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Why the Israeli Left Should Support Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

The Israeli left should support efforts to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which are both “justified” and would help bolster its legitimacy in the eyes of the Israeli public, Don Futterman argued [1] in Haaretz on Tuesday.

Futterman, the Israel Program Director for the U.S.-based Moriah Fund, noted that the Jewish nation shares “deep emotional, cultural and historical attachments to Jerusalem.”

“It is a tactical error to create even the appearance that the Israeli left cares less about Jerusalem than other Jews do,” he added. “The debate over Jerusalem has to evolve to reflect today’s reality. No one in Israel imagines Jerusalem will not continue to be the capital of our country or the seat of our government, or that Israel would ever turn over control of Jerusalem to an international agency.”

Futterman also noted that the move would be “justified, and not just in terms of finally implementing the 1995 congressional decision to do so.”

“It is one of the quirks of the ongoing appeasement of Arab countries and the Islamic world that the United States and all other nations have kept their embassies in Tel Aviv,” he wrote. “Long after the Arab oil boycott was relocated to the dustbin of history, this historical oddity remains because of the anticipated apocalyptic response; the peace process would be derailed, permanently, or the Islamic world would rise up in revolt.”

While recognizing that these concerns persist, Futterman observed that today, “the Arab world is divided and preoccupied with ISIS, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Iran, ISIS, Hamas and Hezbollah would doubtless use the embassy move for propaganda purposes, but they are hardly in short supply of anti-American or anti-Israeli rhetoric. Jordan and the so-called ‘moderate Sunni states,’ Saudi Arabia and Egypt, would require careful diplomacy, but the Palestinians won’t forsake their national aspirations because of the location of the American embassy.”

Any violent responses to the move would “be unjustified and should not be legitimated,” Futterman added. He also argued that taking on these risks would be warranted in order to counter United Nations Security Council resolution 2334 [2], which showed that the international community rejects the centuries-old Jewish claims to Jerusalem.

“We, the Jewish left, which has always seen the State of Israel and the unity of the Jewish People as more important than Judea and Samaria, must boldly assert our own patriotic commitment to the uniqueness of Jerusalem in our people’s history and to our country,” Futterman concluded.

Eugene Kontorovich, a law professor at Northwestern University, similarly argued [3] earlier this week that moving the American embassy to Jerusalem could help counter much of the negative effects of resolution 2334. The measure, which labels eastern Jerusalem — including the Old City — occupied Palestinian territory, passed late last month following Washington’s controversial decision not to use its veto. It was opposed [4] by many top Democratic and Republican politicians, and praised [5] by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

[Photo: BCohn / WikiCommons ]