President Donald Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel today, a controversial move that undoes decades of U.S. foreign policy.
The decision is part of a plan to shift the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, something Trump promised during his 2016 campaign. Moving the embassy is a long process that will take several years, but formally recognizing Israel’s capital is the first step.
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro joined Glenn on today’s show to share his perspective on Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.
Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Politicon
This is a rush transcript and may contain errors.
GLENN: Good friend of the program. Daily Wire host and I think one of the most important men in the conservative movement today is Ben Shapiro. He joins us now. You up in New York, Ben?
BEN: Actually, no, I’m in LA. A little early.
GLENN: Yeah, sorry about that.
BEN: Not at all.
GLENN: Ben, I want to talk to you a little bit about what the president is claiming he’s going to do today. And that is announce that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. If he does that, but he’s not announcing that, you know, that there is a new embassy — we’re going to ground break on, does it matter? And why?
BEN: So it does matter. It would matter more if he would move the embassy. The reason why it would matter is because that’s a permanent statement. For him to say Jerusalem the eternal, undivided capital of Israel, that’s stuff that presidential candidates have said before. The Senate itself voted 90-0 back in June that that was the case. So a political statement by the president is important. But it’s always revocable. You can have a new president come in and say, while we don’t necessarily believe what Trump believed and maybe it’s up for negotiation —
BEN: — moving the embassy is more permanent. Yeah.
GLENN: I think it’s Obama’s Bear Ears monument. The next guy comes in, and it’s whatever he wants.
BEN: Yeah, I think that’s right. And what I’m hearing from the White House is that the White House is serious about moving the embassy. They’re investigating the sites right now. But they’re going to have to get it done before the next election, obviously, because you can’t expect a Democrat to actually fulfill promises that Democrats have been making for 50 years.
So it’s a big move. It’s a big announcement. And good for Trump for doing it.
But I would definitely like to see it made more permanent. On the other hand, listen, the president of the United States is saying something that takes moral courage to say, in a time when people refuse to recognize both religious and historic reality on the ground. And that is a grand and good thing. It’s definitely a gesture I think that’s meaningful.
GLENN: So, Ben, I think you’re a religious guy. And those who bless Israel will be blessed. And those who curse Israel will be cursed. I happen to believe that. I believe that we — we were a country that was founded in part by our desire to restore Israel and to — to bring Israel back. I think we played a key role to that.
And I’ve talked to scholars of the Founders who disagreed with me at first, and then went back after a year’s worth of research and went, oh, crap. I think you’re right. So I think we were blessed because of that path.
I think we’ll be blessed because of this. Do you — do you see it that way at all?
BEN: Yeah, 100 percent. I’m a religious Jew. This means a lot to me as a Jew because Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people. I was explaining it this morning on Fox, that — in order to understand the value of Jerusalem to Israel, you have to take Washington, DC, and then invest it with godly power and multiply it by a thousand. (inaudible) these things — literally that we built on a swamp because we didn’t want it to be part of any state, Jerusalem was built on a rock because God said so, right? That’s the reason Christians care about it. It’s the reason Muslims care about it, and it’s the reason Jews cared about it a thousand years before Christ. So the idea that it’s not the eternal capital is absurd.
As far as whether this is going to be a blessing, I think it will be a blessing because one of the things politically — just in very practical terms, that I think is necessary here, is if you actually want a real peace negotiation between the Israelis and the Arabs, that has to be premised on some elemental truth.
Israel is not going to give up Jerusalem. Israel is not going to divide Jerusalem. And as soon as the other side recognizes that, as soon as the Arabs recognize that, maybe they can have a negotiation based on reality.
Beyond that, one of the things we’re watching in the Middle East is something incredible right now, which is this unintended consequence of Obama’s unbelievably crappy foreign policy. There is this new alliance, and pretty strong alliance, now forming the Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia against the Arabians. And for Trump to basically say, listen, I’m just going to get this Jerusalem thing off the table right now with the Israelis. And you’re still going to have an alliance. Because it’s more important for you to ally against Iran, than smack the Jews about. That’s a ground shift in the nature of the relationship and I think something very important.
GLENN: So what do you think is the — what do you think are the ramifications of this? Do you see any real ramifications?
BEN: Well, I think the Palestinians will try to launch a terror wave. But that’s also true in most states.
It — I think that you’ll see some regimes like Saudi Arabia and Jordan have platitudes about how they’ll oppose this. But I don’t think they’ll do anything of any real consequence.
Turkey might try to type in some more supplies to Hamas and the Palestinian authority, which had been operating in a quasi unity government for several years.
But, you know, again this is not the first wave of violence that has hit Israel, not even with regard to Jerusalem. I mean, I wrote an entire piece over at Daily Wire, tracing the history of violence with regard to Jerusalem. The reason that the Muslim world doesn’t want to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, because they don’t want to recognize Israel as existing. Jerusalem is the heart of Israel. Jerusalem is not Jewish. Neither is Tel Aviv. Neither is Jaffa. Neither is any other Jewish city in Israel. So the recognition of Jerusalem that’s an Israeli territory, that may be an ugly truth for a lot of anti-Semitic Muslims, but it is also a truth that is not going to change.
GLENN: So as I was trying to look at this today and put this into perspective, you know, as a lover of history, I look at this and I say, in my lifetime, born in 1964, there are very few things that I would say had real ramifications, eternal ramifications, big ramifications, like the fall of Berlin wall. The defeat of communism.
I believe this is one of the biggest events, if they move the capital. I believe this is one of the biggest events of my lifetime.
Would you agree with that?
BEN: It certainly could be. Yeah, it certainly could be. I mean, if they moved the embassy to Jerusalem, then it does set a new groundwork. And it makes it difficult for the United States ever to back off of that. It puts Israelis in charge of their own faith.
I mean, basically Bill Clinton, since Oslo, too many presidents have held that the fate of Israel’s future in their hands, as opposed to letting the Israelis hold their own future in their hands. We really shouldn’t be part of these negotiations in the first place. I mean, these are bilateral negotiations the United States has very little to do with.
It’s an important thing. It’s an important moral step. Because — because the more that we recognize that, number one, we don’t get to boss our allies around. And, number two, the more that we recognize that Israel is a force for good for the region, and we understand our own role in the world.
Our role in the world is as a freedom loving country that helps out freedom-loving allies. It’s not as, quote, unquote, honest broker (phonetic) between freedom-loving countries and terrorism and tyranny-loving countries. I think that that is going to set American foreign policy on a new tactic that it desperately needed for a long time.
GLENN: So can I be really crass here? And now look at this politically.
You know, the timing is really interesting to me. And, you know, out of all of the people on the stage, you know, out of the 17 candidates, I just did not think he was going to be the guy that would actually come through with this. Because this takes massive stones to do. And you also have to really believe it. And I don’t think — while he has, you know, some Jewish influence in his family now, I don’t think that’s enough to do something like this. Usually it comes from a religious zeal, that this is right and righteous.
So let me just float this by, Ben, and see what you think. I think — I think the president is in much more trouble than he wants to let on or anybody on the right wants to let on. Maybe not as much trouble as the left seems to hope for. But he’s in real trouble.
And this gives him — you can only — you can only pick the bones of the Gorsuch nomination for so long. And this, again, puts him into a situation with a lot of groups. Especially evangelical Christians. Where you kind of put up with a lot of stuff. And kind of defend — because you’re like, look, that just happened. I mean, I don’t know who else would have given us that. And it seems to me that it could be a — a political maneuver to shore up some real fight to the end of the battle supporters. Am I being —
BEN: That’s definitely a possibility. I don’t want to psycho analyze the president because I think that’s a fool’s errand. But I also think that the timing of it is interesting. The truth is, I’ve never seen anything like — the last two weeks have been so good for conservatives on policy.
BEN: You know, everything from the tax cuts to the national TARP stuff to Jerusalem. I mean, this is really, like, hard-core good stuff for conservatives.
And at the same time, the rhetoric that is coming out of the administration, like Roy Moore are really a problem.
And I do agree with you, that I think there may be a political attempt to shore this up.
But I will say that everyone that I know who surrounds the president, and I’ve gotten to know some members of the administration relatively well.
Everyone who surrounds the president, does believe this stuff, the Jerusalem stuff down to their bones. I’m not just talking about Jared and Ivanka. I’m talking about Vice President Pence. The people who are very close to the White House. This is stuff that they — one of the things — you’re right, of the people on the stage, who pledged to do this, Trump was the person who I didn’t trust the most.
But it does show, for all the people that keep saying, on the left, that the Republican Party is, you know, quasi anti-Semitic and all this nonsense, the fact is that I think that Trump was not the only guy on the stage who actually would have done it.
I mean, the fact that he’s done it, he gets the credit obviously. But I think Ted Cruz would have done it. I think there’s a good shot Marco Rubio would have done it.
I think there a bunch of candidates on the stage — this has become a very strong issue for Republicans. So in that sense, I think you’re right, it’s one way of shoring up the base. But I’m not going to detract from the president for doing the moral thing, just because it’s political advantageous.
GLENN: Yeah. I don’t — in fact, I want to do the opposite. I think, if he does this — yeah, if he does this and he moves the embassy, it’s one of the bravest moves I’ve seen probably since Ronald Reagan said that’s an evil empire and needs to be destroyed.
BEN: I think that’s right. I think that’s exactly right. And I think it’s very similar to the way the left has responded. The international commotion. Oh, this is going to be so terrible. It’s going to lead to World War III. It’s going to be a conflagration.
You know what is really going to happen? Countries have interests in the world. Saudi Arabia does not care that much about Jerusalem.
You know how I know that? Last week, the New York Times reported that Saudi Arabia was actually going to the Palestinian and telling them, you guys need to back off this Jerusalem thing and just cut a deal with Jerusalem and be done here. Saudi Arabia has no interest in this.
The Jordanian kingdom has no interest in this. So the idea that they’re all going to suddenly stand up on their hind legs because they’re so mad that Trump says that Jerusalem is a part of Israel, which it always has and always will be. I think that that’s a lot of leftist claptrap.
GLENN: Ben Shapiro. Thank you very much. God bless. Editor-in-chief. DailyWire.com.
BEN: Thanks a lot.
GLENN: 2017. Wow.
Could anything else have happened in 2017? I mean, look at the history. We’re going to do — is it next week or the week after, we’ll be doing some shows of just the year end review. Oh, my gosh
STU: I’m hesitant because at the end of 2016, I was like, ugh, let’s get this year over with, get to something else. Then 2017 is happening. I’m thinking the same thing. But maybe I shouldn’t.
GLENN: I know. Be careful what you wish for.