Truth: Obama's Ambassador to Israel Busts Myths Against Trump's Embassy Move

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Posted: May 15, 2018 10:30 AM
Truth: Obama's Ambassador to Israel Busts Myths Against Trump's Embassy Move

Yesterday witnessed an historic moment: The opening of America's embassy in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. In the lead-up to the dedication ceremony, Hamas-orchestrated riots led to dozens of deaths along the Gaza-Israel border, with protesters paying a heavy price for ignoring explicit IDF warnings against invading sovereign Israeli territory (many with malicious intentions).  On policy, many Trump critics have decried the president's decision to formally relocate the US embassy as an impediment to peace that derails the possibility of a sustainable two-state solution.  In response to this critique, President Obama's ambassador to Israel from 2011 to 2017 took to Twitter and offered an extended, detailed refutation: 


Shapiro's geographical context and points about the embassy relocation underscoring Israel's permanence and legitimacy are smart and useful.  He goes on to write that he wishes Trump's dramatic move were integrated into a broader strategy of establishing two states and two capitals, and also reiterates Obama-era criticisms of the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank -- but he ultimately concludes that "the US embassy belongs in Jerusalem," celebrating what he calls an "overdue step."  He also warns that future Israeli governments will still face "wrenching choices" in a future peace deal, but firmly admonishes Palestinians over the ongoing failures of their leadership: "Palestinian can hold out and refuse to tell hard truths to their own people about the legitimacy of a Jewish state, Israel's permanence, and the immorality of violence, but their ability to generate pressure on Israel is declining," Shapiro writes.  More:


These are Abbas' recent, fanatically anti-Semitic remarks Shapiro references, which are especially telling coming from a supposed "moderate" (as opposed to the elected terrorists of Hamas, who run Gaza).  As we consider yesterday's significant development, it's important to not merely consider it through the short-sighted prism of Trump and domestic American politics.  What the president did was to follow through on decades of official US policy by actually implementing something that previous presidents of both parties had promised.  Rather than following the established pattern of citing the need to invoke effective waivers to the relevant law, Trump determined that the time had arrived to move forward with the plan.  And now, a longstanding and oft-stated US goal has become a reality.  (UPDATE - we interviewed Shapiro on Benson & Harf last evening).

Also, as we sift through the hyperbole and alarmism inspired by the embassy move (including a torrent of perversely misplaced blame on the Israelis for the destabilizing, violent agitation of Hamas), it's critical to recall that Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, with 93 Senators voting in the affirmative. The Senate unanimously passed a June 2017 resolution that, among other things, reaffirmed that law.  Outrage and partisanship over a US president acting in accordance with formalized, bipartisan US policy says more about the ways of Washington than it does about that president or his actions.  Relatedly, it is genuinely disconcerting that zero actively serving Congressional Democrats chose to attend Monday's ceremonies, in solidarity with America's strong ally.  Support for Israel cannot be a partisan issue, yet that's the path we appear to be headed down.  In case you missed them, I'll leave you with President Trump's dedication video, and Prime Minister Netanyahu's ebullient speech from yesterday's event:

What an extraordinary few weeks it has been for these two world leaders.