As the delegation from the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations met in the cabinet room, President Clinton turned to me, waiting for a question.
“Mr. President, allow me to read something to you. ‘I believe we should move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.’ Sir, those are your words six years ago when you ran for president. My question is, do you still believe in what you proclaimed? And if you do, why don’t you act on it?”
In a calm and relaxed tone he answered, “Yes, I still believe such a move is correct.” (I paraphrase.)
“However, as a candidate, you articulate many points. As president, you are subject to conflicting pressures: i.e., the Arabs, the State Department and so on, making it difficult to carry out every promise. My task is to protect the national interest, yours is to continually pressure me in the direction you would like me to reach.”
During my over two decades of pro-Israel activism, I met with almost every presidential candidate, exploring mideast issues. I cannot recall a single person who spoke negatively regarding the wisdom of moving the embassy.
A few years later, Condoleezza Rice, adviser to then-presidential candidate Gov. George Bush, was invited to make a few remarks before the AIPAC board meeting, which I was attending. As she concluded, I asked her, “If Gov. Bush was elected president, would he move the embassy? And if you answer affirmatively, why should I believe you?”
“Great question,” she responded. “The answer is yes! He will move it! You have to know George!”
As she left, she came over to me to thank me for the question and to repeat the “You have to know George” mantra.
Well, neither Bill nor George did it, but Donald did!
President Trump’s announcement brought out the choir, including those who supported such a move when it had minimal meaning. They joined the nations in the world who accuse the president of destroying the “peace process.”
Wait a second! What peace process?
I sat on the lawn of the White House when Oslo was signed. From that moment until today, it continues to be clear that the PLO/Hamas/Hezbollah have no interest in true peace. Only two years after that event, I testified before a House Committee against the MEPFA (Middle East Peace Facilitation Act) since the Palestinians “promoted terror and terrorism.”
I was in Israel for the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration on Nov 7, 2017. In 1917, Israelis celebrated what turned out to be the first step toward statehood: Arabs protested. They attacked the British and urged that Balfour be rescinded.
What does the world desire?
A Palestinian State: Time after time the Arabs wasted sincere efforts by Israel, the US and others. Their real goal is a state sans Jews. How could a small demilitarized state be economically viable with Israel by necessity controlling the borders?
The end of occupation: Under international law, no land contiguous to Israel is “occupied” but rather is “disputed.” Since no sovereign state possessed these lands (captured in a defensive war), they are by definition not “occupied.”
Does this destroy the peace process?
Peace will not emanate from Ramallah, but from Riyadh, Cairo and the Sunni world.
Would such a partnership be feasible?
In 1919, after the Balfour Declaration, Chaim Weizmann met with Emir Faisal, the son of King Hejaz, and signed the Paris Agreement. It called for large-scale Jewish immigration into Palestine. The Jews would assist in the growth of the Arab economy, while protecting Arab rights and holy places. Sadly, world events did not allow for the treaty to be fulfilled.
During the Ottoman era (1517-1918), the concept of a “Palestinian polity” was unheard of. Only after 1948 did Arafat, an Egyptian, create such a myth. Indeed the PLO was formed well before the first Israeli settlement was created.
Is there a separate Palestinian culture? Religion? History? Ethnicity?
We should always be mindful of the support of terror and terrorism as an instrument of public policy by Abbas and
company. His weltanschauung was expressed in his 1984 PhD dissertation topic: “The Secret Relationship Between Zionism and Nazism.”
Three weeks ago, our father Jacob in the parsha makes his children swear to bury his remains in the family plot in Israel.
Today, we see Arab leaders and intellectuals urging their fellow countrymen to accept Jerusalem as the de facto and de jure capital of the Jewish state. They do this not out of love but rather out of pure logic.
We live in a different world than that of 1919. Recent polling in Saudi Arabia confirms that Iran is public enemy number one,while Israel is looked on more favorably. The pieces are in place for a new Middle East.
As Emir Faisal predicted, the strength of Israel, with its economic, technologic and military might, combined with the Sunni world, has yielded unbelievable strides in the Middle East. This includes tourism, a solution to the Arab water deficiencies, technology and industrial growth.
My enemy’s enemy is my friend. There is no need to repeat the facts of Jewish history. Jerusalem was, is and will eternally be our physical and spiritual capital.
By Mendy Ganchrow, MD
Mendy Ganchrow, MD, a retired surgeon, is a former president of the Orthodox Union. He is the author of the recently published novel “The Five Day War,” a fictional account of an Orthodox Jewish surgeon in Saudi Arabia working with the Mossad. This leads to a stealth war between Israel and the Sunni nations against Iran. It is available on Kindle, Amazon and at Judaica House in Teaneck.