Just weeks ago, President Donald J. Trump announced that the U.S. Embassy in Israel would be moved to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv in May of 2018.
Thus ended two decades of American procrastination. Nonetheless, the decision sent shockwaves across the Mideast.
The May date, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding, delighted most Israelis.
Not surprisingly, it infuriated Palestinian activists and many Arabs in the greater Mideast.
The decision was particularly offensive to those who claim that Israel — and more specifically Jews — have no claim to Jerusalem whatsoever.
This “de-Judaization” of Israel amounts to a widespread and ongoing effort by radical Muslims to wipe away 3,000-plus years of Jewish history.
It is also an assault on the biblical faith of Jews and Christians, mocking their beliefs and threatening their places of worship and personal safety.
The violent, deadly protests following Trump’s announcement vividly illustrated why the move didn’t happen sooner.
CNN explained, “In 1995, the U.S. Congress passed a law requiring America to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. . . . Every president since 1995 — Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama — has declined to move the embassy, citing national security interests. Every six months, the president has used the presidential waiver to circumvent the embassy move.”
Trump’s decision did more than end U.S. dithering. It also flouted a 2016 UNESCO declaration, initially submitted by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, and Sudan, officially claiming that the City of Jerusalem and specifically the Temple Mount comprise the “Cultural Heritage of Palestine.”
In other words, UNESCO officially disavowed Jerusalem’s historical and religious connection to both Judaism and Christianity.
The New Testament tells of Jesus and his presence in the Jewish Temple. As told in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2, a month or so after Jesus was born his parents brought him to the Temple to consecrate him to God.
We know his family visited the Temple annually because in Luke 2:41 the Bible states: “Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover.”
On one occasion, as his parents were returning to Nazareth after their Passover pilgrimage when they realized Jesus, who was age 12, was not in their caravan. They hastened back to the city, where in verse Luke 2:46 the Bible states, “ . . . after three days they found him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.”
Toward the end of his earthly ministry, Christ visited the Temple to perform the expulsion of moneychangers, an account included in all four of the Canonical Gospels. Then as told in Matthew 24:2, after Jesus left the temple, he told his disciples of its coming destruction.
These are authoritative accounts that date back approximately 2,000 years. The first temple, built by King David’s son Solomon, predated by at least 500 years the second temple that King Herod refurbished.
Jewish history extends even further and deeper into the soil of Israel. It is a narrative that spans millennia, emphatically refuting UNESCO’s nonsensical claims.
Enter Dore Gold, a beloved Israeli diplomat. On March 13, Gold, the former Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. and director-general of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, made a remarkable appearance in Washington, D.C.
Gold, the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, received a warm welcome and refuted six falsehoods about Jerusalem:
- There was never any Jewish connection to Jerusalem.
- If there were Jews in Jerusalem, they gave up their connection many centuries ago.
- The Jews came to Jerusalem only recently as a result of colonization in the early years of the 20th century.
- The Jews have no legal right to Jerusalem.
- The Al-Aqsa Mosque, considered the third holiest site in Islam, is in danger due to Israel’s control of Jerusalem.
- The only solution is internationalization.
Gold made an essential point early in his presentation, “It is one thing to defend your own faith, which I respect. But it is quite another to deny the validity of another faith, which is something which I strongly reject.”
Gold’s message was supported by exquisite archeological photos, including recently recovered royal seals of the Kings of Judah. These were “found at the foot of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem,” Gold explained. “They all carry the names of the biblical Kings of Judah.”
He continued, pointing to a captivating image, “This is the seal of King Hezekiah, a direct descendent of King David. Jewish kings ruled in Jerusalem.”
And no, the Jews have never given up their connection to Jerusalem. In fact, every synagogue in the world, from antiquity and until the present day, faces Jerusalem.
Interestingly, Dore Gold pointed out that in the 12th Century, Saladin — the Muslim sultan who led the military campaign against the Crusaders — issued a proclamation inviting the Jews to return to Jerusalem. Despite the insecurity and continued warfare, Jews streamed to Jerusalem from Egypt, Mesopotamia, Syria, Southern Europe, and even England, and France.
There has, indeed, been a Jewish presence in Jerusalem since 1000 BCE. And according to British records, Jews were already a majority in Jerusalem in 1863 — long before the visionary works of Theodore Herzl, the colonial British arrival, or the establishment of the State of Israel.
But what about Israel’s legal right to the land?
Gold comments, “People forget that the British Mandate, which formally recognized ‘the historic connection of the Jewish people to Palestine,’ was a legally binding treaty of the League of Nations — the main international body formed after World War I. The Mandate recognized our historical rights and enshrined them in modern international law.
“The Mandate did not create Jewish rights; it recognized what was understood to be a pre-existing right.”
Later, the United Nations specifically preserved all the rights that existed in the time of the League of Nations.
Remarks Gold, “Thus, Israel is the only country whose legitimacy and legal roots derive from both the League of Nations and the United Nations.”
Then came the Six Day War in 1967. The was fought in June but actually began that May, when Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran, thereby blockading the Israeli port city of Eilat — at the time was the source of 90 percent of Israel’s petroleum. This act of war forced Israel to defend itself against the combined attacks of three of its neighbors: Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. The badly outnumbered Israeli soldiers recaptured Jerusalem during the war.
Israel would later voluntarily give back lands it had seized during the war — the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and the East Bank to Jordan. This was a gesture of peace virtually unheard of in the modern Mideast, and no doubt it continues to contribute to the lasting peace that Israel enjoys with its neighbors to the south and east. In 2005, Israel also left the Gaza strip, which in 2014 became the launching pad for thousands of missiles and rockets targeting the Jewish State.
Since gaining its statehood, Israel has carefully protected and maintained Jewish, Muslim, and Christian holy sites and archeological digs throughout Israel.
But in 1999, the Muslim Waqf assaulted the most important and precious archeological site in Jerusalem — the Temple Mount — with bulldozers, jackhammers, and dump trucks. Thankfully, ancient artifacts have been sifted out of the debris, confirming both a venerable Jewish and Christian presence on the holy site.
And now, at last, the issue of internationalizing Jerusalem has been laid to rest by President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“In doing so, [President Trump]. . . .corrected decades of diplomatic distortions at the United Nations,” Amb. Gold affirmed. “And he fulfilled the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995.
“That was,” Dore Gold concluded with a smile, “the greatest gift the U.S. could give to Israel on the 70th anniversary of its birth.”