Although the US's recognition is welcome, many in Israel view it as a marginal matter.
Most of Israel's citizens in the past week have been gripped with excitement. Our ally, the United States, is talking about recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and may demonstrate this in practice by transferring the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
We have not forgotten Ben Gurion’s words to the Knesset on December 13, 1949: "For the State of Israel there has always been and always will be one capital only - Jerusalem the Eternal. Thus it was 3,000 years ago - and thus it will be, we believe, until the end of time."
On July 30, 1980, the Knesset passed a Basic Law declaring "Jerusalem united in its entirety is the capital of Israel.” Apart from the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in which most of the government ministries, the residences of the prime minister and the president, and the supreme courts are located, the capital has an additional role to play in preserving and representing the people and the state culture. Jerusalem is undoubtedly "an integral part of Jewish history and belief."
When David Ben-Gurion proposed the Law of Return to the Knesset he introduced it with the following words:
"The Law of Return is one of the foundational laws of the State of Israel ... This law recognizes that it is not the State which accords the Jews of the diaspora the right to settle in the State, but rather this right belongs to every Jew by virtue of the fact that he is a Jew ... It is not the State that grants the Jews of the diaspora the right to return. This right existed before the State of Israel did... This right derives from the historical, unbroken link between the people and the land ... The Law of Return is not an immigration law... it is the unchanging law of Israeli history… and constitutes the charter of rights guaranteed to every Jew… in Israel."
Despite the differences of opinion in the international arena regarding recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, our ancient history shows unequivocally that "Israel is the state of the Jewish people" and this was also acknowledged by and received the UN’s stamp of approval in the past.
Notwithstanding all the above impressive declarations, there is a large population (including many of American origin) who doesn’t feel welcome in the land of their forefathers. This population views the struggle for international recognition of Jerusalem as the Jewish people’s capital with only marginal interest.
Their concern is with government officials and officials in charge of legislation and procedures who will not change and simplify those laws to help foreign Jews from the diaspora come live in the land of their forefathers. We are constantly called upon to assist these foreign Jews with the maze of bureaucracy and the laws that often discriminate against them and maltreat them.
One of the greatest contradictions to Ben Gurion’s idealistic words quoted above is the absurd difficulty for a foreign Jew to arrange a legal entry visa if he wants to reside in Israel without becoming a citizen. Why does the law call these Jews, who qualify for the Law of Return, “migrants”?
Along with the international recognition of Jerusalem as the capital, we hope that the State of Israel will recognize the need to do everything possible so that Israel is truly the home of the Jewish people, and facilitate procedures so that every Jew is encouraged to settle down in Israel.
Our goal should be to help our Jewish brothers in the Diaspora fulfill the prophecy “and the children shall return to their borders.” (Jer. 31:15).