By refusing to acknowledge the location of Israel’s capital, generations of U.S. presidents and foreign-policy professionals have demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of what lies at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Douglas Feith explains:
Part and parcel of [Palestinian] thinking is the depiction of Israel as a foreign intrusion into the region. It is called a “Crusader state” and analogized to European colonialist outposts, such as French Algeria. The point is that the Israelis, like the Crusaders in the Middle Ages and the French a half-century ago, can be demoralized through relentless violent resistance and induced to pack up and leave the land to its true owners, the Arabs. . . .
The conventional wisdom for decades has held that the heart of the Arab-Israeli problem is the territory that Israel won in 1967 and the Israeli settlements there. But it should be obvious that that’s wrong. Why did Egypt, Syria, and Jordan provoke the 1967 war to begin with? In fact, the conflict goes back long before 1967—it even predates 1948, when Israel became an independent state. . . .
If this analysis is correct, then U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem might contribute to peace. It reinforces useful messages: Israel is here to stay. The Jews are deeply historically connected to the land and are not foreigners or Crusaders. The U.S.-Israeli connection is tight and not subject to manipulation by Israel’s enemies. . . . There is a price to be paid for perpetuating the conflict: life goes on, the Israelis create new realities, and the world in general adjusts to those realities. The Palestinians do not improve their position—or even preserve it—by remaining unwilling to make peace.