When President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it was like the old TV show, Law and Order: “Ripped from today’s headlines!”
Only this announcement was vice versa: Headlines ripped from fiction.
My work in progress (WOP), Jeremiah’s Jar, includes a major subplot in which the American President Tyler Kineo names Hawke Harbinger his ambassador to Israel with the intent to move the embassy to Israel and acknowledge Jerusalem as the Jews’ historic and eternal capital.
For 30 years Presidents and presidential candidates — Democrats and Republicans alike, including Clinton, Bush and Obama — have made this campaign promise only to renege.
So I felt safe when I started writing this book. The thought was, Hillary would win and even if she lost, Trump would fail to deliver his promise, just like his predecessors.
Either way, the argument for officially recognizing Jerusalem is accepting a truth that predates even the existence of any other country in the world. Before Germany existed, before England existed, before America existed, Jerusalem was.
Here’s a scene from my manuscript, which by the way now must be rewritten before publication. Ambassador Harbinger and his wife, Skye, are dining with my heroes, Max and Kat, along with two Holocaust survivors, Maurice and Sadie:
“Jerusalem’s been our capital since 1949,” Maurice said, “and according to international law, the Jewish people have legitimate rights to the so-called ‘land of Palestine.’ Those rights are preserved in three legally binding international treaties: the 1920 San Remo Resolution, the 1922 Mandate for Palestine and the 1924 Anglo-American Convention on Palestine.”
Maurice put his palms together and continued, “But Satan, that demon, has been about severing God’s people from Jerusalem since forever. In ’67 BC, the Greek ruler Antiochus Epiphanes outlawed Jewish traditions, reading the Torah, and honoring the Sabbath and turned the city into a Greek colony and the temple into a place of pagan worship. Centuries later, Roman Emperor Hadrian rewrote Jewish history, renaming Judea ‘Palaestina’ and Jerusalem ‘Ailia Capitolina.’”
Hawke chuckled and nodded at Max, “I should have mentioned that Maurice is a history professor at The Ben-Gurion Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.”
“Ah-h-h,” Max exhaled.
“Besides all these resolutions and mandates,” Sadie said, “are God’s Word. Moses declared in Deuteronomy chapter thirty-two that God sets the boundaries of the nations.”
“And in the New Testament, too,” Skye said. “In Acts seventeen it talks about God establishing the ‘exact places’ men should live.”
“What I find inexplicable,” Maurice said, “is that the United Nations did not refer to the West Bank and Gaza as ‘occupied’ territories when they were ‘occupied’ by Egypt and Jordan from 1948 to 1967. The Arab states were the ‘occupiers’ of parts of the land west of Jordan until 1967.”
“Duplicitous,” Kat said. “Two-faced, deceitful.”
“That’s all true,” Hawke said, “but our primary message in moving the embassy to Jerusalem is singular, simple and significant: Israel’s survival is non-negotiable. Not in our eyes.
“Secondarily, we do not want to continue to insult an ally by refusing to acknowledge their declared capital as their genuine capital.”
Max gave a thumbs-up. “I wonder what Putin would say if we denied Moscow as Russia’s capital and moved our embassy to Kiev.”
“Or if we denied Paris is France’s capital and moved our embassy to, say, Lyon,” Kat said.
“I vote for Aix-en-Provence,” Skye said with a chuckle.
Max watched Hawke’s reaction. His laugh was genuine, his composure complete. He wondered what the ambassador would be like in battle, then prayed that would never happen.
“So you all get my point,” Hawke said. “America, alone, will be in Jerusalem. El Salvador and Costa Rica once had their embassies in Jerusalem, but back in 2006 both moved.”
“El Salvador,” Maurice said. “I remember them slinking out of town. Said they were moving because of increased Arab pressure during the war in Lebanon. And Costa Rica? They said their move was needed,” he made air quotes, “ ‘to bring the nation in line with international law and to mend relations with Arab nations.’”
“I was here then,” Max said. “Israel criticized Costa Rica’s decision as a surrender to terror. Uri Lupolianski, Jerusalem’s mayor at the time, called on the government to work with the United States to move the American embassy to Jerusalem.”
“Well, now we are. We’re no longer surrendering to terror, or the threat of it,” Hawke said. “We’re supposed to be the most powerful nation on earth, yet we’ve been cowering in the corner, acting like the weaklings on the block. Drawing red lines in the sand that rogue countries can cross without ramifications. Giving Iran, which bankrolls much of the world’s terrorism, a hundred and fifty billion dollars and a clear and quick path to nuclear power. Sending Iran forty million dollars to release American hostages. Bowing to every tin-horned ayatollah with oil under his feet.”
“That,” Kat said, “is a long way from Obama calling on the Supreme Court to strike down a Congressional law to have Jerusalem recognized as part of Israel on American passports. Remember that?”
“2015,” Hawke said. “And not just Obama, but George W. Bush, too. Presidents have the long-established authority to recognize foreign states, their governments, and their territorial boundaries. So the President’s determinations must be reflected in official documents, including passports.”
“I wonder,” said Sadie, “why your President—even Mr. Obama, who hated Israel—would oppose such a thing.”
Hawke shrugged. “Obama and Bush 43 both opposed the Congressional law which was passed in 2002 and called for U.S. passports of citizens born in Jerusalem to list their birth country as Israel, saying by recognizing Jerusalem as part of Israel it would lose credibility as an ‘impartial broker’ in peace talks.”
“So much for the separation of politics and the legal system,” Kat offered.
Max took a bite of Kfegh and offered: “So politics and the legal system works about the same as politics and warfare.”
Hawke chuckled ruefully and lifted his coffee cup toward Max as a toast.