Democrats are already revving up their outrage machine over President Trump's decision to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (fact check: it is), and to set in motion a plan to accordingly move the US embassy from Tel Aviv. Trump's call is controversial and not without risk, but attempts to frame it as radically out of the mainstream or reckless are unfair and wrong. It's important to note that multiple past presidents have affirmed Jerusalem as Israel's capital or vowed to do precisely what Trump is finally doing -- from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush to Barack Obama. Trump's predecessors decided that their stances were better as applause lines than foreign policy; Trump, by contrast, is actually following through. Relatedly, California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein released a statement admonishing Trump that confirming and implementing his then-rumored decision would be "terrible" and dangerous:
Reports indicate the president will move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I wrote him last week to explain why that would be a terrible decision. pic.twitter.com/MV1o73nyDk— Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) December 5, 2017
What's interesting about this critique is that Trump is complying with a law passed by Congress (the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995) mandating that the US government relocate its embassy to Jerusalem, Israel's rightful capital city. Among the 93 Senators who voted for that law? Dianne Feinstein. Yes, the law included waiver powers for the president to defer the change based on national security judgments, and Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama did exactly that. Trump is declining to seek another delay, opting to follow the overwhelmingly-passed 1995 law and fulfill a campaign pledge. Feinstein's letter refers to tensions and violence that could escalate if the US goes beyond paying lip service to the notion that Jerusalem is Israel's capital -- citing the upheaval that occurred in the Second Intifada, which was attributed to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon "provocatively" visiting the Temple Mount. That may be the fig leaf with which Feinstein justifies her flip-flop. But I'm not sure that succumbing to threats of violence, and pointing to the past actions of terrorists, is a good way to craft or determine US foreign policy. Also, guess what Feinstein also voted for all the way back in...June of 2017, well after the Second Intifada?
The US Senate unanimously passed a resolution on Monday that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. Co-sponsored by 17 senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D), the text calls on the legislative body to recognize the half a century landmark since Israel captured the eastern part of the city during the 1967 Six Day War...“Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected,” the resolution states, adding that “there has been a continuous Jewish presence in Jerusalem for 3 millennia.”...The White House further tried to assure that Trump would still move the embassy eventually. “The question is not if that move happens, but only when,” a statement from Press Secretary Sean Spicer said. The resolution “reaffirms the Jerusalem Embassy Act” — the law mandating the relocation — and explicitly “calls upon the President and all United States officials to abide by its provisions.” Schumer, the Democratic Senate leader and one of the most prominent Jewish members of Congress, released a statement introducing the measure that implored the US to recognize Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s capital. “I am proud to sponsor this resolution, which reaffirms the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 that states Jerusalem should remain an undivided city and Israel’s capital – in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are celebrated, valued and protected,” he said.
Feinstein is outraged that the president is following a law that she voted for more than 20 years ago, then voted with all of her colleagues to reaffirm a few months ago. I'll leave you with this heavily editorialized tweet from a "news" organization, followed by a piece of fake news shared by a liberal writer:
#BREAKING President Donald Trump is to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, upending decades of careful US policy and ignoring dire warnings from allies across the Middle East and the world— AFP news agency (@AFP) December 6, 2017
Over the next 24 hours, when you hear the phrase "undivided Jerusalem," remember that Israel's "separation barrier" runs through the city https://t.co/kZOJdVMzos— Peter Beinart (@PeterBeinart) December 6, 2017
The replies to his assertion are pretty entertaining; here's a succinct explanation of how he's wrong:
This is BS. The security fence runs along the far eastern edge of the city, not "through" it. https://t.co/P8gptgNC7m— Noah Pollak (@NoahPollak) December 6, 2017
Last Four Democratic Party Platforms Have Called Jerusalem the Capital of Israel https://t.co/BHspbNDtx3— David Rutz (@DavidRutz) December 6, 2017