration). To those of us living here we do not need the recognition of any foreign power to give credence to the fact that this is our capital.
But our cousins living among us as well as our often belligerent neighbors will see such a move as sufficient to light the fires of the tinder that passes for their grudging acceptance of our presence here. So what we are hearing now are the drums of yet another uprising, an intifada as they term it which, if the past is any indication, will only result in the loss of many lives, incredible property damage and billions of dollars in lost tourist revenue, among other things.
In the run up to the decision, the Palestinian terror organization Hamas said it would incite a new intifada, or uprising, if the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Hamas on Saturday issued a statement calling on Palestinians to “incite an uprising in Jerusalem so that this conspiracy does not pass. This decision would represent a U.S. assault on the city and give legitimacy to (Israel) over the city,” the statement added. “We call on the Palestinian people to stand as an impenetrable floodgate and a tall wall against this decision and renew the Jerusalem intifada.”
Those of us living here do not take these threats lightly. While Arab governments around the region would probably moan and groan for a few days after such an announcement, their discomfort will dissipate. But, as we have seen all too many times previously, the government is not always able to control “the street.” Based on experience all it would take is one unhappy incident to ignite a firestorm throughout the country.
Once that begins and blossoms, we know what happens next. People die, property is destroyed, tourism plummets, airlines question whether the country is safe for their aircraft, and anti-Israel demonstrations take place world-wide. Who needs that?
What advantage does a presidential statement of this kind have for us? None!
Who benefits from such a statement? Not us!
Is it important enough for us living here to pay the price for such a move? No!
Do we need to attend yet more funerals of lives that were wasted because of this insanity? No!
Would we be any worse off if the President said nothing? No!
So, as the lawyers say at the end of a trial, I rest my case.
Do us a favor Mr. President, spend your time dealing with your incredibly long list of domestic challenges and keep your mouth closed about us. If you need to find ways to mollify your unhappy constituency, do so with domestic actions and not on the backs of those of us living here who will end up paying the price for your folly.