Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [C] and wife Sarah [L] next to US Ambassador in Israel David Friedman [R].
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
By moving its embassy to Jerusalem, the US did something that “hasn’t been done for a really long time: we have created a new shrine in the ancient city of Jerusalem, and we’re extremely proud of it,” Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said on Tuesday.
Friedman’s comments marked a year since the embassy’s move, at a ceremony sponsored by the Friends of Zion and held at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem.
Friedman noted that every day tour buses drive by the embassy, and that sometimes people get off the buses and recite a prayer at the site.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted that the Jewish people are “the only people on Earth who live in the same land where they lived 3,000 years ago, with the same capital, the same language and the same religion.”
What makes the feat even more extraordinary, he added, is that the Jews were exiled from the land and came back to it.
And despite the fact that Jerusalem – Zion – was the focal point of Jewish faith and identity, “nobody moves the embassy, nobody recognizes Jerusalem – until someone comes who is politically incorrect, brash and unabashed, and one day – out of the blue – says, ‘That’s right, Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, and I recognize it.’ And that is what [US] President Donald Trump did.”
And, Netanyahu continued, “in his politically incorrect and unsophisticated way, he moved the embassy to Jerusalem exactly a year ago – and then he did another thing: he subordinated the consulate to the embassy. What an idea,” he joked: “How dare he.”
While historically the consulate acted independently of the US Embassy when it was located in Tel Aviv – and for all intents and purposes served as Washington’s embassy to the Palestinians – now it has been brought under the auspices of the embassy.
Friedman said that since “we combined resources in Jerusalem and merged the consulate with the embassy, I would say that the United States diplomatic mission in Jerusalem now speaks with one voice… the voice of one person, the voice of my boss, the voice of President Donald Trump. And we are able to project clarity, purpose and strength like never before.”
Friedman noted that as of the beginning of March, the ambassador’s official residence is now at the consulate office on Agron Street in the capital.
He disagreed with those who say that the embassy move was purely symbolic, and as such not a “big deal.”
“That could not be further from the truth,” he said. “The move of the embassy was the validation by the strongest nation in the world – not just strong militarily and economically, but strong morally, strong ethically... that [it] recognized the unbreakable, historical and truthful connection between the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem. That is not symbolic.”
Netanyahu praised Friedman for the work he did in getting the embassy moved, saying that “there has never been a greater friend in Israel representing the US.” Likewise, he said, “there has been no better friend in the White House than President Donald J. Trump.”
Trump noted the anniversary of the embassy move in a tweet, writing: “Today marks the one-year anniversary of the opening of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem, Israel. Our beautiful embassy stands as a proud reminder of our strong relationship with Israel and of the importance of keeping a promise and standing for the truth.”
That the central celebration marking the anniversary of the embassy move was held at an event sponsored by the Friends of Zion underlines the role that Evangelicals in the US had in Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem and move the embassy.
Mike Evans, a prominent Christian Zionist journalist and founder of the Friends of Zion Museum, opened the evening by saying that the US-Israel relationship has never known a stronger bond than the one that exist between Netanyahu and Trump. “I know them both,” he said: “they are the same guy.” The two leaders, he added, “are just so much alike in their DNA.”
The event was also attended by Patricia Marroquín de Morales, the wife of Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales. So far, Guatemala is the only country that has followed the US lead and moved its embassy to Jerusalem.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>