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  1. The recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish State, and the site of the US Embassy, reflects a realistic assessment of Middle East/Arab priorities, notwithstanding official Arab statements. Thus, the Arab walk – unlike the Arab talk – does not consider Jerusalem and the Palestinian issues to be nearly as critical as are the clear, present and lethal threats to all pro-US Arab regimes, which are posed by Iran’s Ayatollahs, ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic terrorists; the regional powder kegs in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya; and the inherent turbulence throughout the tectonic Middle East with many potential eruptions (in Jordan, Egypt, etc.) of devastating, anti-US lava.
  2. Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and relocating the US Embassy to Jerusalem – as prescribed by the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act– represent the resolve to focus on US interests in accordance with Middle East reality, while defying Arab pressure/threats and overruling the conventional “wisdom” of the State Department bureaucracy.
  3. Relocating the US Embassy to Jerusalem underscores the reassertion of the US independent and unilateral – rather than multilateral – action. It distinguishes the US President, most members of the House and the Senate and most constituents from the UN state-of-mind, the European vacillation and the worldview of the “elite” media and think tanks.
  4. Relocating the US Embassy to Jerusalem signals the determination to resurrect the US posture of deterrence. It reflects the realization that passivity and retreats in face of Arab/Islamic pressure and threats of terrorism has fueled violence. On the other hand, defiance of pressure and threats deters rogue elements, while generating tailwind to and security, stability and moderation.
  5. Palestinian hate-education and terrorism were fueled by the December 1988 US recognition of the PLO, the 1993 Oslo Accord Israeli unprecedented concessions to the Palestinians and the 2005 Israel’s uprooting of Jewish communities from Gaza. The latter already triggered three Israel-Hamas wars (2008/2009 – Operation Cast Lead, 2012 – Operation Pillar of Defense and 2014 – Operation Protective Edge). On the other hand, and contrary to assessments made by the State Department, the 2011 US veto of a UN Security Council condemnation of Israel’s settlements policy did not trigger anti-US terrorism.
  6. The non-implementation of the October 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act has not advanced the peace process. In fact, it has radicalized Arab expectations, forcing them to outflank the US from the maximalist side. Moreover, the US cave-in did not prevent the November 1995 Islamic car bomb, murdering five Americans in Riyadh; the June 1996 blowing up of the Saudi Khobar Towers with 19 US Air Force personnel murdered; the August 1998 blowing up of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, murdering 224 persons; the October 2000 blowing up of the USS Cole destroyer in the port of Aden, murdering 17 US sailors; the 9/11 Twin Towers massacre, etc..  It has undermined the US posture of deterrence, which is a prerequisite for the US national and homeland security, as well as global sanity.
  7. The relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem undermines the assumption that procrastination (in the Israel-Palestinian negotiation) serves the cause of the Palestinian Authority.
  8. The relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is consistent with the US ethos from the 17thcentury Early Pilgrims and the 18thcentury Founding Fathers – who considered Jerusalem “the shining city on the hill” – until today. It is reflected through the 18 and 32 US towns and cities bearing the names Jerusalem and Salem (Shalem was the original Biblical name of Jerusalem) and by… the spelling of JerUSAlem.

The US decision to comply with the law of the land – the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act – recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocating the US Embassy there, enhances the US posture of deterrence, in defiance of threats and pressure, while walking against the grain.

This reasserts the independence of US unilateral diplomatic action, rather than subordinate US interests to multilateral diplomacy, which tends to undermine US interests. Moreover, it challenges the political correctness of the UN, the Department of State and the “elite” media, which have been serial blunderers on Middle East issues.
While President Trump recognizes Israel as a unique ally, strategically and morally – in an explosive region and during an unpredictably violent era – his determination to remedy this 70-year-old faulty policy aims at advancing US interests, rather than demonstrate pro-Israel sentiments.
The relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem reflects the realization that retreat in the face of threats and pressure intensifies anti-US policies, aggression and terrorism, while defiance of pressure is a prerequisite for the rehabilitation of deterrence, a precondition to peace and security.
US procrastination on the implementation of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act did not advance the cause of peace. Rather, intensified Palestinian expectations forced them to outflank the US from the radical side and therefore, added another obstacle on the road to peace.
The relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem should not undermine the peace process, since the Embassy will be located in an area which was controlled by Israel before the eruption of the 1967 Six Day War.
The relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem represents the American ethos – from the Early Pilgrims through the Founding Fathers – which has considered Greater Jerusalem the undivided capital of the Jewish Commonwealth. Hence, the 18 US towns names Jerusalem and the 32 named Salem (the original Biblical name of Jerusalem).

The relocation of the US Embassy will implement the 1995 legislation, which has enjoyed much support on, and off, Capitol Hill, but was sacrificed – until January 2017 – by the US Administration on the altar of false/faulty national security considerations. A waiver was introduced into the language of the law, as a result of pressure by then President Clinton, which was seconded by the late Prime Minister Rabin. In July, 1999, a veto-override majority of 84 Senators supported proposed legislation, which would force implementation of the legislation by eliminating the presidential waiver. But, a coalition of President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Ehud Barak convinced the Senators to shelve it, contending that the cause of peace must not be sacrificed on the altar of Jerusalem.However, reality has documented that they sacrificed reality and Jerusalem on the altar of wishful-thinking and a failed peace process, which collapsed during Prime Minister Barak’s tenure, accompanied by an unprecedented wave of Palestinian terrorism.

Another reminder that appeasement of rogue elements intensifies violence.

Apparently, President Trump is determined to avoid – rather than repeat – the mistakes of his predecessors, fending off pressure and threats by rogue regimes, and therefore advancing US interests, law and heritage.
In December, 1949, David Ben Gurion, Israel’s Founding Father, annexed Western Jerusalem, declared it the capital of the newly-born Jewish State, relocated the Knesset (legislature) and Cabinet headquarters to Jerusalem and built Jewish neighborhoods on the ceasefire line in Jerusalem. Ben Gurion acted in stark defiance of brutal pressure by the US State Department and most of the global community, which considered the whole of JerUSAlem Corpus Separatum, an international city.
Ben Gurion’s steadfastness, under horrific odds, undermined his short-term popularity, but greatly enhanced Israel’s long-term posture of deterrence, national security and respect, and earned him eternal acclaim.
Will Prime Minister Netanyahu follow in the footsteps of Prime Minister Ben Gurion in the pursuit of Israel’s long-term national security – walking against the grain and defying conventional “wisdom” – rather than fishing for short-term popularity through land concessions, which would expose Israel to lethal threats?!

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1. Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and relocating the US Embassy to Jerusalem – as prescribed by the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act – represent President Trump’s resolve to focus on US interests, defy Arab pressure/threats, and overrule the politically-correct bureaucracy of the State Department.
2. Relocating the US Embassy to Jerusalem underscores the resurrection of the US independent unilateral – rather than multinational – action.  It distinguishes the US President, Congress and most Americans from the US foreign policy establishment, the UN worldview, and Europe’s vacillation and cave-in.
3. It signals a determination to resurrect the US posture of deterrence, reflecting the realization that succumbing to Arab pressure/threats fuels violence, while defiance of pressure/threats deters rogue elements and advances security, and therefore advances the prospects of peace.
4. Palestinian terrorism and hate-education were fueled by the December 1988 US recognition of the PLO, the 1993 Oslo Accord Israeli concessions to the Palestinians, and the 2005 Israel’s uprooting of Jews from Gaza.  On the other hand, the 2011 US veto of a UN Security Council condemnation of Israel’s settlements policy was not followed by anti-US terrorism, contrary to assessments made by the State Department.
5. The non-implementation of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act has not advanced the peace process, but radicalized Arab expectations, forcing them to outflank the US from the maximalist side. It has undermined the US posture of deterrence, which is critical for the US national security and global sanity.
6. Relocating the US Embassy to Jerusalem is consistent with the US ethos from the early Pilgrims and the US Founding Fathers until today. It is reflected by the 18 Jerusalems and 32 Salems (Shalem was the original name of Jerusalem) in the US, and by the spelling of JerUSAlem.
7. Relocating the US Embassy to Jerusalem reflects a determination to avoid repeated errors, thus bolstering the US posture of deterrence, while complying with the US law of the land, and embracing the state-of-mind of most Americans.

Terminating the Department of State policy which refers to the whole of Jerusalem as an international (not Israeli) city, recognizing unified Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and relocating the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, represent a litmus test of President-elect Donald Trump’s resolve to Make America Great Again, by defying Arab/Muslim pressure and threats, as well as overruling the politically-correct establishment of the Department of State.

Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem is, also, a litmus test of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s intent to leverage the non-conventional Trump/Pence worldview, which abhors domestic and international political-correctness, respects firmness and the defiance of odds, recognizes Israel as a unique ally in the battle against the Ayatollahs and Islamic terrorism, and is aware that US national security interests transcend the Palestinian issue.

The decision to relocate the US Embassy to Jerusalem will usher in the Trump era, setting President Trump apart from his predecessors, underscoring the independence of US unilateral – rather than multinational – action, distinguishing him from the US and international foreign policy establishment and setting him apart from the UN worldview, while reflecting the state-of-mind of most Americans.

Establishing the US Embassy in Israel’s capital will signal Trump’s determination to resurrect the US posture of deterrence, which has been eroded in recent years, underlying a realization that succumbing to pressure and threats fuels violence, while defying them deters rogue elements and advances security and the prospects of peace. For example, in 2011, the Department of State warned the White House against vetoing a UN Security Council condemnation of Israel’s settlements policy, lest it fuel terrorism.  Contrary to the December 1988 US recognition of the PLO and the 1993 Israel-PLO Oslo Accord – which intensified Palestinian terrorism and hate education – vetoing the UN Security Council resolution was not followed by bloodshed.
While moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem would not undermine or prejudge the peace process – since the location of the Embassy is in pre-1967 Israeli Western Jerusalem – a failure to implement the law will further radicalize the Arabs, who cannot afford to be less demanding that the US, thus presenting more obstacles to the pursuit of peace.
The relocation of the US Embassy to Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem, will implement US law, the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which enjoys massive support on Capitol Hill and beyond, but was not implemented by presidents who abused national security as an excuse for non-compliance.
Relocating the US Embassy to Jerusalem will, also, be consistent with the worldview of the early Pilgrims and the US Founding Fathers, as reflected by the existence of 18 Jerusalems and 32 Salems (Shalem was the original name of Jerusalem) in the US, and by the spelling of JerUSAlem.
Jerusalem was central to the agenda of Israel’s Founding Father and first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion. In December 1949 – at the end of Israel’s War of Independence – he declared Western Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in defiance of brutal pressure from the US, and notwithstanding harsh opposition by Israeli President Haim Weizman and Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett, who predicted costly consequences, diplomatically, economically and militarily. Resisting the US call to refrain from annexing – and constructing in – Western Jerusalem, Ben Gurion relocated government offices and the Knesset from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and built new neighborhoods all the way to the ceasefire lines in Jerusalem, thus enhancing the stature of Jerusalem and Israel.
However, in 1995, I heard from a frustrated Senator Daniel Inouye – who was Israel’s leading supporter on Capitol Hill – that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin collaborated with President Bill Clinton in pressuring US Senators to insert a waiver provision into the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which enjoyed a veto proof majority.  That waiver enabled US presidents to suspend implementation of the Act, supposedly, due to national security considerations.
Similarly, in July 1999, Prime Minister Ehud Barak asked Senators Lieberman and Kyl to heed President Clinton’s request to shelve an updated edition of the Jerusalem Embassy Act – supported by 84 Senators – which would revoke the waiver provision, prescribing a $100MN deduction from the Department of State budget upon non-implementation. Barak contended that the initiative was “ill timed,” and would amount to sacrificing the peace process on the altar of Jerusalem. However, Barak’s slapping the face of Israel’s friends on Capitol Hill – and his proposed unprecedented, reckless concessions to Arafat – sacrificed Jerusalem on the altar of a failed peace process, further radicalizing Palestinian expectations, and therefore dooming the peace process.
Recent months suggest that President-elect Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu realize that the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem is their litmus test.
President-elect Trump has demonstrated his politically-incorrect vigor to learn from the past by avoiding presidential errors, to relocate the US Embassy to Jerusalem and to bolster the US posture of deterrence, while projecting his own compliance with the US law of the land.
Prime Minister Netanyahu will not sacrifice the unique potential of the Trump/Pence team on the altar of political correctness, and therefore will follow in the footsteps of Ben Gurion, who would not sacrifice Jerusalem on the altar of “doomsday assessments,” realizing the critical geo-strategic impact of his attitude toward Jerusalem on Israel’s power projection, deterrence of Israel’s enemies and cooperation with the politically-incorrect, newly-elected President Trump.
Chapter Eight
Preface: Jerusalem and Inter-Religious Dialogue1
Jerusalem is at the same time perhaps the best and the worst topic for inter-religious dialogue.
It is, in one sense, the best topic for inter-religious dialogue because the name “Jerusalem,” more than any other single name, symbolizes some of the greatest hopes and most sacred concepts of the three western religious tradi-tions, the monotheistic communities which see themselves as the physical and/or spiritual heirs of Abraham.
Jerusalem is, however, in another sense the worst possible topic for our in-ter-religious dialogue. For Jerusalem, whose name is often understood to mean “the city of peace,” has historically rarely been, and in our lifetime has never been, a city of true peace. Jerusalem may be the occasion or the topic of our Jewish-Christian-Muslim encounter, but we would be dishonest if we were to deny the obvious fact, that Jerusalem cannot, for the present and the foreseeable future, be the locale of our dialogue. The Jewish and Arab (whether Muslim or Christian) Jerusalemites, who may live only some hundreds of meters from each other, are far more likely to engage each other in genuine dialogue thou-sands of kilometers away from Jerusalem than they are at home. It is precisely because Jerusalem embodies some of our greatest hopes that it arouses our
Jerusalem’s Significance in Judaism
greatest passions, passions which often cloud clear judgment as well as human compassion.
The issue of compassion is not incidental here, for communities and na-tions, as well as individuals, are all too often inclined to focus exclusively on their own painful experience as victims. “Is there any pain like my pain?” cries out the author of Lamentations (1:12), in the generation after the first destruc-tion of Jerusalem and the Temple of Solomon in 586 B.C.E. This attitude, that mine is the only real pain, that my tragedy is the only meaningful tragedy, how-ever understandable psychologically or historically, is an impediment to true dialogue, which must attempt to give us an understanding of the other’s heart as well as mind, and empathy for our partner’s pain if not sympathy for his or her professed opinions.
That is why this paper is entitled “Jerusalem’s Significance in Judaism” rather than “Jerusalem’s Spiritual Significance in Judaism,” because we must first recognize that Jerusalem is not merely significant to one of our traditions alone, but to all of them. At the same time, Jerusalem is of obvious and over-whelming significance in Judaism.
There need be no disloyalty, however, in recognizing that others also hold sacred a symbol from one’s own tradition. The fact that Christianity and Islam, in their own ways, have adopted and adapted aspects of the earlier Jewish sym-bolism, in this case of Jerusalem, provides for a commonality, which can be the basis either for continued rivalry and conflict, or for a new sense of mutual tol-eration and respect.
Nevertheless, an open and frank dialogue must take into account not only points of similarity, in which Judaism, Christianity and Islam parallel each other, but also points of uniqueness, where they differ, sometimes sharply, from each other. These differences do not preclude true dialogue; they render it all the more urgent and essential. A dialogue which seeks to understand rather than to overcome, will not eliminate those differences. It will enhance them with greater appreciation and respect for the other.
Jerusalem’s Significance in Judaism: Not Just Spiri-tual
That being understood, let me now attempt to set forth some features of Je-rusalem’s significance in Judaism. I must first note, however, that in the case of Judaism it is impossible to discuss “the spiritual significance of Jerusalem in Judaism” alone, as I was originally requested, because in Judaism, “the spiri-tual” is not a category unto itself, and the attempt to establish a dichotomy be-tween “spiritual” and “physical,” between the sacred and the secular, between the religious and the national, is simply false to the historic Jewish experience. In order to clarify this, permit me to digress for a moment to some general con-siderations, before returning to their implications for a proper Jewish perspec-tive on Jerusalem’s significance.
The European and American separation of church and state, for example, is a relatively recent innovation in history, going back more or less to the Treaty
Jerusalem’s Significance in Judaism
of Westphalia in 1648, ending the Thirty Years War. It is a European, Christian dichotomy that is foreign to Islam and to Judaism alike. Taking this one step further, the very dichotomy between religion, as a universalist phenomenon, and nationality, a particular phenomenon, which is found in both Christianity and Islam, is alien to Judaism. Christianity and Islam both claim to be universal religions, transcending particular nationality.2 In the case of Judaism, however, there is, and can be, no such dichotomy between religion and nation. The uni-versal and the particular are not mutually incompatible or contrary; rather, they are correlative concepts, which complement each other, like “male and female,” or “mountain and valley.” The one cannot be understood, nor can it exist, with-out the other. To attempt to force such a dichotomy onto Judaism is to falsify Jewish history and to violate the Jewish religious experience. Jewish religion is national, and Jewish nationhood is religious. As the late Rabbi Mordecai Kap-lan (1881–1983) put it, “In Judaism as a civilization, ‘belonging’ is prior to ‘believing,’ although meaningless without ‘believing’.”3
Consider, for instance, biblical Ruth. When her mother-in-law Naomi told her to return to her native Moab, she replied: “Ask me not to leave you, to turn away from you: for wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you lie down will I lie down. Your nation is my nation, and your God is my God.”4 Had Ruth not considered herself a member of the Jewish nation (`am), the God of Israel would not have been her God!
The religious and the national dimensions of Jewish existence are thus in-separable. They form an inextricable organic unity, and that organic unity typi-fies Jewish history, from its very beginnings, as well as the Jewish experience today.
Coming back to Jerusalem, then, for the Jews there is and can be no sepa-rate category of “the spiritual significance of Jerusalem,” as opposed to its his-toric and national significance. One who wishes to relate with respect to the religious or spiritual significance of Jerusalem in Judaism cannot, accordingly, ignore the historic and national dimensions of Jerusalem in Jewish life.
This Jewish perspective obviously complicates the attempt to pursue a purely religious encounter, free of the very real and present tensions attendant on the Jewish-Arab conflict of the last hundred years. Let us remember, how-ever, that unlike so many other age-old conflicts in the world, the Jewish-Arab conflict is relatively recent, and does not go back centuries. Nevertheless, in the conflict in our region, as in so many others, religion is often politicized and political strife is fueled by religious fanaticism. In our encounter, therefore, while we are all obviously aware of the political implications of our topic, we need to walk the very fine and insecure line between explicit practical politics and what may be implicit in a theoretical presentation of historic religious and national perspectives.
Jerusalem’s Significance: The Jewish Sources
A prime indicator of the significance of Jerusalem in Judaism is the prolif-eration of sources, from the Bible on, which deal with the city in one respect or another. The Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) explicitly refers to Jerusalem by name
Jerusalem’s Significance in Judaism
some 700 times, and to the corollary name Zion (which first properly indicated the Temple Mount, and later came to connote Jerusalem as the capital city, and thus eventually the Holy Land as a whole) some 150 times. But these hundreds of explicit references to Jerusalem and Zion by name are, of course, only the tip of the biblical iceberg; the implicit references cannot even be measured.
Post-biblical Jewish literature similarly reflects Jerusalem’s central signifi-cance. Rabbinic literature, the Talmud and Midrash, is replete with explicit and implicit references to Jerusalem, as is the classical Jewish liturgy. A brief pres-entation like this cannot compete with such major studies as A. S. Halkin’s Zion in Jewish Literature5 and Zev Vilnay’s Legends of Jerusalem.6 The huge vol-ume of sources is but one indication, however important, of the centrality of Jerusalem in Jewish religious concern and literary expression.
Even a brief and superficial sampling of the material at hand is more than ample to demonstrate Jerusalem’s significance and centrality in Jewish life for some 3,000 years, since David conquered the city and made it the capital of the united monarchy of Israel.
The Centrality of the Land and Jerusalem in Jewish Law
As a result of Jerusalem’s being the national capital and the site of the Temple, the only place in which the biblical sacrificial cult could thereafter properly be maintained, Jerusalem and the Temple attained a special status of sanctity in later Jewish law. Without delving into technical details, such as the intricate laws of purity relating to the city and the Temple Mount, let us exam-ine one particular aspect of Jewish law: its territorial component (what the rab-bis call “commandments dependent on the Land [of Israel]”) and its emphasis of Jerusalem.
The Halakhah (Jewish law) is ultimately based, whether directly or deriva-tively, on the written Torah, which, as the rabbis understood it, contains 6l3 mi÷vot, commandments revealed by God to Moses and the Israelites at Sinai.7 Here we come to our first clear evidence of the national character of Jewish religious life, with its central territorial component. The 613 commandments are not addressed to individual Jews alone, but collectively to the Jewish nation, the people of Israel (Benei Yisrael). Obviously the religious way of life prescribed by the 613 commandments is obligatory for individual Jews, wherever they may be and whenever they may live. Nevertheless, among the 613 command-ments, are many which are specifically national and collective in character, and which, in addition, can be performed only in the Land of Israel, or under the conditions of Jewish statehood. Some, moreover, can only be performed within the context of the priestly cult in the Temple in Jerusalem. Such religious obli-gations as settling the land, building the Temple, establishing cities of refuge for involuntary or accidental homicide, gathering the people every seven years for the public reading of the Torah by the king, etc., are national in nature: the individual Jew, by himself for herself, has no way to fulfill these obligations. The commandments relating to agriculture, the seventh year of release and the
Jerusalem’s Significance in Judaism
Jubilee, can only be performed in, and are only applicable to, the Land of Israel. The rites pertaining to purification and sacrifices (individual and national, obligatory and voluntary) as well as the pilgrimage can be performed only as part of the priestly cult which was limited to the Temple in Jerusalem.
The individual Jew outside the Land of Israel, then, is by definition inca-pable of performing personally, or even of participating in, the full regimen of religious obligations required by the Torah, no matter how personally pious he or she may be. It is only within the Lund of Israel, in the context of a Jewish State and with the priestly cult functioning in the Temple in Jerusalem, that the 613 commandments can be completely put into practice by the Jewish people us a whole.
Perhaps one of the most extreme examples of the centrality of this national-territorial component in Jewish life is the statement of the talmudic rabbis: “A person should always live in the Land of Israel, even in a city with an idolatrous majority, and should not live outside the Land, even in a city with a Jewish ma-jority, for whoever lives in the Land of Israel resembles one who has God, and whoever lives outside the Land resembles one who has no God.”8
Now there is always a gap of “cognitive dissonance” separating theoretical ideals from practical reality. Moreover, even on a theoretical level, one extreme ideal is often counter-balanced by another equally important and valid ideal. This statement is, after all, preserved in the Babylonian Talmud, and for much of Jewish history, including most of the last nineteen centuries, the overwhelm-ing majority of Jews have lived outside the Land of Israel.
Nevertheless, the Land of Israel, and specifically Jerusalem, occupy a spe-cial place in Jewish law (which, for example, regards the failure of a spouse to accompany his or her partner to Israel as grounds for divorce). As we shall see, the Jews traditionally always regarded themselves as having been involuntarily exiled from their homeland, and prayed for its and their restoration.
The territorial imperative is a central feature of Jewish life from its very begin-nings in the covenant between God and Abraham and his descendants. In the words of the biblical story:
The Lord said to Abram: Go from your country, from your birthplace and from your father’s home, to the land which I will show you. I will make you a great nation. I will bless you and will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and will curse those who curse you; through you will all the families of the earth be blessed.”9
When Abram and his family then moved to the land of Canaan, “the Lord appeared to Abram and said: I will give this land to your seed.”10 Thereafter, God showed Abram the whole land and said:
I will give all the land which you see to you and to your seed forever. . . . Get up and walk through the land, its length and breadth, for I will give it to you.11
The land is also a central component of the subsequent affirmation of that promise in “the covenant between the pieces” (berit bein ha-betarim)12 as it is in God’s blessing and re-naming of Abram as Abraham:
Jerusalem’s Significance in Judaism
I will give you and your seed after you the land of your inhabitation, all the land of Canaan, as an eternal possession, and I will be their God.13
Given the centrality of the Promised Land as a whole in Israel’s covenant with God, how did Jerusalem attain its particular position of primacy? Here, again, we see how inseparable Jerusalem’s spiritual significance is from secular national considerations. To understand this gradual process of increasing pri-macy of Jerusalem as the center—national as well as religious—of Jewish life, we must briefly survey some main points in the early history of the city, during the formative biblical and rabbinic periods of Judaism.
Jerusalem: An Early Historical Survey—Formative Pe-riods of Judaism
Jerusalem plays no special role in the Patriarchal period; other Canaanite cities, including ¢evron, Be’er Sheva and Shechem are much more prominent in the stories of that time. Nevertheless, later traditions associate Jerusalem with Abraham, who was blessed by “Malki-Tzedek, king of Shalem,”14 and whose attempted sacrifice of his son Isaac15 took place on Mount Moriah, later associ-ated with Mount Zion, on which the first and second Temples stood.16
Centuries later, the Israelite tribes, led by Joshua, were unable to conquer Jerusalem, at that time a Jebusite city, which lay between the tribal territory of Judah to the south and Benjamin to the north.17 The city’s vital geographic and topographic location, astride the continental divide and the intersection of major inland highways, gave it special strategic importance in the control of the heart-land of the country, its traffic, communications and commerce.
King David, who had already served seven years as king of the southern tribe of Judah, based in ¢evron,18 recognized the importance of Jerusalem to his effort to unite the country us a whole. The Bible describes how David, with soldiers from “all of Israel” (north and south) under his command,19 was able to capture the city from within, by climbing the vertical water shaft (which still stands), which the Jebusites had carved from the Gihon spring in the Kidron valley to the city’s east, up to the center of the city on the `Ophel ridge.20 David then purchased the land immediately north of the city,21 and built an altar on the site upon which his son Solomon subsequently built the Temple.22 The Temple Mount, or Mount Zion, namely the high ground and peak of the ridge to the north of Jebusite Jerusalem, was from the perspective of the original “City of David,” the acropolis of Jerusalem.
David thus established Jerusalem, with its central but neutral location be-tween the north and south, as the new national capital (much as George Wash-ington did when proposing the site for the American capital). David’s son Solomon continued the process of political centralization by redistricting the country into twelve administrative departments, each headed by a governor (ni÷av), the boundaries of which cut across the old tribal lines (much as Napo-leon did when he redistricted France into the modern Departments).23
In both first and second Temple times, Jerusalem expanded greatly, reach-ing its apex only a few decades before its destruction by the Romans in the
Jerusalem’s Significance in Judaism
Great Jewish Revolt, in the year 70 C.E. Nevertheless, many Jews continued to live in the city, and the Romans continued to recognize the country as “Judaea” (Judah) and the city as “Hierosolyma” (Jerusalem). A generation later, how-ever, the Jewish population of the country again rebelled under the leadership of Bar Kokhba, and now the Romans, under Hadrian, decided to eliminate the Jews and Judaism. Jerusalem was plowed under with salt, and in its place the Romans built Aelia Capitolina, the walls of which serve to this day as the basis for the sixteenth-century Ottoman Turkish walls of the Old City. It was at this time (135 C.E.) that the Romans, in order to de-Judaize the country, changed its name from “Judaea” to “Palestina,” after the ancient enemies of Israel, the bib-lical Philistines, who had disappeared from the map of history centuries before.
Jerusalem thus historically symbolizes the status of the country as a whole. In all its history, the Land has been a separate and integral territory, with a dis-tinct identity and name of its own, and governed by its natives, only three times, and only at these times has Jerusalem been its capital: during the biblical period of the First Temple, during the period of the Second Temple, and since 1948.
At all other times, the country was never independent, but was a province of a larger empire, and Jerusalem was not its capital, whether in Roman times, or during the centuries of changing Islamic rule, including the Ummayads (based in Damascus), the `Abassids (based in Baghdad), the Mamlukes (based in Egypt), and the Ottoman Turks. In all these periods the country also had no distinctive identity or name of its own. In classical Arabic literature, the country is simply referred to us “A-Sham” (Syria), and the name “Filastin” is a modern version of the European “Palestina.”
Jerusalem’s Spiritual Significance
It is the centrality of Jerusalem in Jewish law and history, then, that en-dows the city with its spiritual significance in Judaism. Because of its being the capital of the country whenever it enjoyed independence, Jerusalem came to embody Jewish national aspirations. As we have seen, Jerusalem also came to symbolize Jewish fidelity to the Torah (since the 613 commandments can be fulfilled completely only within the national framework of a Jewish state in the land, end with the priestly cult functioning in the Temple in Jerusalem).
It is within this framework that we can now begin to appreciate the spiri-tual significance of the city as well. The political centralization initiated by David and Solomon was focused on Jerusalem, and was, at the same time, a religious centralization of worship in the Temple. Jerusalem thus came to repre-sent the true worship of God, in contradistinction to the popular idolatrous bamot (altars or high places) and other local shrines that continued to thrive for centuries around the country, in defiance of Jerusalem. The words of Isaiah and Micah therefore have both immediate, contemporary meaning as well as es-chatological significance: “For out of Zion will come the Torah, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”24
With the destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple by the Babyloni-ans in 586 B.C.E. (one and a half centuries after the northern kingdom of Israel, which had seceded from the united monarchy after the death of Solomon, fell to
Jerusalem’s Significance in Judaism
the Assyrians), the Jews in Babylonian exile now faced a new problem: how to survive nationally and function religiously despite the loss of Jerusalem us both their national and religious center. The problem was expressed most eloquently by the psalmist, in words which became, in subsequent centuries, a sort of Jew-ish pledge of allegiance:
By the rivers of Babylon we sat down and cried, as we remembered Zion. On the willows therein we hung up our harps. For there our captors asked us for songs, and our tormentors [asked us] for mirth: sing for us some of the songs of Zion. But how can we sing the Lord’s song on foreign soil? If I forget you, Jerusalem, let my right hand be paralyzed. Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not elevate Jerusalem above my greatest joy.25
The significance is clear: the Jews had been removed from the heart of Zion, but Zion was never removed from the Jewish heart.
The Jewish liturgy—study and prayer—of the new institution of the syna-gogue (a miqdash me`at, a miniature Temple) gradually began to evolve in Babylonian exile to fill the vacuum created by the loss of the sacrificial cult in the Jerusalem Temple, and continued in Second Temple times to serve as a sur-rogate for the Temple cult for Jews who lived outside the Land, and even in the Land. By the time of the destruction of the Second Temple and Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 C.E., the synagogue liturgy had attained the basic classical structure that has survived and is still used in traditional Jewish worship today.
The restoration of Jerusalem, as both a national and religious center, thus became a dominant theme in much of Jewish worship and ritual, and came to symbolize both Jewish national survival and fidelity to the Torah, and indeed eventually the hopes for the messianic era, when the Jews would be restored to Zion and Zion to the Jews.
This is why the two most sacred ceremonies of the Jewish calendar, the fast day of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) and the seder (the order of the ser-vice) on the evening of Passover, conclude with the works, La-Shanah Ha-Ba’ah Bi-Yerushalayim (“Next year in Jerusalem”). This also is why, to this day, the Jews, wherever in the world they may be, turn in prayer towards Jeru-salem. The ruins of ancient synagogues (such us the one on Masada and others in the Galilee) provide material evidence of the antiquity of this orientation towards Jerusalem in prayer.
The Multi-Faceted Symbolism of Jerusalem
Jerusalem, then, came progressively to symbolize ever more levels of meaning in Judaism. First, of course, it represented the political union of the country as its national capital. Then—although this process was gradual and encountered popular resistance—Jerusalem came to represent the true worship of God, as the idolatrous bamot (high places, altars) eventually were sup-pressed. When Jerusalem was destroyed and could no longer effectively serve as an actual religious center for the Jews in exile, it came to serve as a spiritual
Jerusalem’s Significance in Judaism
center, symbolizing their fidelity to the Torah and their yearning for national and religious restoration. The memory of the past fueled the hopes for the fu-ture, and Jerusalem thus came to be associated with, and to epitomize, Israel’s messianic expectations. The identification of Jerusalem with the messianic fu-ture, in turn, led to a vision of the ideal, heavenly Jerusalem—yerushalayim shel ma`alah—in contrast with the desolate, real earthly Jerusalem—yerushalayim shel matah. Jerusalem the ideal thus took on universalist connota-tions and even cosmic significance, reflected in popular legends, far transcend-ing its particular connotations as Israel’s national and religious center.
This progression of levels of meaning, however, is a logical construct and not an actual chronological development. The levels of meaning are often inter-twined, representing congruent dimensions of Jewish life. Moreover, depending on their spiritual temperament or disposition, people might find more meaning in one level than the other. Thus, towards the end of the Second Temple period, the corruption of the political and religious leadership in Jerusalem under Ro-man occupation led some Jews, notably in the Dead Sea communities and among the early Jewish-Christians, to secessionist apocalyptic emphasis of the ideal heavenly Jerusalem, whereas others, notably in the Great Jewish Revolt (66–70 C.E.) and the Bar Kokhba Rebellion (132–135 C.E.), opted for military confrontation with Rome in the name of messianic expectations of Jerusalem’s national restoration, both before and after its actual destruction in 70 C.E.
Jerusalem’s Symbolism in Jewish Liturgy And Ritual
One of the primary areas in which the traditional symbolism of Jerusalem is expressed is Jewish liturgy and rituals For example, among the “seven bless-ings” invoked at the Jewish wedding ceremony, the symbolism of Jerusalem is prominent:
May she who is childless be happy and glad as her children are gathered to-gether in her midst in joy. Blessed are you, Lord, who makes Zion rejoice in her children. . . . Soon, Lord our God, may there be heard in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, the sound of gladness and the sound of rejoic-ing, the voice of the groom and the voice of the bride.
The wedding ceremony traditionally then ends as the groom breaks a glass in commemoration of the destruction of Jerusalem, so that even at this moment of supreme joy, the words of the psalmist are fulfilled: “if I do not elevate Jeru-salem above my greatest joy.”
The joy of a new couple building a new “household in Israel” is thus ex-plicitly linked to the joy of the rebuilding of Zion as the national home. This may explain the custom in talmudic times of Jewish husbands (a notable exam-ple is Rabbi Akiba, who suffered a martyr’s death in the Bar Kokhba Rebel-lion), who gave their wives a “Jerusalem of Gold” (yerushalayim shel zahav), a golden pendant in the shape of the city.26
Conversely, on the other end of the spectrum of Jewish rites of passage, a person mourning the death of a member of the family is traditionally comforted
Jerusalem’s Significance in Judaism
by visitors who greet him or her with the words: “May God console you among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.”
The standard, regular daily liturgy is similarly replete with references to the return to Zion and the restoration of Jerusalem. The morning service introduces the Shema’ Yisrael,27 proclaiming the unity of God, with the hope that God may “shine a new light on Zion,” and “bring us in peace from the four corners of the earth, and cause us to walk sovereignly in our land.” The central prayer recited thrice daily includes such phrases as:
Return compassionately to Jerusalem, your city. . . . Rebuild it as an eternal building soon in our day. . . . Blessed are you, Lord, the builder of Jerusalem. . . . May our eyes behold your compassionate return to Zion. Blessed are you, Lord, who restores his presence to Zion.
When the Torah scroll is removed from the ark for public reading, a colla-tion of biblical verses is recited, including:
Compassionate father, benefit Zion with your favor; rebuild the walls of Jeru-salem.28 . . . For out of Zion will come the Torah, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.29
The Sabbath and especially the major seasonal festivals were times of mass pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The additional special prayers recited on these occa-sions reflect the focus on Jerusalem that is felt with particular intensity at these times:
On account of our sins were we exiled from our country and taken far away from our land, so that we are not able to make the pilgrimage and to appear and bow down before you and to fulfill our obligations in your chosen [Tem-ple], that great and sacred house which is called by your name, because of the hand which was sent against your sanctuary. May it be favorable to you, Lord our God and the God of our ancestors . . . to return and have compassion for us and for your sanctuary. . . . Rebuild it quickly. . . . Bring near those of us who are scattered from among the nations, and gather together those of us who are dispersed from the corners of the earth. Bring us to Zion your city in glad song, and to Jerusalem the site of your Temple in eternal joy.
One of the most expressive phrases is found in the prayer which asks God to “have compassion on Zion, for it is the home of our life,” encapsulating the significance of Jerusalem in Judaism: The rabbis felt, in a very real sense, that it is beit ²ayyenu, “the home of our life,” however far removed they were from Jerusalem geographically.
Because Jerusalem was felt to be the ultimate Jewish home, its destruction was, and still is among traditionally observant Jews, mourned so deeply. With the exception of Yom Kippur, the “Day of Atonement,” on which the total fast of more than 24 hours serves the aim of purity and repentance, the other fasts in the Jewish calendar generally serve to mourn progressive stages in the destruc-tion of Jerusalem. Minor daytime fasts commemorate, for example the siege of Jerusalem and the breaching of its walls, and culminate in the only other 24
Jerusalem’s Significance in Judaism
hour fast in Jewish practice, on the ninth day of the summer month of Av, on which day, over six hundred years apart, both the First and Second Temples fell.
However, in the words of the prophet Isaiah 66:10:
Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad in her, all who love her; be joyful with her in joy, all who mourn for her.
Those who mourned all their lives for the ancient destruction of Jerusalem hoped to share in the joy of her restoration. That is why, in the sixteenth cen-tury, the poet and mystic Shelomo Alkabetz could explicitly link the theme of Jerusalem’s desolation and restoration to the transition from the mundane sor-rows and worries of the workday week to the joyful pleasures of the Sabbath, which in rabbinic lore is a “foretaste of the world to come.” Six of the nine stanzas of Alkabetz’s beautiful poem, “Lekha Dodi” (“Come, my lover”), which was adopted by all Jewish communities for the Friday sunset service welcoming the Sabbath, deal with Jerusalem. For example:
Come, my lover, to meet the bride, let us welcome the Sabbath. . . . Sanctuary of the king, royal city / Arise and get out of your ruins. Long have you sat in the valley of weeping / He will show you compassion.
Shake off your dust and arise / Put on your glorious clothes, my people. Be near to my soul and redeem it / through [David] the son of Jesse, the Bethle-hemite.
Awake, awake / for your light has come, arise and shine! Waken, waken, sing a song / The glory of the Lord is revealed to you.
Those who despoil you will become a spoil / and those who would master you will be distant.
Your God will rejoice over you / As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.
The last verse, based on Isaiah 62:5, again makes the explicit analogy be-tween the joyous restoration of Jerusalem and the joy of bride and groom. The circle of symbolism is thus complete: Jerusalem restored is irrevocably linked in the historic Jewish imagination with the sacred joys of marriage, the Sabbath, and the messianic era.
The Love of Zion in Medieval Hebrew Literature: Judah Ha-Levi
In the post-talmudic literature of the Middle Ages, the love of Zion, and the mourning for its destruction and desolation and for the Jewish people’s exile, were perhaps expressed most beautifully and poignantly by the poet and phi-losopher Judah Ha-Levi (Spain, 1085–1141) in his exquisite Hebrew poetry.30
Jerusalem’s Significance in Judaism
(His poem on “Zion” was incorporated into the liturgy of the Ninth of Av by many Jewish communities).
Ha-Levi had no illusions that in his day the Land in general, and Jerusalem in particular, were, in the biblical phrase, “flowing with milk and honey.” In one of his most famous poems, “My Heart is in the East,” Ha-Levi compares his situation, in Islamic Spain, to that of Zion, which in his day was the “Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem” as a result of the first Crusade.
My heart is in the east, and I am in the farthest west. / How can I taste what-ever I eat, and how can it be pleasing? / How can I fulfill my vows and my pledges, while / Zion is in the territory of Edom, and I am in the chains of Arabia? / It would be easy for me to abandon all the goodness of Spain, / just as it would be precious for me to see the dust of the desolate Temple.
“Zion is in the territory of Edom,” Edom being the rabbinic code-word for Rome, and Rome, of course, symbolizing the Church, whose Crusadors had conquered parts of the Land. Ha-Levi is “in the chains of Arabia,” in Islamic Spain, but he is not hungry. In this, the “golden age” of Spanish Jewry under Islamic rule, his hunger is spiritual, not physical: how can he enjoy “all the goodness of Spain” while he and Zion respectively are prisoners? Better, then, the “dust of the desolate Temple” than “all the goodness of Spain.”
In another poem, “Beautiful Vista, Joy of the Earth,” which incorporates and plays lovingly with biblical imagery, especially from the Psalms, Ha-Levi similarly yearns for Zion:
Beautiful vista, joy of the earth, city of the great king. / My soul longs for you from the corners of the west. / . . . Shall I not cherish your stones and kiss them? / The taste of your clods of earth will be more pleasing to my mouth than honey.
Finally, in a long poem called “Zion,” Ha-Levi, who never reached Israel (he set out from Spain in 1141, and reached Egypt, but probably died before reaching Israel),31 lovingly depicts in his imagination place after place in the land, each with its biblical associations. The poem begins thus:
Zion, will you not seek the peace of your prisoners,/ Who seek your peace, they who are the remnants of your flocks? / From west and east, from north and south, Peace! / From far and near, bear from every side. / The peace of the prisoner is the desire, to shed his tears like the dew / of the Hermon, longing to let them fall on your hills. / I am the jackal to cry for your affliction. But when I dream / of the return of your captivity, I am the harp for your songs.
The Jews, who are prisoners for Zion’s sake, seek nothing more than the peace of Zion, and to water its soil with their tears. Borrowing in the last two lines from Psalm 126, (“A Psalm of ascents. When the Lord returned the captiv-ity of Zion, we were like dreamers”), Ha-Levi can see himself as the harp for Zion’s songs.
Jerusalem’s Significance in Judaism
In turn, hundreds of years later, in 1967, the Israeli poet and song-writer Naomi Shemer could compose a song about Jerusalem, “the city which dwells alone, and in its heart is a wall.” The refrain then continues:
Jerusalem of gold, of copper and of light, / Am I not the harp for all your songs?
Given the traditional attachment to Zion as “the home of our life,” it was natural for Judah Ha-Levi to borrow images from the Psalms of David, and for Naomi Shemer, in turn, to borrow from Judah Ha-Levi, when singing of the City of David, and for her to name her song “Jerusalem of Gold,” after the gift that husbands like Rabbi Akiba would give their wives.
Jerusalem’s power as a symbol of Jewish commitment, loyalty and fidelity however, transcends the particulars of Jewish partisanship and sectarianism. All sides, regardless of ideology, identified their Jewish ideals with Jerusalem. Je-rusalem’s transcending power as such a symbol has continued to permeate Jew-ish life in the modern world as well.
The modern movement of the Jewish people to restore itself to nationhood in its ancestral homeland is not coincidentally called “Zionism,” and its nine-teenth century Russian precursor was not accidentally called “¢ibbat /iyon” (“the love of Zion”).32
Jerusalem, however paradoxically, was also the symbol of the beginnings of modern Jewish thought in eighteenth century Germany, a trend often, but unfairly and inaccurately, thought of as promoting Jewish assimilation. The first “modern” Jewish philosopher, Moses Mendelssohn (Germany, 1729–1786) was challenged in 1782 by an anonymous “Searcher for Light and Right” to abandon his traditional Jewish way of life as incompatible with modernity, in favor of a universalistic religion of reason, which, in the words of the New Tes-tament, “will worship the Father neither on this mountain (Samaria) nor in Jeru-salem.”33 Mendelssohn’s response was a philosophic defense of traditional Ju-daism as fully consistent with modern concepts of liberty, political toleration and religious pluralism, and that defense was defiantly named “Jerusalem.”34
Jerusalem: Heavenly and Earthly, Universal and Par-ticular
One might be tempted to suggest that, after so many centuries of separation from Zion, the Jerusalem referred to in these prayers and literature is less the real, earthly Jerusalem, the “lower Jerusalem” (yerushalayim shel matah) than the ideal, heavenly Jerusalem, the “upper Jerusalem” (yerushalayim shel ma`alah). Indeed, the mystical tradition saw in the dual form of the name yerushalayim an allusion to the two Jerusalems, the upper and the lower.
It is true, of course, that it was their separation and distance from the lower, earthly Jerusalem which permitted Jews to imagine and depict more freely the ideal, heavenly Jerusalem in their literature and legends, much as Christian art-ists could idealize it from as great a distance in their paintings. However, there was nevertheless, an essential difference: for the Jews, the ideal or allegorical
Jerusalem’s Significance in Judaism
meaning could never supplant, but could only supplement and enhance, the real or the literal meaning.
Even the romantic poet of the twelfth century, Judah Ha-Levi, had no illu-sions about the earthly Jerusalem, which in its desolation could not possibly compete on a material level with “all the goodness of Spain.” But his love of Zion, however romantic end idealized, never lost sight of “the dust of the ru-ined Temple.”
We began this paper by rejecting as impossible in a Jewish context any di-chotomy between the spiritual and the physical, the sacred and the secular, the religious and the national dimensions of life.
Here, too, we must reject the facile dichotomy between the upper, heavenly Jerusalem and the lower, earthly Jerusalem. Without the cosmic, universal vi-sion of the upper Jerusalem, the earthly Jerusalem can never be restored. But without the particular earthly Jerusalem, the universal heavenly vision cannot be implemented.
The universal ideal can only give direction to the real particular by tran-scending it. But the universal needs the particular no less than the particular needs the universal, for without the particular, the universal has no foundation in concrete reality, and could therefore never transform it by transcending it.
When the Jews imagined the heavenly Jerusalem, it was thus to give direc-tion and meaning to their hopes for the restoration of the earthly Jerusalem. Therefore, when the Jews hoped for the restoration of the earthly Jerusalem, they saw it as the first and necessary component of the fulfillment of their uni-versal messianic expectations. The eschatological tomorrow, after all, begins with today.
Jerusalem thus signifies in Judaism both the national restoration of the Jewish people in Israel, and the universal era of peace and justice associated with the days of the Messiah.
And yet, no one knows as much as a Jerusalemite, especially in these diffi-cult days, how very great the gap is between what we have in reality and what we hope for ideally. Jerusalem is anything but the “city of peace.” Its imperfec-tions and troubles are myriad.
The vision of Jerusalem, what it can and should be, is what keeps Jerusa-lemites going. When the prophet Zechariah saw a vision of Jerusalem welcom-ing all the nations who would come to worship God each year during the fall festival,35 he first saw a bloody struggle for the city. I hope he was wrong, al-though sometimes I fear he may have been all too correct.
Note again, however, that in the prophecies of Zechariah and the other an-cient prophets of Israel, there is no dichotomy between the particular and the universal, between the national and the spiritual. Universal justice cannot be attained without particular national justice, and the notion that all nations will one day come to know the divine truth is inseparable, for the biblical prophets as for later rabbinic Judaism, from the notion that it is the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, which will be the focus of devotion for all peo-ple, Jews and non-Jews alike. It would falsify the message of the prophets if we restricted their moral concern to Israel alone, but it would pervert their message if we ignored its Jewish national foundation.
Jerusalem’s Significance in Judaism
Jerusalem is thus simultaneously a universal human symbol and a particu-lar Jewish symbol. As such, it deserves the dual form of its name Yerushalayim. Because Jerusalem signifies both universal, true worship of God and the messi-anic fulfillment of history, as well as particular Jewish sovereignty, which are seen as inherently correlated, it is Jerusalem which symbolizes the eschatologi-cal hopes of the prophets of Israel. There is no inconsistency here between the prophets’ particular concern for their nation, Israel, and their correlative univer-sal concern for all humanity.
Both elements—the particular and the universal—are reflected in the words of Isaiah:
For the sake of Zion I will not be silent, and for the sake of Jerusalem I will not be still, until her righteousness go forth like light, and her salvation like a burning torch.36
Universal humanity is constructed from particular units—family, nation, etc.—and to deny those units is to preclude the existence of a pluralistic human-ity. For Jews, their particular nationhood is a building-block of a larger human-ity, through which it fulfills its covenantal role—a covenant which, however, cannot exist independently of the nation bearing its responsibilities. The spirit of the covenant of Israel, with all its universalism, cannot exist without the body of the Jewish people.
Conversely, a particular ideology, whether national or religious or political, which precludes the dignity of all human beings, is a denial both of the God who created us all, and of the divine image in which we were created and which it is our task to perfect.
In conclusion, then, from a Jewish perspective, Jerusalem has simultaneous universal spiritual significance to all for whom the ultimate truth is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and particular national significance for the people of Israel. These dimensions of Jerusalem’s significance are ultimately correlative, inseparable and inextricable.
That is why the prophet Isaiah (and also the prophet Micah, in almost iden-tical words) could have a vision of Jerusalem that is both heavenly and earthly, ideal and real: heavenly and ideal in its direction and goal, but earthly and real in that it is here and now that we must begin to implement it.
It will come to be at the end of days, that the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established at the top of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will flow to it. Many peoples will go and say: Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths. For out of Zion will come the Torah, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.37
Jerusalem’s Significance in Judaism
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1. All translations from the Hebrew are by the author. This paper was originally deliv-ered at a colloquium in Glion, Switzerland (2–6 May, 1993) convened by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the Holy See’s Com-mission for Religious Relations with the Jews, and the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, and was subsequently published in The Spiritual Significance of Jerusalem for Jews, Christians and Muslims, ed. Hans Ucko (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1994), pp. 38–56. Among the vast English literature on Jeru-salem, the following articles are particularly noteworthy for inter-religious perspec-tives: R.J. Zwi Werblowsky, “Jerusalem: Holy City of Three Religions in Jaar-bericht—Ex Oriente Lux, No. 23 (1973–1974), pp. 423–439; reprinted by the Jerusalem Committee (1973); Shelomo Dov Goitein, “The Sanctity of Jerusalem and Palestine in Early Islam,” in Studies in Islamic History and Institutions (Lei-den, 1966), ch. 7, pp. 135–148; Abraham Joshua Heschel, “Jerusalem—A Charis-matic City,” in Israel: An Echo of Eternity (New York, 1969), pp. 5–38; Emanuel Sivan, “The Beginnings of the Fada’il Al-Quds Literature,” in Israel Oriental Stud-ies, Vol. 1 (1971), pp. 263–271; Hava Lazarus-Yafeh, “The Sanctity of Jerusalem in Islam,” in Some Religious Aspects of Islam (Leiden l981), pp. 58–71. The He-brew reader is referred to Jerusalem Through the Ages (Jerusalem, 1968), espe-cially the articles by Ephraim Urbach, “Heavenly and Earthly Jerusalem;” R.J. Zwi Werblowsky, “Jerusalem—The Metropolis of All the Countries;” and Joshua Prawer, “Christianity Between Heavenly and Earthly Jerusalem.”
2. Only some 20% of the world’s Muslims are Arabs, and in the Middle East alone, including Israel, there are tens or hundreds of thousands of non-Arab Muslims and non-Muslim Arabs. Arab nationality and Islamic religion are not to be confused.
3. Personal correspondence with the author.
4. Ruth 1:16.
5. Abraham Solomon Halkin, Zion in Jewish Literature (Philadelphia: Jewish Publica-tion Society, 1964).
6. Zev Vilnay, Legends of Jerusalem (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1973). The volume is part of a larger work, The Legends of the Holy Land, origi-nally published in Hebrew. The volume on Jerusalem contains over 300 legends, the overwhelming majority of which are of Jewish origin, but which also include some legends originating with local Arab sources or with Christian pilgrims.
7. In this inter-religious context, it is interesting to note that the term halakhah, which denotes Jewish law but literally means “the way,” is paralleled in Islam by shari`ah, also meaning “the way.” Similarly, aggadah, narrative lore in Judaism, is paralleled by ²adith (also meaning narrative) in Islam.
8. Babylonian Talmud, Ketubot l00b.
9. Genesis 12:1–3. For discussions of the concept of covenant and Israel’s chosen-ness, see my articles: “The Concept of the Chosen People,” in Judaism 170 (Spring, 1994), pp. 127–148; “Educating for Interreligious Responsibility: Ritual Exclusivity vs. Spiritual Inclusivity,” in Caring for Future Generations: Jewish, Christian and Islamic Perspectives, ed. Emmanuel Agius and Lionel Chircop (Twickenham: Admantine Press, 1998), pp. 20–41; “Chosenness in Judaism: Ex-clusivity vs. Inclusivity,” in Covenant and Chosenness in Judaism and Mormonism, ed. R. Jospe, T. Madsen, S. Ward (Madison and Teaneck: Fairleigh Dickinson Uni-versity Press—Associated University Presses, 2001), pp. 173–194.
10. Genesis 12:7.
Jerusalem’s Significance in Judaism
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11. Genesis 13:15–17.
12. Genesis 15.
13. Genesis 17:8.
14. Genesis 14:18–20.
15. Genesis 22.
16. In II Chronicles 3:1, the association of the Temple Mount with Mount Moriah is explicit: “Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah.”
17. In Joshua 15, the boundaries of Judah circumvented Jebusite Jerusalem and ap-proached “the ridge of the Jebusite, which is Jerusalem, from the south” (Joshua 15:8). “The children of Judah were unable to expel to Jebusites who inhabited Jeru-salem, and the Jebusites dwelled with the children of Judah in Jerusalem until this day” (Joshua 15:63). Thus also the boundaries of Benjamin, which skirted the city from the north (Joshua 18:16, 27). In Joshua 10, we see that the Israelite forces led by Joshua defeated the alliance of five Canaanite kings led by Adoni-Tzedek, king of Jerusalem and killed the kings, but the city of Jerusalem itself was not con-quered. Cf. Joshua 12:10.
18. Cf. II Samuel 5:1–5 and I Chronicles 11:1–3.
19. I Chronicles 11:4 specifies that “David and all of Israel went to Jerusalem.” The version of the story in II Samuel 5:6 says that “David and his men went to Jerusa-lem,” but does not specify that the men were southern Judeans.
20. This shaft (the ÷innor referred to in II Samuel 5:8) seems to have been regarded by the Jebusites as impregnable, and was therefore either unguarded or guarded by “the blind and lame,” who were described as mocking David from the Jebusite heights: “David will not enter here” (II Samuel 5:6). In II Samuel 5:7–9 the story continues: “David captured the fortress of Zion, which is the city of David. . . . David dwelled in the fortress and called it the city of David.” The parallel version in I Chronicles 11:4–7 differs slightly: “David captured the fortress of Zion, which is the city of David. . . . David dwelled in the fortress; therefore they called it the city of David.” On the water system and the Jebusite shaft, see Zvi Abells, Jerusa-lem’s Water Supply: From the 18th Century B.C.E. to the Present (Jerusalem: 1993); Zvi Abells and Asher Arbit, The City of David Water Systems (Jerusalem, 1994). For a different interpretation, cf. Dan Bahat, The Atlas of Biblical Jerusalem (Jerusalem: Carta, 1994).
21. Cf. II Samuel 24:18 ff. and I Chronicles 21:18 ff. It is highly significant that David, having conquered the city, refused to confiscate this land. The site for divine wor-ship had to be purchased fairly in peace, and could not be taken in war.
22. Cf. II Chronicles 3:1. In this verse the site is explicitly identified as Mount Moriah.
23. The twelve governors and their respective districts are enumerated in I Kings 4:7 ff.
24. Isaiah 2:3 and Micah 4:2.
25. Psalm 137:1–6.
26. Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 59a and Nedarim 50a.
27. Deuteronomy 6:4–9; Deuteronomy 11:13–21; Numbers 15:37–41.
28. Psalm 51:20.
29. Isaiah 2:3 and Micah 4:2.
30. Cf. Selected Poems of Jehudah Halevi, with English translation and notes by Nina Salaman (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1928).
31. For pertinent biographical information on the last period of Ha-Levi’s life, cf. Shelomo Dov Goitein, “The Biography of Rabbi Judah Ha-Levi in the Light of the Cairo Geniza Documents,” in Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research, Vol. 28. 1959, pp. 41–56. For an explication of aspects of Ha-Levi’s thought, cf. Section I of Volume Two: ch. 1, “Teaching Judah Ha-Levi: Defining
Jerusalem’s Significance in Judaism
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and Shattering Myths in Jewish Philosophy”; ch. 2, “Jewish Particularity from Judah Ha-Levi to Mordecai Kaplan: Implications for Defining Jewish Philosophy”; and ch. 3, “The Superiority of Oral over Written Communication in Judah Ha-Levi’s Kuzari and Modern Jewish Thought.”
32. In his Introduction to his anthology, The Zionist Idea (New York: Doubleday, 1959), Arthur Hertzberg suggests that Zionism cannot be understood as typical na-tionalism in the nineteenth and twentieth century European pattern, since both fun-damental components of European nationalism—common land and common lan-guage—were lacking in the case of the Jews, who wanted to return to their ancestral land and to revive Hebrew as a spoken, secular language. Instead, Hertz-berg argues, Zionism should be understood as “secular Messianism,” i.e., as a mod-ern secular implementation of the age-old messianic impulse in Judaism.
33. John 4:21.
34. On Mendelssohn, see ch. 10 of Volume Two, “Moses Mendelssohn: A Medieval Modernist,” and ch. 3 in this volume, “Sa`adiah Ga’on and Moses Mendelssohn: Pioneers of Jewish Philosophy.” Cf. Alfred Jospe (ed.). Mendelssohn: Jerusalem and Other Jewish Writings (New York: Schocken, 1969); Mendelssohn, Jerusalem, translated by Allan Arkush, with Introduction and Commentary by Alexander Altmann (Hanover: University Press of New England, 1983); Moses Mendelssohn: Selections from His Writings, ed. Eva Jospe (New York: Viking, 1975); Alexander Altmann, Moses Mendelssohn: A Biographical Study (University of Alabama, 1973).
35. Zechariah 14:16.
36. Isaiah 62:1.
37. Isaiah 2:2–3 and Micah 4:1–3.

While the Jewish State benefits from the robust Jewish demographic tailwind of fertility and immigration, Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, is burdened with a Jewish demographic headwind of emigration, which is eroding the current 66% Jewish majority.

The growing, youthful Jewish emigration from Jerusalem is driven by the scarcity of jobs as well as costly and limited housing. It was triggered – beginning in the 1990s – by Israeli Prime Ministers, who have relegated Jerusalem to a lower national priority, in sharp contrast to preceding Prime Ministers.

Simultaneously with a litany of “O Jerusalem” boasting statements, they have demonstrated “Oy Jerusalem” feeble action, reflecting limited capability to withstand opposition, by US Presidents, to Jewish construction beyond the pre-1967 armistice line.  Moreover, succumbing to US pressure has yielded more, and rougher, pressure.  Thus, they have constrained the development of Jerusalem’s infrastructure of transportation, housing and employment – which constitute a prerequisite for transforming Jewish emigration into robust Jewish immigration – since it requires construction on substantial, state-owned land, available within the largely unpopulated boundaries of reunited Jerusalem, not in the limited parameters of pre-1967 Jerusalem.

The smaller the effective boundary of Jerusalem, the larger is Jewish emigration; the larger the effective boundary, the greater is the potential for Jewish immigration.

Thus, recent Prime Ministers have sacrificed the significant upgrading of Jerusalem’s infrastructure of growth on the altar of the supposed peace process with the Palestinian Authority, which seeks to annul Jerusalem’s reunification, worships suicide bombers and operates the most effective assembly line for manufacturing terrorists: a K-12 destroy-Israel-education system.

This peace process-driven policy has also led to physical and administrative disengagement from some Arab neighborhoods in reunited Jerusalem, and the construction of walls and fences, separating these neighborhoods from the rest of the city. As a result, parallel to the increasing Jewish emigration from Jerusalem, some 50,000 Arab residents of these neighborhoods – possessing Israeli ID cards – immigrated over the walls and the fences deeper into Jerusalem, lest they lose Israeli social and welfare benefits. Thus, at a time when parity has been reached between Jewish and Arab fertility rates (number of births per woman), this Israeli policy of disengagement has induced Arab immigration into Jerusalem, at a rate twice as high as the rate of Jewish emigration from Jerusalem.

In this regard, contemporary Israeli Prime Ministers have strayed away, dramatically, from their predecessors.  For example, in 1950, in defiance of brutal US and global pressure to internationalize Jerusalem (which is still the policy of the US Department of State!), Prime Minister David Ben Gurion proclaimed Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish State, relocated government agencies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, settled a massive number of Olim (Jewish immigrants to Israel) in Jerusalem, upgraded the transportation infrastructure to Jerusalem, and erected new Jewish neighborhoods along Jerusalem’s cease fire lines, providing the city land reserves for long term growth. Ben Gurion’s actions spoke louder than the current bravado statements about the “indivisible Jerusalem.”

In 1967, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol adopted Ben Gurion’s statesmanship, fended off severe US and global threats, reunited Jerusalem and established the foundation of satellite Jewish neighborhoods well beyond Jerusalem’s “pre-1967 lines.”

In 1970-1, Prime Minister Golda Meir resisted heavy pressure, by the White House and the Department of State, refusing to rescind the reunification of Jerusalem and to transfer Jerusalem’s Holy Basin to the auspices of the three leading religions (these demands were embraced, in 2010, by former Prime Minister, Olmert). Defiantly, Golda Meir laid the groundwork for additional neighborhoods beyond the “pre-’67 lines”: Gilo, Ramot Alon, French Hill and Neve’ Ya’akov, significantly expanding Jerusalem’s infrastructure of growth.

Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir sustained the position of Jerusalem at the top of Israel’s national priorities, reinforcing – through construction and growth – the historical, national and religious status of reunified Jerusalem as the exclusive, non-negotiable capital of the Jewish State.

In order to dramatically expand Jerusalem’s 66% Jewish majority, and retain the graduates of the Hebrew University (Israel’s largest university), while improving the quality of life for Jews and Arabs, Israel should embark upon a fast-track, dramatic enhancement of Jerusalem’s transportation infrastructure, which would pave the road for a flow of Israeli and international entrepreneurs and investors.  For example, the largest Israeli city (2.5 times larger and more populated than Tel Aviv!) needs an airport, located in the ample, unpopulated area in eastern Jerusalem, which would be a most effective engine of growth. The only two freeways to Jerusalem from the coastal plain (#1 and #443 which stretches along the Land of the Maccabees beyond the 1967 lines) must be expanded, and a third one (#45 which was shelved by Prime Minister Sharon) should be constructed, for commercial, safety and national security reasons. The internal Begin Road should evolve into the Jerusalem Loop, which would be a game-changer for commerce and quality of life.  A similar surge should apply to the infrastructure for high tech, telecommunications, electricity, water, education and housing.

Will Israeli Prime Ministers embark upon an “O Jerusalem” policy – initiated 3,000 years ago by King David – which would drastically enhance Jerusalem’s quality of life and expand its Jewish majority?  Or, will they sustain the “Oy Jerusalem” policy, which could doom Jerusalem to a Jewish minority?

In order to combat Palestinian terrorism, Israel should focus on offense and not on defense, on draining the swamp (hate education) rather than chasing the individual mosquitos (terrorisits).

Hate education is the most effective production line of potential terrorists.

The US Administration may not agree to Israel’s counter-terrorism, as it was in 1981, when the US Administration punished Israel for destroying the Iraqi nuclear reactor.

Draining the Palestinian swamp of hate-education would advance the interest of most Palestinians who reject terrorism, corruption and oppression, but are too weak to oppose the Palestinian Authority.

The Congressional funding of the Palestinian terrorism – which bankrolls hate education – on the one hand, and American core values on the other hand, constitutes oxymoron.

Palestinian hate education on the one hand, and peaceful coexistence on the other hand, constitutes a most egregious oxymoron.

In 1992, the Republican Whip, Senator Alan Simpson from Wyoming, who was critical of Prime Minister Shamir’s policies, told me: “How can I like Prime Minister Shamir when he resembles a non-peaceful roaring tiger?  However, how can I but respect a roaring tiger?!”

Former Secretary of State Jim Baker, who was one of the crudest detractors of Shamir’s policies, respected Shamir’s ironclad commitment to deeply-rooted ideology. Therefore, he considered Shamir a trustworthy – although non-subservient – ally of the USA.  Shamir was consistently guided by principles, values and history-steered vision/ideology; he was not herded – zigzagging – by pollsters and public opinion consultants.  

The late Prime Minister Shamir was a role model of Jewish patriotism, optimism, principle-driven and security-based statesmanship, history-motivated tenacity, reliability, modesty, independence and endurance in face of brutal pressure.

In 1991, at the height of the bitter conflict between Prime Minster Shamir and Republican President Bush, then Republican House Whip, Newt Gingrich, asserted: “How can you expect communications between Bush, who was given the presidency, as well as the CIA and the UN ambassadorship, on a golden platter, and Shamir who has demonstrated willingness to sacrifice his life on the altar of ideology?!”

Following the 1990 meeting between Shamir and Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, George Mitchell and Bob Dole, the latter told Shamir: “The Majority Leader and I respect you – although we disagree with your policies – because you are tough!”

The short Shamir was a giant of a Prime Minister – a geo political game changer – in the areas of Aliya (Jewish immigration), economy, US-Israel strategic cooperation and defiance of pressure.

While the Jackson-Vanik Amendment opened the doors of the USSR for emigration, Shamir’s Aliya policy was chiefly responsible for the arrival in Israel of over one million Olim (Jewish immigrants) from the USSR. Shamir believed that aggressive, tenacious, pro-active Aliya policy – generating Aliya – was the prerequisite for massive Aliya waves from the USSR, Ethiopia and other countries. During the 1990s, he projected a future Aliya wave from France, resulting from anti-Semitism and Islamic migration.  Former US Assistant Secretary of State, Dick Schifter, appreciated Shamir’s intense lobbying of Secretaries of State, Schultz and Baker, to stop issuing refugee certificates to Soviet Jews, thus directing them to relocate to Israel.  In addition, Shamir initiated a request from the US Senate to pass a resolution – signed by all 100 Senators – expecting Moscow to direct Jewish emigrants to fly only directly to Israel and not to Rome or Vienna.  Shamir’s initiatives transformed an 80% dropout rate (until 1990) to an almost 100% arrival rate, by Soviet Jews, to Israel. 

Shamir orchestrated the absorption of over one million Soviet Jews and 60,000 Ethiopian Jews, by less than five million Israelis – an unprecedented human accomplishment.  He considered Aliya to be the raison d’etre of the Jewish State, its moral compass, its top priority and its turbo growth engine.  He was aware that Aliyah determined Israel’s posture of deterrence and the Jewish-Arab demographic balance between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.

Shamir laid down the foundations for the resurgence of Israel’s economy from a potential meltdown to one of the most fiscally-responsible economies in the world.  His composure in face of lethal pressures, marathon-like (and not sprint-like) style of leadership, strategic thinking and willingness to lead through delegation of authority to experts – such as Jacob Frenkel, who was appointed by Shamir to be the Governor of the Bank of Israel – paved the road to the stabilization of Israel’s Shekel, the dramatic restraint of inflation, interest and unemployment rates and the drastic reduction of budget deficit.

Former Secretary of State George Schultz was a systematic critic of Shamir’s policy on the Arab-Israeli conflict, but rarely fails to express his utmost respect for Shamir’s integrity and perseverance.  Most of Shamir’s sustained critics in Washington indicate that “we miss him now more than anytime before.”

In 1988, Texas Congressman Ted Poe, then a Federal Judge and currently a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, defined Shamir as “the sturdiest statesman in the Middle East.” 

Shamir’s defiance of the US, when it came to Jewish roots in the Land of Israel and Israel’s fundamental security requirements, eroded his popularity, but enhanced respect towards him. In 1991, he preconditioned participation in the Madrid Conference upon a US commitment to avoid any reference to Land-for-Peace, to prohibit PLO participation and to inform Syria that no retreat on the Golan Heights was forthcoming. His image as a strategic partner was upgraded by his dismissal of international guarantees of Israel’s security and propositions to station foreign troops on Israel’s borders. On a rainy day, the US is not looking for a “punching bag,” but for a reliable, capable, democratic, unconditional ally, which is willing to defy even the US.

Shamir’s seven years at the helm were characterized by unprecedented expansion of US-Israel strategic cooperationdespite severe disagreements over the Palestinian issue – from the April 1988 Memorandum of Understanding through the 1990-1991 enhancement of joint exercises, intelligence and counter-terrorism cooperation, prepositioning of US military hardware in Israel, defense industrial cooperation, the upgrading of the port of Haifa for the Sixth Fleet, etc.

Contemporary challenges, domestically, internationally, commercially and militarily, behoove Israeli and American leaders to follow in the footsteps of Prime Minister Shamir’s legacy.



Jerusalem has been one of the most dramatic issues of discord between the will of the American constituent and Congress on the one hand, and State-Department-driven presidential policy on the other hand.

In contrast with most Americans, and their state and federal representatives, who cherish Jerusalem as the indivisible capital of the Jewish State, all US presidents have embraced Foggy Bottom’s denial of Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital, or even as part of Israel. Moreover, the US foreign policy bureaucracy has disavowed the 1947 non-binding UN General Assembly Partition Plan, but for one segment – Jerusalem, which the UN designated as an international city.

Israel is the only country in the world, whose (3,000 year old) capital is not recognized by the State Department and by the Presidents of the US. However, the American people consider Israel to be the second most trusted and dependable ally of the USA (following Britain), and 71% support (and 9% oppose) Jerusalem as Israel’s indivisible capital.

President Obama has gone farther than any US president in implementing the Jerusalem policy-of-denial. He is pressing for an unprecedented construction freeze in Jerusalem beyond the 1949 ceasefire lines, and is trying to eliminate any reference to “Jerusalem, Israel” in present and past official documents and communications.

On the other hand, Jerusalem has earned the affinity of the American people since the arrival of the Pilgrims in the seventeenth century, who viewed the US as “the modern day Promised Land,” establishing many towns with Biblical names, including Jerusalem. In 2012 there are, at least, 18 US towns called Jerusalem, in addition to some 32 Salems, the Biblical, initial name of Jerusalem (Shalem), meaning wholesomeness, divine and peace.

While the American affinity towards Jerusalem has cemented the unique covenant between the US and the Jewish State, the Department of State never viewed Jerusalem as part of the Jewish State. In 1949, President Truman followed Secretary of State Marshall’s policy, pressuring Israel to refrain from annexing any part of Jerusalem and to accept the internationalization of the ancient capital of the Jewish people. In 1953, President Eisenhower – inspired by Secretary of State, Dulles – opposed the relocation of Israel’s Foreign Ministry from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and prohibited official meetings in Jerusalem. In 1967, President Johnson adopted the Jerusalem policy of Secretary of State Rusk, who opposed Israel’s 1948 declaration of independence. LBJ highlighted the international status of Jerusalem, and warned Israel against the unification of – and construction in eastern – Jerusalem. In 1970, President Nixon collaborated with Secretary of State, Rogers, attempting to repartition Jerusalem and to stop Israel’s plans to construct additional neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem.

However, the presidential pressure was short-lived and ineffective due to the defiant Israeli response, which benefitted from overwhelming Congressional and public support of Jerusalem as the eternal, indivisible capital of the Jewish people.

In 1995, Congress decided to implement the will of the people, passing overwhelmingly (93:5 in the Senate and 374:37 in the House) the Jerusalem Embassy Act. It stipulated the recognition of unified Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and the relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. However, a presidential national security waiver, which was introduced into the bill by Senator Dole with the support of Prime Minister Rabin, has enabled Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama to avoid implementation.

In 1999, 84 Senators realized that the national security waiver was misused by the White House, and that cow-towing to Arab pressure radicalized Arab expectations and belligerence. They attempted to leverage the co-determining and co-equal power of the legislature and to eliminate the waiver provision. But, they were blocked by President Clinton and Prime Minister Barak.

In 2012, the leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties should heed the historical will of the American constituent, synchronizing the White House and the Department of State with the Jerusalem reality – Israel’s indivisible capital. Still, the success of such an initiative behooves Israeli leaders to resurrect the steadfastness and defiance, which characterized Israeli Prime Ministers from Ben Gurion (1948) through Shamir (1992).

The current seismic developments in Arab countries have removed the Middle East “screen saver,” exposing the real Middle East: top heavy on violence, fragmentation, volatility, hate-education and treachery, and low on predictability, certainty, credibility and democracy. The collapse of Arab regimes reflects the collapse of superficial assumptions, which have underlined Western policy-making and public opinion molding. The upheaval in Arab societies highlights the dramatic gap between Israel’s democracy and its Arab neighbors.

In fact, recent events in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Oman, Libya, Syria (and you ain’t seen nothing yet…) have enhanced the craving in the Arab Street for the liberties and benefits of Israel’s democracy.

For example, Israeli ID cards have been sought by senior PLO and Hamas officials and their relatives, such as the three sisters of Ismail Haniyeh, the top leader of Hamas. They married Israeli Arabs and migrated from Gaza to Tel Sheva in Israel’s Negev. Two are already widows, but prefer to remain in the Jewish State, and the son of the third sister serves in the Israeli Defense Forces. Akrameh Sabri, the top Muslim religious leader in eastern Jerusalem, who delivers anti-Semitic and pro-terrorist sermons retains his Israeli ID card as do Hanan Ashrawi of the PLO, Muhammad Abu-Tir of Hamas, Jibril Rajoub’s wife, etc.

150,000 non-Israeli Arabs, mostly from Judea and Samaria, married Israeli Arabs and received Israeli ID cards between 1993-2003. In addition, scores of thousands of illegal Arab aliens prefer Israeli – over Palestinian – residence.

A significant wave of net-emigration – 30,000 Arabs from Judea, Samaria and Gaza annually – since 1950, was substantially reduced in 1968, as a result of access gained to Israel’s infrastructures of employment, medicine and education, and of Israeli construction of such infrastructures in these regions. The level of annual Arab emigration subsided during the peak years of Aliya (Jewish immigration to Israel), since Arabs were heavily employed in constructing the absorption infrastructure.

Israeli Arabs vehemently oppose any settlement – such as an exchange of land between Israel and the Palestinian Authority – which would transform them into Palestinian subjects, denying them Israeli citizenship.

A sizeable number of Jerusalem Arabs prefer to remain under Israel’s sovereignty, according to a January 12, 2011 public opinion poll conducted by “The Palestinian Center for Public Opinion” headed by Nabil Kukali of Beit Sakhur. The poll was commissioned and supervised by the Princeton-based “Pechter Middle East Polls” ( and the NY-based Council on Foreign Relations.


Since 1967, Jerusalem Arabs – within Israel’s municipal lines – have been permanent Israeli residents and Israeli ID card holders. Therefore, they freely work and travel throughout Israel and benefit from Israel’s healthcare programs, retirement plans, social security, unemployment, disability and child allowances, and they can vote in Jerusalem’s municipal election.


According to the January 2011 poll, which was conducted by Palestinians in Arab neighborhoods far from any Jewish presence, 40% of Jerusalem Arabs would relocate to an area inside Israel if their current neighborhood were to be transferred to the Palestinian Authority. Only 27% would relocate to the Palestinian Authority if their neighborhood were to become an internationally recognized part of Israel. 39% assume that most people in their neighborhood prefer Israeli citizenship, and only 31% assume that most people in their neighborhood prefer Palestinian citizenship. 35% prefer to be Israeli citizens and only 30% prefer Palestinian citizenship.


One can assume that is the pollsters would have added the cultural “fear factor” – of Palestinian terrorist retribution – the number of Jerusalem Arabs preferring Israeli citizenship would have been higher.


What do the Arabs of Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza know about Abu Mazen’s Palestinian Authority that Western policy-makers and public opinion molders do not know?! When will Western policy-makers and public opinion molders remove the Abu Mazen “screen saver” and confront the real Abu Mazen?!

Since Oslo, 1993, the case of the Jewish State has highlighted Israel’s pursuit of peace and security, while downplaying the right/deed of the Jewish People to its historical homeland. A resounding rebuke of David Ben Gurion, the Laborite Founding Father of the Jewish State and its first Prime Minister, who stated: “He who abandons his past, forfeits his future” (“Notes on Zionism,” pp. 1-5, 1947).

The claim of national sovereignty, and the level of steadfastness in face of adversity, are derivatives of the attachment to the territorial-cradle of history and national security requirements.

Nations which highlight their non-conditional attachment to their territorial cradle of history (irrespective of diplomatic, security and economic considerations) enhance steadfastness and gain strategic respect. On the other hand, nations which consider their cradle of history a negotiable-real-estate may gain short-lived popularity, but undermine their attachment to the land, lose long-term strategic respect and erode their own posture of deterrence. A nation which negotiates away its cradle of history is giving away its future.

Prof. (emeritus) Menasheh Har-El, a leading expert on the history and geography of the Land of Israel, a recipient of the “Israel Prize” and author of 13 books, documents national Jewish roots in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem as early as the 13th century BC: 2,000 years before the appearance of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula, 3,200 years before Arabs from Egypt, Syria and Lebanon migrated to the Land of Israel and 3,350 years before the establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

According to Professor Har-El’s 55 years of research, the Jews were the first to coalesce the various regions of Canaan into a unified country. They settled in the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria rather than along the coastal plain, introducing agricultural innovations into barren, rugged mountains, developing irrigation systems, establishing stone and metal shops, ushering advanced architecture and construction, building roads from the Mediterranean to Jerusalem, which became the crown jewel of the Jewish People.

On the other hand, Har-El notes, Jerusalem was severely neglected during the Islamic rule of the area, overshadowed by the town of Ramlah (half way between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem), which was the provincial Muslim capital. The Muslim attitude toward Jerusalem – the Capital of the Jewish People since 1,000BC – reflected the negligible priority accorded by Islam toward the Land of Israel, which was devastated by Muslim rule. In 1867, Mark Twain attested to the state of the area in Innocents Abroad: “…Of all the lands there are for dismal scenery, Palestine must be the prince…It is a hopeless, dreary, heart-broken land…Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes…Palestine is desolate and unlovely….”

The 1949-1967 Jordanian occupation of East Jerusalem sustained the Muslim attitude toward Jerusalem. Jordan oppressed Jerusalem’s Christian community, which was reduced from 25,000 in 1949 to 10,000 in 1967. The Hashemites coerced Jerusalem’s church schools to teach the Quran and prevented Christian expansion. Jordan defiled and vandalized over 50 Jewish synagogues, using some as cowsheds, stables or public latrines. Over 75% of the tombstones at the holiest Jewish cemetery, on Mount Olive, were ripped out and used for pavements and public urinals.

Jerusalem was never a capital of any Arab entity. It was not mentioned in the 1964 PLO’s Covenant. However, Jerusalem is highlighted in each synagogue, each Jewish prayer and holiday and during every Jewish wedding and other Jewish rituals. Jerusalem is a pillar of Judaism, but it is not included among the five pillars of Islam. Jerusalem – and its synonym, Zion – are mentioned 821 times in the Bible (“Old Testament”), but not even once in the Quran. Muhammed never set foot in Jerusalem or in the Land of Israel. In contrast to Jews, Muslims pray toward Mecca and Medina and not toward Jerusalem and there is no Muslim pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but to Mecca.

The territorial cradle of history constitutes the foundation of national moral high-ground. As essential as is the topographic high-ground (e.g., the over-towering mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria) to national security, the moral high-ground is significantly more critical to national survival. The devotion to the Land of Israel in general – and Jerusalem in particular – has played a critical role in preserving the Jewish People!

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Palestinian Demographic Manipulation




2023 Inflated Palestinian Demography

Official Palestinian demographic numbers are highly-inflated, as documented by a study, which has audited the Palestinian data since 2004:

*500,000 overseas residents, who have been away for over a year, are included in the Palestinian census, contrary to international regulations. 325,000 were included in the 1997 census, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, and 400,000 in 2005, according to the Palestinian Election Commission. The number grows steadily due to births.

*350,000 East Jerusalem Arabs are doubly-counted – by Israel and by the Palestinian Authority. The number grows daily due to births.

*Over 150,000 Arabs, who married Israeli Arabs are similarly doubly-counted. The number expands daily due to births.

*A 390,000 Arab net-emigration from Judea & Samaria is excluded from the Palestinian census, notwithstanding the annual net-emigration since 1950.   For example, 15,466 in 2022, 26,357 – 2019, 15,173 – 2017 and 24,244 – 2014, as documented by Israel’s Population and Migration Authority (exits and entries) in all the land, air and sea international passages.

*A 32% artificial inflation of Palestinian births was documented by the World Bank (page 8, item 6) in a 2006 audit.

*The Judea & Samaria Arab fertility rate has been westernized: from 9 births per woman in the 1960s to 3.02 births in 2021, as documented by the CIA World Factbook. It reflects the sweeping urbanization, growing enrollment of women in higher education, rising marriage age and the use of contraceptives.

*The number of Arab deaths in Judea & Samaria has been under-reported (since the days of the British Mandate) for political and financial reasons.

*The aforementioned data documents 1.4 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria, when deducting the aforementioned documented-data from the official Palestinian number (3 million).

In 2023: a 69% Jewish majority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel. In 1947 and 1897: a 39% and 9% Jewish minority. In 2023, a 69% Jewish majority benefiting from fertility tailwind and net-immigration.  Arab fertility is Westernized, and Arab net-emigration from Judea and Samaria.  No Arab demographic time bomb. A Jewish demographic momentum.

    More data in this article and this short video.
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Saudi policy toward Iran – the US and Israel factors

Jewish Policy Center’s inFOCUS, Spring, 2023

Saudi-Iranian diplomatic relations

*Riyadh does not allow the resumption of the Saudi-Iranian diplomatic ties to befog the reality of the tenuous and shifty Middle East regimes, policies and agreements, and the inherently subversive, terroristic, anti-Sunni and imperialistic track record of Iran’s Ayatollahs.

*Saudi Arabia is cognizant of the 1,400-year-old fanatic, religious vision of the Ayatollahs, including their most critical strategic goal – since their February 1979 violent ascension to power – of exporting the Shiite Revolution and toppling all “apostate” Sunni Arab regimes, especially the House of Saud. They are aware that neither diplomatic, nor financial, short term benefits transcend the deeply-rooted, long term Ayatollahs’ anti-Sunni vision.

*Irrespective of its recent agreement with Iran – and the accompanying moderate diplomatic rhetoric – Saudi Arabia does not subscribe to the “New Middle East” and “end of interstate wars” Pollyannaish state of mind. The Saudis adhere to the 1,400-year-old reality of the unpredictably intolerant and violent inter-Arab/Muslim reality (as well as the Russia-Ukraine reality).

*This is not the first resumption of Saudi-Iranian diplomatic ties, which were previously severed in 1988 and 2016 and followed by the Ayatollahs-induced domestic and regional violence.

*The China-brokered March 2023 resumption of diplomatic ties is a derivative of Saudi Arabia’s national security interests, and its growing frustration with the US’ eroded posture as a reliable diplomatic and military protector against lethal threats.

*The resumption of Saudi-Iranian diplomatic relations constitute a major geo-strategic gain for China and a major setback for the US in a region which, until recently, was perceived as a US domain.

*The US posture of deterrence has been severely undermined by the 2015 nuclear accord (the JCPOA), the 2021 withdrawal/flight from Afghanistan, the systematic courting of three real, clear and lethal threats to the Saudi regime –  Iran’s Ayatollahs, the “Muslim Brotherhood” and Yemen’s Houthi terrorists –- while exerting diplomatic and military pressure on the pro-US Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt.

*US policy has driven Saudi Arabia (as well as the UAE and Egypt) closer to China and Russia, commercially and militarily, including the potential Chinese construction of civilian nuclear power plants and a hard rock uranium mill in Saudi Arabia, which would advance Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “Vision 2030.”

Saudi “Vision 2030” 

*Effective Israel-Saudi Arabia cooperation is a derivative of Saudi Arabia’s national security and economic interests, most notably “Vision 2030.”

*The unprecedented Saudi-Israeli security, technological and commercial cooperation, and the central role played by Saudi Arabia in inducing the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and the Sudan to conclude peace treaties with Israel, are driven by the Saudi assessment that Israel is an essential ally in the face of real, clear, lethal security threats, as well as a vital partner in the pursuit of economic, technological and diplomatic goals.

*The Saudi-Israel cooperation constitutes a win-win proposition.

*The Saudi-Israel cooperation is driven by Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’ (MBS’) “Vision 2030.” He aspires to catapult the kingdom to a regional and global powerhouse of trade and investment, leveraging its geo-strategic position along crucial naval routes between the Far East and Europe (the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean, Arab Sea and the Red Sea).

*”Vision 2030″ has introduced ground-breaking cultural, social, economic, diplomatic and national security reforms and upgrades, leveraging the unique added-value of Israel’s technological and military capabilities.

*Saudi Arabia, just like the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, are preoccupied with the challenge of economic diversification, realizing that they are overly-reliant on oil and natural gas, which are exposed to price-volatility, depletion and could be replaced by emerging cleaner and more cost-effective energy. They consider Israel’s ground-breaking technologies as a most effective vehicle to diversify their economy, create more jobs in non-energy sectors, and establish a base for alternative sources of national income, while bolstering homeland and national security.

*”Vision 2030″ defies traditional Saudi religious, cultural and social norms.  Its future, as well as the future of Saudi-Israel cooperation, depend on Saudi domestic stability and the legitimacy of MBS.  The latter is determined to overcome and de-sanctify the fundamentalist Wahhabis in central and southwestern Saudi Arabia, who were perceived until recently as the Islamic authority in Saudi Arabia, and an essential ally of the House of Saud since 1744.

“Vision 2030”, the Middle East and Israel’s added-value

*MBS’ ambitious strategy is preconditioned upon reducing regional instability and minimizing domestic and regional threats.  These threats include the Ayatollahs regime of Iran, “Muslim Brotherhood” terrorists, Iran-supported domestic Shiite subversion (in the oil-rich Eastern Province), Iran-based Al Qaeda, Iran-supported Houthis in Yemen, Iran-supported Hezbollah, the proposed Palestinian state (which features a rogue intra-Arab track record), and Erdogan’ aspirations to resurrect the Ottoman Empire, which controlled large parts of the Arabian Peninsula. Currently, Erdogan maintains close security and political ties with the “Muslim Brotherhood” and the pro-Iran and pro-“Muslim Brotherhood” Qatar, while confronting Saudi Arabia in Libya, where they are both involved in a series of civil wars.

*Notwithstanding the March 2023 resumption of diplomatic ties with Iran, Saudi Arabia is aware that the Middle East resembles a volcano, which frequently releases explosive lava – domestically and regionally – in an unpredictable manner, as evidenced by the Arab Tsunami, which erupted in 2010 and is still raging on the Arab Street.

*The survival of the Saudi regime, and the implementation of “Vision 2030,” depend upon Riyadh’s ability to form an effective coalition against rogue regimes. However, Saudi Arabia is frustrated by the recent erosion of the US’ posture of deterrence, as demonstrated by the 43-year-old US addiction to the diplomatic option toward Iran’s Ayatollahs; the US’ limited reaction to Iranian aggression against US and Saudi targets; the US’ embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood; and the US’ appeasement of the Ayatollahs-backed Houthi terrorists. In addition, the Saudis are alarmed by the ineffectiveness of NATO (No Action Talk Only?), European vacillation in the face of Islamic terrorism, and the vulnerability of the Arab regimes.  This geo-strategic reality has driven the Saudis (reluctantly) closer to China and Russia, militarily and commercially.

*Against this regional and global backdrop, Israel stands out as the most reliable “life insurance agent” and an essential strategic ally, irrespective of past conflicts and the Palestinian issue. The latter is considered by the Saudi Crown Prince as a secondary or tertiary issue.

*In addition, the Saudis face economic and diplomatic challenges – which could benefit from Israel’s cooperation and can-do mentality – such as economic diversification, innovative technology, agriculture, irrigation and enhanced access to advanced US military systems, which may be advanced via Israel’s stature on Capitol Hill.

*The Saudi interest in expanding military, training, intelligence, counter-terrorism and commercial cooperation with Israel has been a byproduct of its high regard for Israel’s posture of deterrence and muscle-flexing in the face of Iran’s Ayatollahs (in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran itself); and Israel’s systematic war on Palestinian and Islamic terrorism.  Furthermore, the Saudis respect Israel’s occasional defiance of US pressure, including Israel’s high-profiled opposition to the 2015 JCPOA and Israel’s 1981 and 2007 bombing of Iraq’s and Syria’s nuclear reactors, which spared the Saudis (and the US) the devastating wrath of a nuclear Saddam Hussein and a nuclear Assad.

*A deterring and defiant Israel is a cardinal force-multiplier for Saudi Arabia (as it is for the US). On the other hand, an appeasing and retreating Israel would be irrelevant to Saudi Arabia’s national security (as it would be for the US).

*On a rainy day, MBS (just like the US) prefers a deterring and defiant Israel on his side.

Saudi interests and the Palestinian issue

*As documented by the aforementioned data, Saudi Arabia’s top national security priorities transcend – and are independent of – the Palestinian issue.

*The expanding Saudi-Israel cooperation, and the key role played by Riyadh in accomplishing the Abraham Accords, have contradicted the Western conventional wisdom.  The latter assumes that the Palestinian issue is central to Arab policy makers, and that the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict is preconditioned upon substantial Israeli concessions to the Palestinians, including the establishment of a Palestinian state.

*Contrary to Western conventional wisdom, MBS is aware that the Palestinian issue is not the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict, neither a crown-jewel of Arab policy-making, nor a core cause of regional turbulence.

*Independent of the pro-Palestinian Saudi talk, Riyadh (just like the Arabs in general) has demonstrated an indifferent-to-negative walk toward the Palestinians.  Arabs know that – in the Middle East – one does not pay custom on words. Therefore, the Arabs have never flexed a military (and barely financial and diplomatic) muscle on behalf of the Palestinians. They have acted in accordance with their own – not Palestinian – interests, and certainly not in accordance with Western misperceptions of the Middle East.

*Unlike the Western establishment, MBS accords critical weight to the Palestinian intra-Arab track record, which is top heavy on subversion, terrorism, treachery and ingratitude. For instance, the Saudis don’t forget and don’t forgive the Palestinian collaboration with Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, which was the most generous Arab host for Palestinians. The Saudis are also cognizant of the deeply-rooted Palestinian collaboration with Islamic, Asian, African, European and Latin American terror organizations, including “Muslim Brotherhood” terrorists and Iran’s Ayatollahs (whose machetes are at the throat of the House of Saud), North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela.  The Saudis are convinced that the proposed Palestinian state cannot be different than the Palestinian rogue track record, which would add fuel to the Middle East fire, threatening the relatively-moderate Arab regimes.

Saudi Arabia and the Abraham Accords

*Saudi Arabia has served as the primary engine behind Israel’s peace treaties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and the Sudan, and has forged unprecedented defense and commercial cooperation with Israel, consistent with the Saudi order of national priorities.

*Contrary to Western conventional wisdom, the Saudis do not sacrifice Middle East reality and their national security interests on the altar of the Palestinian issue.

*The success of the Saudi-supported Abraham Accords was a result of avoiding the systematic mistakes committed by Western policy makers, which produced a litany of failed Israeli-Arab peace proposals, centered on the Palestinian issue. Learning from prior mistakes, the Abraham accords focused on Arab interests, bypassing the Palestinian issue, avoiding a Palestinian veto.

*Therefore, the durability of the Abraham Accords depends on the interests of the respective Arab countries, and not on the Palestinian issue, which is not a top priority for any Arab country.

*The durability of the Abraham Accords depends on the stability of Saudi Arabia and the Arab countries which signed the Abraham Accords. Their stability is threatened by the volcanic nature of the unstable, highly-fragmented, unpredictable, violently intolerant, non-democratic and tenuous Middle East.

*The tenuous nature of most Arab/Muslim regimes in the Middle East yields tenuous policies and tenuous accords. For example, in addition to the Arab Tsunami of 2010 (which is still raging on the Arab Street), non-ballot regime-change occurred (with a dramatic change of policy) in Egypt (2013, 2012, 1952), Iran (1979, 1953), Iraq (2003, 1968, 1963-twice, 1958), Libya (2011, 1969) and Yemen (a civil war since the ’90s, 1990, 1962), etc.

*Bearing in mind the intra-Arab Palestinian track record, regional instability, the national security of Saudi Arabia, the Abraham Accords and US interests would be severely undermined by the proposed Palestinian state west of the Jordan River. It would topple the pro-US Hashemite regime east of the River; transform Jordan into a chaotic state in the vein of the uncontrollable Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen; and produce another platform of regional and global Islamic terrorism, which would be leveraged by Iran’s Ayatollahs, in order to tighten their encirclement of Saudi Arabia. This would trigger a domino scenario, which would threaten every pro-US Arab oil-producing country in the Arabian Peninsula, jeopardizing the supply of Persian Gulf oil; threaten global trade; and yield a robust tailwind to Iran’s Ayatollahs, Russia and China and a major headwind to the US and its Arab Sunni allies, headed by Saudi Arabia.

*Why would Saudi Arabia and the Arab regimes of the Abraham Accords precondition their critical ties with Israel upon Israeli concessions to the Palestinians, which they view as a rogue element? Why would they sacrifice their national security and economic interests on the altar of the Palestinian issue? Why would they cut off their noses to spite their faces?

The well-documented fact that Arabs have never flexed a military muscle (and hardly a significant financial and diplomatic muscles) on behalf of the Palestinians, provides a resounding answer!

Israel-Saudi cooperation and Israel’s national security interests

*Notwithstanding the importance of Israel’s cooperation with Saudi Arabia, it takes a back seat to Israel’s critical need to safeguard/control the geographic cradle of its history, religion and culture, which coincides with its minimal security requirements in the volcanic Middle East: the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria (West Bank), which dominate the 8-15-mile-sliver of pre-1967 Israel.

*The tenuously unpredictable Middle East reality defines peace accords as variable components of national security, unlike topography and geography (e.g., the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights) which are fixed components of Israel’s minimal security requirements in the non-Western-like Middle East. Israel’s fixed components of national security have dramatically enhanced its posture of deterrence. They transformed the Jewish State into a unique force and dollar multiplier for the US.

*An Israel-Saudi Arabia peace treaty would be rendered impractical if it required Israel to concede the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, which would relegate Israel from a terror and war-deterring force multiplier for the US to a terror and war-inducing burden upon the US.

*Contrary to the Western (mis)perception of Israel-Arab peace treaties as pillars of national security, the unpredictably-violent Middle East features a 1,400-year-old reality of transient (non-democratic, one-bullet, not one-ballot) Arab regimes, policies and accords. Thus, as desirable as Israel-Arab peace treaties are, they must not entail the sacrifice of Israel’s most critical national security feature: the permanent topography of the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, which dominate 80% of Israel’s population and infrastructure.

*In June and December of 1981, Israel bombed Iraq’s nuclear reactor and applied its law to the Golan Heights, in defiance of the Western foreign policy establishment.  The latter warned that such actions would force Egypt to abandon its 1979 peace treaty with Israel. However, Egypt adhered to its national security priorities, sustaining the peace treaty. Routinely, Western policy makers warn that construction in Jerusalem (beyond the “Green Line”) and in Judea and Samaria would trigger a terroristic volcano and push the Arabs away from their peace treaties with Israel.

*None of the warnings materialized, since Arabs act in accordance with their own interests; not in accordance with Western misperceptions and the rogue Palestinian agenda.

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Judea & Samaria

Saudi policy toward Iran – the US and Israel factors


United Jerusalem – a shared US-Israel legacy and interest

US departure from the recognition of a United Jerusalem as the exclusive capital of the Jewish State, and the site of the US Embassy to Israel, would be consistent with the track record of the State Department, which has been systematically wrong on Middle East issues, such as its opposition to the establishment of the Jewish State; stabbing the back of the pro-US Shah of Iran and Mubarak of Egypt, and pressuring the pro-US Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, while courting the anti-US Ayatollahs of Iran, Saddam Hussein, Arafat, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and the Houthis of Yemen; transforming Libya into a platform of global Islamic terrorism and civil wars; etc..

However, such departure would violate US law, defy a 3,000 year old reality – documented by a litany of archeological sites and a multitude of documents from Biblical time until today – spurn US history and geography, and undermine US national and homeland security.

United Jerusalem and the US law

Establishing a US Consulate General in Jerusalem – which would be a de facto US Embassy to the Palestinian Authority – would violate the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which became US law on November 8, 1995 with substantially more than a veto-override majority on Capitol Hill.

According to the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which enjoys massive support among the US population and, therefore, in both chambers of Congress:

“Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected….

“Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the state of Israel; and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem….

“In 1990, Congress unanimously adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 106, which declares that Congress ‘strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected….’

“In 1992, the United States Senate and House of Representatives unanimously adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 113… to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, and reaffirming Congressional sentiment that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city….

“In 1996, the state of Israel will celebrate the 3,000th anniversary of the Jewish presence in Jerusalem since King David’s entry….

“The term ‘United States Embassy’ means the offices of the United States diplomatic mission and the residence of the United States chief of mission.”

United Jerusalem and the legacy of the Founding Fathers

The US Early Pilgrims and Founding Fathers were inspired – in their unification of the 13 colonies – by King David’s unification of the 12 Jewish tribes into a united political entity, and establishing Jerusalem as the capital city, which did not belong to any of the tribes (hence, Washington, DC does not belong to any state). King David entered Jerusalem 3,000 years before modern day US presidents entered the White House and 2,755 years before the US gained its independence.

The impact of Jerusalem on the US founders of the Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist system and overall civic life is reflected by the existence, in the US, of 18 Jerusalems (4 in Maryland; 2 in Vermont, Georgia and New York; and 1 in Ohio, Michigan, Arkansas, North Carolina, Alabama, Utah, Rhode Island and Tennessee), 32 Salems (the original Biblical name of Jerusalem) and many Zions (a Biblical synonym for Jerusalem and the Land of Israel).  Moreover, in the US there are thousands of cities, towns, mountains, cliffs, deserts, national parks and streets bearing Biblical names.

The Jerusalem reality and US interests

Recognizing the Jerusalem reality and adherence to the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act – and the subsequent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the site of the US Embassy to Israel – bolstered the US posture of deterrence in defiance of Arab/Islamic pressure and threats.

Contrary to the doomsday assessments by the State Department and the “elite” US media – which have been wrong on most Middle East issues – the May 2018 implementation of the 1995 law did not intensify Palestinian, Arab and Islamic terrorism. State Department “wise men” were equally wrong when they warned that Israel’s 1967 reunification of Jerusalem would ignite a worldwide anti-Israel and anti-US Islamic volcanic eruption.

Adherence to the 1995 law distinguishes the US President, Congress and most Americans from the state of mind of rogue regimes and terror organizations, the anti-US UN, the vacillating Europe, and the cosmopolitan worldview of the State Department, which has systematically played-down the US’ unilateral, independent and (sometimes) defiant national security action.

On the other hand, US procrastination on the implementation of the 1995 law – by Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama – eroded the US posture of deterrence, since it was rightly perceived by the world as appeasement in the face of pressure and threats from Arab/Muslim regimes and terrorists.  As expected, it radicalized Arab expectations and demands, failed to advance the cause of Israel-Arab peace, fueled Islamic terrorism, and severely undermined US national and homeland security. For example, blowing up the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and murdering 224 persons in August 1998; blowing up the USS Cole destroyer in the port of Aden and murdering 17 US sailors in October 2000; the 9/11 Twin Towers massacre, etc.

Jerusalem and Israel’s defiance of US pressure

In 1949, President Truman followed Secretary of State Marshall’s policy, pressuring Israel to refrain from annexing West Jerusalem and to accept the internationalization of the ancient capital of the Jewish people.

in 1950, in defiance of brutal US and global pressure to internationalize Jerusalem, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion reacted constructively by proclaiming Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish State, relocating government agencies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and settling tens of thousands of Olim (Jewish immigrants to Israel) in Jerusalem. He upgraded the transportation infrastructure to Jerusalem, erected new Jewish neighborhoods along the 1949 cease fire lines in Jerusalem, and provided the city land reserves for long-term growth.

In 1953, Ben Gurion rebuffed President Eisenhower’s pressure – inspired by Secretary of State Dulles – to refrain from relocating Israel’s Foreign Ministry from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In 1967, President Johnson followed the advice of Secretary of State Rusk – who opposed Israel’s 1948 Declaration of Independence – highlighting the international status of Jerusalem, and warned Israel against the reunification of Jerusalem and construction in its eastern section. Prime Minister Levi Eshkol adopted Ben Gurion’s statesmanship, fended off the US pressure, reunited Jerusalem, built the first Jerusalem neighborhood beyond the 1949 ceasefire lines, Ramat Eshkol, in addition to the first wave of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (West Bank), the Jordan Valley and the Golan Heights.

In 1970, President Nixon collaborated with Secretary of State Rogers, attempting to repartition Jerusalem, pressuring Israel to relinquish control of Jerusalem’s Holy Basin, and to stop Israel’s plans to construct additional neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem.  However, Prime Minister Golda Meir refused to rescind the reunification of Jerusalem, and proceeded to lay the foundation for additional Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the 1949 ceasefire lines: Gilo, Ramot Alon, French Hill and Neve’ Yaakov, currently home to 150,000 people.

In 1977-1992, Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir defied US and global pressure, expanding construction in Jerusalem, sending a clear message: “Jerusalem is the exclusive and non-negotiable capital of Israel!”

“[In 1978], at the very end of [Prime Minister Begin’s] successful Camp David talks with President Jimmy Carter and President Anwar Sadat, literally minutes before the signing ceremony, the American president had approached [Begin] with ‘Just one final formal item.’ Sadat, said the president, was asking that Begin put his signature to a simple letter committing him to place Jerusalem on the negotiating table of the final peace accord.  ‘I refused to accept the letter, let alone sign it,’ rumbled Begin. ‘If I forgot thee O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning,’ said [Begin] to the president of the United States of America, ‘and may my tongue cleave to my mouth’ (The Prime Ministers – An Intimate Portrait of Leaders of Israel, 2010)”

In 2021, Prime Minister Bennett should follow in the footsteps of Israel’s Founding Father, Ben Gurion, who stated: “Jerusalem is equal to the whole of the Land of Israel. Jerusalem is not just a central Jewish settlement. Jerusalem is an invaluable global historical symbol. The Jewish People and the entire world shall judge us in accordance with our steadfastness on Jerusalem (“We and Our Neighbors,” p. 175. 1929).”

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Jewish Holidays

Passover Guide for the Perplexed 2023 (US-Israel shared values)

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  1. The Passover Exodus, in general, and the Mosaic legacy, in particular, inspired the US Founding Fathers’ rebellion against the monarchy, which evolved into a concept of non-revengeful, non-imperialistic and anti-monarchy liberty, limited (non-tyrannical) government, separation of powers among three co-equal branches of government and the Federalist system, in general.

The goal of Passover’s liberty was not the subjugation of the Egyptian people, but the defeat of the tyrannical Pharaoh and the veneration of liberty throughout the globe, including in Egypt.

  1. The Passover Exodus catapulted the Jewish people from spiritual and physical servitude in Egypt to liberty in the Land of Israel.
  2. The Passover Exodus highlights the Jubilee – which is commemorated every 50 years – as the Biblical foundation of the concept of liberty. The US Founding Fathers deemed it appropriate to engrave the essence of the Jubilee on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Thus, the Liberty Bell was installed in 1751 upon the 50th anniversary of William Penn’s Charter of Privileges with the following inscription: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof (Leviticus, 25:10).”

Moses received the Torah – which includes 50 gates of wisdom – 50 days following the Exodus, as celebrated by the Shavou’ot/Pentecost Holiday, 50 days following Passover. Moreover, there are 50 States in the United States, whose Hebrew name is “The States of the Covenant” (Artzot Habreet -ארצות הברית).

  1. The Passover Exodus spurred the Abolitionist Movement and the human rights movement. For example, in 1850, Harriet Tubman, who was one of the leaders of the “Underground Railroad” – an Exodus of Afro-American slaves to freedom – was known as “Mama Moses.” Moreover, on December 11, 1964, upon accepting the Nobel Prize, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “The Bible tells the thrilling story of how Moses stood in Pharaoh’s court centuries ago and cried, ‘Let my people go!’” Furthermore, Paul Robeson and Louis Armstrong leveraged the liberty theme of Passover through the lyrics: “When Israel was in Egypt’s land, let my people go! Oppressed so hard they could not stand, let my people go! Go down Moses, way down in Egypt’s land; tell old Pharaoh to let my people go….!”
  2. 5. According to Heinrich Heine, the 19th century German poet, “Since the Exodus, freedom has always spoken with a Hebrew accent.”
  3. According to the late Prof. Yehudah Elitzur, one of Israel’s pioneers of Biblical research, the Exodus took place in the second half of the 15th century BCE, during the reign of Egypt’s Amenhotep II. Accordingly, the 40-year-national coalescing of the Jewish people – while wandering in the desert – took place when Egypt was ruled by Thutmose IV. Joshua conquered Canaan when Egypt was ruled by Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV, who were preoccupied with domestic affairs to the extent that they refrained from expansionist ventures. Moreover, letters which were discovered in Tel el Amarna, the capital city of ancient Egypt, documented that the 14th century BCE Pharaoh, Amenhotep IV, was informed by the rulers of Jerusalem, Samaria and other parts of Canaan, about a military offensive launched by the “Habirus” (Hebrews and other Semitic tribes), which corresponded to the timing of Joshua’s offensive against the same rulers. Amenhotep IV was a determined reformer, who introduced monotheism, possibly influenced by the ground-breaking and game-changing legacy of Moses and the Exodus.
  4. The annual celebration of the Passover legacy – with members of one’s family – underscores the Exodus, the Parting of the Sea, the Ten Commandments, the Covenant during the 40 years in the desert, and the reentry to the Land of Israel 3,600 years ago.

Passover aims at coalescing the fabrics of the Jewish family and the Jewish people, commemorating and strengthening Jewish roots, and refreshing and enhancing core values such as faith, humility, education, optimism, defiance of odds and can-do mentality, which are prerequisites to a free and vibrant society.

Passover is an annual reminder that liberty must not be taken for granted.

  1. Passover highlights the central role of women in Jewish history. For instance, Yocheved, Moses’ mother, hid Moses and then breastfed him at the palace of Pharaoh, posing as a nursemaid. Miriam, Moses’ older sister, was her brother’s keeper.  Batyah, the daughter of Pharaoh, saved and adopted Moses (Numbers 2:1-10).  Shifrah and Pou’ah, two Jewish midwives, risked their lives, sparing the lives of Jewish male babies, in violation of Pharaoh’s command (Numbers 1:15-19).  Tziporah, a daughter of Jethro and Moses’ wife, saved the life of Moses and set him back on the Jewish course (Numbers, 4:24-27). They followed in the footsteps of Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel, the Matriarchs (who engineered, in many respects, the roadmap of the Patriarchs), and inspired future leaders such as Deborah (the Prophetess, Judge and military commander), Hannah (Samuel’s mother), Yael (who killed Sisera, the Canaanite General) and Queen Esther, the heroine of Purim and one of the seven Biblical Jewish Prophetesses (Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah and Esther).
  2. Passover is the first of the three Jewish pilgrimages to Jerusalem, followed by Shavou’ot (Pentecost), which commemorates the receipt of the Ten Commandments, and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), which was named after Sukkota – the first stop in the Exodus.
  3. Jerusalem is mentioned three times in the annual story of Passover (Haggadah in Hebrew), which is concluded by the vow: “Next Year in the reconstructed Jerusalem!”

Jerusalem has been the exclusive capital of the Jewish people since King David established it as his capital, 3,000 years ago.

More: Jewish Holidays Guide for the Perplexed – Amazon, Smashwords

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US interests and Israel’s control of Judea & Samaria (West Bank)

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*Israel’s control of the topographically-dominant mountain ridges of the Golan Heights, Judea and Samaria has enhanced Israel’s posture of deterrence, constraining regional violence, transforming Israel into a unique force-multiplier for the US.

*Top Jordanian military officers warned that a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River would doom the pro-US Hashemite regime east of the River, transforming Jordan into a non-controllable terrorist heaven, generating an anti-US domino scenario in the Arabian Peninsula.

*Israel’s control of Judea and Samaria has eliminated much of the threat (to Jordan) of Judea and Samaria-based Palestinian terrorism.

*Israel’s posture of deterrence emboldens Jordan in the face of domestic and regional threats, sparing the US the need to deploy its own troops, in order to avoid an economic and national security setback.

*The proposed Palestinian state would become the Palestinian straw that would break the pro-US Hashemite back.

*The Palestinian track record of the last 100 years suggests that the proposed Palestinian state would be a rogue entity, adding fuel to the Middle East fire, undermining US interests.

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Islamic Terrorism

Israel’s and the US’ war on terrorism: offense or defense?

Israel’s and the US’ counter-terrorism

*Islamic and Palestinian terrorism consider Israel as a critical beachhead – and a proxy – of the US in the Middle East and a significant collaborator with the pro-US Arab regimes. They perceive the war on “the infidel Jewish State” as a preview of their more significant war on “the infidel West” and their attempts to topple all pro-US Sunni Arab regimes. Therefore, Islamic and Palestinian terrorism has been engaged in intra-Arab subversion, while systematically collaborating with enemies and rivals of the US and the West (e.g., Nazi Germany, the Soviet Bloc, Ayatollah Khomeini, Latin American, European, African and Asian terror organizations, North Korea, Venezuela and Cuba). The more robust is Israel’s war on terrorism, the more deterred are the terrorists in their attempts to bring the “infidel” West to submission.

*Islamic and Palestinian terrorism has terrorized Jewish communities in the Land of Israel since the late 19th century, adhering to an annihilationist vision as detailed by the Fatah and PLO charters of 1959 and 1964 (eight and three years before 1967), as well as by the hate-education system, which was installed by Mahmoud Abbas in 1993 following the signing of the Oslo Accord.

*Israel battles Palestinian terrorism (Hamas and the Palestinian Authority) and Islamic terrorism (Iran and Hezbollah), which are not preoccupied with the size – but with the eradication – of the “infidel” Jewish State from “the abode of Islam.”

*Israel and the West fight against deeply-rooted and institutional Islamic and Palestinian terrorism, that is inspired by 1,400-year-old rogue values, which are perpetrated by K-12 hate-education, mosque incitement and official and public idolization of terrorists.

*Israel and the West combat terrorism, that has astutely employed 1,400-year-old Islamic values such the “Taqiya’ ” – which promotes double-speak and dissimulation, as a means to mislead and defeat enemies –  and the “Hudna’,” which misrepresents a temporary non-binding ceasefire with “infidels” as if it were a peace treaty.

*Israel and the West confront Islamic and Palestinian terrorism, which is politically, religiously and ideologically led by despotic and rogue regimes, rejecting Western values, such as peaceful-coexistence, democracy, human rights and good-faith negotiation.

*Israel and the West face off against Palestinian and Islamic terrorism, which does not allow lavish financial and diplomatic temptations to transcend intrinsic, fanatic, rogue and annihilationist vision. Moreover, terrorists bite the hands that feed them.

*Israel and the West are not assaulted by despair-driven terrorism, but by hope-driven terrorism – the hope to bring the “infidel” to submission. The aspiration of these terrorists contradicts peaceful-coexistence.

*Israel and the West clash with terrorists, who view gestures, concessions and hesitancy as weakness, which inflames terrorism.

*Israel and the West struggle against terrorism, which is not driven by a particular Israeli or US policy, but by a fanatic vision. Thus, Islamic terrorism afflicted the US during the Clinton and Obama Democratic Administrations, as well as during the Bush and Trump Republican Administrations.

*The US State Department has embraced a “moral equivalence” between Palestinian terrorists – who systematically and deliberately hit civilians, while sometimes hitting soldiers – and Israeli soldiers, who systematically and deliberately hit terrorists, while sometimes, unintentionally, hitting civilians. It emboldens terrorism, which threatens all pro-US Arab regimes, undermining regional stability, benefiting US’ rivals and enemies, while damaging the US.

War on terrorism

*The bolstering of posture of deterrence – rather than hesitancy, restraint, containment and gestures, which inflame terrorism – is a prerequisite for defeating terrorism and advancing the peace process.

*The most effective long-term war on terrorism – operationally, diplomatically, economically and morally – is not a surgical or comprehensive reaction, but a comprehensive and disproportional preemption, targeting the gamut of terroristic infrastructures and capabilities, draining the swamp of terrorism, rather than chasing the mosquitos.

*Containment produces a short-term, false sense of security, followed by a long-term security setback. It is the terrorists’ wet dream, which does not moderate terrorism, but adrenalizes its veins, providing time to bolster its capabilities – a tailwind to terror and a headwind to counter-terrorism. It shakes the confidence in the capability to crush terrorism. Defeating terrorism mandates obliteration of capabilities, not co-existence or containment.

*Containment aims to avoid a multi-front war (Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, Hezbollah and Iran), but it erodes Israel’s posture of deterrence, which brings Israel closer to a multi-front war under much worse conditions.

*Containment erodes Israel’s posture of deterrence in the eyes of the relatively-moderate Arab countries (Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, the Sudan, Jordan and Egypt), which have dramatically enhanced cooperation with Israel due to Israel’s posture of deterrence against mutual threats, such as Iran’s Ayatollahs, the “Muslim Brotherhood” and ISIS terrorists).

*Containment is also a derivative of White House’s and the State Department’s pressure, subordinating national security to diplomatic priorities.  It undermines Israel’s posture of deterrence, which plays into the hand of anti-Israel and anti-US rogue regimes. Precedents prove that Israeli defiance of US pressure yields short-term tension, but long-term strategic respect, resulting in expanded strategic cooperation.  On a rainy day, the US prefers a defiant, rather than appeasing, strategic ally.

*The 2002 comprehensive counter-terrorism Israeli offensive, and the return of Israel’s Defense Forces to the headquarters of Palestinian terrorism in the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) – and not defensive containment and surgical operations – resurrected Israel’s effective war on Palestinian terrorism, which substantially curtailed terrorists’ capabilities to proliferate terrorism in Israel, Jordan and the Sinai Peninsula.

*The containment option intensifies terrorists’ daring, feeds vacillation and the self-destructive “don’t rock the boat” mentality.  It erodes steadfastness and confidence in the capabilities to withstand the cost of terrorism, and feeds the suicidal perpetual retreat mentality.

*The addiction to containment is one of the lethal by-products of the 1993 Oslo Accord, which has produced a uniquely effective hot house of terrorism, highlighted by the importation, arming and funding of some 100,000 Palestinian terrorists from Tunisia, the Sudan, Yemen, Lebanon and Syria to Gaza, Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem, who have unprecedentedly radicalized the Arab population of pre-1967 Israel, established a K-12 hate education system, launched an unparalleled wave of terrorism, and systematically violated agreements.

The bottom line

*The 30 years since the Oslo Accord have featured unprecedented Palestinian hate-education and wave of terrorism. It has demonstrated that a retreat from the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria has boosted terrorism; that the Palestinian Authority is not committed to a peace process, but to the destruction of the Jewish State; and that terrorism requires a military, not political, solution.  A successful war on terrorism behooves a preemptive offense, not defense, containment and reaction; and that fighting in the terrorists’ own trenches is preferable to fighting in one’s own trenches.  No Israeli concessions could satisfy international pressure; and diplomatic popularity is inferior to strategic respect.  Avoiding a repeat of the critical post-Oslo errors requires a comprehensive, disproportional, decisive military campaign to uproot – not to coexist with – terroristic infrastructures.

*The historic and national security indispensability of the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria – which dominate the 8-15-mile sliver of pre-1967 Israel – and the necessity to frustrate Palestinian terrorism, behooves Israel to eliminate any sign of hesitancy and vacillation by expanding the Jewish presence in this most critical area.  It will intensify US and global pressure, but as documented by all Prime Ministers from Ben Gurion, through Eshkol, Golda Meir, Begin and Shamir, defiance of pressure results in the enhancement of strategic respect and cooperation.

*The Palestinian track record during the 30 years since the 1993 Oslo Accord has highlighted the violent, unpredictable and anti-US rogue nature of the proposed Palestinian state west of the Jordan River, which would force the toppling of the pro-US Hashemite regime east of the River. It would transform Jordan into an uncontrollable, chaotic state in the vein of Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, triggering a domino scenario into the Arabian Peninsula (south of Jordan), which could topple the pro-US, oil-producing Arab regimes. This would reward Iran’s Ayatollahs, China and Russia, while severely undermining regional and global stability and US economic and national security interests.

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