“There are about 200 countries in the world, but it seems that only two attribute holiness to their capital: Israel and Palestine (still not a recognized state, but on the way there). Perhaps three, if we count the Vatican as a state.”

– Yossi Melman

western wall jerusalemU.S. President Barack Obama is delaying an action which would move the U.S. embassy in Israel, from the Tel Aviv coast to the city of Jerusalem. Tel Aviv is the former capital city of the State of Israel – and while the nation always dreamed of having Jerusalem as its capital, the change didn’t actually happen until 1980.

In 1995 a U.S. law was passed, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and in the same ruling it was ordered that the embassy be moved to there. The law also allowed a 6-month leeway to delay the change, in the name of national security grounds – this clause was invoked during the presidencies of both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, respectively. Barack Obama joined the U.S. presidential trend of delay, when on Thursday he told Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to delay moving the embassy until at least June.

Madeba mosaic JerusalemThe fear is that left-leaning Obama is thinking along lines similar to Yossi Melman of Haaretz, who wrote an article on June 12th 2009, suggesting that Israel give up Jerusalem as a capital altogether. He suggests that it has always been an obstacle in the Middle East peace process:

“Most capitals contain religious symbols: cathedrals, mosques, temples, but they were not selected as capitals because of these. Even Saudi Arabia did not select Mecca or Medina, holy cities to Muslims, but Riyadh as its capital. Conclusion: The attitudes attributing holiness to a city were, in most countries, isolated from the political considerations that govern and shape day-to-day life.”

The Haaretz contributor added:

“It is hard to understand how two peoples, in the modern era, are willing to die for the sake of religious symbolism of stones and places of worship. Moreover, this ‘holiness’ is preventing any chance of achieving a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

For me, what is so hard to understand is how any Jew could be so removed from the soul of his heritage. If you wish to cite Saudi Arabia as a parallel to Israel, you are already wide of the mark. Saudi Arabia is the home of a culture which conquered much of the world often by the sword – and has most of the world shaking in their boots, today, out of sheer intimidation, inspired by a recent history of vicious violence. Israel, on the other hand, is a nation which has been oppressed more than any other on the planet and was driven from its capital as a result of racial, religious and cultural persecution. Yossi Melman is the one who should change location, not Zion.