(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
December 6, 2017 is a day that will be remembered in history for decades and centuries to come as the date that the President of the free world stood on the side of the truth – recognizing Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of the State of Israel.
For 3,000 years, the center of Jewish life, prayer and history has been the city of Jerusalem. President Trump’s historic statement shows the world clearly and unambiguously that the United States stands with the Jewish people and the State of Israel – and that he stands on the side of truth.
Since reuniting Jerusalem 50 years ago, Israel celebrated the rich diversity of the city. And three of the world's major religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – have thrived in Jerusalem during this time. Today, in one square kilometer, more functioning churches, mosques and synagogues exist in the Old City of Jerusalem than anywhere else in the world. And Jerusalemites have respected freedom of religion, freedom of movement, and freedom of expression for all the city's residents.
These values are the core of Israel's democracy – and are what distinguish us from our enemies around the world. These are not just Israeli values - they are values that we share with our strongest ally, the United States. More than anything, our joint commitment to these principles is the basis of our enduring bond and friendship.
President Trump’s bold decision brings us one step closer to peace. It provides certainty both to the people of Israel and to the rest of the world that Jerusalem's status as the capital of Israel is not up for debate. For too long, some seeking to derail the peace process have promulgated the fantasy that the State of Israel has no claim to Jerusalem. The certainty provided by the United States’ official recognition of Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of Israel will enhance, not weaken, the peace process.
Some have insinuated that violence will follow
this brave step. Make no mistake, in Jerusalem, we take threats of violence and terror with the utmost seriousness, but we do not let threats of terror deter us from doing what is right. If we did, there would be no State of Israel. Continuing to deny Jerusalem its historic and rightful recognition as the capital of Israel would be letting the terrorists who wish to divide and destroy us win.
Today, the world needs brave leaders who are willing to publicly and confidently recognize the long roots of the Jewish people in this land. Leaders who will do what is right in spite of threats and incitement from the region. Israel and the United States cannot and should not ever allow themselves to be blackmailed by the Palestinians and their allies. Put simply, these are people who have done little or nothing to facilitate the cause of peace and the threat of violence should never be allowed to be used to intimidate supporters of democracy and truth.
Nothing could have better underscored the seriousness of purpose the Administration brings to the start of the peace process than this decision. With this historic statement, President Trump has demonstrated that he understands the reality in the Middle East and the need for bold declarations and actions.
This week, Jews across the world are beginning to prepare for Hanukka – a holiday that celebrates the heroic Jewish fighters, the Maccabees. The Maccabees fought for the city of Jerusalem thousands of years ago - long before Christianity or Islam existed, and 2 millennia before the US or UN existed. This Hanukka, Jews around the world have an even greater reason to celebrate our connection to this city, as we rejoice over President Trump's official recognition of our history as well.
In the Middle East, darkness often prevails in the form of lies, violence and incitement.
For many years now, the peace process has been stalled with no hope in sight. With this brave and historic step, President Trump is sharing light and truth with the world, and demonstrating the seriousness of purpose that will hopefully bring about the start of a real and lasting peace.Nir Barkat is the Mayor of Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the State of Israel.
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