Jerusalem the Eternal

As an Israeli, I find it difficult to get excited about President Trump’s much publicized and long awaited declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

Oxford Dictionaries define a capital as being “the city or town that functions as the seat of government and administrative centre of a country or region”. That has been the case with respect to Jerusalem ever since Israel’s first prime minister David Ben Gurion declared the city as being Israel’s “Eternal Capital” back in 1949.

The Knesset moved to Froumine House in the centre of Jerusalem in March 1950 and the current building on Givat Ram was inaugurated on the 30th August, 1966.

As against that, the United Nations called for the full territorial internationalization of Jerusalem in 1947 and declared in a resolution just eight years ago that “any actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever”.

Back in 1955 Ben Gurion voiced his contempt for the United Nations using the expression “Umm shmum“. Nothing much has changed
since then.

So the international community continues to play the charade of maintaining its embassies in Tel Aviv while its ambassadors and other officials travel up the winding highway to Jerusalem to do business at the Knesset and Israel’s government ministries.

Everyone knows that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and any attempt to insist otherwise is to live in an imaginary world.

That having been said, declaring Jerusalem as “Israel’s eternal undivided capital” is wishful thinking. Nothing is eternal and history teaches us that both the Babylonians and the Romans destroyed that city and sent our ancestors into exile.

Of course, there is still the issue of the Palestinians and reaching an accommodation with them. However, no one can seriously believe that Israel will relocate its seat of government to Tel Aviv even in the context of a peace agreement. Therefore, it is time to stop playing games.

About the Author
Rabbi Boyden was educated and received his rabbinical ordination in London, England. Having served as the rabbi of Cheshire Reform Congregation for thirteen years, he made aliyah with his family in 1985. He has established Reform congregations in Ra'anana and Hod Hasharon and previously served as director of the Israel Reform Movement's Beit Din.
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