By Rabbi Richard Baroff
Jerusalem as a city may be 4,000 years old.
The Bible narrates that Abraham visited there when it was called Shalem (Salem). He met Melkizedek, the priest to G-d Most High.
Later, a Semitic people named the Jebusites controlled the area. In 1000 B.C.E. King David pushed out these Jebusites, making the Israelites the masters of the city. Jerusalem became the capital of the ancient kingdom of Israel.
David’s son Solomon build the Temple about 960 so that Jerusalem became the focal point of Israelite spirituality. Ideally, three times each year Jewish farmers would make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem with their offerings on the festivals of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot.
Many tribulations followed. After Solomon’s death, the kingdom split into Judah in the south and Israel in the north. Judah retained Jerusalem as its capital. But that capital, along with the rest of Judah, was ravaged by the Babylonians in 587/6 B.C.E. The Temple was destroyed (but was rebuilt half a century later).
Later came the Persians, the Greeks (from Egypt and Syria), the Romans (West and East, pagan and Christian), the Arabs (from various places), the Turks, the British and the Jordanians.
But the Jews have been there longer than any people in today’s world can lay claim — the Jebusites being long gone.
The Jordanians took over after the British mandate ended in 1948. They did not take care of the Christian and especially Jewish religious sites found throughout the Old City and in other parts of Jerusalem. But Muslim and Christian sites have been respectfully cared for by the Israeli government since the reunification of Jerusalem in June 1967.
All tourists visiting Jerusalem can attest to this. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is guarded with the same reverence as the Mount of Olives; the Arab market is as safe as the Jewish Cardo, the ancient main street from Roman times. The Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque are treated with as much respect as the Western Wall below.
Israelis understand that the glory of Yerushalayim shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold) is imbedded in all the holy places found there: Islamic, Christian and Jewish.
Israelis rejoice in the Christian, Armenian and Muslim quarters, as well as the Jewish Quarter.
The U.N. Security Council voted 14-0 Dec. 23, with the United States abstaining, that all this is illegally held Israeli territory, along with Judaea and Samaria.
The vote on Resolution 2334 was a vicious and anti-Semitic act and a denial of history. This action was abetted by the terrible failure of the Obama administration to stop the resolution.
I very much hope that the new American administration will move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, as a dramatic way to show U.S. solidarity with the Jewish state.
Tel Aviv, where the U.S. Embassy and many others now sit, is not the capital of Israel. Jerusalem is.
It is past time that the embassy be moved. Jerusalem must remain the united capital of the Jewish state. American policy should honor that reality.
Rabbi Richard Baroff heads Roswell-based Guardians of the Torah (guardiansofthetorah.com).