Historic? Maybe. If stating the obvious is a historic event. Still, here are a few of my thoughts on the matter.
Donald Trumps historic announcement will not change reality on the ground. The embassy will not move any time soon, maybe not for years. It’s entirely symbolic. A very powerful symbol that strengthens Israel’s diplomatic position and claims. However, UNSC decision 2334 December 2016, in my opinion is actually of greater weight because it puts into intl. law the notion that Israel has no legitimate claim to the Western wall and is an illegal occupier of Jerusalem. Incidentally, when the UN voted to disassociated Jerusalem from Jewish history with the tacit approval (no veto) of President Obama, then State Secretary John Kerry gave a 1 hour 10-minute speech blasting Israel, the total number of violent demonstrations, people killed and flags Burned was zero.
It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing. Recognizing that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and acknowledging the 3000 years of Jewish history in Jerusalem is not a giant leap but a self-evident truth that is clear to anyone with eyes. It is the right thing to do. Definitely from moral perspective. Denying a Jewish connection to Jerusalem defies logic, facts and history. It takes a special kind of self-delusion to support the notion that Jews do not have a history in Jerusalem. It is not only a denial of Jewish history but of the very foundation of Christianity. After all, If there was no Jewish temple in Jerusalem, which temple did Jesus visit? But, in my opinion, it is also the right thing to do politically. In the past whenever Israel was perceived as losing international support the result emboldened its enemies, radicalized their position and in some cases raised the level of violence. I agree with POTUS when he said- we’ve been trying for decades to do the same thing, those assumptions have been proven wrong, it’s time to try something else. Truth is a good place to start.
Threats of violence is not (should not) be a driver of policy. The opposite is true. Surrendering to threats of violence will only lead to more threats and more violence. The US and Israeli governments must announce unequivocally that violence will caused losses, not gains, to its perpetrators and backers. The call must be clear and unapologetic. The “rage” around the Arab and Muslim world is artificial and driven by propaganda and incitement.
I have not heard a single reasonable argument why undisputed West Jerusalem cannot be home to foreign embassies. Anyone? A legal argument relying on the 1947 partition plan is insufficient. The borders of that Jerusalem included Bethlehem. No one made that argument when Bethlehem was handed over to the Palestinian Authority in 1995. Should the Palestinian Authority be ejected from Bethlehem too?
Finally, Though the issue of Jerusalem is important and symbolic and I truly appreciate the US government showing up, it is not strategically urgent. That urgency is on our northern border. I do not know what was the level of involvement of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He may chalk this up for himself and put a feather in his cap. He earned it. However, If I were PM, I would rather see the full weight of the US in Syria to prevent an Iranian and Russian takeover. The disappearances of the US from the regional stage is far worse for Israel than any postponement of a symbolic gesture in Jerusalem stating what Jews around the world have known for thousands of years – Jerusalem is the beating heart of the Jewish People, and always will be.