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Using the words "because it's just and right" when referring to the reasons for a governmental or political decision seems like a hallucinatory phrase or something from outer space. We, sadly, have come to expect the motivations of those making decisions or opposing them to be petty and paltry, selfish and grasping, political party fueled, power hungry, expedient, media-aimed, and often corrupt (I am sure there are more modifiers that I have forgotten) – but who even talks about "just and right?" Are there still statesmen who ponder what is just, ask themselves what is the right thing to do, and put other considerations aside?

Leonard Grunstein and Farley Weiss engaged in an astounding amount of research to write an absorbing and detailed book describing a process led by leaders who did exactly that, who were guided by their unwavering understanding that this was the "just and right" thing to do. And while I can only praise the authors' prodigious accomplishment in thoroughly and clearly describing the "Untold Back-Story of the US Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem" (the subtitle of the book), and while there is an enormous amount of knowledge and understanding to be gained from reading it, I was mesmerized reading the words of those men who dedicated themselves to doing what is "just and right."

The authors, whose contribution to our knowledge of the long term process and politics involved in reaching the decision to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is immense, make sure to give these principled leaders their due, awakening hope that right can one day triumph. Liberally peppering their introductory words with wisdom from Ethics of the Fathers, they conclude that "sometimes, things do work out." And that is because the figures involved were not naïve novices trying to do the right thing, but political pros who knew how to get the right things done.

Chapter IV, which elucidates the fascinating dynamics of the Embassy Act's passing, quotes some of these special lawmakers at length. Read how US Senator John Kyl of Arizona, who originated the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act and chose to talk of Jerusalem in his first major foreign policy speech in Congress, later declared in a letter to Sec. of State Warren Christopher: "The United States is not neutral about Jewish rights in the ancient Jewish homeland or in Jerusalem. I believe the key to our diplomatic effectiveness is...our power and loyalty to our friends and principles." Words that should be etched in stone.

Majority Leader Senator Dole, Senators such as Moynihan, Helms, Leiberman, D'Amato, New Jersey's Frank Lautenberg, California's Diane Feinstein, Florida's then Congressman DeSantis, Hawaii's Senator Inouye and others spoke and wrote forcefully about the Jewish people's connection to Jerusalem. D'amato, for example, said decisively: "A united Jerusalem is off limits for negotiation. Jerusalem belongs to Israel and our Embassy belongs in Jerusalem." Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin celebrated the passage of the law in Washington on October 25, 1995, saying what Jerusalem meant to him in a heartfelt speech reproduced in the book on p.99.

But while I lingered over that chapter, it is only one part of the book's content; the context of the law, its back-story, is the entire history of the Jewish State. Most intriguing is the matter-of-fact and novel way Grunstein, formerly in the real estate field, looks at the question of whose homeland this contested, small piece of earth is. Regarding Israel and Jerusalem, he exercises "due diligence" and uses the evidence in the Bible and the existence of the Mount of Olives cemetery, the most ancient in the world, as obvious property titles to back the assertion that Jews are indigenous to the land. The writers go through myriad documents of all kinds, including Muslim ones, from the Koran till late 16th century, and assert that no one takes any other possibility seriously. The Muslims themselves wrote that they occupied the site in the 7th century and the book's comparison of the Byzantine attitude to the Temple Mount as compared to that of Caliph Omar is an enlightening factor strengthening the argument for earlier Jewish ownership.

In fact, say the authors, the right of the Jewish people to Jerusalem is unchallengeable, and that is why there is so much background noise instead of clear talk on the part of those opposed to it. The complex of biases, prejudices, false assumptions and presumptions regarding Jerusalem might fairly be categorized as a veritable syndrome, they declare, filling the reader in on what went on behind the scenes in Congress fifteen hundred years after Omar.

One often misunderstood aspect of the process that the book sheds light upon, is that in order for the Embassy Act to pass and avoid a presidential veto, the waiver in the body of the law that allowed for the repeated postponement of its implementation was absolutely necessary. It wasn't a spoke in the wheel, but part of the wheeling-dealing on the part of savvy lawmakers who got the job done. Still, although the waiver played a crucial part in passing the act, no one expected it to be invoked so many times, and 86 senators wrote a letter to the president saying that the law must be implemented. Finally, in 2018, Donald Trump was convinced to act by Amb. David Friedman, Jason Greenblatt, Mike Pence Nikki Hailey, author Farley Weiss, then head of Young Israel, and others, putting paid to State Department fears of the results of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and moved the embassy to Jerusalem. Turns out that while the embassy was in Tel Aviv, the Arabs felt they had veto power over its move, which actually fueled the conflict. DeSantis eventually looked for a site for the Jerusalem Embassy, surprised to learn that, tellingly, it had not been done yet.

Biden would have liked to turn the clock back, but grudgingly accepted the Embassy move as a fait accompli as it was now obvious that it did not end chances for peace – the Abraham Accord came later –, have any affect on Obama's fictitious belief in Arab unity or spike more violence.

Reading the book, one reviews every aspect of Jewish life in the land of Israel "from time immemorial", to borrow a phrase from Joan Peters: the story of the Temple Mount and why and where structures were erected on it, the steps leading to recognizing the renewed Jewish homeland and advocating for Jewish indigenous rights, the UN's role, America's not always-so-honest brokering and the State Department's Israel-aversion. The writers feel that at Foggy Bottom, they simply did not want the Jewish people to have Jerusalem, because their behavior makes no sense, and the idea of an international city was an unrealistic recommendation whose time had long passed,

Page by page, whatever gaps exist in our knowledge of the three thousand-years-old saga that is the real story of the State of Israel are filled. This does not have to happen in contiguous reading. The book is 600 pages long and lends itself to browsing as well as reading by chapter, or for use as a source of reliable knowledge (Anyone who has looked on Wikipedia at a random word about Israel like Huwara, will soon know better than to rely on its biased approach today). Amb. David Friedman, Prof. Alan Dershowitz, Sen. Joe Lieberman, Gov. Mike Huckabee, Rabbi Efrem Goldberg, Rabbi Dr. Joseph Frager, Rabbi Steven Pruzansky JD, Arnold Roth and others, who recommend the book, agree.

Will anyone who is not already a member of the choir be open-minded enough to be affected by the irrefutable facts presented in this book? The authors are aware that there is much fake history to be countered and the specious Temple denial calumnies by the PA and Hamas (and most recently, UNESCO and Mahmoud Abbas' blatant and mendacious anti-Semitism, R.S.) are particularly loathsome, they write, listing pages of impressive documentary evidence of the Temple's existence (see pps. 341-346).

Denying Jewish history is clearly anti-Semitic, because its truth is so clearly evident. The lies are tolerated, although not accepted as truth except by the ignorant, and nothing is done about them, making Jews the only minority that is expected to give in and remain unprotected in this age of support for every other minority. Even white privilege is invoked against the Jews, despite the fact that over 50% of the Jews in Israel are people of Sephardic and Ethiopian backgrounds, making them people of color. And Palestinian Authority persecution of Christians, detailed on p.376, is ignored

Let us remember and continue to remind the world, the authors tell us, that at the end of WWI, in Paris, nations were reconstituted, and claims in the Middle East were taken up at San Remo. There were two Arab delegations: Syria and Saudi Arabia. Syria claimed Palestine, the Jews also made presentations and the delegates felt that the Jews were right. The League of Nations confirmed that decision unanimously and the 1924 Anglo-American treaty did as well. Any Jew could come to the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, although originally the boundaries were larger.

And that, too, was just and right.

Cover: Because It's Just and Right
Cover: Because It's Just and RightCourtesy

About the book's authors:

Farley Weissis chairman of the Israel Heritage Foundation (IHF) and former president of the National Council of Young Israel.

Leonard Grunstein, retired attorney and banker, founded and served as Chairman of Metropolitan National Bank and then Israel Discount Bank of NY. He founded Project Ezrah and serves on the Board of Bernard Revel at Yeshiva Univ. and the AIPAC National Council.