This weekend we will mark the 51st year since the reunification of the city of Jerusalem. That summer of 1967, when in the midst of the Six Day War, the Israeli military realized it had the opportunity to overtake the Temple mount and push back the Jordanian army, marked an auspicious moment in Jewish history. Not since 70 CE had there been Jewish sovereignty on Har Habayit, Mt. Moriah where the ancient Temples once stood.
Despite much controversy and many lives lost, the modern State of Israel has remained steadfast in its resolve to maintain Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Jewish people. The Kenesset, Israel’s Parliament, the Prime Minister’s residence and the President’s house, all reside in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, the rest of the world has not been so quick to recognize this. Countries around the world that have established diplomatic ties with Israel have insisted that the question of the status of Jerusalem as a capital be part of any final resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They have all set up embassies and consulates in Tel Aviv.
Our own country, the United States, has had a somewhat ambiguous policy regarding its embassy in Israel. Since that moment in 1967, when the IDF paratroopers breached Lion’s Gate and stormed the Wailing Wall, a slew of U.S. presidential candidates have made promises about moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Once elected, they have all found reasons to avoid following through with their promise. In fact, there is even a U.S. Law that requires the U.S. to recognize Jerusalem as the capital and to move the embassy. The U.S. Congress passed a law in 1995 called the Jerusalem Embassy Act which described Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and said it should not be divided. That law required the U.S. Embassy to be moved to Jerusalem by 1999. But this hasn't happened because every six months, successive presidents have signed a waiver to keep the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv for national security reasons.
Next week, this all changes. Like most candidates before him, President Trump promised that once elected he would move the American Embassy to Jerusalem. I remember hearing the promise during the campaign and I remember thinking it was just as empty as the promises made by democratic and republican presidential candidates before him. But, I was wrong. Next week the American Flag will be raised over the U.S. Embassy in the heart of Jerusalem. At least two other countries, Paraguay and Guatemala have also followed suit and are in the process of moving their embassies to Jerusalem. The Czech Republic announced a three-stage plan to move its embassy and several other countries are mulling options to move their embassies as well.
Whatever the final status of Jerusalem will be for the Palestinians, it is clear that at least the western parts of Jerusalem will remain the everlasting capital of the modern state of Israel and Jewish people, and now the world is finally coming to terms with it.