It is impossible to pinpoint the moment when the United States recognized London as the capital of the United Kingdom. That’s probably because no such moment occurred. The reality is that London has always been the capital of the UK, and a separate acknowledgment of same is neither necessary or appropriate.
Indeed, any formal recognition of that simple fact would be strange, like announcing to the world that the sun comes up in the East or that the sky is blue.
Yet the controversy surrounding President Trump’s self-described “recognition of reality” of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital continues, despite the fact that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel whether we recognize it as such or not.
The controversy surrounding the decision to recognize Jerusalem is largely irrelevant
Fareed Zakaria, in his CNN Sunday show, worked himself into a lather to decry the president’s presumption in acknowledging the color of the sky.
“It actually achieves little on the ground, all the while offending millions of Palestinians, hundreds of millions of Arabs, and public opinion almost everywhere,” Zakaria said. “When China, your European allies, the Pope, the kings of Saudi Arabia and Jordan all voice strong opposition, it is surely worth questioning the wisdom of the policy.”
Is it? Why?
The longstanding purpose of the pretense, it seems, is to accommodate a peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians that has been frozen in amber for the better part of a decade, due in large part to the refusal of Palestinian leaders and others to even accept Israel’s right to exist.
This makes their outrage about Jerusalem as its capital seem rather empty. After all, if they aren’t willing to concede that Israel even exists, then why should their opinion matter as to where this illegitimate state has its capital?
The U.S. waited too long to respect Israel’s right to name its capital
For its part, the United States ought to be ashamed of its participation in this inelegant fiction. The Obama administration’s unwillingness to veto a U.N. resolution describing East Jerusalem as “occupied territory” was particularly shameful, as was President Obama’s deliberate distancing from Israel that was designed to kickstart a movement toward a Palestinian state that is no closer to reality the day Obama left office than it was at his inauguration.
White House advisor Kellyanne Conway was rightly mocked early in the year when she made reference to the “alternative facts” the president was peddling about the size of his inauguration crowds, because he had a rather low opinion of the actual facts.
Facts, as John Adams famously said, are stubborn things, and they can be offensive things, too. But, as Adams went on to say, “whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts.”
And no matter how many Palestinians protest and allies balk, the fact remains that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and pretending it isn’t doesn’t do anyone any good.
Whether or not it offends you, the sky remains blue.
(Photo of Israeli flag at Herzl Mount, Jerusalem by: Zeev Barkan)