Michael Freund, an American-Israeli political activist, pleads with President Donald Trump to follow in the footsteps of Cyrus the Great by fulfilling his campaign promise to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to the nation’s capital, Jerusalem.
As a Christian friend of Israel, I wholeheartedly support Freund’s case, as made in the Jewish Press.
Freund made the important point that one of Trump’s first acts in office “was slated to be no less than a milestone event in modern Jewish history, a deed that his predecessors had the courage to promise but not to pursue.”
Coinciding with the arrival in Israel of Trump’s Middle East team, headed by senior adviser Jared Kushner, “seems like an apt occasion to pose a very simple yet straightforward question: When will the U.S. at last move its embassy to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem? Like many Americans, I voted for Trump, cheered his victory over Hillary Clinton and celebrated the Republicans gaining control over both the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. In particular, I relished the president-elect’s warm embrace of the Jewish state, which was in marked contrast to that of the previous occupant of the White House.”
Freund reminds readers that Trump’s electrifying speech at the March 2016 AIPAC (American-Israeli Political Action Committee) conference seemed to leave no room for doubt about his intentions, which were conveyed in clear and refreshingly unambiguous language: “I didn’t come here tonight to pander to you about Israel. That’s what politicians do: all talk, no action. Believe me, when I become president, the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end on day one. We will move the American Embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem.”
But something prevented Trump from doing just that at his first opportunity.
“Then in May, when Trump made an historic visit to Jerusalem by being the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Western Wall, hopes were again raised that he would be inspired to keep his promise,” Freund wrote. “Those hopes were frustrated when, on June 1, he signed a presidential waiver delaying implementation of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act mandating that the embassy be moved. Nevertheless, despite invoking the waiver, the administration made clear that the move would eventually take place. In a statement issued to reporters, the White House declared: ‘As [Trump] has repeatedly stated, his intention is to move the embassy. The question is not if that move happens, but only when.'”
Freund wrote last week: “The time for that ‘when’ should be now. Following the recent riots on the Temple Mount and the attempt by the Palestinians to reassert their dubious claims to Jerusalem at various international forums, it is more important than ever that Washington take a firm stand and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”
I couldn’t agree more.
This is an action for which Trump needs no approval by Congress. He already has it, as recent past presidents had. The Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act Oct. 23, 1995, which required its relocation by 1999. Every president since then has used the waiver contained in the law to forestall its implementation.
I was really hoping that this November when I take 100 American tourists to Israel that we would have a chance to visit the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. That’s still a possibility. Why not now?
It would also be a unifying act here in America, as Freund points out, supported by American Jews, evangelical Christians, conservative Republicans and many Democrats. But, most importantly, it would assure Americans that President Trump is a man of his word and a man of action, not just talk,
Freund concludes with a brilliant historical analogy.
“More than 2,500 years ago, the Persian King Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid Empire, conquered Babylon and proceeded to make history by permitting the Jews to return to Jerusalem from exile and rebuild the Temple.,” he writes. “His actions were so momentous that in the book of Isaiah (45:1), God refers to Cyrus as ‘His anointed one,’ and the entire first chapter of the biblical book of Ezra is dedicated to highlighting Cyrus’s decree. Indeed, twice in the opening verses, Cyrus is quoted as referring to ‘Jerusalem, which is in Judah,’ as if to stress that the most powerful man in the world at the time was recognizing to whom the city truly belonged. Even now, thousands of years later, the Persian king is still held in high regard in the annals of the Jewish people. With a stroke of his pen, Trump can add his name to the pantheon of Jewish heroes by conferring U.S. recognition upon Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state and moving its embassy accordingly.”
Freund concludes: “Here’s hoping that in two months’ time, on the anniversary of the law’s passage, Trump will follow Cyrus the Great’s example and recognize Jerusalem, thereby adding his name to a turning point in Jewish history that would be remembered until the end of days.”
All I can add is this: From Freund’s keyboard to Trump’s heart to God’s ears.
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