JERUSALEM — Neither Rob Schwartz, a Denver lawyer nor Pastor George Morrison, a Pastor Emeritus at the Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada are strangers to Israel, or to Jerusalem.
For Schwartz, his philanthropic and personal ties to the Jewish state have brought him to the Middle East more than a dozen times over the past 20 years.
For Morrison, his Christian faith has led him to the Holy Land on multiple occasions, both for individual pilgrimages and as missions for the Christians United for Israel group.
Neither was prepared, however, for the emotion of their current meeting on the edge of the Judean Desert, on the risers of a makeshift amphitheater erected for the ceremonial transfer of the United States embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“This is a dream come true,” Pastor Morrison told TPS. “It’s an answer to a prayer, really . . . it’s about time.”
Rob Schwartz added that he was humbled and gratified that the move had taken place, 23 years after Congress legislated the move in 1995. He added that the accomplishment was a coordinated multi-faith effort over the course of many years that both Jews and Christians could take pride in.
Both men also mentioned the long history of the city, from King David’s establishment of a capital here in Biblical times less than two miles from the site of the new embassy, and expressed their gratitude to President Trump for what they agreed was a “bold move.”
“We are blessed and happy that President Trump made this move. It’s about time,” they agreed.
Schwartz and Morrison joined an A-list of Israeli politicians and representatives of the Trump administration, including Ambassador David Friedman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on a temperate spring day in a holiday-like atmosphere punctuated by Sousa marches, Ethiopian-Israel singer Hagit Yaso and unabashed adoration for President Donald Trump.
Event organizers distributed red and blue baseball caps with the new embassy emblem before a Marine color guard presented the American flags ahead of the singing of the Star Spangled Banner.
An obviously emotional Prime Minister Netanyahu told the crowd that Israel has “no better friend” than the members of the Trump administration that brought the embassy move to fruition.
“By recognizing history you have made history,” Netanyahu said. “All of us are deeply moved, all of us are deeply grateful.”
In Hebrew, he recounted his childhood in the Arnona neighborhood, where he roamed the streets with his older brother, Yoni, before being told by their mother that they could not go any further because of the no-man’s land between Israeli and Jordanian sides of the city during the 1948-1967 Jordanian occupation.
“We are in Jerusalem and we are here to stay,” Netanyahu said, before prompting a standing ovation with words of praise for IDF forces engaged in clashes with Palestinian rioters on the Israel-Gaza border during the ceremony.
“We are here in Jerusalem protected by our brave soldiers, who are protecting the borders of Israel as we speak . . . This is a great day for Jerusalem, great day for State of Israel, a day that will be engraved on our national souls for many years,” Netanyahu said.
Rob Schwartz’s first person essay on the embassy opening is available in the IJN print and digital edition.