December 6 marked the two-year anniversary of a proclamation made by United States President Donald Trump, stating that the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and instructed for the American embassy in Tel Aviv to be relocated to Jerusalem.
To the worldwide Jewish community, prayer is always pointed towards Jerusalem. The concept of Zionism comes from the yearning for a return for Zion, a hill in the city limits of Jerusalem, and the idea to ensure that there is a Jewish state that has the right to exist.
Historical and political evidence overwhelmingly proves that Jerusalem is the rightful capital of Israel.
Jerusalem is the holiest city in Judaism, it is the location of the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. The holiest site that Jews can pray at, the Western Wall, is in the Old City of Jerusalem. It was in Jerusalem where the sacrificial binding of Isaac took place.
Jerusalem has always been the eternal capital of Israel for over 3000 years, well into the time of King David. There simply is a double standard set by the world at large that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
On May 14, 2018, the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel, Trump’s embassy promise was realized upon the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem. An important proclamation was quickly delivered to Israel and to the Jewish people around the world.
Unfortunately, Canada has not followed the lead of the United States. It still does not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, even though its parliament, supreme court and residences of both the President and Prime Minister are located in the city.
Instead, Canada houses its embassy in Tel Aviv, where the majority of the world also houses their embassies.
For the most part, in the past decade, Canada has had a very good record of supporting Israel (besides a very disappointing anti-Israel vote last month), has a vibrant pro-Israel community in the country and even hosted the President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin this past spring.
The world knows that after the United States, it usually Canada that comes to mind of being the strongest ally to Israel. Furthermore, the important alliance that Canada and Israel share is well known and documented, from coast to coast to coast.
The Jewish community is united regarding this very issue and has frequently called on the federal government to finally follow on the lead President Trump has set, and move the embassy to Jerusalem.
At last year’s Conservative Party of Canada convention, the membership voted to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. During the election, the Tories promoted that they would recognize Jerusalem.
Yet the federal government, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has failed to recognize Jerusalem or move the embassy from Tel Aviv. Refusing to do this action will continue to leave a stain on Trudeau’s legacy in dealing with Israel and the Jewish community at large.
Trudeau continuously portrays the image of Canada and Israel being such strong allies, even though he and his government do not recognize the capital of their closest ally in one of the most hostile regions in the world.
The longer the Canadian embassy is in Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem is not recognized, the longer a continued strain grows. In a time when anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are on the rise, the federal government must realize that now is the time act on a foreign policy matter that is long overdue that would be celebrated around the world.
As the United States and Guatemala have done, Canada does not need to move the embassy into East Jerusalem, rather into West Jerusalem, an urban area within the city limits of Jerusalem.
At this point, a good start would be the opening of diplomatic offices in Jerusalem as many other countries, such as Brazil and Hungary have done. Opening a diplomatic office, such as a trade office would provide concrete evidence of the federal government taking an active role in further recognizing that Jerusalem is the de facto capital of Israel.
Canada is far behind the United States in real initiatives that have supported Israel. Moving the embassy is indeed a major initiative that needs to be carried out, and there are still other matters in which Canada lacks the United States with regards to support for Israel.
Canada has not frozen any funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), an organization that in part, funds terrorism and promotes anti-Semitism. The federal government has neither recognized the Golan Heights as sovereign Israeli territory or stated that the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria (commonly known as the West Bank) are legal.
Under Stephen Harper, Canada froze funds to UNRWA and after Trump’s lead, the recognition of Jerusalem would have been proclaimed and plans certainly would have been underway to move the embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
In an interview with Israel’s largest newspaper, Israel Hayom, Harper said that “now that the U.S. has done it, there is really every reason for the government of Canada to do it, and certainly my successor as leader of the Canadian parliament.”
Joe Clark, the short-lived Prime Minister of Canada from 1979-1980 had also promised to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, however, due to security risks, the plan did not go through.
Jerusalem is the heart and soul of the Jewish people and of the world’s only Jewish state, Israel. Ensuring that this special city, which is also heavily documented capital of the Holy Land, must finally be recognized.
Trudeau and his Liberal government need to finally act on what is right and ultimately, recognize Jerusalem and commence plans to move the Canadian embassy to the eternal capital of Israel.
It may not be a decision that the international community may condemn, but to Jewish Canadians, and the worldwide Jewish community, this is a moment that is worth rejoicing over.
The time is now for Canada to rightfully proclaim that Jerusalem, the golden jewel of the Middle East, is the true capital of Canada’s closest friend in the region, Israel.