2018-05-23 / Editorial

U.S. Embassy opening is a powerful endorsement of history

The opening of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem should rightly be acknowledged as a commanding endorsement of the historical bonds between the Jewish people and this most sacred city. Just as importantly, the move serves as recognition of Israel’s right, like that of any sovereign nation, to choose its own capital city as well as an acknowledgement of the so-called situation on the ground: Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish state since the founding of the modern State of Israel 70 years ago.

And yet it is perhaps inevitable that the pride and euphoria Jews worldwide feel over this historic move has been tempered by sorrow over the most recent flare-up of tensions on the Gaza border. As hundreds of revelers gathered in South Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood for the joyful opening ceremony, deadly protests were occurring some 50 miles away. At the end of the day, Israeli soldiers shot and killed some 59 Palestinians while hundreds more were wounded attempting to breach the border. When the dust settled, and after the international media largely condemned Israel for excessive force, Hamas, the authoritarian, theocratic regime that controls Gaza, acknowledged that the vast majority of the dead were members of the terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip.

To be clear, as much as the media has seized on that narrative, the protests were not about the embassy move. Since March, demonstrators have gathered on the border weekly to draw attention to what has been dubbed the “Great March of Return.” The goal of demonstrators is to return to what is now Israel. These are deliberate attempts to breach Israel’s borders and overrun border towns filled with innocent Israeli civilians. No nation, including Israel, could tolerate such a circumstance.

These protests, clearly directed by Hamas, turned increasingly violent and deadly in the days leading up to the embassy opening. Israel has every right to defend itself, especially when tens of thousands of people, civilians mixed with thousands of terrorists, march on its border with the intent to destroy it and to allow the terrorists to murder its citizens. And yet it is a very Jewish reaction to mourn the loss of life in these clashes.

Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) literally means “City of Peace.” We hope that the city lives up to its name as a true beacon of peace and that the embassy move could be a spark that reignites meaningful peace talks. s

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