Of course, Donald Trump always gets the media’s pummeling.
One would think the simple act of choosing where the embassy should be located is a sovereign act that every State is entitled to. However, apparently not so if the country is the United States and more so if its president is Trump.
But the authority (and duty) to transfer the US embassy to Jerusalem came about because of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, “a public law,” which “recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and called for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city. Its purpose was to set aside funds for the relocation of the Embassy of the United States in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.” (see Wiki)
For a bit of history, the president in 1995 was Bill Clinton. And despite Congress being controlled by the Republicans then, the “proposed law was adopted by the Senate (93 — 5), and the House (374 — 37).” A near bipartisan unanimity if there ever was one.
Now the US, like the Philippines, gives the Executive branch pride of place when it comes to foreign relations; hence, any US president could have moved the embassy without need of further legislation. The JEA essentially emphasized the symbolic importance of such a move.
Section 2 of the Act provides the following premises, amongst others:
• Each sovereign nation, under international law and custom, may designate its own capital.
• Since 1950, the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of the State of Israel.
• The United States maintains its embassy in the functioning capital of every country except in the case of our democratic friend and strategic ally, the State of Israel.
Critics point out that Israel illegally occupied Eastern Jerusalem in contravention of international law. What these same critics fail to say is that Israel acquired sovereignty over the whole of Jerusalem after Egypt, Syria, and Jordan decided in 1967 they’d rather annihilate Israel. The Six Day War, as it came to be known, rather famously resulted in an overwhelming victory for the Jewish State.
And thus, political commentator Shmuel Berkowitz points out, even renowned international law experts, including (amongst others) Cambridge professor Elihu Lauterpacht, view Israel’s taking of Eastern Jerusalem not an illegal invasion because of Jordan’s aggression in the first place.
Despite the legislation, every president, from Clinton, to George W. Bush, to Barack Obama, invoked the JEA’s built-in waiver, citing “national security” in deferring the transfer.
Then Trump comes along.
US evangelicals should be overjoyed.
As reported by Fox News, quoting “longtime Pastor John Hagee”:
“I can assure you that 60 million evangelicals are watching this promise closely because if President Trump moves the embassy into Jerusalem, he will historically step into immortality. He will be remembered for thousands of years for his act of courage to treat Israel like we already treat other nations.”
And the reason why it is so important for those evangelicals, writes Penny Young Nance (president and CEO of Concerned Women for America, the US’ largest women’s public policy organization), is that:
“[Israel represents] in the Middle East of the ideals and principles that we hold dear as Christians. It is much more than a political performance; it is about giving Israel the respect it deserves as a nation that is dedicated to democratic ideals.
Israel stands for human rights. Israel cares for the least of these. Israel is inclusive. Every Israeli is supported and represented, regardless of whether they are Jewish, Muslim, Arab, Christian, male or female, young or old.”
The violence that followed was swift but predictable.
As of this writing, 60 Palestinians had been reported killed by the Israeli Defense Forces, with thousands injured.
Media quickly condemned the violence and even quicker to heap blame on Israel and Trump.
But what the media insistently refuses to report is Hamas’s admitted willingness to put Palestinian civilians and children in harms way, as human shields; a fact complained by Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations in a letter to the Security Council.
Hamas’s propensity of volunteering its citizens killed was “fact-checked” by Channel 4’s Patrick Worrall in 2014: “Actually, Hamas has made no secret of advocating the use of civilians as human shields [against Israel].”
ON THE OTHER HAND:
“[The Israeli Defense Forces] took extraordinary measures to give Gaza civilians notice of targeted areas, dropping millions of leaflets, broadcasting radio messages, sending texts and making tens of thousands of phone calls. xxx Never in the history of warfare has an army phoned its enemy and told them where they are going to drop their bombs (British Commander Colonel Richard Kemp, recounting Israel’s 2014 encounters with Hamas).”
It is for our moral duty to stand up against terror and irrationality, as well as our shared history and values with Israel, that this column urges our government to start planning moving our Philippine Tel-Aviv embassy to Jerusalem, where it belongs.
Jemy Gatdula is a Senior Fellow of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations and a Philippine Judicial Academy law lecturer for constitutional philosophy and jurisprudence.