President Donald Trump will go down in history as the American leader who finally recognized what has been true for decades: Jerusalem is the capital of the modern State of Israel, just as it was for thousands of years for ancient Israel. The recognition was met with a chorus of world leaders and global elites mourning the potential deathblow that this recognition represents to the “ongoing peace process.”
One would be forgiven for thinking that implies a peace deal was imminent and therefore at risk by the decision, but that is not true.
The facts regarding Jerusalem’s status are clear. Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, is located not in Tel Aviv, but in Jerusalem. Israel’s Prime Minister, President, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs are also located within Jerusalem. To say that Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel is to recognize a UN sanctioned philosophy, not a statement of reality.
The U.S. was fully within its rights to recognize an Israeli Jerusalem. Every nation exerts influence over another by diplomatic recognition; what President Trump announced was the act of one sovereign nation, in our case America, recognizing the capital of another sovereign nation, in this case Israel.
Furthermore, this action fulfilled the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, which recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ordered the relocation of the U.S. embassy to that city. Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama have been acting against the will of that law by signing waivers every six months to avoid relocation. In other words, Trump’s action was long overdue.
The global community, particularly the Arab world and Europe, expressed concern that the move may inflame violence by Palestinians in the region. Indeed, Palestinian leaders, especially those affiliated with Hamas, have already called for “rage” on the part of their people.
Surely such a call is tantamount to international blackmail. Has the global community begun the practice of allowing the threat of terrorism by a non-state entity to prevent normal diplomatic actions between sovereign states?
If other states do not agree with America’s action, then they can continue their sovereign right to refuse recognition. And therein lies the trouble for European and Arab leaders. The two-state solution has proved to be a worthy goal, one that can and should continue to be pursued, yet it is not a current nor even imminent reality; and for too long it has been used by leaders as an excuse to let Israel live in state of limbo in the name of global political correctness.
The truth is that President Trump’s action didn’t upset the “international consensus”; it jarred it back to reality. Trump jarred world leaders back to the reality of Palestine: that it is a semi-autonomous government overrun with corruption and extremists, one that oppresses their own people by siphoning millions in humanitarian aid, a government that fosters and uses terrorism as blackmail, one that depends on Israel for water and electricity even while it cries of Israeli “apartheid.”
Trump jarred world leaders back to the reality of history: that Israel has survived the Diaspora, the Holocaust, and repeated invasions by several of its neighbors (and fellow UN members) in the 1940s, 60s, and 70s that threatened its very existence. Trump jarred world leaders back to the reality of the region: that not all Arab leaders are moderates, that the Middle East has been a cauldron of war and hatred long before the Iraq War, and that nations like Iran repeatedly and publicly declare destruction against the Jews. Trump realigned the discussion of the Middle East and of Israel and Palestine back to the truth that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, that every nation must make the decision to recognize or ignore that reality, and that any durable peace deal must be built on that fact.
To those who decry the act of America’s recognition, a question must be asked: If peace is possible only at the expense of reality, history, and dignity, what sort of peace is it and how long could it last? Regardless of your opinion of Trump, he has laid the diplomatic foundation for real peace, one built on truth, not UN philosophy.
Garrison Moratto is a junior at California State University Bakersfield, double majoring in Political Science and Public Policy/Administration. The opinions expressed are his own.