Next Year: Passover Seder at the US Embassy in Jerusalem

It is time that Embassies of the world be moved to Israel’s capital,  Jerusalem. .Next year in Jerusalem is the statement we make every year at the end of the Passover Seder. This year we celebrate the fiftieth year since Jerusalem was united under Israel’s sovereignty.  An extraordinary miracle.  Sadly, not one country has its Embassy in Jerusalem. Nor does any country recognize Israel’s sovereignty over all of Jerusalem. Yet, Israel has provided free access to the holy places in Jerusalem for all religions.  Furthermore, when Jordan had control of the eastern section of Jerusalem, they destroyed over 50 Synagogues and prevented Jewish access to their holy sites in Jerusalem.

In 1995, the US Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act by overwhelming margins of 93-5 and 374–37.  President Clinton let it become law without his signature.  This Act proclaimed that the United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  It further mandated moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem.  However, a waiver provision was put into the Act that would allow a delay to the Embassy move for national security reasons.  The waiver did not apply to recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  Every President since this Act’s enactment has invoked the six month waiver to not move the Embassy. Therefore, all the US President’s since this Act became law have violated it by not recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  We are hopeful that on May 1st, 2017 when it is President Trump’s decision on this matter that he will not invoke the waiver.

The Israeli government had pressed for moving the Embassy to Jerusalem during the time of the passage of the Jerusalem Embassy Act and for only the next few years thereafter.  Prime Minister Rabin attended a reception in Washington to thank Congress for passing the Jerusalem Embassy Act and extolled the importance of the U.S. recognizing Jerusalem as its capital.  Shimon Peres stated at the time that only the Jewish people had made Jerusalem its capital and supported the U.S. move of the Embassy and so did Prime Minister Netanyahu shortly thereafter as well.  When President Clinton’s term ended without the embassy being moved, there was hope that President Bush  would follow through on his promise to move the embassy.  It soon became evident that he would not move the Embassy despite his claiming when invoking the waiver that he still wanted to do so. Israel never publicly pushed the issue through President Bush’s term or President Obama’s as well.

President Trump has made a similar promise to move the Embassy to Jerusalem.  Two weeks before being elected, his daughter Ivanka Trump even told a Jewish crowd in Miami that it was 100% that her father will move the Embassy.   President Trump is the first US President to seriously contemplate moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.  The Palestinian Authority and Jordan quickly expressed their opposition to the move and warned of a violent eruption should such a move take place.  VP Mike Pence recently at AIPAC said President Trump is still considering the move but clearly there is concern that President Trump will not keep this commitment.  Embarrassingly, Russia could move an Embassy to Jerusalem before the US after their comment this past week that they recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the western part of Jerusalem, a statement no U.S. Administration has even made.

Representing the National Council of Young Israel at the Conference of Presidents meetings in February, I wanted it on the record that Israel overwhelmingly supported the move of the Embassy and was not deterred by the threats of violence.   I asked Justice Minister Shaked about her view on the US moving the Embassy and the threats of violence.  She responded, “The government expects [US] President [Donald] Trump will meet his obligations to his voters and move the embassy to Jerusalem.”  “We are not worried about the hysterical message the Palestinians are trying to spread” against the embassy move,” she said. “I definitely think the embassy should move to Jerusalem and hope he [Trump] will keep his promise.”

In order to make it clear to America that the position of Shaked was a consensus position in Israel, I  raised the issue of the move of the Embassy and the fear of violence with Yair Lapid the leader of Yesh Atid.  Lapid’s party is currently polling almost even with Likud and even though he is not the current opposition leader, in the public’s view he is the main leader of the opposition.  Lapid answered clearly that he wants the U.S. Embassy moved to Jerusalem and Jerusalem recognized as Israel’s capital. He said Israel was not concerned about the threats of violence.  Lapid further said in response to another part of my question that he had proposed previously and supported the US recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights as well.

Several Arab countries have proposed on behalf of the Palestinian Authority to have UNESCO reject even Israeli sovereignty over the western part of Jerusalem that Israel has had sovereignty over since 1949.  Their proposal is set for a May 1 vote, the same day as President Trump will decide whether or not to invoke the waiver provision.  Clearly, the Arab opposition to Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem have become emboldened over the delay of the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem.   The UNESCO proposal shows how imperative it is to deal with the core of the conflict which is the Palestinian Arab rejection of Israel and its rejection of the Jewish connection to its holy sites in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel. The UNESCO proposal rejects the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, Rachel’s Tomb and even the Tomb of Israel’s Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Hebron.   This is a rejection of the most important and holiest sites in Judaism.  There can’t be peace until this rejection of Judaism and Jewish history is ended.

President Trump should send a strong message on the issue of the Jerusalem Embassy move just as he acted decisively on Syria that future chemical weapons usage against your people is unacceptable.    Jerusalem is not just Israel’s capital. Israel has a historic and religious claim to Jerusalem.  Israel can’t have security without its sovereignty over all of Jerusalem.   As long as the Palestinian Arabs believe they can divide Jerusalem there can be no peace.  The idea behind the Jerusalem Embassy Act as expressed at the time by Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, was that the only way for a peace process to be successful is if the Palestinian Arabs gave up their claim to Jerusalem. Twenty years later it is obvious that Senator Dole was right.

Trump has shown that he has the courage to take action and do what he believes is right. He should not be deterred by the threats of violence and moving the US. Embassy to Jerusalem. His support to move the Embassy will actually lower the demands of the Palestinian Arabs and bring much needed support and security to Israel.  The decisions of the past US Presidents to not move the Embassy did not bring peace any closer.  The Act needs to be implemented now.  President Trump should announce that by next year the U.S. Embassy will be in Jerusalem and the US. will recognize a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Next year in Jerusalem there should be a Passover Seder in the US Embassy in Jerusalem.

About the Author
Farley Weiss is the president of the National Council of Young Israel, a member of the Conference of Presidents that represents around 25,000 Orthodox Jewish families and around 130 synagogues across America, the president of the intellectual property law firm of Weiss & Moy, P.C. with offices in Scottsdale, AZ, Boca Raton, FL, and Las Vegas, NV. He has authored opeds in the Arizona Republic, The Jerusalem Post, The Forward, and Hamodia, and has spoken around the country on political issues affecting Israel and American Jewry.
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