Thursday, January 26, 2017

The US Embassy and moving it to Jerusalem

       We seem to live in a world where up is down, inside is out, and truth is variable.  Our new President, in his latest directive, has announced that the US will be moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  This is controversial because the United Nations Security Council has declared that Israel's declaration that Jerusalem was its eternal capital was a violation of international law and has advised all member nations to withdraw their diplomats from the city.  Israel named Jerusalem its capital in 1949, at the conclusion of the War of Independence.  In 1967, the area of Jerusalem expanded at the conclusion of the Six-Day War to include eastern Jerusalem.  The controversy hinges on both international acceptance of Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem and how these final details should only be decided in a negotiated agreement with the Palestinian people.
     Much has been written defending the status quo and not moving the embassy.  I have the utmost respect for my colleagues (and my father) who believe that moving the US embassy to Jerusalem would be a catastrophic and arrogant mistake.  I am no longer a member of that line of thinking.  Here's why.
1) Israel declared Jerusalem its capital from the moment of its independence.  Independence that it won in spite of the rest of the world.  What real right does the rest of the world have to designate another sovereign state's own capital.   Remember the last time that happened?  That's because there isn't.  When the nations of the world decided to divide a capital because of war, it didn't work out too well for Berlin for many decades!  Israel considers Jerusalem its capital, a belief that is reflected in the consciousness of the people.
2) The rational that it is premature to move the embassy to Jerusalem without a final agreement in place begins with the faulty notion that the Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty is somehow illegally occupied.  Eastern Jerusalem may be disputed internationally, but this does not reflect the whole of the city.  Pandering to this narrative reinforces the more insidious and defective notion that all of Israel is occupied territory.
3) You don't begin a negotiation where you expect to end it.  Anyone who has spent time in the Arab market in the Old City knows that you don't accept the first price given.  Negotiation is fluid.  The pre-conditions that have been tried again and again have all failed gloriously.  It's time for a new and bold tack.  More violence may occur, but then again it hasn't stopped either; there are still knife attacks and car rammings plaguing Israel.  Maybe a fresh perspective, a fresh approach challenging the status quo will more readily bring both sides to the table.  Appeasement has not worked for almost fifty years.  It's time for the US to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, especially in a time when people and nations have tried to rewrite history to fit their narrative, their alternative truth.  We must be vigilant against this type of tyranny and moving the US embassy to Jerusalem is one step in protecting and preserving that truth.

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