By Leora R. Levy
For 3,000 years the Jewish People have maintained their ties to the land of Israel and the City of Jerusalem as the only continuous presence there throughout three millennia of wars, conquest, revolts, and exile.
Conquerors came and went, yet somehow Jews always managed to remain and the Jewish People, no matter where they were dispersed around the world, always directed their prayers, hopes and aspirations to Jerusalem and for their return to it.
The creation of the modern State of Israel on May 14, 1948 was the miracle of the 20th century. This year (2018) it celebrated its 70th anniversary as a thriving democracy and an economic powerhouse, despite having to fight multiple defensive wars and fend off multitudes of attacks from hostile neighbors and regional enemies just to survive.
In 1995, the U.S. Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, codifying in American law recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and instructing that the U.S. Embassy should be established in Jerusalem by May 31, 1999. Every President since then has postponed its implementation citing security concerns and anxieties for the “peace process.” And yet peace has not come.
What Ambassador Abba Eban (Israel’s Ambassador to the United States and to the United Nations) stated in 1978 about Yasser Arafat is sadly still true today about the Palestinian Arabs in general: they have “…never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”
And while the American Embassy remained in Tel Aviv for seventy years, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs was never achieved. Opportunities for peace treaties including generous offers of land, the actual withdrawal of Israelis from Gaza, billions of dollars of aid to those Arabs in lands governed by the Palestinian Authority (originally known as the terrorist group: PLO) and to the Gazans under the rule of Hamas (brutal terrorists aligned with Iran) have only brought more violence and attacks on Israeli towns and civilians and more misery for the Palestinian Arabs themselves.
It is time to break that cycle. President Trump has taken an initial step in that direction by officially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital and by ordering the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem now.
Not only has he recognized the de facto decades-long governance, control and reunification of Jerusalem by Israel but he has removed that as an impediment to peace and he has finally after 23 years, implemented U.S. law. For more facts on the ground, the Palestinian Authority actually chose to run its affairs out of Ramallah, not from East Jerusalem. Hamas runs theirs from Gaza City.
Making peace should be about the willingness to co-exist and that is what is lacking from the attitude of Palestinian Authority and Hamas. They have never accepted that the Jewish People have a right to exist in the Land of Israel or even on the planet. Their slogan calling for a State of Palestine: from the (Jordan) River to the (Mediterranean) Sea reveals their inability to accept co-existence with a Jewish State of Israel. It exposes their ultimate goal of destroying the State of Israel and replacing it with their own.
Israelis are strong and confident in their governments and their armed forces’ abilities to protect them.
I was honored to have been there representing our country for the opening of our Embassy in Jerusalem. It was an amazing time to be in Israel as there were so many historic achievements achieved in a period of about two weeks. Listing them reminds me of the song “Dayenu,” which translates as “It would have been enough!” that Jews sing at the Passover Seder when recounting the miracles that God wrought to enable the Jews to cast off the Egyptian shackles of slavery and escape to freedom.
Had the Mossad only stolen Iran’s nuclear files, “Dayenu!”
Had Israel only intercepted the Iranian Drone in Israeli airspace, preventing a deadly attack, “Dayenu!”
Had Israel only destroyed “nearly all of Iran’s military infrastructure in Syria after Iran launched 20 rockets at Israeli-held territory, none reaching their targets.” “Dayenu!”
Had Israel thwarted the riots and terrorist infiltrations from Gaza with no Israeli casualties, “Dayenu!”
Had President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, “Dayenu!”
Had President Trump ordered the moving of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, “Dayenu!”
Had President Trump only not renewed the Iran Agreement known as the JCPOA, “Dayenu!”
Had Israel only won the Eurovision Song competition! “Dayenu!”
Each one of these things would have been enough, but they all happened within a fortnight and created a mood of joy, optimism and confidence in the Israeli People that was palpable! As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared at the Opening Ceremony for the American Embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018: “Remember this Day…this is History!”
I can confirm that the joy of the Israeli People at the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem was the most significant of the miracles; it was amazing to be there to witness it. The lampposts all over Jerusalem were draped in American and Israeli flags as well as with banners proclaiming ”Trump: Friend of Zion!” and ”Trump: Make Israel Great!”
On Sunday May 13, the day before the official Embassy Opening, Israel celebrated Jerusalem Day, commemorating 51 years since the reunification of Jerusalem.
The patriotic parades, dancing and singing in the streets, at the Western Wall and throughout Jerusalem showed pure jubilation and national unity. However, that joy would be magnified tenfold if they would actually have a partner in the Palestinians for peace rather than mortal enemies. The rioting and violence at the Gaza border by Hamas terrorists and their exploitation of civilians, of their own people, as human shields is monstrous, inhuman and sickening to Israelis.
The requirement for Israelis to send their sons and daughters in the IDF to the border to defend against incursions, infiltrations and murderous intentions of Palestinian Gazans brings them only sadness and anxiety. But they, as would citizens of any other country, understand the need to defend their land, its towns and innocent civilians from terrorists who would butcher them.
And as in the Biblical Exodus when God commanded that the Jews not rejoice at the drowning of his creations, the Egyptians, in the Red Sea, there can be no joy in Israel at the need for lethal defense of their country. But as in Biblical times, passivity is not an option, neither is suicide for the sake of world popularity.
The wrath of the world for deaths of civilians used as human shields should be focused on Hamas for their violations of the Geneva Conventions and all that is considered acceptable by civilized societies. The blame for the deaths of Hamas terrorists should be focused on Hamas for the brainwashing that drives their efforts to riot, to shoot missiles at kindergartens and to infiltrate Israel in order to murder Israeli civilians. History is littered with plenty of Jewish deaths. This is a new era when Jews will not go meekly to the slaughter.
I, as others, pray that eventually there will be a true and lasting peace between Israel and all of its Arab neighbors. The peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan prove that peace can happen, can be negotiated if those involved negotiate in good faith and with true intent.
I strongly believe that President Trump’s realistic approach, recognition for the facts on the ground as well as not rewarding bad behavior can lead to circumstances favorable to new negotiations if the Palestinian Arabs realize and accept that peaceful co-existence with Israel is their best and only hope for a safe and prosperous future for their children. What Golda Meir said decades ago is still true: “There will never be peace between the Arabs and the Jews until Arab mothers learn to love their children more than they hate us.”
New leadership (that is not corrupt) for the Palestinians would also be an important change, but that is for another article.
For today, I thank the American People and the U.S. Congress for their unwavering support for a strong relationship between Israel and America and for their clear vision on the situation. And I thank President Donald J. Trump for his leadership in ushering in this new era in History.