Foreign Policy

Jerusalem Matters as a Promise Kept

Democrats and Republicans alike have supported it for decades ... until Trump is the one acting.

Brian Mark Weber · Dec. 8, 2017

President Donald Trump announced this week that the United States will move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, something Democrats and Republicans alike have supported for decades. Now that Trump is the one actually keeping the promise, however, leftists are apoplectic.

So why all the outrage and condemnation of the president? Why the stoking of fear that Trump’s decision is somehow encouraging violence?

The difference is that this time we have a president who actually plans to back up his words.

The reaction from the media on both sides of the Atlantic is expected. BBC reported that Trump’s decision risks “a heated reaction from US allies in the Muslim world and, potentially, protests and unrest.” Furthermore, the decision makes it “difficult for the US to be seen as a neutral mediator in the Middle East peace process.”

What peace process? And haven’t we been seeing heated reactions in the Muslim world for centuries? Besides, if the previous approach of appeasing Islamists was such a good idea, why were they so upset before Trump made this move?

One of MSNBC’s bigoted talkingheads, Chris Matthews, declared that Trump’s Jerusalem decision is related to the Senate election in Alabama next week. How? “Because it’s the Christian Evangelicals down there with their crazy ideas about Israel which is, I don’t know, mythical. They don’t understand the situation over there and how tricky it is ethnically and tribally. They don’t care because it’s a religious belief. Trump’s playing into that this week.”

That’s remarkable, even coming from Matthews. These days, Democrats are so obsessed with their inability to destroy Trump that they view everything through this prism. No, Chris, we don’t need to move the capital of Israel to Jerusalem in order to get Roy Moore elected. In fact, the latest polls show he’s doing pretty well on his own. And it’s clear that Matthews hasn’t learned one of the most important lessons from Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton: Attacking Christian evangelicals is not an effective way to win elections.

Matthews didn’t have a problem when other presidents supported moving the embassy to Jerusalem or when Democrats voted for the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act. That’s right, an act of Congress more than 20 years ago that mandated moving the embassy to Jerusalem had the support of 93 senators and 374 House members, but then-President Bill Clinton didn’t follow through. Nor did George W. Bush or Barack Obama, both of whom claimed to support what President Trump is doing now.

All of the condemnation coming from Democrats this week suggests that they’ve long been opposed to moving the embassy to Jerusalem. But this is far from the truth. We only have to go back to June 1 of this year to discover a 90-0 Senate vote marking the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification and calling on President Trump to abide by the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act.

So what’s changed in five months to prompt all this flip-flopping? Only one thing: Donald Trump’s working to keep a promise.

What hurts the peace process is doing what we’ve always done: failing to acknowledge Israel’s chosen capital and allowing a whole industry of so-called Middle East peace experts, politicians and the Palestinians to determine Israel’s future. None of these groups actually has any interest in resolving the issue. No wonder Middle East peace has been so elusive for so long.

The media want you to believe that Trump’s decision will set the world on fire. Turkey claims that Trump “pulled the pin on the bomb,” Hamas is calling for a Palestinian uprising, and a host of European countries including Britain, France and Germany expressed alarm over the move. Isn’t it interesting that some of same people blaming Trump for sparking violence are the ones calling for an uprising?

Everyone seems to think that Middle East peace is lost forever. On the contrary, this move could actually improve its chances.

David Harsanyi writes, “Many of the same people who lecture us to stand up to the authoritarianism in Russia or China argue that we should cave to threats of groups that subsidize jihadists and undermine American interests. Why do Booker, Feinstein, or the experts at the Brookings Institution believe that Hamas or Qatar should dictate where the United States puts its embassy? Yes, the move will generate widespread hand-wringing in the world, and there is a good possibility that there will be a new round of self-destructive violence among Palestinians. But if Arabs are willing to embrace extremism and violence because the United States no longer supports a delusion, perhaps the problem isn’t Israel?”

The question political pundits from both sides are asking is: How is this new approach going to affect the peace process? The real question ought to be, Why did we continue to embrace such a failed approach all these years? And why did Clinton, Bush and Obama each promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, yet fail to do so?

As for Trump’s critics in Europe, their outrage has more to do with an American president forcing them to confront something that they’ve avoided for far too long. Most European pols are crippled by fear, indecision and ignorance over how to address the exploding Muslim populations in their own countries, let alone how to deal with peace in the Middle East.

But European leaders are not alone in their criticism. Saudi Arabia is also taking issue. Yes, the same country that sponsors terrorism and has stoked division in the Middle East for decades doesn’t think it’s a good idea to move the U.S. embassy.

Let’s face it: The hatred and violence have been there for years.

To wit, Jim Geraghty of National Review writes, “We just witnessed roughly a half million people get killed in the Syrian Civil War. Maybe the region generates its own conflicts, disputes, and unrest on its own, regardless of where our embassy is. Nobody makes any faction in the Middle East pick up weapons and start trying to kill each other. Maybe it’s time all the players in the region stopped using the United States as the scapegoat for their own decisions.”

President Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy may not solve any of the problems in the Middle East. But the claim that this new approach will make the situation worse is unfounded. The current explosion of rage and anger was there long before Trump was elected. And this is the core of the problem: Peace will be illusory until Israel’s enemies accept its right to exist.

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