Rabbi Kaufman on Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

NOTE: I publish this as my opinion. I know that others may disagree.

Yesterday, President Trump said, “I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.” As my friend, Rabbi Mickey Boyden, noted in an article for the Times of Israel, David Ben Gurion declared Jerusalem to be the “Eternal Capital” in 1949, the Israeli Knesset has been meeting in Jerusalem since 1950, at its new site since 1966, and Jerusalem is where Israel’s Prime Minister resides. Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. It is an utter absurdity to dispute that.

So why has it taken 68 years for America to officially recognize that fact? Several reasons:

Prior to the creation of Israel, Jerusalem was supposed to be “an international city.” Why? Because Christian Europeans couldn’t stomach having Christian holy sites in either Muslim or Jewish hands. The same was true for Nazareth.

Arab nations refused to accept any compromise.

In the meantime, in order to appease Arab nations, smarting from defeat to defeat over the past hundred years, from having the Ottoman Empire defeated by the British, failing to oust the British by aiding the Nazis, and then having the Jews, a pipsqueak nothing of a people who had just seen a good percentage of their number wiped out by the Nazis, defeat them and establish their own state in the middle of the Arab world, after which they won several military conflicts against an array of Arab nations, the nations that rely on oil imports from the Arab world agreed to act as if Israel had no legitimate claim to Jerusalem, much less a right to ownership over any part of Jerusalem.

Additionally, it has been argued, peace between Israel and Arabs or between Israel and Palestinians was dependent on Israel essentially agreeing that it had no legitimate claim to Jerusalem and no ownership over Jerusalem and that these ideas, not just the boundaries, but the very idea of Jewish legitimacy in Jerusalem, needed to be negotiated.

The Palestinians and other Arab nations even used UNESCO, an organization intended to preserve history and culture, to attempt to promote the delusion of Jewish disconnect from Jerusalem. This is all blatant antisemitism.

Finally, and certainly not to be left out of the discussion, is the Antisemitic idea that Jews are not entitled to have a nation in the first place and therefore certainly cannot claim Jerusalem as their capital.

This entire scenario was always delusional and has become increasingly more so.

Options for a real peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians are becoming more and more limited in scope with the parameters nearly defined even without negotiations. Please see my article “Current 2017 Reasonable Resolution” on the WeAreForIsrael.org website. Any resolution of the conflict will result in Israel’s capital being in Jerusalem.

More recently, several Arab nations have come to realize that establishing more significant relations with Israel would be substantially in their best interest, that Israel has a right to exist, and that it is past time to acknowledge that the Israelis are not wholly at fault for failures to achieve a resolution to the conflict. In fact, I believe that no few Arab leaders are now ready to end the delusionary thinking and deal with realities. Forcing Palestinian leaders to negotiate based upon realities rather than upon deeply and long held delusions is a major step in that direction. If the Palestinians and Israelis do not make peace soon, several Arab nations may establish peace agreements on their own without that happening first.

To argue that Jerusalem should not be considered Israel’s capital is to deny reality. To demand that nations buy in to a delusion or face threat is completely unreasonable, yet that has been the world’s reality for decades. It is far past time that it came to an end and shameful than it has taken this long.

One could argue that perhaps this week wasn’t the best week for recognition to come or that perhaps it is happening now because of other things in the news cycle. Many do not like anything that President Trump says or does and therefore immediately seek to condemn any and every action taken.  But friends, when there were better times, if there truly ever were better times for this to happen, it did not. President after President essentially said, “We accept the delusion” or “We will continue to force the Israelis to accept the delusion.”

And the result of that acceptance was the acceptance of antisemitism, of allowing only the Jewish state of all nations in the world to be prohibited from declaring its capital, of expressly avoiding having ambassadors residing where its national institutions and leadership have resided for decades, of listing events with the leadership of the Jewish state, including at its national legislature or its major national cemetery, as taking place in “Jerusalem,” without including the name of the nation or even worse, including the name of the nation, Israel, with “Israel” crossed out or blacked out.

Some are now arguing that recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital should have come in exchange for something that we wanted as a concession, that we should have held our recognition of reality as ransom in order to blackmail Israel into making policy changes.

Man, if friends don’t let friends drive drunk, they sure as hell don’t blackmail them.

Somehow, too many nations got into a mindset where reality was irrelevant or to be held hostage to hostile delusions. Did no one ask how any peace process could even take place with one side holding to reality and the other to delusions? Did no one ask how any peace process could take place with one side demanding that everyone else accept their delusions as fact in the negotiations?

What will come of all of this?

That there will be “days of rage” is certain. Governments and groups that oppose Israel will simply order people into the streets if they have to. They will wail and smash things as they have so often before. But this rage is going to be a short lived rage for the simple reason that everyone protesting must acknowledge the reality of the situation and people don’t protest against obvious realities for very long.

The real fallout is going to eventually hit the Palestinian side, because this is merely the first delusional domino of many to fall. I urge you to read the article on the “Current 2017 Reasonable Resolution” for the full list. No negotiations can be based on delusions. They cannot be based on “What might have been true if…” or on unreasonable possibilities. They must always be based upon what is with the understanding that the parameters of the negotiations will change if they wait too long. What was possible and reasonable in 1947, 1949, 1966, 1967, 1973, 1993, 2001, 2007, 2014, and 2016 may not be possible, realistically is assuredly not possible, in 2017 or 2018.

Meanwhile, while reports have this President declaring all of Jerusalem, a united, never to be divided, capital of Israel, the President in making his declaration made certain to note that the exact boundaries of Jerusalem are up for negotiation and that nothing precludes Jerusalem, or some portion of it, from also being the capital of a future Palestinian state.

The President stated in his declaration:

“We are not taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.”

There are certainly things that this President has said and done with which many of us take significant issue. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital should not be one of them. If indeed one argues that said recognition might have been done at a better time, one must also acknowledge the shamefulness of it having not been done for the previous 68 years in which Jerusalem clearly has functioned as Israel’s capital.

So in the end, Thank You Mr. President for having our nation recognize what should have been recognized long ago, that Jerusalem is indeed the capital of Israel.

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3 Responses to Rabbi Kaufman on Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

  1. Sheldon says:

    Great column!

    • I am in total agreement with what is here except for the leverage that the United States now has over Israel in the process of trying to bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. It is said that the U.S. can now demand of Israel that it take some very, very painful steps to make peace. Perhaps this would include shearing off some of East Jerusalem so that the Palestinians might also claim a prize in return for the concessions they will be forced to take.

      The Saudis, the Egyptians and other Arab countries have indicated that they’ve had enough of Palestinian obfuscation, denial and rejection-ism. This comes out the fear of Iran and that country’s thrusts for Middle East hegemony. That the Palestinians have squandered seven decades in which they could have been preparing for statehood in the wild delusion that they could destroy the Jewish state is now a true stumbling block. But “gradual statehood,” underwritten by U.S. and Arab guarantees is the only way to avoid another failed state in the region, a state that would then be open to the threats of jihadism of one brand or another. We shall wait to see how all this plays out. Meanwhile, we can take this moment to celebrate something that Donald Trump has done right.

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