“Let the Jews have Jerusalem. It is they who made it famous.”
Those words from Winston Churchill were directed at his own Foreign Office in 1954. The prime minister was irritated by career diplomats’ bias toward the Arabs. Churchill had read from childhood the words of the Psalmist: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Ps. 122:6). He was a constant friend to the Jews.
When Churchill spoke, the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest place, was off-limits to Jews. That’s because the Jordanians had occupied East Jerusalem since the partition of 1948. They had preserved the Muslim holy places, and allowed Christians some entry, but the Jews were forbidden.
Since 1967, Israel has controlled all of Jerusalem. That control was established when Israeli tanks smashed their way through the famed Mandelbaum Gate. It was the climactic moment in a six-day war that began when Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser kicked out UN peacekeepers, blockaded the Israeli port of Eilat, and called upon all Arabs to “drive the Jews into the sea.” The U.S. and international law recognized Nasser’s actions as acts of war.
Now, the Obama administration wants to negotiate away Israel’s control of Jerusalem.
Should we pray for pieces of Jerusalem? That’s all that will be left if the administration’s policy is not changed.
President Obama went to Jakarta in November to deliver a stern warning to Israelis not to build any apartments for Jews in East Jerusalem. Of course, Jews could never rent apartments in Jakarta, because Indonesia bans Israelis from even setting foot in their country.
Yet Indonesia is a nation our president points to as a model of Muslim tolerance and moderation. It is also a land where Catholic schoolgirls are beheaded as they walk to school.
President Obama and Secretary Clinton have refused to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as they promised to do during the campaign. Pro-Arab bureaucrats in our State Department have apparently talked them out of it.
By way of contrast, our U.S. Embassy in Germany picked up and moved from Bonn to Berlin when Germany was reunited. Jerusalem has not been given this honor.
Does anyone else think it’s strange that Germany — against whom the United Nations was first organized — gets to name its own capital? Or that the Obama administration respects that designation by sending an ambassador there? Who could imagine the president speaking out about plans for more housing in what was once East or West Berlin? The point is not to de-legitimize Berlin, but to give Jerusalem its proper place.
Giving up Jewish control of Jerusalem will not bring peace. Under Israeli auspices, Muslims, Christians and Jews are all allowed access to their sacred spaces. Surely, this generous action contributes mightily to the peace of the world. This policy ought to gain the Israelis some credit.
The level of openness and genuine tolerance in Israel occurs nowhere in the lands where Islam predominates. Churches in Egypt and Iraq have been bombed in recent days. Scores of Christian worshipers have been murdered. The pope has prayed for the victims and begged the West to help stop the persecution of the Church in Muslim lands.
We Americans are taxed to pay billions to Egyptian and Iraqi governments that this administration says are friendly. Secretary Clinton is demanding an additional $160 million to be paid out to the so-called Palestinian Authority (né PLO), the inventors of airline hijacking, for questionable humanitarian purposes. In PLO-ruled portions of the West Bank, children dress up as suicide bombers in schools named for “martyrs” who blew themselves up in past terrorist attacks.
Whenever Christian or Jewish houses of worship come under Muslim control, the results are terrible. When Muslims conquered Constantinople in 1453, they promptly converted the Hagia Sophia cathedral into a mosque, smashing Byzantine icons and desecrating crosses.
Modern Turkey controls the Hagia Sophia today. When Pope Benedict XVI visited in 2006, he was not permitted to cross himself as he passed the threshold of what was once one of Christendom’s greatest shrines. That simple, peaceful gesture would have provoked worldwide riots, the pontiff was told. Catholic schoolgirls in places like Indonesia might have paid with their lives had the pope made such a sign.
We know that President Obama does not think highly of Winston Churchill. He gave a bust of Churchill that resided in the White House back to the British. According to the Daily Telegraph, Obama’s family suspects that Churchill had Obama’s Kenyan grandfather tortured.
But President Obama surely must hear the cries of the persecuted church. Yet his words and actions fail to show it.
We want the oppressed of many lands to look to America as their friend. That’s the way the persecuted Jews and Christians of Europe viewed Churchill in World War II. One Jewish survivor of a Soviet labor camp spoke for millions when he said: “We had no bread, but we had Churchill.” Who among today’s persecuted will say: “We have Obama”?
Robert Morrison is Senior Fellow at the Family Research Council.