Forty years after the reunification of Jerusalem, the United States has still yet to move its embassy from Tel-Aviv. Of the 184 countries that the United States has embassies in, the only country where a U.S. embassy is not located in the country’s designated capital is Israel.
In 1995 Congress overwhelmingly passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act which stipulated that the United States must recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and begin moving their embassy to the city. The embassy was supposed to be established no later than 1999. But that date, like so many other benchmarks in the Middle East, passed with little to show. Each year the president postpones the move saying Congress’ resolution was merely advisory and that ultimately all foreign relations issues rest with the president.
What has been holding up the embassy move? Jerusalem has been and continues to be one, if not the most, contested real estate in the world. As Rabbi Grossman correctly points out, Jerusalem has rarely if ever been a ‘City of Peace,’ as it means in Hebrew.
The fact that America continues to prevent its embassy from moving to Jerusalem points to a far larger issue. Namely, the holiest city in the world is also the most dangerous city. The biggest loser in the continued battle over Jerusalem is Jerusalem itself: its heritage, its beauty, and its sacred messages. The continued fighting between Jews and Muslims makes Jerusalem into a war zone instead of the world’s most sacred space. Any peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians will more than likely have to include serious compromises on Jerusalem. Maybe one day Muslims and Jews will learn how to share that which is holy. Until then the world will continue to ignore Jerusalem.
Read the Full Debate: Myth vs. Reality in Today’s Jerusalem