U.S. Embassy–Closing the Door Once More
Early in June the current administration opted to follow the lead of former President Clinton, at least temporarily, by closing the door on moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Citing security interests, the president chose to push back construction plans for an additional six months with the promise to implement them “soon.”
To say the least, many were disappointed. As did Clinton, President Bush reneged on a firm campaign promise to move the embassy immediately after his inauguration. It didn’t take long before opposing voices questioned the delay.
In 1995 both houses of Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act. As a “statement of the Policy of the United States,“ it declared, “Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel” and mandated moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by May 31, 1999. However, a clause allowed the president to invoke a security waiver to delay construction in six-month increments.
Congressman Tom Lantos (D-California), the only Holocaust survivor in Congress, said he is “deeply disappointed.” The American Jewish Committee also was quick to respond. A spokesman commented, “The sad fact is that while this decision is premised on the notion that this is a bad time to break ground for an embassy—and I accept that’s the case—there will never be a good time to break ground for the embassy in the minds of the Palestinians and their supporters.”
Millions of evangelical Christians and Jewish organizations share the frustration of Congressman Lantos and others who are still 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. The code of international conduct, moral obligation, and respect for the sovereign rights of a trusted and loyal ally combine to mandate that the United States and Western world treat Israel with the same dignity and deference they afford every other nation on the face of the earth.
Israel has every right to name the location of its capital. And there can be no serious doubt in anyone’s mind that Jerusalem was in ancient times and is today the capital of the nation of Israel. Furthermore, you can be certain that when a Palestinian state officially is declared, whatever form it may take, the West will respect the Palestinians’ choice of a capital city and immediately move to establish national embassies there.
Given the level of terrorist activity sweeping the world and the Middle East in particular, it is understandable that the administration might waver in its determination to fulfill the will of the American people and their elected representatives. However, a serious problem arises with the recurrent delays. Palestinians and their terrorist bedfellows are threatening the United States with murder and mayhem should Bush relocate the embassy. That the world’s foremost superpower appears intimidated by pressure from international terrorist thugs is not a comforting revelation.
For more than 60 years, Israel has survived through strength. Its enemies always knew Israel would respond to aggression quickly and decisively. Such knowledge acted as a deterrent and, humanly speaking, meant survival for the Jewish nation. Now this doctrine is being severely tested. Undoubtedly, one of the strongest statements the United States can make is to keep its promises to its allies. Equivocation only encourages more overt threats and acts of terror.
When it was in vogue for extremists to commandeer international airflights, Israel made it clear it will not negotiate with terrorists—and the attacks stopped.
Perhaps we all would do well to remember a 25year-old event seldom brought to mind these days. When Israeli citizens were held hostage by Palestinian militants in Entebbe, Uganda, after being victimized by an airline highjacking, little Israel taught the world a lesson. It acted swiftly, decisively, and effectively by executing a brilliant commando raid that rescued its 105 nationals and destroyed Uganda’s entire fleet of fighter planes. I wonder what Western world leaders would say today under similar circumstances.
In a day when murderers of Israelis and Americans walk the streets of the West Bank and Gaza with little fear of being apprehended and are touted as heroes by their national leaders, it may be time to take stock.
We must not equate the perpetrators of wanton acts of terrorism with responsible societies acting lawfully in defense of their citizens. Assigning such “moral equivalency” goes far beyond anything remotely associated with rational policy. It sets a dangerous precedent that puts innocent, civilized people in the line of fire. Meanwhile their killers claim to be aggrieved victims, distressed to the point of uncontrollable fits of rage, which they contend justify their lust for blood and conquest.
Therefore, as in the case of the embassy move, it is important that orderly, democratic societies never appear intimidated by threats and make it resoundingly clear that such tactics hold no promise of success.
But there is another indispensable consideration where Jerusalem is concerned. Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people. Their right to the Holy City is biblically, legally, morally, and historically verifiable beyond question. And no nation, great or small, should ever hesitate to acknowledge it.