Latest update: May 24th, 2013
In the heat of the American election campaign, it’s fascinating to note the large part being played by Israel’s capital, Jerusalem – at least in the Mitt Romney campaign.
Earlier this month, the Romney campaign aired its first foreign policy television ad, which focused on Israel and President Obama’s apparent refusal to recognize Jerusalem as its capital.
“Who shares your values?” the commercial narrator asks as an image of Obama appears. “As president, Barack Obama has never visited Israel, and refuses to recognize Jerusalem as its capital.”
The final shot in the 30-second spot shows candidate Romney standing aside the Old City walls of Jerusalem, saying, “It’s a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.”
He is far from the first U.S. presidential candidate to express sentiments so warming to the Jewish-Zionist heart and ear. Even Obama himself, when he was running for president four years ago, received thunderous applause at an AIPAC event when he promised, “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”
Yet this didn’t stop Obama from taking a cold stance toward Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem once he assumed office. Can we assume a President Romney will be much different?
Romney’s strategists apparently feel strongly that his statements of solidarity with Jewish Jerusalem will help him in terms of both the Jewish and evangelical publics. But how likely is it that he will be pressured to actually move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim if he moves into the White House?
The answer is that he would be quite strongly pressured to do so if knowledge and education about Jerusalem were more widespread. At present, understanding of Israel’s historical, national, security and international rights to a united Jerusalem under its sole sovereignty is lacking among the general public, American Jewry, and the political echelons of the administration.
We therefore present, once again, the Top Ten Reasons Why Jerusalem Must Remain Israeli and Undivided. Please clip and quote.
History: Jerusalem served as capital of a Jewish state as early as 2,880 years ago – and was never the capital of any other nation. The Arabs of the Land of Israel were never an independent nation – and certainly never claimed that Jerusalem was their capital. As a matter of fact, the original PLO Charter of 1964 does not even mention Jerusalem.
Sanctity: Jerusalem has been the world’s #1 holy spot for Jews from time immemorial, beginning with the Binding of Isaac on Mt. Moriah (Genesis 22:2) and continuing with the construction of the Holy Temples there. Jerusalem is mentioned 641 times in the Bible.
For Islam, which was founded when Judaism was about 2,500 years old, Jerusalem is only third holiest, following Mecca and Medina. Its sanctity in Islam is founded upon a supposedly miraculous horse journey taken by Muhammad to what the Koran obliquely calls “the farthest Mosque” (17,1); some Islamic commentaries say this refers to the site of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, while others say this refers to a mosque in Saudi Arabia. Otherwise, Jerusalem is mentioned zero (0) times in the Koran.
Historically, Islam acknowledges Jerusalem’s sanctity only when necessary, such as when Muhammad wanted to attract Jews to his new religion, or when Zionists began returning to the city and reawakening its Jewish character.
Legal Rights: Jewish legal Jewish rights to Jerusalem, as well as to Judea and Samaria, were unanimously and internationally recognized in 1922 by the League of Nations, based on the San Remo Conference of two years earlier. No similar rights were accorded to Arabs.
Demography: Jews have been the majority population in Jerusalem since at least the 1870s and have constituted the largest single group of inhabitants there since the 1840s. They have been living in the city continuously for nearly two millennia. Today, the Jewish population just in the areas liberated in 1967 (popularly known as eastern Jerusalem) is close to 250,000, compared to 208,000 Arabs in these areas (according to a Palestinian Authority census in 2008). Nearly half of all Jerusalem’s Jews live in these areas.
Strategic Importance: Holding on to the high ground in Jerusalem is of paramount strategic and security importance. Dividing Jerusalem will hand over all the high ground to the Arabs.
About the Author: Chaim Silberstein is president of Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund. He was formerly a senior adviser to Israel's minister of tourism. Hillel Fendel, past senior editor at Israel National News/Arutz-7, is a veteran writer on Jerusalem affairs. Both have lived in Jerusalem and now reside in Beit El.
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