As the President of the United States declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel, the various players had expected reactions. Many in Israel cheered, Arab Nations jeered, but really nothing has changed. The President officially recognized the de facto situation; Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. However, peace had not been advancing between parties and it seems unlikely this declaration does anything to move it forward. The two sides remain filled with mistrust of the other and neither is willing to budge from their respective recalcitrant positions. The status quo remains. Jerusalem, the City of Peace, sadly is not at peace.
We welcome Shabbat singing Lecha Dodi. In this mystical song-poem, Jerusalem is anthropomorphized; we prayerfully exhort that she shakes off the dust and embarrassment of a world that has forsaken what she represents to Jews and to humanity. I sing those verses with an ambivalent heavy heart every Friday night, struggling with why peace has not yet come to the place where God dwelled.
Jerusalem remains a city divided and in a state of unrest. Sadly, she is unable to bring unity to her people Israel, or to brothers and sisters who also share a vision of belonging. She is mine, but she belongs to others too. Jerusalem, The City of Peace still remains an elusive dream. An outside declaration or moving an embassy changes nothing. Only the will of those who truly seek her can realize the dream that Jerusalem is a holy center for humankind and the aspiration of peace on earth.
One of the things that made Benjamin Netanyahu and others like him a powerful and persuasive Israeli voice in the US was that he was like us.
Netanyahu was schooled in the US. He spoke unaccented American English and he knew the idioms. He sounded like us. He looked like us and dressed like us. He was one of us. Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to us as a cultured sophisticated erudite person with western sensitivities. He could have come from Philadelphia as easily as from Tel Aviv.
He seemed one of us, that is until now.
The breach of protocol in accepting the invitation to speak before Congress, the lecturing of the American people and the chastising of the American President before the Congress have created tears in the fabric of the US-Israeli relationship that at this moment seem difficult to repair. No, Bibi Netanyahu is not one of us, nor does he speak for us. In fact he has helped create a rift in the Jewish community while helping to further politicize US domestic politics.
At this juncture, the best remedy to this situation seems to be a new Prime Minister who can rebuild what has been damaged. This goes beyond the personal issues between the two men occupy the offices of Prime Minister and President. Any future American President will not forget Mr. Netanyahu affront to the office by inserting himself into the American political system. It is hard to imagine how Mr. Netanyahu would be the best leader representing Israel in this critical alliance either now or in 2016 and beyond.