A November trip to Israel has proven to be more than just a historical walk through my Christian and biblical heritage. It was a dose of reality that Israel is a steady pendulum that swings between sanity and chaos in this part of the Middle East. Despite the political rhetoric, it is the only stable element that keeps a precarious rhythm between separate religious and ideological elements bent on retaining cultural identity, individualism, and faith. The temperament of the country depends on the moment to moment existence of those who live, work, and worship within its statehood. Jerusalem is the central artery of Israel. It is an organic city that has lived through more strife, pain, destruction, and un-relenting spirituality and idealism than any city in the world. Everybody wants Jerusalem. Why? What makes Jerusalem imperative to peace?
Jerusalem endures as a religious crossroad to Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths. It is the Vatican of the Middle East but without the Pope. It is Christianity’s epicenter. It is strategic and accessible. Most importantly: it is symbolic. It is a symbol of Statehood power. From the Babylonians, to the Romans, the Crusaders, and the Arabs: Jerusalem was the city to conquer, to have, to govern from, to boast about, to cherish, and to die for. For the Jews; it remains the city of Abraham. For the Christians: the city of Christ. For the Muslims: the city of the “furthermost sanctuary”. But who is the rightful owner? Logically and historically: the Jews. No one could or should dispute that. There is no other religious or political claim prior to Abraham. Archeology supports this claim. So why the question?
It seems that since its conception as a State, Israel remains the inadvertent and insidious property of what we politically correct refer to as: the world community or the United Nations. Slowly but surely, Jerusalem has become the catalyst of the “two state” debate and the nebulous basis for peace. How the United Nations and the rest of the world came to that conclusion is beyond me. In a possibly far-fetched attempt at an analogy, Jerusalem reminds me of Berlin. Those of us who have lived in Germany through the Cold War recall a divided city. Berlin was the city of the “haves” and “have nots”. Through no fault of theirs, the latter lived a life deprived of all luxury and resources abundant in West Berlin and West Germany. Germany was divided into two countries, and Berlin was the “tale of two cities”. That did not work well, because the abundance of the one side was the continual envy of the other.
My personal opinion: if Jerusalem is divided as part of the two State deal, the East Jerusalem portion will become the “carpet beggar” to its Jewish/Christian neighbor. If the world community thinks that by forcing Israel to give up East Jerusalem a Middle East Pollyanna will rise in epic glory; they are highly delusional. Just as those in former East Berlin coveted the West, East Jerusalem will have a hard time looking across its border and not wander why they are still a poor relation. Anyone thinking otherwise is a closet hypocrite.
But the question remains: to move or not to move? The 1967 war was not initiated by Israel but won by Israel. The surrounding Arab countries had a beef with Israel and not the other way around. The West Bank is not occupied, it is claimed. Israel and Jerusalem have always accommodated other faiths. Israel never banned Christianity or Islam within its Statehood. So again: what’s the beef? Why the feeble attempt by the world community to dissuade moving embassies to Jerusalem? Why the narrative that it would entice violence? Why hold a country hostage to a threat in the hope of achieving peace?
Logically: moving embassies to Jerusalem would increase the chance for peace. Jerusalem would be recognized as the diverse inclusive capital of the world; idealistically, politically, spiritually, and religiously. It would send a message to the world that Israel embraces all faiths and traditions sans bias and prejudice. Embassies would bring prosperity to the city by virtue of their presence. Following this futile attempt at logic, one would think that everyone would be jumping on the band wagon. Unfortunately logic has never been the United Nations’ forte’.
If truth be told: logistically and realistically, Jerusalem is not equipped to handle large embassies. But it could handle all symbolic embassy duties with a caveat that Consul Generals would remain in Tel-Aviv maintaining normal administrative Consul duties and personnel. Such a move would minimize the real estate nightmare the city would have to endure. As a goyim who spent time in Israel and Jerusalem in particular, I base my opinion on my experience in Jerusalem. Jerusalem speaks to those of us who are strong in our faiths. Jerusalem made me a better Christian because I found my Jewish roots praying at The Wall.
Jerusalem has a heartbeat which transports one closer to whatever God he or she worships. But ultimately: Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. As a capital, Jerusalem is entitled to the respect world capitals enjoy. That would include global representation. Jerusalem should never be reduced to a pawn played in a game of political “musical chairs” for the benefit of those who do not recognize Israel’s right to exist. Jerusalem should never be up for bids. Love him or hate him: I commend President Trump for at least recognizing Jerusalem as the rightful location for the American Embassy. I also commend him for taking this stand in the face of fierce world opposition and criticism. Those opposing the move of the US embassy and other embassies are not opposing on logical grounds, but on an emotional statehood narrative that has played for so long we are starting to believe it.
The opposition stands on the predetermination that violence will ensue if embassies are moved. This is not an empty determination. The Palestinian Authority has declared more than once that if embassies are moved there will be violence. Really? If that is the case; why not condemn the threats? Why condemn Israel which as a state should have the right to determine where it desires to have its embassies? Can you imagine if after unification the world community had asked Germany to keep the embassies in Bonn and not move them to Berlin? After all wasn’t Berlin the capital of the Third Reich and its horrors? I do not recall any uproar from the world community then. Probably because it would have been regarded as insane. So why put conditions on Israel and Jerusalem? Finally: Why is the argument for Statehood so one sided, and against Israel? Why indeed! That’s a debate for another day.