It’s hard to overstate the centrality of Jerusalem: Center of spirituality, the historic and spiritual capital of the Jewish people, the apple of God’s eye, the physical center of the world on ancient maps, etc.
But even more: That which occurs in and around Jerusalem directly affects the rest of the world. This was possibly never more evident than in this month’s decision by the organizers of World Expo 2015 – and the international response to it.
The decision was this: If we have to, we will erase Israel’s capital from the official Expo site – and consequently, that of all 147 participating countries as well.”
The decision was the result of a demand by anti-Israel BDS divestment campaigners who thought they could show up Israel by insisting on having its capital erased from the website. Little did they realize their efforts would boomerang against them, bringing Jerusalem’s uniqueness to the fore and showing its ability to influence world events on a comprehensive international scale.
The BDSers proudly announced that following its press release maligning Israel and Jerusalem, “the designation of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has been removed from the website for the World Expo 2015 that will take place in Milan next year.” But to their consternation, the designation of every single capital in the world would be similarly removed.
One could say, in the spirit of King Solomon and the two women who claimed the same baby, that the consent of the nations, even if begrudging, to have their own capitals removed from the Expo website indicates their deep-down realization that their own national legitimacies are bereft of meaning as long as Jerusalem is not recognized as the capital of the Jewish people.
The BDS demand that Expo2015 not specify Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was issued in a long, rambling e-mail condemning Israel for, it seemed, most of the world’s ills. Most of its points can be easily refuted. But let us first note one of the points that cannot be refuted – to the world’s disgrace: “Israel is the only country in the world that recognizes Jerusalem as its capital.”
Sadly, this is true. Even the United States has never recognized Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital – not even the city’s western parts, which have been in Israel-proper since 1949.
The U.S. Congress passed a law back in 1995 stating that “Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel,” and also that the U.S. Embassy in Israel “should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.” However, the law also allows the president to waive its implementation for six months if he deems it necessary for “national security” – and so far, interestingly, every U.S. president since then has deemed it necessary, every six months on the button.
The fact that the United States, of all countries, refuses to recognize Israel’s capital is more than peculiar. As the above law states, “Each sovereign nation, under international law and custom, may designate its own capital.” So why should Israel be any different?
But even more than that: The American people pride themselves on being a God-believing nation. Their founding fathers made this quite clear in their Declaration of Independence from Great Britain 240 years ago in phrases such as “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal… endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…”
How, then, do they continue to ignore the above law, which further states, “Jerusalem is the spiritual center of Judaism, and is also considered a holy city by the members of other religious faiths.”
The law even noted that in 1996 the state of Israel was to “celebrate the 3,000th anniversary of the Jewish presence in Jerusalem since King David’s entry.”
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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