Dividing Jerusalem – Big Deal, Very Bad Idea

President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel did not address the city’s final status or its borders under Israeli sovereignty. Since his stand acknowledges treaties both parties agreed to, then “why do the nations rage” (Psalm 2)? Perhaps Trump’s equitable and balanced stance confronts the diplomacy-by-bullying approach by those who would impose their political will on Israel and split its capital in two by force.
The politicized anti-Israel agendas of the UN, Europe and militant Islam render them unacceptable “partners” in the search for peace in the Middle East. The UN and the EU theoretically recognize the right of nations (except Israel) to govern their capitals. The Knesset’s 1980 Basic Law established Jerusalem, “complete and united” as its capital. Trump has endorsed this reality.
History demonstrates another reality check: When foreign powers dictate divisions on other cities or nations—such as the World War II Allies did in Germany, its capital Berlin and Korea—it ends in failure.
German site The Local recently reported Berlin as a “failed capital city,” and newspaper Die Welt labeled Germany a “failed state.” Berlin today faces chronic poverty, unemployment, homelessness, poor infrastructure, a floundering education system, debt, the refugee crisis and a high crime rate.
The city never recovered from the oppressive stamp of the Cold War and the Iron Curtain that slashed it in two. Twenty-five years after the Wall fell, the old border still pockmarks the land-- with the East bearing the brunt, according to Zeit Online and The Washington Post. “Reunification is not yet complete,” said former Berlin Mayor Eberhard Diepgen. People still “see themselves as losers in the Wende (reunification). This will take at least two generations to overcome.” The Wall nullified postwar Germany's right to self-determination. Long-term effects were the entrenchment of the Iron Curtain, and the U.S.-Soviet arms race.
The divisions of Berlin and Germany (1945), Korea (1945) and Jerusalem (1948) took place in the same time period, and all three reflected power grabs and jockeying by external state actors.
The fallout from Korea’s postwar division continues today. A U.S. State Department official admitted the 38th parallel (border) was “an entirely arbitrary line, chosen by World War II victors in 1945 with no consideration for the geographical, economic or political realities of the country,” according to Time. First South Korean President Syngman Rhee predicted the imposed 38th parallel “would leave intact the conditions that provoked this [Korean] war."
According to a 1950 State Department Bulletin, America assumed Japan’s defeat would result in Korea’s independence. But the US and Soviet Union deadlocked over this issue for two years, preventing 38 million Koreans from “their right” to self-determination, since the Soviets refused to allow elections in the north, and stonewalled other attempts to unite the two Koreas. Today North Korea is a destabilizing force that threatens South Korea, the region and the world.
Externally imposed, divisive forces also threaten Israel and Jerusalem. Just as the Soviets set their sights on Germany, its capital Berlin and on Korea, in a similar way Abbas, backed by anti-Semitic Europe, the Left and radical Islam, insists on dividing the Jewish capital and taking East Jerusalem.
The modern-day dividing of Israel and Jerusalem dates to the 1923 British Mandate, which author Clive Leatherdale calls an “indirect form of imperialism;” “Ottoman overlordship was substituted by European overlordship.”
General Assembly Resolution 181 (the “Partition Plan”) in 1947 established an international regime around Jerusalem under U.N. governance. But when Arab armies attacked Jerusalem in 1948, the UN did nothing to protect its own regime. Prime Minister Ben-Gurion in 1949 declared the Plan null and void.
The forced partitions of Berlin, Germany and Korea were indelibly stamped by the Cold War. But today, radical Islam, by manipulating the Palestinian cause, threatens to divide Israel and its capital Jerusalem. The bullish reactions of Iran and Turkey to Trump’s declaration reflect their “renewed imperialist ambitions … at the expense of their Arab neighbors and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said Hillel Frisch, senior fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies.
If outside powers encroach on Jerusalem’s final status and Israel’s sovereignty over its capital, past failures will likely repeat themselves—along with the failure of the Palestinians to achieve a stable and viable state. The longer we postpone endorsing reality, the worse it will be for all.