A Timeline of OU Advocacy for Jerusalem: 1972 – Present

Posted on December 6, 2017 In Blog, News, Press Releases

During a gala for NCSY (a division of the OU), former Vice President Hubert Humphrey became the first presidential candidate to call on the United States to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital: “Jerusalem the Golden must be united and it must be recognized as the capital of Israel. We must not turn the clock back by advocating redivision or internationalization.” (transcript of speech)

Ever since then, the OU has advocated for Jerusalem’s recognition, raising it regularly with elected officials. One of those was Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, who became the most fervent elected official on the issue. Moynihan felt strongly that the refusal to recognize Jerusalem was part of a campaign to deligitimize Israel that he fought strenuously during the United Nation’s infamous “Zionism is racism” debate.

Moynihan went on to introduce Jerusalem legislation in 1983 (S.2031), 1988 (S.2508), 1990 (S.ConRes 106), 1992 (S.ConRes 113) and 1995 (S.1322). Throughout his four-term tenure, Moynihan discussed the matter with every sitting Israeli prime minister. The OU remained a lonely advocate of this issue for many years.

OU President Harold Jacobs approached Sen. Jacob Javits of New York about supporting the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The Orthodox Union became the first Jewish Organization to pass a resolution advocating for maintaining Jerusalem as the “eternal and undivided capital of the State of Israel” and relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

Since then, the Orthodox Union’s Biennial Convention Resolutions have stated:

“Jerusalem must forever remain the spiritual, cultural and political center of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. The Orthodox Union is mandated to undertake all efforts necessary to secure and maintain Jerusalem as the eternal and undivided capital of the State of Israel, including pushing for the United States’ Embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”

1983, 1988
Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, backed by the OU’s advocacy, introduced in the Senate legislation to relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

1990, 1992, 1993
Sens. Moynihan and Rudy Boschwitz of Minnesota unveil Senate resolution for a unified Jerusalem at an OU Mission to Washington; the resolution was introduced in the Senate in 1990. Moynihan introduced another such resolution in the Senate in 1992.

The State Department’s Directory stopped showing Jerusalem on the Jordan page, thanks to Sen. Moynihan and tenacious OU-led lobbying and NCSY letter-writing to Congress and the State Department. Instead, Jerusalem was listed on the Israel page with a footnote referencing its unsettled status.

The Orthodox Union advocated for the enactment of the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act of 1995, introduced by Sens. Moynihan and Bob Dole. It became law Nov. 8 following overwhelming votes in the House (374-37) and Senate (93-5). Dole stated in a press release: “In my view, the United States does not have to wait for the end of final status talks to begin the process of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. As both S. 770 and today’s legislation state: ‘Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of Israel and the United States Embassy should be officially open in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999’.”

The Orthodox Union mobilized constituents to contact their elected officials, both local and national, and ask them to urge the U.S. Administration to move the United States Embassy in recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

At an Orthodox Union Advocacy Center dinner in New York, presidential candidate Bill Bradley, in a speech, lauded Sen. Moynihan for first introducing the Jerusalem Embassy Act: “When he took the floor of the Senate in September 1983 to declare that Israel had the right to designate the capital city of her choice, he was declaring a simple truth which he helped transform into the law of the land.”

The Orthodox Union hosts its first Biennial Convention in Jerusalem.

The Orthodox Union hosts Biennial Convention in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert addressed the Convention. OU leaders advocated to the Prime Minister not to entertain any concessions regarding Jerusalem. The Convention adopted a resolution urging opposition to any offer to divide Jerusalem.


  • Ahead of “The Annapolis Conference,” the Orthodox Union joined with numerous Jewish, pro-Israel and other groups to form the Coordinating Council on Jerusalem, whose founding principle and activities were united around the conviction that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish People. The OU and its partners met with President George W. Bush’s National Security Adviser and other senior officials to advocate that the U.S. not support any proposals which would re-divide Jerusalem. In response to a letter from the Orthodox Union sent ahead of the Annapolis peace talks, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promises to keep Jerusalem united. The OU issues a statement that Olmert’s assurance is unsatisfactory: “We must ask Prime Minister Olmert to be more explicit about his intentions and commitment to keep Jerusalem as the ‛eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish People’.”
  • OU Advocacy engages in an ongoing thought-leadership campaign about Jerusalem, including these op-eds about Jerusalem:
    Nov. 2007: The Baltimore Sun: “Jerusalem’s Jewish roots must be acknowledged
    Dec. 2007: Washington Jewish Week, Baltimore Jewish Times, New Jersey Jewish News:Dividing Jerusalem a betrayal of Jewish history

OU launches a new “Defending Jerusalem Campaign”:

  • Hundreds of people participate in the Orthodox Union’s Convention in Israel – “Keep it One, Keep it Ours” and converge at the site of the proposed U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem to urge President-Elect Barack Obama to relocate the U.S. Embassy it to Jerusalem.
  • OU expresses disappointment over President Bush’s issuing a waiver that the U.S. Embassy will not be relocated to Jerusalem and produces a video showing the importance of keeping Jerusalem united – “Jerusalem, One City

OU launches advocacy campaign for the introduction of the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act of 2009, which includes letter to President Barack Obama not to invoke the presidential waiver and declare an undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. With support from the Orthodox Union, U.S. Sens. Sam Brownback (R-KS), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), David Vitter (R-La.), and Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) introduced the 2009 legislation mandating the immediate relocation of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

As part of its advocacy campaign, the Orthodox Union publishes multiple articles about keeping Jerusalem undivided, including:

Orthodox Union commends introduction of the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act of 2015

Orthodox Union launches online petition calling on President Trump to keep his campaign promise to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

February 2017
OU Advocacy meets with senior Trump administration officials to advocate for a change in policy toward the status of Jerusalem.

Dec. 5, 2017
Ahead of the deadline for President Trump to sign the Jerusalem Embassy Act waiver, the Orthodox Union sends a letter to President Trump urging him to fulfill his campaign promise to relocate the U.S. Embassy.

Dec. 6, 2017
On the day President Trump announced he was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Orthodox Union applauds Trump’s historic change of policy toward Jerusalem. An article in The Forward newspaper referred to the Orthodox Union as part of the “tip of the spear” in advocating consistently for the enactment of the Jerusalem Embassy Act.

Dec. 12, 2017
Orthodox Union strongly denounced outrageous claims against Israel made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Dec. 18, 2017
Orthodox Union applauded U.N. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, and the Trump Administration, for vetoing a proposed UN Security Council resolution calling for the withdrawal of President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Jan. 22, 2018
Following decades of advocacy by the Orthodox Union, Vice President Mike Pence announces during an address to the Knesset that the U.S. Embassy will be relocated to Jerusalem before the end of 2019.

Feb. 23, 2018
President Trump announces plan to move U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14, 2018, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel.

March 4, 2018
Guatemala’s President, Jimmy Morales, announces that his country’s embassy in Israel will relocate from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 16, two days after the U.S. move.

April 29, 2018
Paraguay’s President, Horacio Cartes, pledges to relocate his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as soon as the end of the summer.

May 14, 2018
United States moves its embassy to Jerusalem on the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding.

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