World

Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Triumph

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and wife, Sara, attend the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, May 14, 2018. (Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)
Trump’s move is an acknowledgment of reality. It is also a symbolic statement of permanence.

In the second century a.d., Jewish rebels who had stunned the Romans and liberated a portion of Judea overstruck imperial coins with images and a message of their own, “Year One of the Redemption of Jerusalem.”

The Roman emperor Hadrian had planted the seeds for the rebellion with his ambitions to remake Jerusalem, including the planned construction of a temple to Jupiter on the site of the old Jewish Temple.

The leader of the Jewish rebellion, Bar Kokhba, was fired by a vision of a united Israel with Jerusalem as its capital, which had been the exception during the prior millennium, thanks to the depredations of the Assyrians and Babylonians, among others. But such was the power of the national idea — and his messianic zeal — that Bar Kokhba ventured all on regaining it.

And lost. Not for nearly another 2,000 years would the vision come to fruition. At a ceremony in 1982 burying bones of some of those long-ago rebels with military honors, Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin declared: “Israel and Judea are reborn. We have redeemed Jerusalem.”

King David conquered the city in 1000 b.c. and made it the capital of the kingdom of Israel. His son Solomon built the First Temple. “He who has not seen Jerusalem in her splendor has never seen a desirable city in his life,” declares the Babylonian Talmud. “He who has not seen the Temple in its full construction has never seen a glorious building in his life.”

But Jerusalem would repeatedly be captured and the Temple destroyed (first by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar and then by the Roman emperor Titus).

The story of the Jewish people is one of loss, memory, and faithfulness and persistence. Psalm 137, recounting the Babylonian captivity, avers: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. 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.”

The notion that the City of David isn’t the capital of Israel was an impolite fiction, honored by the U.S. and the West for fear of provoking Arabs hostile to the very idea of the Jewish state.

The Jewish people never forgot. In one of the miracles of our age, after long centuries of exile punctuated by genocide at the hands of the Nazis, they reestablished Israel in 1948, and then gained control of all of Jerusalem in 1967 (prior to that, when Jordan held East Jerusalem, Jews couldn’t visit the Western Wall).

The notion that the City of David isn’t the capital of Israel was an impolite fiction, honored by the U.S. and the West for fear of provoking Arabs hostile to the very idea of the Jewish state. Its prime minister, parliament, and highest court are based there, and it’s unimaginable that Israel would ever agree to any peace deal that didn’t recognize it as the capital.

The tired, conventional arguments against it haven’t held up well in the wake of President Donald Trump’s decision to move our embassy. The Arab street hasn’t exploded. The West Bank has been relatively quiet. Arab capitals haven’t erupted in outrage. The flashpoint has been in Gaza, the terror statelet ruled by Hamas. Israel pulled out of Gaza more than a decade ago and has been rewarded with constant attacks emanating from a territory where the infrastructure of mayhem and destruction — rockets, tunnels, and the like — is the only growth industry.

Hamas has goaded rioters to storm the Israeli border, defended by Israeli soldiers who fire on them if necessary to protect local communities (more than 50 were killed on Monday). This isn’t “the caravan” that arrived at the U.S. border with peaceful migrants seeking asylum, but a violent provocation that is a function of Hamas’s commitment to Israel’s destruction.

For now, that poisonous ambition looks more fantastical than ever. Trump’s move is an acknowledgment of reality. It is also a symbolic statement of permanence, that Menachem Begin was correct when he said at the ceremony for the Bar Kokhba rebels 36 years ago, “Glorious fathers, we are back and we will not budge from here.’’

 

© 2018 by King Features Syndicate

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

The Wheels Begin to Come Off in the House

The Republican House has never been particularly functional, but Ryan has managed to hold it together admirably — until now. The Freedom Caucus took down the farm bill last week to pressure for a vote on a hawkish immigration bill, while a discharge petition is gaining ground with the support of Republican ... Read More
World

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Wins, America Loses

Derek Scissors of AEI has a sour take on the latest turn in U.S.–China trade talks: If there’s good news, it’s that the Trump administration has fallen silent on whether the U.S. will bend our law for China in the ZTE case, which got so much attention last week. That would be a big step backward. But even ... Read More
Culture

Jonathan Swift in a White Suit

In 1965 Tom Wolfe visited Princeton University for a panel discussion of "the style of the Sixties." The author of The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, published that year, was scheduled to appear alongside Günter Grass, Allen Ginsberg, and Paul Krassner. Grass spoke first. The German novelist's ... Read More
World

In Appreciation, and against (Too Much) Nostalgia

To put it a little self-pityingly: It seems that my gurus are going, and the world’s. Richard Pipes, the great historian of Russia and the Soviet Union, died on Thursday; Bernard Lewis, the great historian of the Middle East, died yesterday. We had them both for a long time. Pipes was born in 1923, Lewis way ... Read More
Culture

Comedians Are Catching On

The comedians are beginning to catch on. Over the weekend -- just one week after featuring a bevy of top-line Hollywood stars impersonating members of the Trump administration, as well as a cameo by a vengeful Stormy Daniels asking for President Trump’s resignation -- Saturday Night Live finally acknowledged ... Read More
PC Culture

The Nature of Progressive Insensitivity

Former vice president Joe Biden is back in the news yet again. For a second time, he seems surprised that poor residents of the inner city are capable of doing sophisticated jobs: We don't think ordinary people can do things like program, code. It's not rocket science, guys. So, we went and we hired some folks ... Read More
Culture

The Feminization of Everything Fails Our Boys

Let me share with you two troubling — and, I believe, closely linked — news reports. The first, from this weekend, comes courtesy of the American Enterprise Institute’s Mark Perry. In one chart, he highlights the dramatic and growing gender gap in higher education. In short, women are dominating: ... Read More