Jerusalem: Recognizing Reality
By Hal Lindsey
On Wednesday, President Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He also announced a beginning of the process to move the U.S. Embassy there. That process will take at least three years, and probably much more. He also endorsed the so-called “two-state solution” as the framework for peace with the Palestinians… as long as both sides agree to it.
He did not specify anything regarding future boundaries of Jerusalem, or whether it should be split. He said those decisions need to be made as part of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Israel itself has claimed Jerusalem as its capital since the time of King David. Modern Israel was first recognized as a nation in 1948. It took possession of West Jerusalem that year. But because of the ongoing war, it made Tel Aviv its temporary capital. The next year, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, said, “For the State of Israel there has always been and always will be one capital only — Jerusalem the Eternal. Thus it was 3,000 years ago — and thus it will be, we believe, until the end of time.”
Listening to the media, you would think President Trump’s decision is outside mainstream U.S. diplomatic orthodoxy. But that not true. No U.S. president ever pulled the trigger on the move, but as candidates, several of them were for it. Despite them taking that position, it was never a significant point of controversy in any presidential election.
Congress passed a law in 1995 saying that Jerusalem should “remain an undivided city” and “be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel.” The law allowed presidents to postpone the move, but they had to do so every six months. Until now, that’s what they have all done.
The leader of Senate Democrats, Chuck Schumer, urged President Trump to move the embassy. “As someone who strongly believes that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel,” he said, “I am calling for the U.S. Embassy in Israel to be relocated to Jerusalem.”
The President did not go that far. He said nothing about Jerusalem being “undivided.” Nevertheless, his decision has been criticized by leaders around the world, including in the United States.
California Senator Diane Feinstein wrote to Trump saying, “Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — or relocating our embassy to Jerusalem — will spark violence and embolden extremists on both sides of this debate.” She said such a move would “undermine any remaining hope for a two-state solution.”
A Palestinian general delegate to the United Kingdom said that to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel is like “declaring war.” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned that there will be “dangerous consequences.” The Palestinian terrorist group, Hamas, called for three “days of rage,” starting Wednesday, but making Friday the main day.
The State Department warned U.S. embassies around the world to be on alert following the announcement. It also issued a warning to U.S. travelers in Israel. “Hostilities between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and terrorist groups, including Hamas, in the Gaza Strip could resume and the security situation could deteriorate with little or no notice.”
Turkey’s President Erdogan said Jerusalem is a “redline” for Muslims. He said the move would be a violation of international law, and that, “This could go as far as cutting our diplomatic relations with Israel.”
President Trump argued that his action is “recognition of reality.” He pointed out that all the major institutions of the Israeli government, including the Knesset, are located in Jerusalem. Nations put embassies in the capitals of other nations because they want their ambassadors close to the center of power. In Israel, that’s Jerusalem.
Through the years, proposed peace plans from the United Nations, the U.S., and Europe, have always allowed Israel to keep at least part of Jerusalem. Israel says that Jerusalem is its capital. Since the Israelis will be staying in Jerusalem under any of these plans, why does the world not allow Israel to choose its own capital?
From a secular, diplomatic prospective, the President’s move makes sense to me. Israel is the one great democracy of the Middle East, and America’s most faithful ally. The Israelis — not a bunch of European elites — should decide the location of Israel’s capital.
But I’m not a diplomat. I’m a preacher of the Gospel and a student of scripture. I look at this from another angle. In Genesis 12:3, God said to Abraham (then still named “Abram”), “I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse.” (NASB)
“God Bless America” is a prayer. One of the actions that must accompany that prayer is for America to continue to bless Israel.