This article was written by Chaim Silberstein and Dr. Shmuel Katz, president of the RASG Hebrew Academy in Miami Beach and a member of the national board of Friends of the IDF.
What will the Biden presidency mean for Israel? Will it be a third Obama term, based on coldness toward Israel, or will it be friendly, with Biden choosing to forge his own path?
It could very well be the latter, due to broad popular American support for, and President Biden’s personal sympathy towards, Israel; the basic wisdom of strengthening America’s most trusted ally; the two countries’ mutual desire to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons; and the positive international dynamic generated by the Trump administration’s Middle East initiatives.
However, we must continue to stress the importance of maintaining a united Jerusalem under Israeli control as the new administration will be under tremendous pressures, from within and without, to try to divide it. In plain terms this means the following:
- We must not freeze construction in Jewish neighborhoods in the eastern part of Jerusalem where nearly half of Jerusalem’s 570,000 Jews live. Note that under Obama, most building in these areas was frozen for over six years, but it did not bring peace any closer.
- We must enforce the law when it’s broken, even by Arabs. Illegal building, tax collection, municipal fees, crime fighting – all must be addressed.
Supporters of Israel and a united Jerusalem must adopt strategies to ensure that the failed and dangerous narratives regarding an Arab capital in Jerusalem are not reintroduced under the Biden administration.
The following are some important points you can use to improve, educate, and advocate for keeping Jerusalem united and secure. The goal is to share them with your neighbors, the American public, and legislators on both sides of the aisle.
* Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for over 3,000 years – and never of any other entity. The only period during which Jews didn’t live in Jerusalem’s Old City was the 19 years of Jordan’s illegal occupation of the city between 1948 and 1967. During those years, the Jewish quarter, including multiple historical synagogues, was destroyed and the Jews weren’t allowed to visit their holiest sites.
* Placing major parts of the holy city under Arab sovereignty would make Jerusalem more dangerous. Prior to 1967, Arab snipers targeted Jewish pedestrians and residences in the city. Hamas and Fatah terrorists would have little trouble walking in their footsteps – and worse.
And due to the precarious security situation, large numbers of residents would leave Jerusalem permanently, thus weakening the capital city and the morale of the entire country. Tourism would drop drastically, and the city’s economy would take a nose dive. Radicalism in a divided Jerusalem would also embolden jihadists to export their ideology to the U.S. and its allies.
A weakened Jerusalem significantly weakens Israel and its value to the United States. A stable and strong Israel has successfully limited the success of radical movements in Lebanon, Jordan, and PLO-controlled areas. In addition, Israel assists America in intelligence gathering, in covert operations, and in many other projects.
A united Jerusalem more specifically benefits Christians who are currently able to visit the city – safely. Furthermore, Christian holy sites in Muslim-controlled areas do not fare well and are often destroyed. Only Israel can guarantee that Jerusalem remains an open city, with holy sites freely accessible to all.
Keeping Jerusalem united will actually benefit the Arab population, too. Most Arabs in Jerusalem don’t want to be under Palestinian Authority or Hamas control, which would strip them of their freedom, financial stability, and other benefits. Surveys of eastern Jerusalem Arabs by international groups continually reflect this fact.
Dividing Jerusalem would also imperil the jobs of over 40,000 eastern Jerusalem Arabs who work in western Jerusalem daily at salary scales often four times higher than in PA-controlled territory.
Sharing these facts with all your contacts will help improve the lives of peace-loving citizens of all religious beliefs and backgrounds, in the Middle East and beyond. You and your friends can be a part of the solution! Get informed about the real facts, share them with others, and help make our world a better place.