May 14, 2018
It's been a whirlwind few weeks for Israel -- first with a jubilant 70th anniversary of independence party and now, with the official opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. For our allies, today has been a long time coming. American presidents have been promising to take this step for more than 20 years. Now, after decades of waiting, we finally have a White House that means it.
While crowds of dignitaries looked on, a delegation from the United States that included the president's daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared, helped make history for two nations that have believed in this cause from the beginning. "My friends," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began, "this is a great day for Israel. It's a great day for America. It's a great day for our fantastic partnership... but I believe it's also a great day for peace." Truth and peace, he explained, "are interconnected. A peace that is based on lies will only crash on the rocks of Middle Eastern realities. And the truth will always be that Jerusalem has always been, will always be, the capital of the Jewish state."
For Donald Trump, today's ceremony marks another major milestone on the growing list of White House accomplishments. As Jared Kushner reminded everyone, "Presidents before him have backed down from their pledge to move the American Embassy once they were in office. This president delivered. Because when President Trump makes a promise, he keeps it." As far back as the campaign, this president vowed to bring America's physical presence in Israel in line with our stated policy: that Jerusalem is the eternal undivided capital of the Jewish people.
The decision is a bold one, since it signals that America won't be held hostage to a fractious peace process that's frightened other administrations away from doing what this White House is. While other presidents let the threat of violence dictate American policy, Donald Trump refuses to make decisions based on what other groups think. As he's done from the beginning, this president is sending a strong message that America is not going to be bullied or pushed around. The United States will stand with Israel in hopes that there can someday be managed peace.
From a biblical standpoint, the magnitude of this day isn't lost on evangelicals. This moment further solidifies Israel as a sovereign nation -- the only country to return and occupy their land, speaking their native tongue after a diasporic 1900 years. But as important as this day is to Christians, it's also important to Israelis, who've waited patiently for their greatest ally to acknowledge in action what it did in spirit.
To the world, it signals a new chapter in America's foreign policy. Under Barack Obama, our country was babysitting the status quo, terrified that a show of strength like this would heighten tensions. And yes, it is a volatile area -- but there are new dynamics in the region with Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia that are positive. As Gregg Roman, the director of the Middle East Forum, pointed out back when the move was announced, this policy of timidity has gotten us nowhere. "Years of concessions, of work to build the Palestinian Authority into something capable of handling the levers of power that a state must wield, have brought us no closer to peace. Shaming Israel politically for defending its own people hasn't worked either."
President Trump is re-establishing a constitutional order that the world hasn't witnessed in years. He won't be cowed by the media or intimidated by other leaders. And his approval ratings continue to climb with his most important base because he's willing to fight on these things. Trump's strategy in Israel, on North Korea, and Iran, are all perfect examples of Ronald Reagan's motto, "Peace through strength." Together with millions of Americans and Israelis, we thank him -- not only for having the will to act, but the necessary courage.
As the president told all of those on hand by satellite, "The U.S. will always be a great friend of Israel and a partner in the cause of freedom and peace," President Trump told the crowd. "We extend a hand in friendship to Israel, the Palestinians, and to all of their neighbors. May there be peace. May God bless this embassy. May God bless all who serve here, and may God bless the United States of America."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.