Since seeing the festivities of the opening of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem on television last week, I have had a plethora of emotions. The first was great pride and appreciation to Hashem that Yerushalayim is finally being recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; but I am simultaneously fearful of the violence that Hamas is fomenting that could affect Israel’s security. I also have tremendous respect for President Trump. Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump pledged that he would move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This promise had been made by every American president since 1995. The move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem is something the American people have supported and desired for 22 years. It was codified in the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 by overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate. The catch was that, in order to get broad support, the legislation contained a loophole – a provision that the president could waive the act for national security considerations. Every president used the waiver year after year, which kept the embassy in Tel Aviv. President Trump is the only one to fulfill his pledge. He said last December, “Now is the right time to do the right thing.”
This was not an easy decision for Trump to make. It took courage and commitment for him not only to go against tremendous international pressure, but also to go against internal pressure from those in the State Department, the Department of Defense, and some of his White House advisors who opposed the action. Thanks to President Trump, opening the embassy in Jerusalem in Israel’s capital is an unequivocal statement about the American people’s commitment to the legitimacy and security of the Jewish state and about the high value we place on our most important ally in the Middle East. Netanyahu declared, “Remember this moment – this is history.” Trump told the 800 dignitaries and special guests in attendance via video, “The US will always be a great friend of Israel and a partner in the cause of freedom and peace.” Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, said at the ceremony, “As we have seen from the protests of the last month and even today, those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution.”
The world has little interest
in the truth when Israel is concerned
But not everyone was ecstatic about the move. The Palestinians were determined to make a deadly statement causing intentional havoc in Gaza. The violence that left 58 Palestinians killed and 2,400 wounded clearly was meant to distract from the historic occasion. Hamas officials told them that their mission was to “liberate Palestine” – one more sign that the terrorists who control Gaza have no interest in ever wanting peace or accepting Israel’s existence. Nor do they care about the welfare of their own people. In the most cynical turn of events, Hamas ordered rioters to set fire to and destroy the main crossing that allows commercial goods and humanitarian aid to be able to enter Gaza.
Despite the protestations of the international community and the liberal media that gave equal or greater coverage to the demonstrations by using split screens to show the embassy ceremony and the Gazan violence at the same time, Israel successfully defended a violent attack by an enemy openly calling for its destruction. It had to be done, plain and simple, and was morally justified.
Instead of praising Israel, foreign officials criticized her. The United Nations called on the Jewish state to “respect the rights of people to peacefully protest.” But that is easier said than done. The “peaceful” protests hardly describe the melee that occurred last Monday and Tuesday with Hamas’ efforts to get Gazans to breach the existing border fence. As one Palestinian told the Washington Post, “We are excited to storm and get inside.” Asked what he would do once inside, he responded, “Whatever is possible, to kill, throw stones.” Hamas organizers put women and children on the front lines to be human shields, and even encouraged demonstrators to burst through the fences by falsely telling them that the IDF soldiers were fleeing their positions in fear.
It is ludicrous to even imply that the demonstrators were having a Kumbaya moment, singing and chanting peacefully. They were planting explosives, firing guns, and launching Molotov cocktails and kites carrying fuel into Israeli territory to set farm fields on fire. The world has little interest in the truth when Israel is concerned. So when The New York Times has a headline that states, “Israel Kills Dozens at Gaza Border” without explanation or reasons for it, Hamas succeeded in getting the usual suspects to gang up on Israel. The United Nations and other so-called “peace-loving” nations of the world criticize Israel every time she is attacked and responds to defend herself.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley, speaking at the UN Security Council, was the only one to stand up for Israel. “Hamas terrorists, backed by Iran, have incited attacks against Israeli security forces and infrastructure. That is violence that should occupy our attention. Who among us would accept this type of activity on your border? No one would. No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.” Of course, she got excoriated for her remarks.
The opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem is a momentous occasion whose significance will reverberate for many years to come. As Pastor John Hagee said at the end of his prayer at the event: “Let the word go forth from Jerusalem today that Israel lives. Shout it from the housetops that Israel lives. Let every Islamic terrorist hear this message: Israel lives. Let it be heard in the halls of the United Nations: Israel lives. Let it echo down the marble halls of the presidential palace in Iran, that Israel lives.”
Yerushalayim is the undivided eternal capital of Israel: yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated the point at the ceremony when he said, “The truth is that not only has Jerusalem been the capital of the Jewish people for millennia, and our state for decades, but the truth is that under any peace deal, Jerusalem will remain Israel’s capital.” Amen to that!
Cynthia Zalisky is the Executive Director of the Queens Jewish Community. She can be contacted at email@example.com