Every presidential election cycle in memory has featured a candidate from one of the major parties promising to thunderous applause that their first act will be to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. And with equal reliability the same candidate once elected is struck by a particular form of  State Department induced amnesia.  In 2008 then candidate Obama declared while on a visit to Sderot that “Jerusalem is Israel’s capital”.

But once in office, as if placed under a Svengali like spell by the bureaucrats at Foggy Bottom, the White House just cannot make good on the Jerusalem promise. At the same time the President doesn’t wish to bring attention to his obfuscation. This makes for some amusing tightrope walking by our leaders, who refuse to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and are unable to say so out loud.

 The state department has made Jerusalem a disembodied city, associated on the US Passport with no country or state.  The Supreme court just heard a case brought by a Jerusalem born American who wished for the country of his birth to be included on his passport.  In the longest running game of hot potato ever, the Supremes threw the case back down to the lower federal courts.

This past Monday the State Department issued a press release with the travel  itinerary of Acting Under Secretary  Kathleen Stephens. What caught the eye of astute observers was that Jerusalem and Israel were listed as separate destinations. The implication of course being that not only is Jerusalem not the capital of Israel, it is not even in Israel.

Earlier today a Journalist asked State Department Press Spokesperson Victoria Nuland  if she could state the location of Israel’s capital, although she refused to give a straight answer, she did say most revealingly that “Our embassy as you know, is located in Tel Aviv.”  

While I would prefer that our country honor Israel’s choice of capital, the  fact is that the United States’ profound lack of  huevos on the issue does not trouble me as much as it probably should, and here is why.

Jerusalem was dedicated as the Jewish capital by King David some 3000 years ago. It has been the capital of no other nation. It was neglected by Greeks, Babylonians, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans and Jordanians. Like a child who disdains an old toy until another child wants to play with it, so too the only value Jerusalem holds to our Arab cousins is  that it is of such great value to the Jews.

Try this experiment; in any public space, a shopping mall, a park, whatever; and take an informal poll. Ask the folks passing by to name the capitals of (for example) Germany, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Brazil and Israel. My guess is that the overwhelming majority will assert that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Many, if not most will not know the capital cities of the other listed countries. Although I could find no formal poll stating how many Americans currently consider Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel, a poll conducted by the ZOA in 2011 showed that 71% of Americans “believe that Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel” with only 9% supporting the ceding of any of Jerusalem to the Palestinian Arabs.

 As Shakespeare so eloquently said “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”  One can declare the sky to be green, but that does not make it any less blue.  Similarly one can deny that  Jerusalem is Israel’s eternal capital, but everybody, friend and foe alike, knows the truth.