Jerusalem has been the historic capital of the Jewish people for thousands of years. Whenever they could escape their persecutors Jews braved dangers and hardships to get to their Holy City.
Among them were members of my own family. My mother was born in Jerusalem in 1890. Her ancestors arrived there in 1825 with a group returning to the city that was the source and center of their religion – celebrated in prayers for centuries.
In contrast, the Arab claim to Jerusalem is of recent vintage. After the 1948 war in which Israel defended itself against Arab armies, the Jordanian occupation of part of Jerusalem showed contempt for the city’s status. The area next to the sacred Western Eall became a garbage dump. Gravestones were used as building materials.
So why now does the Palesfinian Authority insist on Jerusalem as its capital? Why is it a non-negotiable demand? Why not choose a population center like Ramallah or Hebron or even Gaza (so painfully evacuated by Jewish families)?
Apparently it is the latest ploy to denigrate Israel’s status – suggesting it is not entitled to its own capital. What other nation would allow another country to occupy its capital?
That is why Abbas’ demand that Israel cease building homes in Jerusalem is not a minor matter. It supports his strategy. Removing Israel’s legitimacy is not part of a two-nation goal. It seeks a single Palestinian state with Jews as a “tolerated” minority.
The Jewish people experienced many years of being guests in other nations and the persecutions and pogroms that entailed. They will not go back to that. They are in their own home now.
It would be naÃ¯ve for U.S. policy to support Palestinian tactics. Weakening a loyal ally will strengthen the coalition that hates the West, mainly the United States. In 1939, appeasing Hitler’s military threat made him more dangerous. Today the threat is political. It calls for historical wisdom.