Trump Delivers Sorely Needed Dose of Reality on Jerusalem
JNS.org – December 6 will be remembered as a day when a historic wrong was righted. When President Donald Trump made his long-anticipated announcement that the US not only recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but that he will take steps toward moving the American embassy there, he accomplished something remarkable — he brought some sorely needed reality therapy to the Palestinians.
Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, and finally, after 2,000 years, we have come home to our ancient homeland, where we are free and active participants in determining our history. Yet Israel has been the one nation in the world that is denied the freedom to choose its own capital and have it recognized by the international community.
Of the 190 nations with which the US has diplomatic relations, up until last week, Israel had been the only one whose capital had lacked recognition from America.
Contrary to what some of the State Department types have argued, the new US policy is not a concession to Israel. It is American law, and has been so since 1995. Prior presidents have taken advantage of a presidential waiver in the law, arguing that it was “not the right time.” According to these stale State Department types, it is never the right time. They argue that it will “destroy the peace process.” One might ask, “What peace process?”
The latest round of official Israeli-Palestinian talks, held from 2013-2014, broke down under Secretary of State John Kerry — because the Palestinian Authority (PA) refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ foreign minister, Riyad al-Maliki, stated in December 2016 that recognizing Israel for what it is, a Jewish state, was “unacceptable.”
If Trump’s statement is going to cause mass violence, it is not the fault of the US, nor of Israel. It is the fault of the Palestinians, who have not even recognized pre-1967 Israel in their textbooks; who teach that all of pre-1967 Israel will one day become “Palestine”; and who have television programs indoctrinating children that Haifa, Tel Aviv and west Jerusalem will all someday be theirs.
On November 29, 1947, prior to President Harry Truman recognizing Israel at the United Nations, people old Truman that the recognition would only lead to mass rioting. What would have happened if Truman had listened?
The Arabs and Palestinians have always used the threat of violence as a negotiating tool. The longer that we cower to the threat of violence, the more that we reinforce it as a legitimate tool of negotiations. Either we have a policy and a law, or we do not. We should not change our policies to appease the most violent participants on the world stage. It simply does not work, but rather begets more violence.
By using appeasement, we do not gain the respect of the international community, nor of the Muslim and Arab world. As Osama bin Laden had said, “When someone sees a weak horse, and a strong horse, it is natural to bet on the strong horse.”
Those who argue otherwise are engaging in what the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan called the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” They are simply being patronizing to the Palestinians.
The Palestinians need to learn that no matter what dangerous illusions of conquest they are teaching their children, Israel will never cede its capital of Jerusalem — not after 3,000 years of history.
They need to learn, once and for all, that Israel is here to stay. In this way, Trump’s December 6 speech was a sorely needed dose of reality therapy for the Palestinians.
Sarah N. Stern is the founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), which describes itself as an unabashedly pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy institute in Washington, DC.