Exclusive: CBN’s Gordon Robertson on Why the US Embassy Move to Jerusalem Matters
Israel will celebrate its 70th anniversary on May 14, 2018. Last December 6, 2017, President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and declared that the United States will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, in recognition of Israel’s anniversary. “This is a long overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting agreement,” he said.
Gordon Robertson, CEO of Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), recently spoke with Nancy Flory at The Stream about why the U.S. Embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem matters.
Why should Christians care about the U.S. Embassy moving to Jerusalem?
From a Christian standpoint, it’s a fulfillment of prophecy concerning Zion, which is a biblical word for Jerusalem: “Nations will come to your glory.” So it’s a fulfillment of that prophecy, but in the natural, Israel is a sovereign state. As a sovereign state, Israel gets to designate the capital. For over fifty years, Israel has designated Jerusalem as its capital. It’s the only nation on the planet where other nations do not recognize that designation. They do not move their embassies to Jerusalem, they keep the embassies in Tel Aviv.
Here’s a fact that maybe most people don’t know: The United States has had a consulate in Jerusalem since the 1850s. Ten years ago, it built an annex to that consulate and it’s an enormous facility. All the U.S. has to do now is have an office in that facility for the ambassador.
From my point of view, it’s about time the United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital.
What does this move mean to Israelis and Palestinians?
There’s a difference of opinion between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The current joke in Tel Aviv is you need a passport to go to Jerusalem. They actually view it as a different culture. I think within Tel Aviv, Jerusalem doesn’t have the same importance as it does to the growing Orthodox community in Jerusalem. When you ask, “What does it mean to Israelis?” you’re going to get a wide variety of opinions. You’ll see quite a division within Israel. If you think U.S. politics are complicated, Israeli politics makes us look simple.
For the Palestinians, it means yet another catastrophe. And the catastrophe, the Al Nakba, the Arabic term for it, is the date May 14, 1948, when Israel declared that it was an independent state in accordance with UN resolutions. For them, the catastrophe is ongoing.
I do think there’s another way to look at this. This has been talked about in the press ever since the announcement by the Trump administration that the embassy was going to move. The argument goes this way: Trump has taken a card off the table. And that card was the promise that Jerusalem could be the capital of a Palestinian state. And so he has taken that card off the table.
There’s another card in play right now and that is that UN relief works agency — UNRWA — employs 30,000 Palestinians and provides about a billion a year in relief. That is continuing the myth of the refugee. The refugees are from the war of 1948. Israel declares independence on May 14. That same day the Arab nations surrounding Israel declare war. They lost that war, but in the process of that war, the Arab nations told the Arab inhabitants of the state of Israel to leave so that they could invade and not have to worry about killing fellow Arabs.
Those Arabs who left in the ’48 war were not allowed to return by Israel. With the whole right of return and the 70-year status of being refugees, there are now five generations of refugees. That card needs to come off the table too, because it’s a fiction.
Israel could not allow what are now 5 million — what started off as 500 thousand is now 5 million — claiming refugee status and claiming a right to return. It would just be impossible for Israel to go forward with that kind of influx of population. If Jerusalem is off the table and the right of return is off the table, what is left for the Palestinian cause? They have believed for 70 years that it’s their right to drive Israel into the sea. And you hear that again and again. They want to wipe Israel off the map. If that means the massacre of millions of Jews, they’re okay with that.
What can Christians do about this situation and how can Christians have a productive and effective dialogue about Israel with those who oppose her?
Well, love never fails. That’s one of my watchword verses from Corinthians, the 13th chapter. Love never fails. So in all that we do on either side of this divide, we need to do it in love. The other thing is, I encourage Christians, particularly in America and Europe: please get educated. There is so much disinformation circulating around.
If you know the real history of how Israel was founded, if you know the real history of the Six-Day war, then when you hear, “it was aggression,” or “it’s occupation,” you say, “Well wait a minute, there’s another story here.” The facts are really hard to argue against.
The more educated you are about the situations of how politically it happened, how diplomatically it happened, what was the call at both the League of Nations for the formation of an Israeli state and then by the United Nations following World War II, you just can’t help but walk away with the idea that Israel absolutely has a right to exist under international law. That right needs to be not just recognized but reinforced by the international community.
The interview has been very slightly edited for clarity.