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Post Trump's Recognition of Jerusalem Was Right Thing to Do
Created by John Eipper on 12/24/17 3:54 AM

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Trump's Recognition of Jerusalem Was Right Thing to Do (Istvan Simon, USA, 12/24/17 3:54 am)

WAISers know I have been a fierce critic of President Trump, who is the worst president bar none that our country ever had. Nonetheless, I support Trump on his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem. This is in my opinion a long-overdue decision, and though I believe that Trump made it for the wrong reasons, it is the correct decision.

Jerusalem was founded by Jews 5,000 years ago. Only Jews have continuously resided in Jerusalem for 5,000 years. Not even the diaspora changed this reality. During the Ottoman Empire, nearly 100 years before the rebirth of modern-day Israel, the Turks took a census. There were 14,000 inhabitants, 8000 Jews, the rest divided between Muslims and Christians. This proves beyond reasonable doubt that Jerusalem was of little interest to Muslims, but always a major interest to Jews.

Not a single Muslim existed when Jerusalem was founded. The Muslims are newcomers to the area, and they muscled in through the sword and violence.

The recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital has no bearing on the eventual possible settlement of the conflict between Israel and Palestinians. Jerusalem should be united, never divided again, and should not be an eventual Palestinian state's capital.

JE comments: The recognition of Jerusalem will only fuel further fires--and already has.  Is anyone in the world happy with Trump's action, other than Netanyahu and his fellow hard-liners?  Istvan Simon argues that recognizing Jerusalem will not hinder a possible peace between Israel and Palestine.  How is that?

Yesterday in Varadero a local man came up to us, asked where we were from, and said "Yunited Estates veddy good, Trump veddy bad."

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  • Background of US Recognition of Jerusalem (Brian Blodgett, USA 12/25/17 3:08 AM)
    Putting the recent action by President Trump in US historic context is important.

    On October 13, 1995 Senator Bob Dole (R-KS) introduced the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 to the Senate. The long name of the act was An act to provide for the relocation of the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and for other purposes. It went before the 104th US Congress's Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the House Committee on International Relations. As a note, the 104th Congress was the first time the Republicans controlled both houses since 1954. It passed the Senate on October 24, 1995 and the House on the same day--as a note, President Clinton opted not to sign it or veto it and it became law on November 8, 1995 as Public Law 104-45.

    In the act it states that "Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethic and religious group are projected; Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999," with the key word being should throughout.

    Although by law Jerusalem was the official capital in the view of the US, Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama did not implement the law.

    In 2008, candidate Obama called Jerusalem the capital of Israel and after capturing the Democratic nomination he stated that Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel but then he backtracked on his statements.

    According to reports, the US is not taking sides on exactly what defines Jerusalem's boundaries, and if the Western Wall is part of the capital or not, just that the city is the capital.

    I am not going to comment at this time if the decision was good or bad. I am just providing the facts supporting President Trump's legal action on implementing the provisions of the 1995 Act.

    JE comments:  Very informative.  Brian Blodgett reminds us that pre-Trump, US presidents wanted to have it both ways--to "recognize" Jerusalem for political gain at home, but to avoid any real action in order to keep the peace abroad.  Some might call this hypocrisy.  Others call it shrewd politics.

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  • Trump's Recognition of Jerusalem was Not Right Thing to Do (Edward Jajko, USA 12/26/17 6:03 AM)
    With regret, I must disagree with my friend Istvan Simon's posting (24 December) about President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. I don't agree that Trump's decision was the right move. I also disagree with Istvan's justifications for Trump's decision.

    I appreciate Brian Blodgett's statement (25 December) on the legislative background of the US recognition of Jerusalem as capital of the State of Israel. This wouldn't be the first and only time that the US Congress has enacted wrong-headed legislation.

    While I believe that the Arab-Israeli dispute and more specifically the status of the ever-diminishing Palestinian territories and the question of Jerusalem as the Palestinian national capital, are matters that the Arab and Muslim nations have used for decades to distract attention from their own internal and external problems, those matters remain a festering sore. Trump's announcement just adds fuel to the fire, to mix metaphors. Or pours salt on the wound. It satisfies Evangelicals but will not bring peace in the Near East.

    It is in Jerusalem that the United States has had a consular presence since at least the 19th century. One consul during that period was a man of scholarly bent, Selah Merrill, who put together a collection of as many editions as he could find of edited texts and translations of the writings of Flavius Josephus. Yale University acquired that material, which as the Selah Merrill Josephus Collection forms part of the Yale Judaica Collection. The US consulate is located just to the north of the Old City, in East Jerusalem.

    Istvan says that Jerusalem was founded by Jews 5,000 years ago and that Jews have continuously resided in Jerusalem for 5,000 years. He also says that not a single Muslim existed when Jerusalem was founded. The latter statement is manifestly true, since there were no Muslims until about 610 AD.

    But there were no Jews 5,000 years ago. (The old canard that the Jews or Jewish slaves built the pyramids of Egypt is precisely that.) I tend to date Abraham the Patriarch earlier than do standard histories of the Jews, but however early one dates him (for me, 2400-2200 BCE, while the standard histories put him around 1800 BCE or even more recently), it doesn't matter. Abraham was, if anything, a Sumerian or Akkadian; an Aramaean, maybe. At best he can be described as a Hebrew, not a Jew. Descendants of his grandson were Israelites, or more literally Sons of Israel. It was only in later generations that these people became Yehudim, Judeans or Judah-ites.

    Now, one might generously say that Abraham as progenitor of the Jews was a Jew. One might very generously round up the historical dating to 3000 BCE and, again, very generously, say that Jews have existed for 5000 years.

    But this still does not make the Jews the founders of Jerusalem. That city was founded by the Canaanites. It was already in existence, in one form or other, when Abraham (or Abram) passed by. It became an Israelite possession only by conquest sometime late in the second century BCE.

    Even the name of the city is not Hebrew, but rather probably from some form of early Canaanite. This is not a conclusive argument, of course. In California, I live in a city with a name, Cupertino, that is the Spanish form of an Italian original that probably derives from Latin. I was born in Pennsylvania in a city with a Greek name, Philadelphia, chosen by founder William Penn for its meaning but possibly familiar to him as a later name of the capital of the Ammonites, now the Jordanian capital Amman.

    The continuous possession of Jerusalem by the Jews is doubtful, but I do not have precise information other than to say that after the Roman wars that quashed the Jewish revolts, Jerusalem became the Roman city Aelia Capitolina, with Jewish residence either forbidden or severely curbed.

    Istvan refers to an Ottoman census from the 19th century. I'm assuming that he is aware that the Ottomans were among history's greatest record-keepers. There are imperial, regional, and local salnamelar--literally, yearbooks--that include statistical and other information. In addition, various archives of Istanbul are treasure houses of documents. Regrettably, all this is in Ottoman Turkish, a language that was put to death by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and is a highly specialized field of study.

    Regardless, I think Istvan's conclusions drawn from his reference to the census, that Jerusalem has been of little interest to Muslims, are incorrect. We have, for one thing, the instance of the wars against and final victory over the Crusaders. That ultimate victory restored Muslim control over the city that holds the site of the prophet's nighttime ascension to the seventh heaven, a site also related to Abraham. Muslims have from the earliest days of Islam been aware that Jerusalem was the first Qiblah, the earthly location toward which all the daily prayers were to be directed. The walls that surround the Old City today are further testimony to Muslim interest in and concern for the city. They were built on order of the ruler who had sovereignty over the Holy Land, Suleiman the Magnificent.

    Further, Arabic, Turkish, and even European maps of the known world from the early Middle Ages on all place Jerusalem at the center of the earth. One might think that Muslim mapmakers might center the world on Mecca, but this is not so. It is Jerusalem that is at the center. I can also assure Istvan that a fairly copious reading of Muslim Arabic religious and historical sources in my student years showed not only interest in but high regard for and veneration of Jerusalem. This is reflected in the Arabic name for the city. There is an Arabic equivalent of the Hebrew "Yerushalayim," "Urshalim." But the forms generally used, rather than this linguistic equivalent, are "Bayt al-Maqdis" or the shorter "al-Quds." The former means "House of the Holy [One]" and the latter means "The Sacred."

    Signs of disinterest?

    JE comments:  Thank you for filling in these important historical gaps, Ed.  One other thing that bothers me:  Trump's recognition of Jerusalem may provide further justification for violent acts against the US.

    We're back in frigid Michigan after facing a dead battery on Christmas and a long drive from Toronto.  Thank you for your patience during the occasional WAIS outages of the last twelve days.

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    • My Visits to Jerusalem (Richard Hancock, USA 12/27/17 7:57 AM)
      I have visited Jerusalem twice, once in 1997 on a tour led by our priest at St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Norman, Oklahoma. Nancy and I then conducted a second trip in 1999 for painters.

      I don't claim to be an expert on Israel, but I do wish to share some of my impressions gained during these two expeditions. Our guide for the first trip was a Jewish woman born in France. The second was an Arab Christian born in Israel. They were both competent, but I felt that the Arab guide gave us a more balanced view of Israel. The Jewish guide kept us on the normal tourist routes, while the Arab guide was willing to take us to places totally inhabited by Arabs.

      The impression that I have of these two trips is that it is a shame that Israel, one of the most advanced of the world's nations, exists side by side with very impoverished Arabs. When we arrived at the Tel Aviv airport we noted numerous Thais who had just arrived. We were told that they were to be employed in various activities in Israel. We thought that it was a great shame that these jobs could not be filled by the numerous poor Arabs that we had observed. However, I must admit that, as an employer, I would be hesitant to employ workers who might kill me. My solution for this would be that, hopefully, the Arabs and Israelis would find a way that these two groups could find a way to work together and all be citizens of the same country, with Jerusalem being the capital because of its importance to both Jews and Muslims.

      The world has a history of bitter enemies who have resolved their differences. The first step would be for the Palestinians to recognize that Israel is a valid country in which Jews and Muslims could live together in peace. Jews would need to recognize Palestinians as equals. Both sides would profit from these simple steps. If the UN had an effective army to enforce such a peaceful end, this would be a process that would likely succeed. This would be a difficult task but I think that it is worth a try.

      JE comments:  Mutual recognition, respect, equality.  These are tall orders, but is there any other way?  The only question then is a one-state or two-state resolution for Palestine/Israel.

      The Middle East remains one of the great unchecked boxes on my Bucket List.  Must do something about that, but we still have dirty clothes left over from Cuba.

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  • Trump's Recognition of Jerusalem (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 12/26/17 6:44 AM)
    I am a great fan of Istvan Simon's posts and I always look forward to reading them.

    However, to confirm what our moderator stated some time ago, we very seldom concur and WAISer views can contrast markedly.

    For instance the elections in Catalonia in my view were a great success for the independentists, but as José Manuel de Prada explained very clearly, they were a victory like that of Trump: the minority among the voters became a majority in parliament due to a silly electoral law.

    Regarding Jerusalem I have a very different understanding; see Istvan's post of 24 December.

    Jerusalem could not have been founded 5000 years ago by the Jews, as Abraham (if he really existed) was born around 2000 BCE and Jerusalem was in the hands of the Jebusites until it was conquered by King David around 1000 BCE. By the way, London probably was founded by the Romans, who also founded other British towns, so should the Italians (if this were possible) go there and kill/kick out the British?

    Further, the conquest of the "Promised Land" by Moses was a horrible series of genocides.

    Unfortunately I do not know the exact number of the population living in Jerusalem 100 years ago but in 1897, according to the statistics of the Ottoman Empire, in Palestine there were 563,000 Muslim and Christians Arab inhabitants but only 21,500 Jews.

    The Jewish people started to move in after WWI. By 1936 they comprised 20% of the population. They became a State in 1948 using terrorist tactics. Just see Irgun Zvai Leumi and the Stern gang.

    The only justification Netanyahu has is that he is the strongest at this moment, but Pieter Willem Botha also believed he was the strongest in 1978.

    JE comments:  Given the paramount importance of Jerusalem for three religions, it seems logical that only an "open city" solution can lead to permanent peace.  Eugenio, might some of the Italian city-states of yore offer a model?

    Londoners:  Look out; the Italians are coming!  (And we're waiting for the French to repossess Detroit.  Bring your winter coats.)

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  • Trump's Recognition of Jerusalem and Saudi Arabia (John Heelan, UK 12/26/17 7:38 AM)
    For a respected scientist, it is surprising that Istvan Simon (24 December) relies on Biblical myth. Perhaps he should look at Jerusalem's history as the capital of Judea onwards. Haaretz published a useful historical primer to celebrate Jerusalem Day three years ago (see https://www.haaretz.com/news/.premium-1.592872 ).  It's worth reading.

    Re: the move of the US embassy of Jerusalem, one wonders whether Saudi Arabia will cancel its weapons contracts with the US in line with sanctions proposed by the Arab League foreign ministers.  One also wonders if Trump really cares as he commented after the UN debate.

    JE comments:  Who can give us an update on Saudi policies vis-à-vis the US?  I've been out of the loop.  If the Saudis don't buy their armaments in the US, where would they turn?  China?  I'm doubtful.

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  • Jerusalem, Saul, David, and Solomon (Robert Gard, USA 12/26/17 3:35 PM)
    According to the history I have read, the ancestors of the Jewish people were independent semi-nomadic tribes living in the Canaan hills before Saul's son David brought them closer together as a kingdom and established his capital (the City of David, adjacent to Jerusalem) not long after 1000 BC.

    Following the death of David's son, Solomon, the kingdom was split into two--Israel in the north, with nine tribes, and Judah in the south, with three tribes and Jerusalem as its capital.

    JE comments:  It's been a year since Robert Gard last checked in.  Best to you, Robert, for the Holidays and for a marvelous 2018!

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