Jerusalem has, for the last several thousand years, been the holiest
city in Jerusalem. Last week, Israelis celebrated Yom Yerushalayim,
Jerusalem Day Ė the day in 1967 when the Israel Defense Forces
liberated Jerusalem from Arab rule, reuniting the city and opening
its holy places to all who wish to visit them.
For 45 years, Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel. And yet the
position of the United States government remains that Tel Aviv is the
capital of Israel. That position was clarified in March 2012 by a
State Department official, Victoria Nuland, who refused to say that
Jerusalem was a part of Israel at all:
QUESTION: Is it the State Departmentís position that Jerusalem is not
part of Israel?
NULAND: You know that our position on Jerusalem has not changed Ö.
With regard to our Jerusalem policy, itís a permanent-status issue.
Itís got to be resolved through the negotiations between the parties.
QUESTION: Is it the view of the Ė of the United States that Jerusalem
is the capital of Israel, notwithstanding the question about the
embassy Ė the location of the US embassy?
NULAND: We are not going to prejudge the outcome of those
negotiations, including the final status of Jerusalem.
This is asinine for several reasons. First, it is an on-the-ground
fact that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Belfast may be a
disputed city in Ireland, but nobody challenges the fact that it is
the capital of Ireland. Denying that Jerusalem is a part of Israel is
denying that Israel has any right to defend itself at all, or that
even the portion of Jerusalem not liberated in 1967 is Jewish
Second, the US position actually undercuts Israelís ability to
negotiate. Land-for-peace negotiations have been a dismal failure Ė
the last twenty years have proved that the Oslo strategy of
appeasement was destined for disaster from the start. But if land-for-
peace were going to work, as Los Angeles Jewish Journal publisher
David Suissa has pointed out, the Arabs would have to see Israel as
making valuable concessions, not disowning territory to which they
never had a right. Peace negotiations must be based on both sides
giving up legitimate claims. If I steal your car, we donít negotiate
for its return Ė I owe you a car. But if I own a car and I trade it
to you for cash, thatís a negotiation that may be successful. The
same holds true with land.
Leaving aside the practicalities of why the United States should
acknowledge that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel is the moral
imperative here. Israelís legitimacy did not spring from a UN
resolution (rejected by the Arabs, accepted by the Jews); it did not
come from the British Mandate (which allowed settlements throughout
Israel, Judea and Samaria, and even Jordan). It came from the Jewsí
eternal ties to the land of Israel. If Jerusalem is not a part of
Israel, neither is Haifa or Tel Aviv.
And yet the State Department maintains that Jerusalem isnít a part of
Israel. Which means that, effectively speaking, Israel has no claim
to any part of the land. If Israel is a creation of the UN, it can be
uncreated; if Israel is a holdover of colonial British
administration, the leftís hatred of colonialism demands Israelís
President Obama seems to buy into this. Thatís why in Cairo, he
suggested that Israel had been created because of the Holocaust Ė a
leftist and Arabist conceit that implies that Israelís creation is
artificial, a pity party for the Jews.