On Wednesday, President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The decision, which signaled a significant shift in American foreign policy, sent shockwaves through the Middle East, as protesters swarmed U.S. embassies around the world.
Independent Journal Review wanted to know how Israelis from Jerusalem who might understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict better than others felt about the news. We spoke to Israeli Defense Forces Maj. Amichai Chikli.
Chikli, 36, has a background in Israel’s special forces. He is currently a major in the reserves, held the rank of captain in a reconnaissance unit and was part of a guerrilla counter-warfare unit.
“President Trump’s speech and the decision to recognize Jerusalem as its capital, I think it’s very, very, very exciting news,” Chikli said.
IJR asked why the major feels that way.
“I’ll start with the facts,” Chikli said. “There was a famous insult that was used to said to Jews all over Europe, so if you wanted to insult a Jew, you would shout at him ‘Hep! Hep!’”
“Which is in Latin the letters of Hierosolyma est perdita, which means ‘Jerusalem is lost.’”
“And so tonight, when I’m thinking of all these young Jews, who went to a café in Vienna, in Berlin, in Moscow, and some bullies shouted at them ‘hep, hep!’ When I’m thinking about them and I’m thinking look where we are now.”
Chikli also addressed people who don’t see the news as significant:
“Some people say it’s not news, you know Congress had already decided in 1995 that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. But the spirit was not there. The spirit was not there and now after eight years of agony, of Obama, who was so anti to Israel, who was anti to Jerusalem, but to the legacy of Israel, the Judeo-Christian legacy, it is so refreshing, and it’s empowering, as an individual and as a Jew.”
The major continued, saying, “This is a change in the course of history. It is a change of the spirit, and that’s what’s important.”
The battle-hardened leader also approves of the decision on a strategic level.
“On the strategic diplomatic level, I think this is a clear message to all the tyrants, to the Iranians, to the Palestinians, that lies cannot exist for long. And our Israel, the state of Israel, is here to stay forever.
It’s a beautiful present for the 70th anniversary of Israel. It’s a great moment.”
When asked about the calls for rage on the street, Chikli wasn’t intimidated. “To the Palestinians and the Arabs who think this will lead to war, every other day for them is a rage day. They have these rage days all the time,“ he said. ”We don’t really care about these rage days.”
“Far more important, fear is no strategy. Especially when you have a violent barbarian enemy. And we all know when you show a barbarian that you are afraid of them, it only causes them to be much more aggressive. So there is nothing to fear. And we are willing if need, to fight.”
As the debate continues surrounding Trump’s decision, Chikli’s insights are invaluable for what the decision to name Jerusalem the capital means to the people of Israel.