New US policy toward Jerusalem will advance peace in the region

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, delivers his speech as U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman listens during the opening ceremony of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. Amid deadly clashes along the Israeli-Palestinian border, President Trump's top aides and supporters on Monday celebrated the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem as a campaign promise fulfilled. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

(RNS) — Jerusalem has been the epicenter of the Jewish faith for more than 3,000 years, and the holy city has been the capital of the modern state of Israel for 70 years. By recognizing Jerusalem’s status and moving the U.S. Embassy there, President Trump has acknowledged these simple facts.

The new American policy concerning Jerusalem constitutes equal — rather than special — treatment of the Jewish state.  Countries have the right to choose their capitals and the U.S. traditionally places its embassies in those cities. In moving the embassy, we are finally treating Israel with the same dignity and respect offered to the other nations of the world.

Yet there have been two arguments commonly advanced against our new policy concerning Jerusalem. First, some claim that this policy will hinder peace in the region. Second, some assert that the policy has caused a violent Palestinian reaction. Both arguments fail upon any scrutiny.

Contrary to the shortsighted speculation of some, the new U.S. policy toward Jerusalem will advance peace in the region. If there is any chance for peace to come to fruition, the Palestinians must first accept that Israel will never be destroyed and that the city of Jerusalem will always be the Jewish state’s capital. The international community does the Palestinians a great disservice by indulging their leadership’s anti-Semitism, and that includes the effort to rewrite the Jewish people’s historical connection to Israel’s capital city. The new U.S. policy on Jerusalem strikes an important blow to the Palestinian leadership’s peace-killing fantasies.

Palestinian protesters chant slogans as they burn tires during a protest on the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel on May 14, 2018. Thousands of Palestinians are protesting near Gaza’s border with Israel, as Israel prepared for the festive inauguration of a new U.S. Embassy in contested Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

The tragic violence that occurred on Monday (May 14) when Palestinians, led by terrorists, sought to breach Israel’s borders and harm Israeli citizens was yet another example of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority finding an excuse to incite their people to violence. In 2015 and 2016, the same Palestinian leaders lied to their people about a change in the status of the Temple Mount in order to incite the rash of stabbings and car rammings we saw during those years. Before those attacks, we saw years of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. And before that, suicide bombings across Israel.

Those looking for a way to excuse violence can always find a reason, but such violence and terror are never justified.  Moreover, democracies cannot bend to the will of violent mobs. We do not capitulate to terrorists. Our foreign policy is dictated by the will of the American people, not the threats of Palestinian militants.

Rare is the leader with the courage to stand up to the naysayers and the mobs who would prevent those bold actions that positively advance the course of human history. Trump’s decision to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. Embassy there shows that he is just such a leader.

When I delivered the benediction at the ceremony opening the embassy, I prayed for the peace of Jerusalem and all its inhabitants. Since Israel reunited its capital in 1967, people of all faiths are welcome to inhabit and visit this city. All are free to worship at their holy sites and pray to God in any manner and any language they see fit.

Israel is a blessing to the world. It is a free and democratic society that treats all of its citizens equally. It is through Jewish principles and democratic ideals that today Jerusalem is far more peaceful than ever before. It is thus clear that the decision to update American policy regarding the holy city was both right and righteous.

(Pastor John Hagee is the founder and chairman of Christians United for Israel. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

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  • Shorter: “The only way to peace is for the Palestinians to surrender. If they refuse, it’s their own damn fault.”

    Question: Why would evangelicals want peace in the Middle East anyway? They need Israel to bring about Armageddon, remember?

  • Ah yes, this is the same John Hagee who infamously said that Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment to New Orleans for its sinful ways. (No word yet from Pastor Hagee about why God flooded his neighboring Texas city of Houston last year from Hurricane Harvey, given the sheer volume of Bible-believin’ Christians who live there.)

    The same John Hagee who said, “Islam in general, those who live by the Quran have a scriptural mandate to kill Christians and Jews.”

    The same John Hagee who said that “Hitler was part of God’s plan for Israel.” (Ask the Jews what they think about that one.)

    The same John Hagee who said that lesbians are “the scourge of the earth,” and that “God hates them so much that he’s made sure normal people can tell them apart from normal women.” Asked to elaborate, he went on about how some of their physical characteristics differ from those of normal, straight women. “In his infinite wisdom, God made sure that we are able to tell them apart from the diseased so that we may protect ourselves and our children from them. That’s why most lesbians are as flat as an ironing board,” he opined. (He must not have met very many lesbians.)

    All things being equal, I think I’ll pass on reading Pastor Hagee’s pearls of wisdom for today, thank you very much.

  • And they don’t give a damn about how many people die to once again prove their fantasy wrong.

  • “…Countries have the right to choose their capitals and the U.S. traditionally places its embassies in those cities. ” — And here is why we (and many others) didn’t (from Wikipedia): “the majority of United Nations (UN) member states and most international organisations do not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over East Jerusalem, which came under its control after the 1967 Six-Day War, or its 1980 Jerusalem Law proclamation, which declared a “complete and united” Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.[6] As a result, most countries locate their foreign embassies in Tel Aviv and its suburbs rather than in Jerusalem.”

  • Well, if John Hagee says it, you can take it as direct from god.
    Meanwhile, for those of us more earthbound, peace consists of 52 dead Palestinians, 2000 injured, and a lot more hatred, discord, and violence.

  • So, once again the USA disagrees with the UN.

    Generally that is a sign we’re doing something right.

  • The Reverend Mr Hagee is exactly right. Peace is closer than ever. Get President Trump’s Nobel ready.

    The peace plan is quite simple.

    No Palestinians will be moving to the modern, hightech democracy Israel. Spend seventy years trying to exterminate a country, you don’t get to immigrate there, sorry.

    They are not going to get any part of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the city of King David.

    The settlements in Judaea and Samaria will be annexed to Israel. Some Arab areas of Israel will be ceded to the Palestinian state in exchange.

    Yes, the Palestinian country will be a primitive, overcrowded, poverty-ridden shithole. Just like Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, and every other Arab country that doesn’t have oil to sell.

    Gaza can negotiate with Egypt and Jordan for access to the West Bank through Rafah and Sinai. The borders crossings to Israel will be closed permanently. Millions of people want jobs. Israel doesn’t want guest workers who shoot rockets at their kindergartens.

    Don’t like it? Fine, stay where you are. But the USA is through trying to bribe you. No more UNRWA handouts. Europe won’t make up the difference. They’re happy to condemn Israel at the UN, but give you their cold hard cash, ha, not likely. The Gulf States won’t make up the difference. They want an alliance with Israel against Iran. China doesn’t care what happens to you and neither does Russia. Lebanon and Jordan can’t wait to dump their Palestinians into your territory. The whole world is sick of your crap.

    Go ahead and start another of those stupid push-them-into-the-sea wars, if you want. It’ll end just like all the others. Only this time, Jordan and Lebanon will shoot at you too when you come running from the IDF.

  • It is hard to argue with the fact that the Palestinians have had a series of mendacious self-aggrandizing leaders who’ve done about as much to advance peace as Jesse Jackson has done to improve race relations.

    Now that most of the surrounding countries have moved on with their own problems, all that’s left to prop the continuing warfare up is Iran, which is more than happy to do so.

    If there is going to be peace, it is going to be a Pax Romana-style, not Jimmy Carter’s pie-in-the-sky “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid”.

  • Orthodox Jews- 12.5 million lost “souls” still suffering from childhood brainwashing via the myths of the OT/Torah and causing havoc in the process to include costing us $4 billion/yr. in US tax dollars. They should give up their foolish claims to Israel and all move to Canada and the USA. We can always use talented people. If the Muslims of the USA and Canada want to move to the “Allah-forsaken” land of Palestine, we wish them well.

  • You read it right the first time. This is how my fellow born-again Christian brother, John Hagee, treats Palestinian Israelis. And this, he thinks, will “advance peace in the region”:

    (1) “The Palestinians must first accept”!

    (2) “[They’re always] indulging their leadership’s anti-Semitism … [and] peace-killing fantasies”!

    (3) “Palestinians [are] led by terrorists”!

    (4) “[They’re always] finding an excuse to incite … people to violence”!

    (5) “[Theirs is] the will of violent mobs”!

  • “the city of Jerusalem will always be the Jewish state’s capital.”
    So, since Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, it then must be that the government of Israel is located in Jerusalem. The people who say it is in Tel Aviv are probably just anti-Semite liars. Surely it is not possible that Brother Hagee is a lying hypocrite.

  • I’m sure pictures of all the dead Palestinians means Hagee can go for years without having to spend a dime on Viagra.

  • And here’s ten of the most obvious examples of U.S. pointless opposition to the UN.

    U.S. oppposed admission of People’s Republic of China, only to accept it by default later.

    U.S. withdrew from UNESCO.

    U.S. opposed the creation of a Human Rights Council.

    U.S has repeatedly refused to pay its UN membership dues, explicitly in order to force agreement to its proposals, i.e., extortion.

    U.S. invaded Iraq–an undeniable and catastrophic blunder–in opposition to the UN.

    U.S. opposed the Arms Trade Treaty to preserve its role as arms dealer.

    U.S. opposed the Rights of the Sea Treaty.

    U.S. opposed the UN’s nuclear-weapons ban.

    U.S. opposed the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

    U.S. was the SOLE opponent of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

  • “U.S. oppposed admission of People’s Republic of China, only to accept it by default later.”

    A very reasonable course of action. Recognition of China until it sorted itself out internally served no purpose.

    “U.S. withdrew from UNESCO.”

    Makes sense to me. It followed, among other things, the UNESCO admission of Palestine as a full member.

    “U.S. opposed the creation of a Human Rights Council.”

    Makes sense to me. The Council has been an anti-Israel forum since its creation. It has elected leadership from countries known for anti-human rights activities. It is controlled by some Middle East and African nations, supported by China, Russia and Cuba, which protect each other from criticism. We are more effective going it alone.

    “U.S has repeatedly refused to pay its UN membership dues, explicitly in order to force agreement to its proposals, i.e., extortion.”

    Seems reasonable to me. No taxation without representation. The UN has no taxation authority except as agreed to by the taxed member.

    In 2017, the top providers of assessed financial contributions to UN peacekeeping operations were the United States (28.47%), China (10.25%), Japan (9.68%), Germany (6.39%), France (6.28%), United Kingdom (5.77%), Russian Federation (3.99%) and Italy (3.75%).

    “U.S. invaded Iraq–an undeniable and catastrophic blunder–in opposition to the UN.”

    The U.S. actually was implementing a UN Security Council Resolution. Look it up.

    “U.S. opposed the Arms Trade Treaty to preserve its role as arms dealer.”

    Over thirty sovereigns have objected to various parts of the ATT, the majority of which objections involved the implications for national sovereignty. For example, the United States has a written Constitution which guarantees the right of individual citizens to keep and bear arms. If ratified the treaty would conflict with that and and similar guarantees in state constitutions.

    “U.S. opposed the Rights of the Sea Treaty.”

    I am sure you mean the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

    The United States objected to Part XI of the Convention on several grounds, arguing that the provisions of the treaty were not free-market friendly and were designed to favor the economic systems of the Communist states.

    The United States accepted all but Part XI as customary international law.

    Since then the Convention has been modified, and the Senate has failed to ratify it.

    Treaty ratification in the U.S. requires 2/3 of the United States Senate to vote for approval.

    “U.S. opposed the UN’s nuclear-weapons ban.”

    Seems reasonable to me. This idiotic feel-good ban would only guarantee that the nation which best hid its nukes would rule the world.

    “U.S. opposed the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”

    No, the US signed it.

    The last time it came up for ratification, it fell six votes short of the 2/3 of the Senate for ratification.

    Every provision is already in place in American law.

    “U.S. was the SOLE opponent of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

    No, the United States government played an active role in the drafting of the Convention and signed it on February 16, 1995.

    It has not won ratification because it interferes with certain American practices such as home schooling and closed adoptions.

    The United States has ratified two of the optional protocols to the Convention, the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, and the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.

    Your objections appear to focus primarily on the fact that U.S. exercises its sovereignty rather than any substantive issues.

  • …which amounts to saying the UN shouldn’t exist in the first place, or at least that the U.S. should have nothing to do with it. That, of course, is a profoundly backward and unworkable stance that is not in America’s best interests. Isolationism is never an option.

  • Sadly, this will ultimtely bring about the end of Israel. I give the country another ten years.

  • Black and white thinking leads to bad conclusions, such as not endorsing every hare-brained bureaucratic scheme of the UN constitutes “isolationism”.

    The fact that everyone else is jumping off the bridge doesn’t mean so should the US.

    Our government should respond to American voters and no one else.

  • What utter religious nonsense! Israel’s rights to Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights comes not from any ancient claim – the world would be a mess if other groups made similar claims – but from their capture during the various wars. That claim, in my opinion, is the only one and supersedes the Palestinian right of return. However, Israel has done a horrific job in administering these lands and is partly responsible for today’s mess.

  • The UN is a paper tiger. The US has always gone their own way and only agrees with the UN if its in their best interests.

  • The Romans kicked the Israelites out of Jerusalem nearly two thousand years ago and their rights to that territory disappeared into history (the real one – not the fake Torah one). They were let back in by the international community in the last century, but nothing is permanent. Deluded halfwits like Hagee can talk ‘prophecy’ until blue in his fat face, but the countries surrounding Israel have time on their side, while Israel loses allies one by one.