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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Protecting the Freedom of Jerusalem

Filed under: Israel, Jerusalem, Radical Islam, U.S. Policy

CPAC-2019 Presentation – February 28, 2019

As all of you know, President Donald Trump honored a longstanding American commitment that hadn’t been fulfilled by previous administrations.

It was the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, proposed by the Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, and adopted by an overwhelming vote of 93-5. It called for American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the establishment of the U.S. Embassy there. 

This past year, it was President Trump who finally moved the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

I was privileged to be at the opening ceremony last May.

I recalled in 1999, when I was Israel’s ambassador to the UN and I sought instructions from my foreign minister, Ariel Sharon, about how to respond to a Palestinian initiative against us at the UN.

He told me to read over the speech of our first prime minister David Ben Gurion from 1949, in which he announced that he was moving Israel’s capital to Jerusalem. He declared that the people of Israel had “faithfully honored for 2,500 years the oath sworn by the first exiles by the Rivers of Babylon not to forget Jerusalem.”

Today, well before President Trump announced his intention to relocate the US Embassy in Israel, an intense diplomatic struggle was being waged regarding the city’s ultimate fate.

Jerusalem was under assault in all the main UN bodies over the past 15 years, propped up by that organization’s notorious bloc voting.

Within days of President Trump’s announcement, the UN General Assembly convened to oppose the move.

This was the latest action taken at the UN to replace historical truth with fake history in order to advance a hostile diplomatic agenda against the State of Israel.

During the next fifteen minutes, we will look at that hostile agenda in order to understand what it is trying to do.

For example, In 2016, UNESCO, the United Nations Education Science and Culture Organization, asserted that the Temple Mount was connected to Islam, but it refused to acknowledge any Jewish connection whatsoever, or, for that matter, any Christian connection.

In its resolution, it used only Islamic terms for the area, namely the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Haram al-Sharif.

The words Temple Mount were completely missing in the UN document.

Israel’s adversaries and their allies took this campaign to the UN Security Council as well with the infamous Resolution 2334, adopted in December 2016 during the transition period in Washington between the outgoing Obama administration and the incoming Trump administration.

By yet again branding Jerusalem “occupied Palestinian territory,” the UN was insinuating that Israel had no standing in Jerusalem and that its Old City, the Temple Mount, and the Western Wall were Palestinian!

Apart from the UN, another front to erode Israel’s ties to Jerusalem opened in July 2000, when PLO leader Yasser Arafat stated at the Camp David summit that there never was a Temple in Jerusalem.

Arafat had said: “There is nothing there.” His loyalists would say, “Go prove it!”

But President Clinton responded that “not only the Jews but I, too, believe that under the surface there are remains of Solomon’s temple.” 

What Clinton did not have to spell out was that the Temple was also significant for Christianity. Denying its history entailed an affront to the Christian faith as well.

What did the UN resolutions on Jerusalem do? They legitimized doubt beyond the walls of the UN to the mass media and academia.

You see, words matter.

The New York Times entitled an article  in October 2015, “Historical Certainty Proves Elusive at Jerusalem’s Holiest Place.”

What does elusive mean? It means hard to prove.

Prof. Juan Cole of the prestigious University of Michigan argued in 2010: “archaeology does not show the existence of a Jewish kingdom” in Jerusalem. 

No Kingdom, no Temple – no historical connection for Israel.

Is all that true?

These the royal seals from the Kings of Judah.


They all carry the names of the biblical Kings of Judah and their descendents in ancient Hebrew.

This one here is the seal of King Hezekiah, חזקיהו המלך, a direct descendent of King David. THERE WAS A JEWISH KINGDOM IN JERUSALEM!

– contrary to what may have been said at the University of Michigan.

Anyone here read ancient Greek? 

This 2,000 year old stone, FOUND NEXT TO THE TEMPLE MOUNT, is an original sign in ancient Greek marking rules of entry to the Temple in Jerusalem.

The stone on the left is from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, but the full text of the Greek inscription is in the Archaeological Museum of Istanbul.

It makes specific reference to the “Temple Precinct.”

The word highlighted in orange on the right, “OIERON” (pronounced hieron) is the Ancient Greek word for Temple.

Fast forward to the year 70 of the Common Era.

The Roman Empire sent Titus to march on the Kingdom of Judea.

Titus, who went on to become Emperor of Rome, vanquished Judea, conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple.

You see here the boulders toppled by the Roman legions, which tell the tale of that destruction to this day. 

The Romans did not have polaroid cameras or CNN, but to celebrate their victory over the Jews, they created this relief, which you can see if you visit Rome and go to the Arch of Titus.

You can see the Roman soldiers carrying sacred treasures looted from the Temple in a “victory march.”

People today might wonder what all the fuss is about the Temple.

In the Bible, the Temple’s construction was the only event dated in relation to the Exodus from slavery in Egypt – 480 years earlier. It was where the two tablets with the Ten Commandments were housed.

Therefore, it symbolized freedom and national identity. 

The Romans did not manage to snuff out the will for freedom.

Some 60 years after the Temple’s destruction, a Judean general named Bar Kochba rose up in rebellion and fought six Roman legions.  His letters have been discovered, like this one here.

Bar Kochka stated the goal of his campaign on coins that were minted at the time and found today.

They call for the Freedom of Jerusalem

למען חרות ירושלים!

Speaking of the Romans – one last historical fact before we continue.

After crushing the Bar Kochba revolt in 135 CE, the Roman occupiers decided to annihilate all Jewish hope for freedom. They feared that freedom would be contagious, and revolts would soon spread across the Roman Empire.

So they renamed Jerusalem Aelia Capitolina.

And they also gave the land of Judea a new name Syria-Palestina. This is the actual origin of the name “Palestine.” This was a Roman deceit. An attempt to erase Judea from the world’s consciousness.

That was the methodology then – and that is the methodology today: attacking our very identity.

Today, it is called THE DELEGITIMATION OF ISRAEL, and it lies at the heart of the BDS movement.

Well, let me tell you something: It didn’t work then – and we’re not going to let it work now.

The drive for freedom survived 19 centuries, even after Bar Kochba’s army was crushed by Imperial Rome. Thousands streamed back whenever they could.

Yet there are those who claim that the rebirth of Israel represents a foreign colonialist implant. The facts show otherwise.

By the mid-19th century, the British Consulate in Jerusalem determined, according to this diplomatic cable, that Jews had already restored their majority in Jerusalem in 1863 – long before Theodore Herzl, the British arrival, or the establishment of the State of Israel.  

And this is William Seward, President Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State. In 1870, after he completed his term in office, he visited Jerusalem, and his memoirs show that he made the same observation. 

You cannot attach the Jewish return to Jerusalem to the European colonialist locomotive.

Fast forward to 1948: The newly-proclaimed State of Israel found itself attacked by five Arab armies, assisted by the colonial powers.

The Old City of Jerusalem was besieged.

Its Jewish population was ethnically cleansed, as you see on the left; its holy sites bombarded, which you can see on the right.

Israelis were prevented from reaching their holy sites.

And while the United Nations proposed to internationalize the city, the UN didn’t lift a finger to stop the wanton destruction.

May, 1967. Israel was encircled again.

In Israeli-controlled Jerusalem, over 6,000 buildings were hit by Jordanian artillery.

But Israel prevailed, Liberating and reuniting the city.

Today, the military threats have not ended.

Across the Middle East, the holy sites of all the great faiths are under a new assault by the forces of jihad. 

In Afghanistan, 2,000 year-old Buddhist statues were destroyed by the Taliban. In Syria, the legacies of thousands of years destroyed by ISIS. 

In Egypt, Coptic churches burned, their worshippers killed.

Across the entire region, Christians are persecuted and driven from their homes.

Even mosques are destroyed by the same violent intolerance.

Right next to Israel, joint units of the Palestinian Fatah and Hamas invaded the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 2002, which you see here, desecrating it and taking its clergy hostage.

Here, you see the tomb of the biblical Joseph in Nablus, which was overrun by mobs carrying hammers and crowbars to dismantle it.

What is clear today, more than ever, is that the only force that will protect Jerusalem for all the great faiths is the modern State of Israel, which has not forgotten how its enemies sought to forcibly cut its connection with the Holy City in the past.

It should come as no surprise that according to a 2017 poll ordered by my Center from Israel’s leading pollster Mina Zemach, 79% of Israelis believe it is important to retain a unified Jerusalem.

What they are saying is, that Jerusalem is not for sale!

Israel has fended off the physical assaults on Jerusalem, and will continue to defend itself.

We are a valuable ally: the head of the US Air Force military intelligence said in the 1980’s, “Israel is worth five CIA’s.” 

We will never ask your sons and daughters to come to defend us.

Our doctrine is that Israel must defend itself – by itself.

But we do need your help to defeat the diplomatic assaults Jerusalem faces today.

We need your help to fight the Fake History.

We need your help to fight for Truth.

The Founding Fathers of this country studied the Bible and learned what freedom meant.

With the rebirth of our country in 1948, we learned it back from you.

We are bound by our common love of liberty – part of what makes America great – a love which must be based on truth. 

Israel’s ancestors fought for the freedom of Jerusalem.

That is what the holiday of Hannukah is all about.

That is what this coin from the Bar Kochba revolt attests

Looking at this history, freedom must never be taken for granted, but faithfully protected by every generation.

That is what America has done. And that is what Israel will do, as well.

Thank you.