Anticipating the announcement by President Trump that the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state and begin the process of relocating the American embassy from Tel Aviv, Shmuel Rosner writes:
[F]or about 3,000 years, Jerusalem has been the center of the Jewish people: a physical center when a temple was standing, and a center for prayer and longing from afar after the Jews were dispersed around the globe. Every year, at the very end of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, and at the end of the Passover seder, Jews recite, “Next year in Jerusalem.” . . . [But] even the United States, Israel’s closest ally, has not recognized the city as [Israel’s] capital even though [its] government has been based there since 1949. . . .
[A] statement from an American president will [not] actually change Israelis’ commitment to Jerusalem. This is [their] capital and it always will be. It was taken away from the Jewish people by force. It was recaptured by force. If necessary, it will be preserved under Israel’s jurisdiction by force, too. . . .
In 1947, ahead of the United Nations vote [to partition Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state], the CIA warned that “armed hostilities between Jews and Arabs will break out if the UN General Assembly accepts the plan to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states.” President Harry Truman decided to support partition despite the warnings. The CIA was right; the Arabs responded with violence, leading to Israel’s War of Independence. Thanks to that, the Jewish state was even larger than the borders mandated by the United Nations, and the Palestinians still don’t have a state. But Truman was right, too; he proved himself a friend of the Jewish people, willing to take risks for what was right.
Will a statement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital ignite a similar round of defiance and violence? It’s possible. . . . If [it is], we will all regret it. But it is worth remembering that Truman’s recognition of Israel was also met with violence—and it is still remembered as a great American moment.