by Rabbi Shraga Simmons
Jews have experienced repeated attempts to obliterate Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Jewish people. On the Jewish calendar, this is month (Av) that commemorates the destruction of Jerusalem and its centrality in Jewish life. How apt, therefore, that this week BBC – the world’s largest broadcaster – has taken aim at this very same idea.
In its high-profile Olympic Games website, BBC left out any reference to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. BBC did, however, list “East Jerusalem” as the capital of “Palestine.” (Following complaints, BBC amended the site, coldly listing Jerusalem as the “Seat of Government.”)
As a response, perhaps we should all stop referring to London as the capital of England. We’ll call it instead “the seat of track and field.”
Israel designated Jerusalem as its capital in 1950, yet most countries maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv due to ongoing political debate with the Palestinians. This has given rise to an unprecedented situation whereby a sovereign state – Israel – is denied the diplomatic right to choose the location of its capital city.
The U.S. Congress sought to reverse this travesty with the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, passed by overwhelming bipartisan majority in both the House and Senate. The act states that “Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.”
Since then, a parade of U.S. presidents have promised to uphold this pledge. But with a
congressional act allowing the President to implement a waiver at six-month intervals, that’s exactly what has happened every six months since 1995.
As documented in my book, “David & Goliath: The Explosive Inside Story of Media Bias in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” the media repeatedly denies that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel – an honor it has held continuously for over 3,000 years.
A few months ago, the Washington Post printed this ditty:
Obama’s more aggressive message this year reflects the increasing concern in Washington, Tel Aviv and other capitals about Iran’s enrichment program, which Israel believes will be used to produce a nuclear weapon.
Similarly, the Wall Street Journal has referred to Israel’s capital as Tel Aviv, noting the “strains between Washington and Tel Aviv” (“U.S., Israel Spar in Public, But Defense Ties are Strong,”
May 4, 2010), while CNN referred to “an explosion in the Israeli capital of Tel Aviv” (“Blast in Israeli Capital,” January 22, 2006).
This one really takes the prize: The London Guardian correctly referred to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – but then printed this retraction:
The caption on a photograph featuring passengers on a tram in Jerusalem… wrongly referred to the city as the Israeli capital. The Guardian style guide states: “Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is.”
It’s all part of a greater campaign to deny the Jewish connection to Jerusalem. London’s Daily Telegraph (“Middle East Peace Process ‘in Danger of Collapse,’” October 25, 2009) referred to “the Temple Mount, where the two Jewish temples of antiquity are believed to have been built,” and Time magazine identified the “Dome of the Rock, where Jews believe Solomon and Herod built the First and Second Temples.” Not an indisputable fact of history; just something that “Jews believe.”
Jerusalem is mentioned 500 times in the Bible, though not once in the Muslim Koran. And yet, the media downplays the Jewish connection by promoting the Arabic names of holy sites. In referring to the Temple Mount, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, et al, typically cite the Muslim-Arabic name – “Haram al-Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary.” But did you ever see the Temple Mount referred to by its Hebrew name, “Har Habayit”? A Lexis-Nexis search of tens of thousands of mainstream news articles relating to Jerusalem revealed – aside from direct quotes – just one single reference to “Har Habayit.”
I’m not sure what can be done about all this, but one young man has taken the fight to court, and the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that American citizens born in Jerusalem can list their birthplace as “Israel.”
Even presidential hopeful Ron Paul, long known as a critic of Israel, made this recent statement:
“If Israel wants their capital to be Jerusalem, then the United States should honor that.
How would we like it if some other nation said, ‘We decided to recognize New York City
as your capital instead, so we will build our embassy there’?”
Over the millennia, many wars have been fought over Jerusalem. All told, the city has been destroyed and rebuilt no less than nine times – with each conqueror further attempting to obscure the glorious Jewish past. But the Jewish people have never abandoned Jerusalem – praying in its direction thrice daily, invoking Jerusalem at every wedding ceremony, and concluding both the Passover Seder and Yom Kippur services with the yearning cry, “Next year in Jerusalem!”
And now, in an outrage of Olympic proportions, thousands of years of uncontested history are being brazenly erased on news sites everywhere.
Rabbi Shraga Simmons is the author of an exciting new book, “David & Goliath: The Explosive Inside Story of Media Bias in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” (2012).
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