Jerusalem is the soul of the Jewish people and the beating heart of the land of Israel. Conquerors dating back to the Assyrian King Sennacherib – the first invader who destroyed most of Israel and exiled ten of the twelve tribes of Israel – understood that without sacking the Holy City of Jerusalem, Israel remained attached to its land.
A city small in size yet immeasurably significant, Jerusalem is cherished by the world’s great religions. Jews, Christians, and Muslims stake a claim to the city, where Abraham bound his son Isaac for a sacrifice, and where Jacob envisioned a ladder stretching to the heavens where God’s presence revealed His blessings and covenant for the Jewish people.
With all the importance attached to Jerusalem, the Jewish nation did not gain sovereignty over it until the days of King David. Subsequently, Jerusalem became the focal point of Jewish identity, worship, and nationhood, and was the place where both ancient Jewish Temples resided for hundreds of years.
After Jerusalem’s fall during the Roman invasion and subsequent occupation, Jerusalem became an important city to Christians, who saw it as the birthplace of their religion. But Jerusalem would later enrapture yet another faith as well – the Muslim world.
The ambition to stake a claim on Jerusalem led to much blood spilled on its holy soil. During the nearly two-thousand-year exile of the Jewish people, conquerors fought brutal wars over the city, and Jerusalem’s rulers shifted between Muslim and Christian rulers.
During the Six-Day War of 1967, the Jewish people reclaimed the glory of their ancestors and of King David who had established the Holy City as the eternal capital and soul of the Jewish people. And for the first time in nearly two millennia, the Jewish people reclaimed sovereignty over Jerusalem.
Israel’s stewardship over the city has allowed it to flourish. Worshippers from all backgrounds and religions are allowed to practice their faith in the Holy City, without hindrance or discrimination. Yet the world refuses to recognize the reality that Jerusalem is the capital city of Israel.
If the international community wants Israeli-Arab peace, it must first understand that the Jewish people always viewed Jerusalem as their most sacred, important, and beloved city, and the long, dark years of exile never succeeded in extinguishing Jewish aspirations to return home, to Zion.
The Israeli Knesset and Supreme Court are in Jerusalem. The prime minister’s house, and the president’s residence are also in Jerusalem. And yet, nearly all the countries of the world refuse to acknowledge what is obvious to every single Israeli – that Jerusalem is our spiritual and political capital and cannot be bargained with.
But last week, President Donald Trump gave Israel an early Hanukkah gift, in a move that will forever make him a true friend and defender of the Jewish people and the land of Israel. In this unprecedented move, President Trump did what many presidents before him have promised to do but have not had the courage to act on. President Trump stated the obvious, that Jerusalem is and always will be the eternal capital of the Jewish people.
Many worry that this declaration will anger the Arab world, isolate the U.S. from international consensus on Jerusalem, and diminish the chances for peace.
Most Israelis strongly disagree, and understandably so.
Israel has reached out her hand countless of times for peace. Israel has made numerous painful concessions for peace, including the evacuations of thousands of Jewish residents from Gaza, and in return has had to fight continuously against terrorist organizations that grow stronger and bolder after each Israeli concession.
Furthermore, the international community’s continuous rejection of Israeli claims on Jerusalem are fanning those extreme voices in the Arab world, particularly in Palestinian society, that believe and condone the destruction of Israel and the annihilation of the Jews.
Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem was a much-needed wakeup call for the Arab world and the international community. Denying Jewish sovereignty in Jerusalem does not serve peace in any way, and only emboldens those who seek violence and the destruction of Israel. With Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem, Israel has found a true friend in the White House, one who will hopefully serve to strengthen Israel and all the moderate, peace-seeking forces in the Middle East.