Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem Has Produced Lasting Gains

May 28, 2019 | Evelyn Gordon
About the author: Evelyn Gordon is a commentator and former legal-affairs reporter who immigrated to Israel in 1987. In addition to Mosaic, she has published in the Jerusalem Post, Azure, Commentary, and elsewhere. She blogs at Evelyn Gordon.

On May 14 of last year, the Trump administration relocated the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. On the one-year anniversary of the move, much of the Israeli press criticized it as a failure, pointing out that only one country—Guatemala—has followed the U.S. in transferring its own embassy, a decision that could easily be reversed after the next Guatemalan election. Evelyn Gordon disagrees:

What President Trump’s decision accomplished . . . was to break the global taboo on thinking and talking about the idea [of putting a nation’s embassy in Jerusalem]. Never again will recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital be inconceivable. Indeed, in many countries, it has already become a hotly debated option. And the more the idea is discussed, the more realistic the possibility becomes.

A few countries have already gone beyond talk and taken preliminary steps down the path to full recognition. For instance, Australia didn’t move its embassy, but it did recognize western Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last year. That disappointed many Israelis, who view the entire city as Israel’s capital. But it’s a major advance from where Israel was before Donald Trump, when not a single country in the world recognized any part of Jerusalem as its capital. . . .

Trump’s decision also accomplished something else important: it permanently slayed the myth that recognizing Jerusalem would spark massive violence in the Arab world. The U.S. embassy move sparked no violence anywhere except among Palestinians, and even that was short-lived. Consequently, no country contemplating such a move in the future will be deterred by fear of a bloody reaction.

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