(This article was written in January 2017 – 1.5 years before the United States moved it’s embassy to Jerusalem.)
Israel celebrated the 3,000th anniversary of King David’s declaration of Jerusalem, in 1996, as the capital of the Jews. But, to date, there’s been no progress in the physical relocation of the US Embassy.
Roots of the Issue
The root of the State Department’s long-standing heavy-handed reluctance to offend Arab populations in the region is a willful ignorance of history and reality. In 1948, President Harry Truman ignored the State Department’s strong objections. He followed his conscience and enabled the US to become one of the first countries to recognize Israel.
Israel won all of Jerusalem in the 1967 war. Furthermore, no Israeli government nor popular referendum in Israel would ever allow any other city to be designated its capital. Still, in the view of the State Department, Jerusalem remains no-man’s land.
The US embassy issue remains so delicate that the Obama administration went to the Supreme Court to block a law passed by Congress that would allow American parents of children born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their birthplace on their passports. When Obama traveled to Jerusalem in September for the funeral of president Shimon Peres, the White House initially released a transcript of his eulogy as having taken place in “Jerusalem, Israel.” Just a few hours later, they “corrected” it by crossing out the word “Israel.”
The US government is not alone in this delusional semantic preoccupation. The Cable News Network once decided that Jerusalem was no longer in Israel in their weather section. They summarily removed it from the list of cities noted in CNN’s regional daily weather forecasts.
Many geography books leave Israel off the world map. Some still insist that the speck of land surrounded by Arab countries should be called “Palestine.”
Such political and bureaucratic bone-headedness fly in the face of modern realities. It’s a wonder that US passports for people born in Israel’s holy city don’t list them as having entered the world in “Occupied Jerusalem.”
US Support for the Embassy Move
In Congress and the Senate, there has long been bipartisan support for the Jerusalem Embassy Act. Senators from both aisles said to Clinton: “Non-fulfillment of the law does no good to the US-Israeli relationship or to prospects for Arab-Israel peace.”
Meanwhile, every six months for the past 22 years, Presidents repeatedly vetoed the Act. The results have been spectacularly unsuccessful.
Read More: Jerusalem Post “WHY TRUMP SHOULD MOVE US EMBASSY TO JERUSALEM”
US Commitment to Israel
It would be useful for the Trump team to point out something to the leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Jordan. They should point out that the embassy move reflects something that all these countries should appreciate. It serves to reaffirm America’s commitment to allies and its willingness to take bold steps to give meaning to those alliances. More generally, U.S. envoys ought to signal a renewed commitment to broader U.S. leadership in the region. That will encourage Arab leaders to use means at their disposal to rein in obstreperous elements in their societies eager to stoke popular outrage at the embassy move.