Editor's Note: This column was co-authored by Bob Morrison.
The Obama administration refuses, time and again, to say that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Victoria Nuland, speaking from the State Department, recently repeated over and over that the status of Jerusalem is subject to final status negotiations. Israel thus becomes the only country recognized by the U.S. that is not allowed to name its own capital. But the U.S. recognizes Germany’s capital. It’s Berlin. This is most curious.
The United States, in organizing the United Nations in 1945, required that only those nations that had declared war on Germany could be members. President Roosevelt told Stalin and Churchill at Yalta that he had written to the presidents of the Latin American states urging them to declare war on Germany (Yalta: The Price of Peace, by S.M. Plokhy, p. 194) We did not require that they declare war on Japan, too, since the USSR by agreement would only declare war on that Asian Empire ninety days after Germany surrendered.
With Nazi Germany’s surrender on May 8, 1945, the capital city of Berlin was divided into four Zones of Occupation. In 1949, Bonn was recognized as the capital of West Germany when Britain, France and the U.S. combined their Zones and supported a free and democratic German state. Bonn served honorably as the capital of that staunch Western ally from 1949 to 1999.
After the Fall of the Wall, East and West Germany were reunited in 1990 and the German Bundestag voted to transfer the nation’s capital back to Berlin. The U.S. State Department never hesitated. Our embassy, and every other embassy, packed up and moved from Bonn to Berlin.
Compare this with Jerusalem. American politicians have promised over and over to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Israelis name Jerusalem as their capital in their laws, in their history, in their prayers, in their hearts. And yet, the U.S. Embassy remains in Tel Aviv and Obama spokespersons resist calling Jerusalem the capital of Israel. The Obama administration insists that the Israelis must negotiate for their own capital.