Brooks: My front-row seat to the battle over the embassy’s Jerusalem home
Sunday, May 13, 2018
By: Matthew Brooks, New York Post
I am in Jerusalem right now because I had to see it with my own eyes.
For over 30 years, I have been fortunate to work in Republican politics and to work on behalf of every Republican president since Ronald Reagan, each of whom supported and strengthened the US-Israel relationship over the course of his tenure. But on Monday, that relationship will take a monumental step forward at an event that even those of us whose professional lives center on US national politics stopped expecting to ever see: the United States will open its embassy in Jerusalem.
Throughout his campaign, President Trump pledged that he would move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. It’s a promise he made, following in the footsteps of every president in the modern era. The difference: Come Monday, Trump will be the first and only one to fulfill that pledge.
Thousands of people from all over the world are gathered in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel, to witness this incredibly significant event.
I’m one of them.
This was not an easy decision for Trump. And the outpouring of celebration and appreciation here on the streets of Jerusalem recognize the courage it took for him not only to go against tremendous international pressure but also against internal pressure from elements in the State Department, Defense Department and among some of his own advisers, who opposed this action.
But thanks to Trump and the efforts of Vice President Mike Pence, Ambassador David Friedman, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, the fantasy is becoming reality.
There’s a long history of disappointment here. I know — I had a front-row seat to the battle to recognize the Jewish people’s historic capital in such a dramatic way.
Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem is something the American people have supported and desired for more than 20 years. It was codified in the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 by overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate. Working closely with Sen. Bob Dole on this legislation was a top priority for our organization, the Republican Jewish Coalition. However, in order to get broad support, the legislation contained a loophole — a provision that the president could waive the act for national-security considerations.
Since 1995, candidates and presidents on both sides of the political aisle have promised to move the embassy, only to use the waiver year after the year, keeping the embassy in Tel Aviv. By 2016, that promise seemed like a pro-forma statement by candidates, one that no future president was expected to fulfill.
After having worked on this issue of the embassy relocation for decades, I felt a deep sense of frustration. It was like a scene from “Groundhog Day” — every six months we’d see that same announcement that the president had used the waiver. It was almost taken for granted that the embassy would stay in Tel Aviv, no matter how sincerely we in the pro-Israel activist community — or our friends in the administration — wanted to see the embassy move happen. I had begun to believe that this day would never come.
So it is with real emotion that I am here to be a witness to the US Embassy opening in Jerusalem. For many, myself included, this is the culmination of many decades of work.
Opening the US Embassy in Israel’s capital is an unequivocal statement about the American people’s commitment to the legitimacy and security of the Jewish state and about the high value we place on our strategic alliance with Israel. It is also a demonstration of true American leadership, bold action consistent with our values even in the face of broad global pressure to back down and give in to intimidation.
The connection between the governments and citizens of the United States and Israel is based on immutable, shared values and common goals. Opening the embassy in Jerusalem now enhances and strengthens that connection at a critical time, as Israel’s enemies grow bolder and seek weapons to destroy it.
The move is a boost to America’s credibility in the face of these threats. May it be the start of a new era of even greater friendship and an even strong alliance in the years to come.
Matthew Brooks is the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
©2018 NYP HOLDINGS, INC. The article originally appeared on the NYPost.com website on May 13, 2018.