The ZOA strongly praises and gives our heartfelt thanks to President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton, Jared/Ivanka Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and the entire Trump administration and U.S. embassy staff for today officially opening the relocated U.S. Embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.
The ZOA would also like to give special recognition to: the Congressional leaders who spearheaded the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 (working together with ZOA and Doug Feith): then-Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), then-Senator Bob Dole (R-KS), and then-Congressman Newt Gingrich (R-GA) – as well as to all the bipartisan members of Congress who passed this act almost unanimously (93 to 5 in the Senate; 374 to 37 in the House) – thereby assuring passage into law of the Jerusalem Embassy Act despite then-President Bill Clinton’s refusal to sign the bill. (It automatically became law in 30 days.)
ZOA would also like to thank pro-Israel Congressman and Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis (R-FL) for convening the November 2017 Congressional hearing favoring relocating the embassy to Jerusalem (at which ZOA President Morton Klein testified), as well as all the other Congresspersons and witnesses at that vital hearing. Special thanks must also be given to Sheldon and Miri Adelson who worked tirelessly for years to help make this happen.
It is especially meaningful that President Trump and his administration’s important, moral and just action is occurring on this historic day – the seventieth anniversary of May 14, 1948 – the date of Israel’s reestablishment as a sovereign state; then-Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion’s announcement of Israel’s Declaration of Independence; and then-U.S. President Harry Truman’s immediate recognition of the State of Israel. Today’s U.S. embassy opening makes May 14th once again a major milestone in the history of the extraordinary and close relationship between America and Israel.
Israel’s Declaration of Independence notes that: “Eretz Israel [the Land of Israel] was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. . . . This right [the Jewish people’s right to establish their state, recognized by the United Nations] is the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign State.”
Jerusalem is at the heart of the Land of Israel, and the holiest city to the Jewish people. Jerusalem has been the capital only of Israel. It has never been the capital of any other country. The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 explained that 1996 marked the 3,000th year of Jewish presence in Jerusalem since King David’s entry. It is now 3,022 years since King David entered Jerusalem to make it the capital of the Jewish kingdom. Throughout subsequent dispersions, the Jewish people maintained a presence in Jerusalem – some of us physically, and the remainder in our hearts and prayers. The majority of people living in Jerusalem since the mid 1800’s have been Jews.
Jerusalem is mentioned 700 times in Jewish holy books. Jews pray for Jerusalem 20 times a day – and Jews pray facing Jerusalem. The three major Jewish festivals – Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot – are all “pilgrimage festivals” – during which the Jews living in the Kingdom of Judah (Judea) made pilgrimages to the Temple in Jerusalem. Still today, we conclude the Passover service with “Next year in Jerusalem!” At every Jewish wedding ceremony, we break a glass to remember the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. The famous Jewish prayer (Psalm 137) written after the destruction of the first Temple in Jerusalem, expresses the longing of the Jewish people to return home to Jerusalem:
“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. . . If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her skill. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.”
By contrast, Jerusalem is never mentioned in the Islamic Koran, and Muslims pray facing Mecca and make their pilgrimage – the Haj – to Mecca. Mohammed never visited Jerusalem; nor have most Arab leaders – even when the Jordanians captured the eastern portion of Jerusalem in 1948 and illegally occupied it for 19 years. Under Arab rule, Jerusalem became a slum with almost no utilities. Mecca and Medina are the holy cities to Muslims; not Jerusalem. They have a holy mosque there, the city is not holy to Muslims.
As ZOA President Morton Klein testified this at the Congressional hearing this past November, today’s opening of the relocated U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem strengthens American security and enhances worldwide respect for America by demonstrating the U.S. can be counted on to keep her commitments to her allies, and that America will not be intimidated and show weakness by appeasing radical Islamist threats.
Today, like all other nations, Israel’s capital will be the home of the U.S. Embassy and embassies of more and more countries, who are following the wonderful example of the Trump administration.
“Kol Hakavod” (all honor) and appreciation to President Trump, his administration and members of Congress for bringing about this wonderful and historic moment.