‘Tis the Season to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital
If there ever was a time to move the United States embassy to Jerusalem, ‘tis the season.
This week marks Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish holiday that commemorates the return of Jewish sovereignty in Jerusalem, and the rededication of the Jewish Temple.
The story took place in the second century BCE, and has been celebrated since. Hanukkah marks the triumph of the weak over the mighty, and Jerusalem’s liberation from a foreign power: the Seleucids.
Yet some who embrace the celebration of Hanukkah have disagreed with the new US decision to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
For one, there is the sculpting of history. Former President Barack Obama famously pined for the “old Israel” of Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan. Yet Meir famously denied the existence of the Palestinian people, and Dayan cautioned against returning to the 1967 borders. When Dayan and Meir’s Labor Party was in control, most of Israel’s Arab population in the Upper Galilee, though granted citizenship, was under military rule.
By contrast, whether you like Benjamin Netanyahu or his politics, Israeli Arabs have never been more integrated in Israeli society, socially and economically, than they are today.
Additionally, there are different understandings of history.
When does the Six-Day War begin? Does it start with the Israel’s strike on an Egyptian airfield on June 5, 1967? Or with the Egyptian and Syrian army’s massing of troops alongside Israel’s northern and southern borders?
When does Jerusalem’s story begin in the modern day? With Israel’s victory on June 7, 1967? Or with Israel’s plea to King Hussein of Jordan several days prior — through three separate channels — not to begin war?
Does Jewish statehood begin as a result of illegitimate 19th-century colonialization? Or the reestablishment of native Jewish communities in a place that the Jewish people have called home, and lived in, for more than 3,000 years?
Why did the Jews of Europe decide to create a Jewish state in the Land of Israel? The answer is not the Holocaust. The answer is also not because of the fall of the British Empire.
It is because the Jews are the prototypical aboriginals returning to an ancient homeland. According to historian Martin Gilbert, for more than 1,600 years, the Jews formed the main population of “Palestine.” For much of this time, the land was ruled by independent Hebrew kingdoms under Kind David and his successors. The name Israel was switched to Palestine by the Romans after their conquest — in an attempt to de-Judaize the kingdom.
For centuries, Jews all over the world ended their Passover seder by reciting the words l’shana hahah bireryushalayim –– “next year in Jerusalem.”
These words weren’t written by a Likud government, or by the Trump administration. They were written nearly 1,000 years ago. In fact, in the ancient Hebrew Bible, Jerusalem is mentioned 669 times.
Some people are up in arms over America’s policy “deviation” on Jerusalem. In truth, not only is this declaration in line with the prior US policy dating back to 1995, but also with national Jewish policy, dating thousands of years earlier.
It’s a long overdue Hanukkah miracle.