ZOA president Morton A. Klein released the following statement: The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is concerned that at the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) candidates’ forum yesterday, when asked if he acknowledged Jerusalem as the undivided Capital of Israel, Donald Trump stated that he will wait until after his upcoming visit with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before answering. The audience accordingly booed this non-committal statement. Jerusalem is Jewish people’s holiest city, and has been a majority Jewish city since 1850. Israel has the unquestionable legal, historical, and moral right to its own undivided capital – and that fact is also enshrined into U.S. law. And only under Israeli sovereignty have persons of all faiths been able to worship freely in Jerusalem.
The ZOA urges Mr. Trump to review the following facts about Jerusalem, and to promptly announce his support for an undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s capital:
1. Jerusalem is the Jewish in People’s Holiest City: Jerusalem is Judaism’s holiest city, mentioned almost 700 times in the Hebrew Bible. By contrast, in the Muslim Koran, Jerusalem is never mentioned. Jews pray for Jerusalem twenty (20) times in their daily Jewish prayers. The Jewish people pray facing in the direction of Jerusalem. Major Jewish rituals, including the conclusion of the Passover Seder and Yom Kippur service, end with the age-old affirmation, “Next year in Jerusalem.” The Jewish people’s historic holy places, including the Western Wall, Temple Mount, and other historic Jewish sanctuaries, and the 3,000-year-old Mount of Olives Jewish cemetery, are in the eastern portion of Jerusalem – not the modern suburbs of western Jerusalem.
Dividing Jerusalem would cut out the heart of the Jewish people.
2. Jerusalem Is the Jewish People’s Historic Capital: Jerusalem was the capital of the Biblical Jewish kingdoms and the site of three thousand years of Jewish habitation-hence the ‘Jerusalem 3000’ celebrations initiated by the government of Yitzhak Rabin. Jerusalem has never served as the capital city for any other nation.
3. Jews Have Been The Largest Population Group in Jerusalem Since the 1840s, and Jews Comprise The Majority of Jerusalem’s Population Today: Baedeker’s, the world’s oldest travel book company, states in their 1907 Guide to Jerusalem, that of 60,000 people living in Jerusalem, 40,000 were Jews, 13,000 were Christians, and 7,000 were Muslims.
Moreover, much of modern Israel resides in the eastern portion of the city. Jewish institutions, including the Jewish National Library (founded in 1892) and the Hebrew University (founded in 1925), are also located in the eastern portion of Jerusalem.
4. Israel Has The Strongest International Legal Right To Jerusalem: Jerusalem was part of the territory earmarked for a Jewish homeland in 1920 at the San Remo Conference that drafted the League of Nations Charter. The San Remo Resolution, passed by the Supreme Allied Powers, recognized that Britain was granted the British Mandate (trust) in what was then called Palestine for the purpose of establishing the Jewish people’s homeland there. Under League of Nations Article 22, the British Mandate to establish the Jewish homeland was a “sacred trust of civilization.” The Balfour Declaration of 1917 — which “viewed with favour” the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine — was to be “put into effect” and thus became a binding act of international law. In other words, de jure sovereignty was vested in the Jewish people. The San Remo documents which recognized the Jewish people’s rights have never been superseded by an internationally binding agreement. The eastern portion of Jerusalem was illegally captured when Jordan and 5 other Arab countries invaded Israel in 1947-1949. Jordan illegally occupied the eastern portion of Jerusalem from 1948-1967, when Israel recaptured and reunified its holy city. The former president of the International Court of Justice, Stephen Schwebel pointed out that Israel, having captured eastern Jerusalem in a war of self-defense against an illegal occupier, has a better legal claim to Jerusalem than any other party.
5. Only Israeli Sovereignty Protects The Rights Of All Religions To Worship Freely: During the years of Jordan’s illegal occupation of eastern Jerusalem (1948-67), the Arabs expelled or killed every Jew (many of whose families had lived in eastern Jerusalem for decades or centuries); destroyed eastern Jerusalem’s 58 synagogues; and used Jewish cemetery gravestones to pave Jordanian roads and latrines. Jews were not allowed to visit or pray at the Western Wall, despite signed agreements.
Jerusalem’s Christians faced onerous restrictions on their worship and Jerusalem’s Christian population also declined. From 1948-1967, when the Jordanian Arabs illegally occupied Jerusalem, seventy percent (70%) of Jerusalem’s Christians left Jerusalem because of how miserably they were treated by the Muslims.
By contrast, under Israeli sovereignty, persons of all religions – Jews, Christians and Moslems – worship freely.
One only has to look at what has happened in Jericho (where Palestinian Arabs destroyed ancient Jewish sites) and Bethlehem under Palestinian Authority control to realize what would happen if all or part of Jerusalem was handed over to or captured by the PLO/Palestinian Authority (PA) or Hamas.
Italian journalist Giulio Meotti reported in a 2012 article entitled Bethlehem’s Last Christians that “crimes committed against Christians by the PLO and the Islamic groups [included]: forced marriage, conversions, beatings, land theft, fire bombings, commercial boycott, torture, kidnapping, sexual harassment, and extortion.”
Mr. Meotti further wrote: “The latest victim has been the Baptist Church in Bethlehem, which the Palestinian Authority just declared as illegitimate,” and described PLO fire-bombings of Palestinian Christian shops; Hamas’s murder of the owner of Gaza’s only Christian bookstore; Muslim Palestinians’ harassment of Christians with slogans such as “Islam will win” and “First [we kill] the Saturday people [the Jews] then the Sunday People [the Christians]” painted on churches; PLO flags draped over crosses; PLO murders of Palestinian Muslims who convert to Christianity; how Arafat turned Bethlehem “into a safe haven for suicide bombers” and took over the Greek Orthodox monastery; desecration of Christian cemeteries and convents; PLO terrorists turning Christians into human shields; and the dramatic flight of Christians from Palestinian Arab controlled areas.
6. An Undivided Jerusalem is Vital to Israel’s Security: If Jerusalem were to be divided, this would severely endanger Israel. Terrorists would roam the Jewish people’s holiest places, and would be able to lob rockets and shoot rifles at the remaining western half of Jerusalem, and central Israel. The remaining portions of Jerusalem and Israel would suffer the same fate as the Israeli towns near Gaza suffer. Ever since Israel handed over Gaza to Palestinian control, Hamas and other Palestinian Arab groups have lobbed thousands of rockets at Sderot and other southern Israeli towns. Almost half of Sderot’s citizens had to leave for safety.
7. Numerous Archeological Findings Indisputably Prove That The Two Jewish Temples (which were later destroyed by the Romans) Were Built on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
8. Jerusalem is Never Mentioned in the Koran: Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Quran. Muslims pray in the direction of Mecca – not Jerusalem (while Jews turn to Jerusalem). A reference in the Koran that Mohammed (merely) had a dream that he flew to heaven on a winged horse from “the farthest place” does not refer to Jerusalem. In the Koran, Palestine is referred to as the “nearest place.” Since Jerusalem is in Palestine, Mohammed’s dream of flying to heaven could not have occurred in Jerusalem.
9. Jerusalem has never served as a Muslim or Arab capital: After Jordan illegally invaded Israel in 1948, and captured and occupied the eastern portion of Jerusalem from 1948-1967, Jordan let the city fall into woeful disrepair, did not make Jerusalem its capital. Instead, Jordan’s capital remained in Amman. This was at a time when Jordan claimed to speak for Palestinian Arabs.
In addition, no Arab ruler, other than Jordan’s King Hussein, visited Jerusalem during this 19-year period of illegal Jordanian occupation. As Abba Eban put it, “the secular delights of Beirut held more attraction.”
In addition, during the entire time when Jerusalem was in Arab hands, neither the PLO and nor Fatah charters even mentioned Jerusalem, and never claimed that Jerusalem should be their capital.
10. U.S. Law – The Jerusalem Embassy Act – Recognizes Jerusalem As Israel’s Undivided Capital And Requires That the U.S. Move Its Embassy to Jerusalem: The Jerusalem Embassy Act, passed by the U.S. Congress on October 23, 1995, by a vote of 93 to 5 in the Senate and 374 to 37 in the House of Representatives, rejects the past American practice of maintaining the U.S. Embassy to Israel in Tel Aviv and mandates its relocation in Jerusalem. The Act also holds that “Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected” and that “Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel.”
The Jerusalem Embassy Act also states that every country has a right to designate the capital of its choice, and that Israel has designated Jerusalem, which is also the spiritual center of Judaism. It also notes that since the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, religious freedom has been guaranteed to all.
11. “Do The Right Thing”: The fact that President Obama and other past presidents have ignored (waived) the requirements of the Jerusalem Embassy Act has been a constant source of friction and outrage. Donald Trump often speaks about “doing tbe right thing” in other contexts. If elected president, Mr. Trump needs to do the right thing here. Mr. Trump should pledge to recognize undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move our U.S. embassy to Jerusalem – as several other presidential candidates have already pledged to promptly do if they are elected (including Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Marco Rubio, Governor Mike Huckabee, Governor Jeb Bush, Governor George Pataki – we apologize to any candidate inadvertently left off this list).