Calls to Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem at Congressional Event Marking 50 Years Since Jerusalem’s Unification
Twenty-nine senators and congressmen took part in an event at the Capitol marking the jubilee year of Israel’s lightning victory over Arab aggressors in the Six Day War.
There were high spirits and emotional endorsements of Israel at a unique event held at the Capitol on Thursday, marking 50 years since the unification of Jerusalem under Israeli rule. Senators and congressmen from both major parties came together at the event to recount their memories from June 5, 1967, and to share their religious connection to the Jewish state, its capital and its leadership.
A recurrent theme in the legislators’ speeches was the call to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – and to seize the moment to do so now.
Martin Oliner – president of the Religious Zionists of America and the Center for Unity, and the driving force behind the event – noted that the event had not only united lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, but also brought together the 25 Jewish groups that had co-sponsored it.
“We’re coming together to celebrate the unity of Jerusalem, and we mark a miracle,” he said. “And by coming together, I think we’re perpetuating that miracle. I must tell you that I was born in a DP camp. I come from parents who are survivors… When 1967 came, they were understandably extremely fearful for the people of Israel.
“We were outnumbered, there was no chance that we were going to win, and it was a miracle that we did. But winning the war against all odds certainly increased their faith. We had relatives, unfortunately, who abandoned their faith and Jewish practice because of the Holocaust. But during 1967 they returned, seeing the miracles that occurred during that time.”
(Martin Oliner’s front page op-ed piece, “Push for Embassy Move to Jerusalem with Head Held High,” appeared in The Jerusalem Post on May 21st.)
Michael and Sheryl Rosenberg flew in from Los Angeles for this gathering. Sheryl Diller Rosenberg said, “I feel so grateful and proud to live in the United States! Today was especially emotional for me, as a Jew and as an American, to witness the strong partnership that our country has with the Jewish State, Israel, and where elected officials from both parties joined in bipartisan support for Israel and for the 50 year celebration of the reunification of our holy capital, Jerusalem. Am Yisrael chai!”
David Lunzer shared similar sentiments. “Sitting at the luncheon today as each member of Congress got up, one by one, Democrats and Republicans, to voice their bipartisan support for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol, my heart was filled with pride as both an American and as a Jew. With so many issues dividing Congress, and this country in general, the one that unifies us is the State of Israel.”
Dr. Ernest Agatstein co-President of the Religious Zionists of America and President of the Religious Zionists of Los Angeles said, “We were honored that supporters of the RZA and of the State of Israel took the time and effort to travel to Washington, DC, to represent the entire Los Angeles community in attending the event at the U.S. Capitol.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) recounted telling Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, “I think you have a chance to be one of Israel’s greatest leaders… I’m talking all-time greats. Going back to David, Solomon, Josiah, Hezekiah, on up to Ben Gurion.” Gohmert noted that David Ben Gurion had claimed the Bible as the deed that entitled the Jews to reclaim Jerusalem.
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) opined that it was high time to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. “I think that at this point, not recognizing Jerusalem as the unified and indivisible capital of Israel actually hurts the peace process,” he explained. “When you look at some of the Arab states, what they respect is strength and decisiveness.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said, “I keep thinking back to June 5th, 1967. I was in my junior year at WVU. I’ll never forget talking to the young Jewish man I was in school with. I never saw this type of excitement from anybody, especially a young person, over their heritage or religion that they believed in… He explained to me, he gave me a whole history of the Jewish state… and explained to me why it was such a momentous occasion.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) suggested that President’s trip to Israel would present the perfect chance “to announce that he is going to deliver on what was a campaign pledge, to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem… It would be a great opportunity for the President to reinforce that without doubt, the capital of Israel is the entirety of Jerusalem, and the President should not let that opportunity pass him by.”
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) warned that while there has been “incredible progress” in the state of Israel, “the challenges today are greater than ever before… We know that there are so many forces around the world that are trying to compromise the legitimacy of Israel. We see that in the efforts of the Palestinians to take the negotiations with Israel to the United Nations, rather than direct negotiations. We cannot let that happen “!
Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-NY) spoke of his moving spiritual experience in Israel during the “Second Intifada” terror war in 2002, when Israeli buses were being blown up daily. At one point, he said, he sneaked out of his hotel and went to say Mass at the Church of the Holy Sephulcre. “And I was so proud of myself, I said, ‘Oh, I’m so courageous, that I would do this without my armed guards.’ And I walked outside and I saw the little girls getting on the bus to go to school that morning. And I realized that these are the courageous people. The people who lived in Israel… From that day forward I decided I would always do what I could to help the state of Israel.”
House Minority Whip, Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD) addressed the audience. He said, “Let it be clear that there is only one option. A united Jerusalem. Who can deny the unique experience of ascending the holy City? Thank you to all who defend Jerusalem and keep it open to members of all faiths.”
Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) of Colorado echoed similarly. He said, “We have a Jerusalem that is in Jewish control. We need to keep it that way. We’re insisting that the President recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the embassy to Israel. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”
Congressman Don Bacon (R-NE) of Nebraska said, “To witness the Six Day War was to see the hand of God. I was raised at a breakfast table where I was taught that those who bless Israel will be blessed.”
Video and full transcripts of the speeches given at the Jerusalem 50-year event by the following honorable senators and members of Congress can be found at http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/Tag.aspx/36855: Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen (R-FL), Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Rep. Keith Rohfus (R-PA), Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Rep. Jacky Rosen (R-NV), Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY).