The opening of the United States’ embassy in Jerusalem was never going to be uncontroversial. Since President Donald Trump announced the plan in December, Palestinians, Europeans, and American leftists have criticized the move as endorsing Israeli ownership over the disputed holy city, even as Palestinians hold out hope that half the city could one day become the capital of their own state.
But the backdrop to Monday’s ceremony could not have been uglier: By the start of the event, Israeli soldiers had reportedly killed dozens of Palestinian protestors, allegedly in response to their attempts to breach the Gaza-Israel border.
U.S. pastor Robert Jeffress, whom Mitt Romney denounced on Sunday as a “bigot,” delivered an opening prayer. “Four thousands years ago,” he intoned, addressing God, “you said to your servant Abraham that you would make him the father of a great nation, a nation through whom the whole world would be blessed. And now, as we look back, we see how Israel has been that blessing to the entire world....” Thanking God for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s “determination to do whatever it takes to protect his people at all costs,” he closed by praising the alignment of Donald Trump’s policies with God’s will:
And now, Father, as we come to dedicate this embassy in the city of Jerusalem, the city that you named as the capital of Israel three thousand years ago, we want to thank you for the tremendous leadership of our great president Donald J. Trump. Without President Trump’s determination, resolve, courage we would not be here today. And I believe, Father, I speak for every one of us when we say we thank you every day that you have given us a president who boldly stands on the right side of history, but more importantly stands on the right side of you, O God, when it comes to Israel...
“What a glorious day,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later said from the podium. “Remember this moment.” As of 11 a.m. EST, The New York Times put the body count from Gaza’s protests at 41.