One day an old couple decided to go to Jerusalem for a vacation. A few days after they arrived the elderly wife died. The man who worked at the local funeral home told the husband that he could pay $150 to have her buried here in Israel or pay $4,000 to have her body shipped back to America and buried there. The senior thought about it and said that he’d rather pay the $4,000 to have her body shipped over to the U.S. than to pay $150 to get her buried here in the Holy Land. The funeral home worker asked him why he would pay $4,000 instead of $150? The old geezer replied, “2,017 years ago a man died and was buried here. Three days later he resurrected. I can’t take that chance!”
There are 193 members of the United Nations. Of that number, 160 officially recognize the State of Israel and have full diplomatic relations with her. (The other 33 member countries who do not give such recognition to the Jewish state are the Arab nations.) However, of those 160 UN countries giving recognition, not one has a foreign embassy in Jerusalem (the self-proclaimed capital of Israel by the Israelis), instead choosing to keep theirs in Tel Aviv. Here is why:
When the United Nations, on November 29, 1947, gave its approval to a plan of dividing Palestine into two states: one Jewish, one Arab, it famously left Jerusalem out of the equation, intending the city to become an internationally administered separate territory. The primary reason for such a designation was the fact that the center of Jerusalem was and is, home to three of the holiest sites of the world’s three major religions: Jews (temple mount), Christians (garden tomb) and Arabs (prophet’s ascension).
The Jews accepted the plan with its leaders noting that the loss of Jerusalem as part of a sovereign Israel was “the price we have to pay” for a state in the rest of the land. But when the Arabs rejected the partition and launched a war on Israel, the Jews no longer considered themselves bound by the boundaries of the UN plan. So during its War of Independence, Israel improved its strategic position in both the country and Jerusalem, where when the cease-fire lines were drawn, Israel occupied the western part of the city and the Jordanians the city’s east, including the Old City, where the western wall and temple mount are situated. After the war, the UN stuck with its internationalization plan, but both Israel and Jordan preferred to leave the city divided with a resulting no-man’s land running through the center of the city with a physical barrier severely limiting passage from one side to the other. Now, although some initial attempts were made by Israel and Jordan to come to some kind of agreement on Jerusalem, eventually Israel declared the city as it’s capital and Jordan declared the city as its second capital, after Amman. And since the two sides could not jointly decide the city’s future, the UN was not going to try and impose a solution on either, except they would not recognize the city as capital of either nation. And so the uncomfortable status quo prevailed in Jerusalem for the next nineteen years.
Then in 1967, came the Six-Day War, when Israel took possession of Jordanian Jerusalem, tore down the fence dividing the city and expanded it’s boundaries by 200% taking in a number of old Arab neighborhoods that had not historically been part of metropolitan Jerusalem. Over the years, Israel has moved all of its government offices to the city, placing many in the eastern section. It has also carried out extensive residential construction to make its hold on all of the city difficult to ever reverse, with tens of thousands of new apartments for Jewish families, especially located in the eastern half. Today, the overall population of Jerusalem is 865,000 with 578,000 (2/3) Jews and 288,000 (1/3) Arab.
In any Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiation, Jerusalem’s always been the ultimate sticking point with Jews wanting the whole city as their capital and the Arab’s east Jerusalem as theirs with west Jerusalem as the Jewish one. And so no country has built an embassy in Jerusalem (thus recognizing all of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital) since the founding of the modern state, waiting until the city matter is, if ever, settled. That is until United States President Donald Trump became the first leader of a nation in the UN to officially recognize all of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and begin the process of moving the U.S. embassy there (which till now has been in Tel Aviv since 1948.) Of course, the Jews are ecstatic with joy and the Arabs are livid with anger.
The bottom line? Perhaps this is why when you spell Jerusalem, the middle three letters are: Jer-USA-lem.
● Jerusalem Day is an Israeli national holiday commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War.
● During the Jordanian occupation of Jerusalem, Jews were not allowed to access their holy sites, including the Western Wall.
● Jerusalem has been attacked 52 times, captured and recaptured 44 times, besieged 23 times, and destroyed twice over the course of 3,000 years.
● Israel is the only country to enter the 21st century with a net gain in its number of trees, and you can enjoy them over a picnic or barbecue in the Jerusalem Forest.
● Jerusalem is mentioned more than 600 times in the Hebrew Bible, but not once in Islam’s Koran.
● Jerusalem has the most synagogues in the world.
● Jerusalem hotels record more than 2.5 million overnight stays by foreign tourists each year.
● Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives is home to 150,000 Jewish graves, dating back to the 1400s.
● Jerusalem has more than 2,000 archaeological sites.
● Jerusalem is Israel’s largest city in both landmass and population.
● U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem can now list Israel on a U.S. passport as their birthplace country. Up till now, Jerusalem was not officially viewed as part of Israel.