“I turn to you President Trump, on behalf of the city of Jerusalem, the beating heart and soul of the Jewish people for more than 3,000 years,” Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat said, standing in front of the White House. "I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your commitment and intention to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” per Haaretz, Dec. 8, 2017.
Bottom Line Up Front
The statement by the mayor is a good point of departure to discuss President Trump’s speech on Jerusalem, which may be the Goldilocks of his foreign policy: He hit the right spot on Dec. 6, and it is a shot across the bow of Tehran, which calls Jerusalem Al Quds.
The Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC-QF), focuses on foreign operations, like liberating Jerusalem from the Jews. Suppressing the Iranian people is the main responsibility of the Basij, literally “mobilization.” It is a paramilitary organization charged with channeling popular support for the Iranian regime, per the Counter Extremism Project.
President Trump stated in his December 6, speech, “Jerusalem is today, and must remain, a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the Stations of the Cross, and where Muslims worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
In addition to President Trump and the Mayor of Jerusalem, consider the remarks of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. She stated,
“The United States has not taken a position on boundaries or borders. The specific dimensions of sovereignty over Jerusalem are still to be decided by the Israelis and the Palestinians in negotiations. Finally, and critically, the United States is not predetermining final status issues. We remain committed to achieving a lasting peace agreement. We support a two-state solution if agreed to by the parties.”
The significance of these statements is threefold. First, the Mayor of Jerusalem: emotion; second, Trump, religion; and third, Haley, facts.
Yours truly taught 6 times at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and lectured on the West Bank, as well as throughout the Arab world; he was on the NSC staff Middle East desk has a feel for most aspects of the statements above.
Trump’s speech puts into deep-freeze the audacious plans for a division of the city, which were on the table, during the tenures of Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, per the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs of Dec. 8. And its president, Dore Gold, testified before the U.S. Congress Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: “On a political level, the denial of recognition helps fuel the dangerous fantasy, popular in the Middle East, that Israel is impermanent and illegitimate.”
Concurring with Gold, the bottom line of this post is that the so-called “Palestinian rage” is for only one reason: Because Israel exists as a normal state.
How Normal are Jerusalem and Tehran?
Iran is not a normal state like Israel. Iran has trappings of being normal, when, in fact, the regime is anything but ordinary. Per the State Department, Iran is the world’s leading state-sponsor of international terrorism, specializes in detaining political prisoners at home, all while its Western-trained diplomats dupe major powers with their suave manners and near-perfect English.
In contrast to Iran, Israel is a normal country. But, tongue-in-cheek, David Gerstman asked on Dec. 8, “If Israel were a normal country, having the United States place its embassy in its capital city would not be newsworthy.”
Meanwhile, in a rally on Dec. 8, “Hundreds Protest Against U.S. Jerusalem Move in Times Square,” headlined the coverage by NBC News. But, is Times Square really being rocked by demonstrations? Not so fast! There may have been more reporters covering protests than demonstrators. And there were more onlookers than demonstrators, after the terrorist attack by the Port Authority bomber on Dec. 11. And it seems he was inspired to repeat the Islamic State Christmas Attacks of the past, instead of being outraged by Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel.
And what about Jerusalem: Is the “City of Peace” really on fire, due to rioting Palestinians on the West Bank and in Gaza? No, Jerusalem is not burning. (The Epistle to the Hebrews points out that “Salem,” the title of Melchizedek’s City, means ‘peace’ (Gen. 14:18; Heb. 7:2).
On Dec. 10, a Muslim commentator, Bassam Tawil, holds in an article, “Jerusalem Not on Fire,” that there were more journalists than protesters. The Palestinians declared a three-day-long “rage” spree over President Trump’s announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Thus far, however, it appears as if the real anger is showing up in the Main Street Media, not on the Palestinian Street.
Despite the lack of fiery protests, there is a need to address issues raised by President Trump’s decision for the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The Way Forward
First, President Trump: Task Secretary of State Tillerson to make the U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem the American Embassy; and the present U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv would become our Consulate. This action might reduce the pressure on you from worldwide condemnations occurring now.
Second, President Trump: Often repeat Amb. Haley’s statement, “United States is not predetermining final status issues. We remain committed to achieving a lasting peace agreement. We support a two-state solution if agreed to by the parties.”
Again, Mr. President, such action would provide cover for Arab regimes to reduce the drumbeat of condemnation of you. It also would curry favor of European allies like Berlin, Paris, and the United Kingdom, which oppose your recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel.
Third, and this point is the most important: Mr. President, deflect attention away from Jerusalem by calling attention to human rights abuses of Tehran. Your NSC staff is aware Iran specializes in detaining political prisoners, as evidenced by the following volume, and as stated on Dec. 10 in “Human Rights Day and Iran’s Suppression.” A book by the National Council of Resistance of Iran is "Iran: Where Mass Murderers Rule: The 1988 Massacre of 30,000 Political Prisoners and the Continuing Atrocities."
In short, Mr. President, your pursuit of steps penned in this post might assist in helping the parties pursue a negotiated settlement regarding the Jerusalem issue. Without such moves, we all are doomed to live with breaking news about the Middle East toward the threat of wars that serve none of the parties’ interests, values, or goals.
Prof. Raymond Tanter (@AmericanCHR) served as a senior member on the Middle East Desk of the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration, Personal Representative of the Secretary of Defense to international security and arms control talks in Europe, and is now Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan. Tanter is on the comprehensive list of conservative writers and columnists who appear in The Wall Street Journal, Townhall.com, National Review, The Weekly Standard, Human Events, The American Spectator, and now in Newsmax. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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