December 07, 2017
It shouldn't be controversial when a president follows the law -- but not every president is Donald Trump. When the administration promised to make good on a 22-year-old promise to Congress, no one should have doubted that this White House would. But even now, a year after keeping his word on every major policy within his power, the world still seems surprised by Donald Trump's sincerity.
That much is clear in the 24 hours since the White House announced its plans to do what four presidents haven't: move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, its eternal capital. World leaders are hysterical, claiming that it would hurt a non-existent peace process (a ridiculous claim, since keeping the embassy where it is hasn't exactly resulted in a Middle East kumbaya). Here in the U.S., liberals like MSNBC's Chris Matthews are apoplectic. "...[I]t's the Christian evangelicals down there [in the south] with their crazy ideas about Israel which is, I don't know, mythical. They don't understand the situation over there, how tricky it is ethnically and tribally. They don't care because it's a religious belief. Trump is playing into that this week you watch him."
Trump is not playing into anything but Congress's own decree! In 1995, the House and Senate passed a law -- not a recommendation or a resolution or a sense of the Senate, a law – insisting that America move its embassy to the Israeli capital. For over two decades, presidents have ignored it, kicking the can down the road every six months allowing others to dictate American foreign policy. Enter Donald Trump, who decided the United States would not be held hostage by a hotbed of extremist violence. "While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise," he told reporters, "they failed to deliver. Today," he announced, "I am delivering."
Christopher Ruddy probably put it best when he said, "People are waking up to the fact that the president doesn't see grays and doesn't like pastels. He is very proud that he's fulfilled so many campaign promises, and the embassy decision is another..." For his evangelical base, it's a monumental step forward in a relationship with Israel that very nearly came undone under Barack Obama. To Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- and the world -- this is a sign of good faith between two nations with a special relationship.
Ironically, lost in all of the "controversy" is also this crucial point: both parties have asked for the move – repeatedly. In fact, it's one of the few issues on which Republicans and Democrats agree. At a time when very few values overlap, a Jerusalem embassy was a key point in both parties' political platforms. Just this May, the Senate proved it, unanimously passing (90-0) a resolution affirming its support of the 1995 law. "It's very fitting," Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at the time, "that the Senate passed this resolution 50 years to the day of the start of the Six Day War. The semi-centennial of the reunification of Jerusalem is an important milestone for Israel and Jewish people across the globe."
Of course, like most politicians, when it comes to actually backing up those words with action, some lose their will. Fortunately, not where Donald Trump is concerned. He continues to work toward the goals he outlined in the campaign. And we -- and a grateful Israel -- applaud him.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.