WASHINGTON, D.C. – Over 25 Jewish organizations and Republican and Democratic lawmakers convened at the U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center on Wednesday to mark and celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem Day and reaffirm that Jerusalem is Israel’s eternal capital.
Jerusalem Day is a national holiday in Israel that celebrates the country’s reunification of Jerusalem following the Six Day War of 1967. Jerusalem Day this year is officially celebrated on Tuesday, May 23, when President Donald Trump will be visiting the city. The Capital Hill event, dubbed Jerusalem Unity Day, was held six days before.
Martin Oliner, co-president of the Religious Zionists of America, organized Wednesday’s event. He told Breitbart News, “I’ve brought 25 Jewish organizations together from all over; a full plurality of disparate Jewish organizations that often don’t agree, but we’ve come here for unity.” He said, “We’re here to thank God and we’re here to thank Congress for the wonderful relationship that we have together. The U.S.-Israel relationship is stronger than ever. We want to keep it strong and we’re here to really celebrate this wonderful miracle that has occurred.”
He said he believes it’s “critical” that Trump moves the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “This has been our home, our capital for 3,300 years since King David founded it. We have been praying to come back to Jerusalem for over 2,000 years; our generation had the pleasure of having that happen during their lifetime. So I feel extraordinary and that’s what we are here to celebrate today.”
“As VP of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce, one of the co-sponsors of the event with Martin Oliner, I came to join with other co-sponsors and over 25 senators and congressmen who came to show support,” Odeleya Jacobs told Breitbart News. “The event created an awareness of the great miracle that God did by reuniting Jerusalem to all of Israel and proclaiming Jerusalem the eternal capital of the Jewish people.”
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), who has already visited several location in Jerusalem for the potential embassy move, said, “And for me, what better time to finally follow through with our promise if we relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem” than next week when Trump is in the Holy Land.
“I think there’s a lot of risk if we don’t follow through with our word to move the embassy to Jerusalem,” DeSantis said.
He added that many of the Arab states respect “strength and decisiveness.” He noted that some in the Arab world might not like that Trump follows through on his word, “but, man, they are going to respect it.”
“Look, I think at this point, not recognizing Jerusalem as the unified and indivisible capital of Israel actually hurts the peace process,” he continued, “because I think Palestinian Arabs still believe that somehow Israel is a transient country that will eventually be wiped off the map. So moving the embassy there is a great statement to say Israel is here to stay. And if you want to act destructively, fine. But we are not going to play these games and act like we don’t know where the Western Wall is located.”
However, DeSantis noted, “I’m not necessarily predicting that that’s going to happen, but I think if you’re ever going to do it, with all the celebrations that are going to be going on next week, just think of how much energy this would add to that; not only in Israel, but here in the United States, for the millions and millions of Americans who would like to see this happen.”
A newly-released poll conducted by Smith Research found that in the absence of a solid vow to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Trump’s approval rating among Jewish Israelis has dropped by 23 percentage points since he took office in January.
Vice President and Dean of Touro College Dr. Robert Goldschmidt told Breitbart News he came from New York “to celebrate a milestone anniversary with the salute to the reunification of Jerusalem, which I think is a historic event for people of all faiths and all creeds.”
Rabbi Marc Volk, executive director of the National Council of Young Israel, told Breitbart News, “Jerusalem is the holy center of Eretz Israel, the State of Israel, and moreover the world. We know that so many individuals across the spectrum of religious life invariably go to the Kotel, the Western Wall, to offer prayer.” Volk added, “The Kotel, the Western Wall, is a remnant of the Holy Temple that once stood in Jerusalem. We believe Jerusalem is part of Israel.”
Among lawmakers present at Wednesday’s event were Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL).
Sen. Ben Cardin said, “Israel is at great risk right now. We know that there are so many forces around the world that are trying to comprise the legitimacy of Israel. We see that in the effort of the Palestinians to take the negotiations with Israel to the United Nations rather than direct negotiations. We cannot let that happen.” He added, “there is no separation between the United States and Israel. We are Israel’s only clear ally and friend and we must make sure that remains solid, bipartisan and that we will stand by Israel.”
Cardin also blasted the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against the State of Israel. He stated, “The support for Israel should be guaranteed in this year’s budget. Funding the memorandum of understanding, funding the Iron Dome, funding the technology that makes Israel safer and the United States safer.”
He said America must stand by the Jewish state to ensure support for Israel remains strong and bipartisan.
Senator John Barrasso blasted the United Nations’ abuses against Israel. “We, as a Senate, say it is time to get rid of what you are doing at the United Nations.”
Rep. Brad Schneider began his speech by saying, “b’ruchim habayim,” which in Hebrew means “welcome” and “blessed are those who come.” Schneider said the “permanent” unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel “depends on the bipartisan support in this body.” He told those gathered that he came to Wednesday’s event “to make sure Jerusalem remains the undivided capital of Israel.”
Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY) told the crowd that he introduced House Resolution 328 on the House floor on Wednesday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem “and for other purposes.” HR 328 was cosponsored by Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL), who served as the former ambassador to the Vatican under President George W. Bush’s commission.
“I want you to know that I’m 100 percent on the team,” Suozzi said. “I’ll do whatever I can do be a strong defender of Israel through thick and thin.”