On Jerusalem, Donald Trump ended a quarter century of lies
President Trump has announced he will break with decades of U.S. foreign policy and move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The move has already stirred up a polarized response. USA TODAY
Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has long been a bipartisan policy goal.
President Trump’s announcement that he will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has ignited a firestorm of protest. What’s disingenuous about the histrionic response is the capital’s move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a longstanding goal of U.S. policy that once had bipartisan support.
When running for president 25 years ago, Bill Clinton promised to “support Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel.” President George W. Bush criticized Clinton for not following up on that commitment, but then W failed to make good on his too. During Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, he stated that, “we should move our embassy to Jerusalem” but never recognized the city as the capital once he was elected.
The difference now, whether one loves or hates Trump, is that people across the political spectrum are going berserk because he is moving to fulfill his campaign promise on this issue after the three previous presidents lied about it to win office. As Trump moves forward to expand a travel ban and chip away at Obamacare’s individual mandate, an awkward reality is beginning to emerge that a president many voters view as untrustworthy might actually be the most reliable when it comes to following through on his word.
That Trump is only doing what four presidents in a row said they would do regarding Jerusalem hasn’t diminished the controversy. Turkey’s dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the move amounted to a “red line” that could not be crossed, warned that Ankara may cut off diplomatic relations with Israel and called for a summit of Islamic nations to fight against it.
Influential Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein is advising against recognizing Jerusalem as the capital despite voting for a resolution supporting that policy only six months ago.
There is even flack raining down from some of the president’s earliest supporters. “Trump 2020 campaign slogan: ‘OK, I didn’t build the wall… but I did recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital!’ #HowToWinTheWorkingClass,” tweeted Ann Coulter, who wrote the book In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome! last year.
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There are legitimate reasons Jerusalem is one of the most fought over scraps of land anywhere. It is the focal point of conflict between Muslims and Jews in the Middle East, and the location of Israel’s capital represents a battle in the larger war over the right of Israel to exist and the concept of a Jewish state.
The late rebel leader Yasser Arafat vowed, “The victory march will continue until the Palestinian flag flies in Jerusalem and in all of Palestine,” and the crowd at his rallies would chant, “All of Jerusalem is Arab; the entire land is Arab.”
Donald Trump was elected on a confrontational, populist platform that doesn’t fit easily into the two-party system, which operates within the comfortable confines of the status quo. Recognizing Jerusalem is consistent with this president’s agenda to be a purposeful disrupter of the stale, hypocritical status quo that brought him to power.