Here's Something: Jerusalem recognition a fitting Hanukkah gift

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Forget the Russia investigation, sexual harassment scandals, appointment of a Supreme Court justice or even the damage caused by wildfires and hurricanes this year.

The most consequential occurrence of 2017 took place Dec. 6 – just in time for this week’s Jewish Festival of Lights – when America formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

President Trump’s declaration was about 70 years overdue. American presidents have promised to recognize Jerusalem during their campaign bids, but haven’t. Trump promised, and did. As a result, shock, outrage, riots and marches ensued. Despite the fallout, Trump did the right thing.

While many Americans agree with the Arab rage, they forget the big picture. The modern state of Israel, in the works before World War II began, is the direct result of the Holocaust, in which Nazi Germany exterminated 6 million Jews. The state of Israel was a “final solution” of sorts by the international community, and a place of refuge for the perennially persecuted Jewish people. The land of Israel has a 3,000-year Jewish history. And the logical place for its capital is Jerusalem, where the seat of ancient Jewish government stood and where its foundation, the Temple Mount, still stands today.

I understand the inclination to question why Trump would stir the already perilous waters of the Middle East. Is he inciting hatred against Israelis and Americans? Is he ignorant of potential peace-process consequences? Does he even want peace? I don’t know his motivations, but I do know I like his willingness to stand up for what’s right. And what’s right in this case is standing by the Jewish people, who have a homeland they can call their own, where Jerusalem is the appropriate seat of government.

I studied abroad in Jerusalem in 1995 and went back in 1998 for a few months as a volunteer at an organization that helped Jewish immigrants, mostly those fleeing Russian persecution. The hot topic back in the 1990s was the Oslo accords, which primarily clamped down on expansion of Jewish settlements in Gaza and the West Bank as a concession for peace with the Palestinians.

Well, we all know 25 years on that those peace accords have fizzled. Palestinian Muslims (let us not forget there are Palestinian Christians, too) insist that Jerusalem is their rightful capital and that the Jews are imposters. And, for them, this is why America’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is such an obstacle to the peace process. They want Jerusalem, too.

While there’s no denying Jews’ historical claim to Jerusalem, the reality on the ground proves Jerusalem is already Israel’s capital. The Knesset, Israel’s parliament building, is in Jerusalem. The prime minister resides there. The Supreme Court of Israel is there. The United States also has a consulate near the Knesset building (and will move its embassy there). Other nations have consulates in Jerusalem, as well.

So, Jerusalem is already Israel’s operating capital, and Trump just confirmed the obvious. Why it took America 70 years is a question for future generations to judge.

While the formal recognition simply confirms reality, what is truly amazing is our president’s willingness to defy peer pressure and stand up for what he believes. Trump is a strong man – not in an authoritarian way, as many on the left warn, but in his style of leadership. For decades, on this issue at least, America has caved to peer pressure and gone along with what the Muslim nations wanted. No more.

Trump’s stand reminds me of the John Cougar Mellencamp song lyric: “You’ve gotta stand right up for something, or you’re gonna fall for anything.” For years we’ve fallen for the argument saying we shouldn’t risk riling the Muslim-dominated Middle East just to make a political point. Well, this is not a political point. It’s a matter of recognizing the wishes of the Jewish people, who lost 6 million members not too long ago and have been harassed by their Arab neighbors since Israel was established in 1948.

Wars, rockets, bombings, shootings – the Jews have put up with a lot. I’m proud to live in a country that recognizes their plight. Eighteen of the 21 Arab League nations don’t even recognize Israel’s right to exist as a country, let alone with Jerusalem as its capital. America, by denying the Jerusalem-as-capital issue, has enabled the anti-Israel cause in hopes it would bring peace. And it hasn’t.

The Jews’ Nazi exterminators sought a 1,000-year reign. That effort, thankfully, was derailed by the fighting men of America, Great Britain and Russia. I hope the Israeli people enjoy a 1,000-year reign over Jerusalem with the backing of nations like America that are willing to stand up for their historical claims – both ancient and modern.

John Balentine, a former managing editor for Sun Media Group, lives in Windham.

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  • Kevin McCarthy

    You studied in Jerusalem in 1995? Was it at a branch of Trump University? That can be the only explanation for this miserable excuse of an argument. How do you write an entire column about Jerusalem and not mention the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, corpus separatum, West Jerusalem, East Jerusalem, Israeli annexation, the Palestinian State (or even Palestinians), international law or the fact that not one other country in the world (except Vanuatu) recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and that virtually every other country insists that the status of Jerusalem is to be determined by negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

    Finally, and it’s really no surprise given the tone of your piece, what does this say about the supposedly vaunted negotiating prowess of our President? In exchange for this concession by the United States government, what has Israel agreed to? As far as I can tell the only interests served by this proclamation are Mr. Trump’s personal political interests, not our national interest or the interests of any meaningful “peace plan.”

    • Little crow

      Every concession Israel has made for peace has been answered almost immediately with rocket attacks. The “Palestinians”, who had been turned away by neighboring Arab countries but allowed to live peacefully within Israel, will not be satisfied until all the Jewish temples have been flattened and replaced with mosques, and all the Jews and Christians have been driven into the sea.

    • Little crow

      P.S. Since when does any nation have to negotiate with the U.N. on where its capital is located? Why should the U.S. receive a concession for Israel locating its capital where it already is?

      • Kevin McCarthy

        You must have gone to the same school as Mr. Ballentine. Good luck with that.

        • Little crow

          I was well aware of how Israel came to be before Mr. Balentine wrote his article. Israel is really the ancient land of Judea and home to the Jews for over 3000 years. It contains many sites which are holy to the Jews and some to Christians. Over the centuries they have been conquered by the Syrians, the Romans and the Ottomans. After WW2, with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Jews had the opportunity to finally settle in their traditional homeland. The so-called Palestinians, some of whom had been living there, were allowed to stay, as many do today and live peacefully in Israel. Those who chose to leave were disallowed entry by other Arab states. Contrast how welcome Jews would be in any of their neighboring Arab countries.

          Israel is a sovereign nation and has every right to determine its own capital, and pursue its own national interests. The UN has no business meddling in its private affairs, especially since the UN has turned into an anti-Israel, anti-American organization that favors the interests of third world totalitarian dictators and the conquest of Western civilization. Muslims have no holy sites within Israel (theirs are Mecca and Medina, in Saudia Arabia), but only claim them so they will have the opportunity to destroy Jewish and Christian sites, as they have done in the past, and as they did to the Buddhist temples in Afganistan.

          • Kevin McCarthy

            Your summary analysis omits a few key details. Perhaps your reference to “the so-called Palestinians” explains the omission. In another aspect you are just plain wrong that “Muslims have no holy sites within Israel.” Temple Mount which include the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock are in East Jerusalem. Of course may you don’t realize your inadvertent concession that East Jerusalem isn’t technically in Israel. But that only illustrates the problem with Mr. Balentine’s column: no historical context, no explanation of the founding of Israel as a Nation-state, no explanation of the difference between East and West Jerusalem. Notwithstanding your lamentations, the so-called Palestinians have as legitimate an argument to sovereignty over East Jerusalem as the Israelis now claim.

          • ButtonSalmon

            Kevin,

            I’m curious…are you as outraged at say Syria, Libya, Saudia, Egypt and pretty much every ME country that abuses human rights or is it just an “Israeli” thing? Because if it’s just Israel that has you up in arms…well, you know what that normally means. Happy Hanukkah!

          • Just Sayin’

            Personally, I do find all of those human rights abuses abhorrent. Israel is fairly unique as it has all but turned Gaza into an open aired prison, and that it commits many of the same atrocities upon the people there as their own people once had to endure.

            Israel holds a massive military advantage, and could deal with the situation far more humanely than it does.

            And, on a final note: Given that you refer to the Palistinians as ‘the so-called’ as a qualifier, you reveal your own bias quite plainly.

          • ButtonSalmon

            Personally, I wasn’t talking to you and I have no idea what you’re talking about. I never even mentioned the Palestinians (that’s how it spelled FYI). Concerning Gaza, are you aware that Israel pulled out all settlements in 2005 and left terrific infrastructure? Their reward since. 9000 rockets fired indiscriminately into Israel that serve only one purpose. To kill and terrorize. A controlling enemy (Hamas), that’s only purpose is to destroy Israel , and Jews throughout the world (see page 4 of their charter). Lastly, how about those terrific tunnels. And their purpose is? Exactly. BTW, are you aware who shares Gaza’s southern border? Winning answer would be Egypt. I have no doubt you’re just as upset with the Egyptians being their border with Gaza is basically closed as well.

          • Just Sayin’

            First off, my apologies. You’re right that you didn’t mention the Palestinians in your post, I mistakenly thought you had authored an earlier post as well. Guess I should have finished my coffee this morning before posting.

            My being against the atrocities that Israel commits in no way is a statement of support or approval for Hamas. I reject violence as a tool for political change.

            That being said, I’d like to turn my attention to your stance that Israel’s legacy in Gaza is better infrastructure and how many far more important matters that completely glosses over. I’m also certainly aware that Egypt borders Gaza, but there are some major differences that you seem to have failed to consider:

            While I wish that Egypt would be more open with it’s borders to allow refugees to escape, Egypt hasn’t made a habit of illegally expanding it’s borders and taking over sections of Palestine. It hasn’t sent people with weapons to kick people out of their houses and simply take them, occupy them, and burn any possessions they don’t care for. Egypt hasn’t been forced to cede illegally taken homes and territories and chosen to burn the homes, crops, and salt the earth before leaving. It hasn’t indiscriminately killed civilians with airstrikes on the Gaza strip in some of the most densely populated civilian areas of the region. Do you know who has?

            That’s right, Israel. They have also refused to allow the people who are suffering in Gaza to leave, they blockaded humanitarian shipments of food and water when people are suffering and dying for the lack of both. They’ve routinely shot unarmed civilians, including women and children.

            Seems like those MIGHT be slightly more important than some infrastructure improvements in the areas they’ve abandoned.

            I have nothing against the people of Israel, and I have no stake in the religious conflict over there. But I cannot support or ignore the barbaric and indefensible actions that the government of that country has chosen to undertake.

          • ButtonSalmon

            You have nothing against the people of Israel? Now that’s funny. How many times have you been there? I’m betting that would be a big fat donut. Well I have, lots in fact. It’s much easier to read a negative article and immediately pass judgment and assume voila…that’s the truth.

            Let me ask you this. What would happen tomorrow if the Palestinians agreed that Israel is entitled to live in peace as the Jewish State and said we want peace? Simple answer…there would be peace..PERIOD. What would happen if Israel laid down their weapons. Simple answer…there would be no more Israel. When the Palestinians, and Hamas and Hezbollah start loving their children more then wanting to kill ours (yes I hold dual citizenship) then we’re in business. Until then..not going to happen.

          • Little crow

            That is the nub of the whole thing isn’t it? The Muslim world knows it can have peace anytime it chooses, but their terrorist leaders don’t want that because then their people would focus on their incompetence instead of hating Jews and Westerners.

          • Just Sayin’

            It’s a lot more complicated than that and you know it. If the Palestinians sat down at a peace table, would Israel give back all of the land it has illegally seized from the Palestinians over the last decades?

            History tells us that no, Israel won’t, nor will it stop taking over more land and settlements.. Not exactly grounds for a great and lasting peace.

            Between Israel and Palestine, Israel holds the overwhelming upper hand in military and financial power. If Israel truly wanted peace, it could accomplish that. It could bring enough to the table to ensure it. But, as history shows, it seems Israel would much rather continue on a path that keeps its hands stained with the blood of its neighbors, the jackboots of oppression on its feet, and it’s coffers bulging with ill-gotten gains.

          • ButtonSalmon

            One question…have you ever been on Israeli soil?

          • Just Sayin’

            That could be a tricky question, when you consider how much land they’ve stolen. Does illegally stolen land count as Israeli soil?

          • ButtonSalmon

            That’s what I thought…nada. Well since you’ve never been there, you have absolutely zero credibility on the subject since you haven’t a clue with what’s going on there. Same reason I wouldn’t pass judgment on a country 8000 miles from here that I know nothing about.

            My good friend Mark Regev (Former Israeli PM Spokesperson) once told me that the International media will do whatever they can to poke Israel in the eye.

            BTW, since you hate Israel so much why don’t you get rid of the all the following that Israel has either produced or had a part of producing…

            https://www.israelandstuff.com/a-list-of-products-services-to-properly-boycott-israel

            You’re life probably won’t be so productive but think of how good you feel. It’s the last night of Hanukkah and I’m done with you and your hate

          • Just Sayin’

            So you claim that I don’t have the right to judge, because I’m not standing on Israeli soil? Nice try, but wrong. That’s a very convenient argument to hide Israel’s crimes from any criticism from the vast majority of the world, but there is no moral or legal basis to support it. You can also cry ‘Fake news” all you want, but I’ve seen enough video and stories corroborated from multiple sources to know better. You’re not the first one to holler “Fake News” in an attempt to hide facts that are uncomfortable to you.

            I don’t hate Israel. It’s a country full of a great variety of people, many of whom do not engage in or support the barbaric and inhumane actions of its government. If I hated the country or it’s people, I would want something bad to happen to them, and I don’t. I just wish their government and military would stop.

            I abhor the stealing of home and land from civilians and forcing the current occupants into sudden homelessness. I abhor the trapping of any civilian population into what amounts to an open-air prison. I abhor a government that deliberately withholds food, water, and medical supplies from the people they’ve imprisoned, including international aid efforts. I abhor a military checkpoint system that routinely shoots civilians, including women, children, and the disabled, and treats it as par for the course. And lastly, I really can’t stand all those who would try to deny and conceal these kinds of behaviors from the rest of the world and act as if one side were completely blameless and innocent when they are anything but.

            But to all those who understand that all human life is sacred, and treats their neighbors with warmth and kindness, regardless of their origins or the faith the follow, I wish a very happy holidays.

          • ButtonSalmon

            Bet you won’t see this in the MSM….

            https://www.timesofisrael.com/palestinian-teen-and-mother-held-in-custody-over-goading-of-idf-soldiers/

            You know those Jew b—–d IDF soldiers.

          • Just Sayin’

            I never said that conflict didn’t arise on both sides. What do you want, praise for the IDF soldiers who didn’t casually murder a mother and daughter who were annoying them?

            If you want to start posting news articles, how about the weaponless paraplegic that the IDF just shot?

            http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/israeli-military-airstrikes-target-hamas-compound-gaza-51853524

            Or how they defended shooting and killing a 13 year old girl in cold blood?

            https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/nov/24/israel

            The scales seem a little heavier on one side so far, but we can keep going if you like.

          • ButtonSalmon

            No I’m done. We’re the root of all the problems of the world…always have been. Time to light the candles. You keep on hating and I’ll keep on praying for peace.

          • Just Sayin’

            You know, there’s room for an in between. Israel is far from the root of all the problems of the world, but it’s certainly a big part of the problems for the Palestinians. You’ve refused to acknowledge that there’s ever any wrongdoing on the part of Israel and want to paint it as a saintlike country, but that’s not the case. Nor have I ever tried to claim it’s ‘the root of all problems in the world’, but nice attempt to smear me as if I had.

            All I’ve ever pointed out is the military oppression of Palestine, which isn’t at all debatable. It’s there in black and white, for all the world to see, and it’s not going to get any better because of people insisting on promoting this white knight image of Israel and refusing to admit the truth or allow for positive change.

            I’m hoping for peace too, but I have a feeling we have a very different view of what that would look like.

          • Kevin McCarthy

            Outrage? The content and tone of your comment encapsulates the problem here. My comment was not directed at Israel or any other “ME country.” I opined on the author’s ridiculously shallow and dishonest analysis. That extends not only to his treatment of the history of Jerusalem, but also to his fawning praise of President Trump. How does that translate into outrage?

            And, no, I don’t presume to “know what that normally means.”