Eye on the Middle East Sep/Oct 2011

Doing the right thing is not always easy. It often requires courage and involves standing up for what you believe despite opposition. Recently two men have done the right thing regarding Israel.

At the annual Group of Eight (G-8) conference, leaders of France, United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, Germany, Canada, Russia, and United States meet to discuss world events and issues. This year’s G-8 summit was held in Deauville, France, where the United States proposed that leaders endorse a statement advocating Israel’s retreat to pre-1967 borders as a precondition for peace negotiations with the Palestinians. This position, they were told, was “nothing new.”

Actually, it was new. In fact, no sitting American president had ever suggested it publicly. Six of the seven other leaders backed the stance. However, unanimity was needed to push the proposal through.

One man, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, voted no, thus making a joint statement impossible. Harper defended Israel, standing by a promise he had made in November 2010 on Parliament Hill in Ottawa:

When Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack, is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand….As long as I am Prime Minister, whether it is at the United Nations, the Francophonie, or anywhere else, Canada will take that stand whatever the cost. I say this, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because history shows us, and the ideology of the anti-Israeli mob tells us all too well if we listen to it, that those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are a threat to all of us.

U.S. Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) has also done the right thing. He has sponsored H.R. 1006, the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act of 2011. The bill is an attempt to get the American government to do what it voted to do 16 years ago. In October 1995 both houses of Congress voted overwhelmingly to relocate the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by May 1999. The Senate vote was 93 to 5; the House vote was 374 to 37.

The reason for the vote was simple. Every independent nation has the right to determine the location of its capital. However, the 1995 legislation contained a provision that enabled the president to postpone the move for reasons of national security.

Six years later, in 2001, the embassy was still in Tel Aviv. Elwood McQuaid, then editor-in-chief of Israel My Glory, wrote in an editorial, “Millions of evangelical Christians and Jewish organizations share [the] frustration in…waiting for the will of the American people and their representatives to be implemented. The primary reason is emphatically clear: It is the right thing to do.”

Today the will of the people still has not been met. H.R. 1006, embraced by representatives on both sides of the political aisle, has three primary goals. It seeks to (1) recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel and ensure that the U.S. Embassy will be established there by January 1, 2013; (2) amend the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 to eliminate the president’s authority to waive certain funding limitations for Department of State acquisition and maintenance of buildings abroad until the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem has officially opened; and (3) require any official U.S. document that lists countries and their capital cities to identify Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

God promised Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you, and…curse him who curses you” (Gen. 12:3). Stephen Harper and Dan Burton are doing what is right despite great opposition. It might prove profitable to keep an eye on them and see how God works to fulfill His promise.

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