For once, Donald Trump’s taste for all-capital letters makes the right point with blunt precision: “Jerusalem IS Israel’s capital: I will move our embassy there AND make peace with the Palestinians.” Making peace with people who don’t want peace is always difficult, when it’s not impossible, but the president promises to soldier on.
“Today we finally acknowledge the obvious, that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,” he said Wednesday. “This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality.”
Reality is a hard sell in certain precincts of the Middle East, where “hating the Jews” is all that’s expected of a leader. The nations of the West, foremost among them the United States, usually go along with the fiction that there is an authentic appetite for lasting peace, that all it would take to find it is to devise the right “process.” But processed peace is not peace. Everyone knows that’s true, but it’s impolitic to question the cliche.
The usual voices are saying the usual things in the wake of Mr. Trump’s announcement, which had been expected for days and even weeks. This move, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “reflects the President’s commitment to an ancient but enduring truth, to fulfilling his promises and to advancing peace.” He called the decision an important step toward peace because “there is no peace that doesn’t include Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.” Conservatives and Republicans in the United States generally approve, liberals and Democrats generally don’t. But the president got some unusual bipartisan support from friends of Israel.
The U.S. Senate’s top Democrat, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, tells the Weekly Standard magazine that he urged the president to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided capital,” arguing that doing so would “show the world that the United States definitively acknowledges Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.”
Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the leading Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the magazine Monday that “I believe that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, so to me that’s not news. He said the president’s announcement should “advance Israel’s security and peace in the region.”
The Muslim world is predictably in high dudgeon. When is it not? Hamas, the Palestinian terror organization that is occasionally treated as if it were a respectable, civilized player in the game, says Mr. Trump “has opened the gates of hell.” (Hamas and Kim Jong-un apparently share the same writer, with an appetite for the same red-hot rhetoric.) Pope Francis, who never misses an opportunity to dabble where dabbling is neither necessary nor useful, repeats the usual boilerplate about the fragility of “the peace process.”
The usual Democratic senators are eager to take counsel of their manifold fears and to pay tribute to the peace-process cliche. Cory Booker of New Jersey says both the capital and the embassy should be “part of a larger peace process.” Dianne Feinstein, who sometimes says useful things, retreats this time to the comfort of the cliche. “Relocating our embassy to Jerusalem will spark violence and embolden extremists,” she says, as if she hasn’t noticed that the extremists are hard at work now plotting death and mayhem on the innocent. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut says he wants to “hear the rationale for [moving the embassy] now.”
President Trump gave it to him and to whomever wants to hear it. “While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise,” he rightly says, “they failed to deliver. Today I am delivering. When I came into office I promised to look at the world’s challenges with open eyes and very fresh thinking.”
And so he has. “This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It is something that has to be done.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: @POTUS Trump, thank you for today's historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The Jewish people and the Jewish state will be forever grateful. pic.twitter.com/Z24lSRezYm
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) December 6, 2017
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