Michael Goodwin: A year after Trump’s Jerusalem declaration, it’s clear he means business

In an age when doomsday predictions are as common as thunderstorms, it can be instructive to look back at events and compare the predictions to what actually happened. The decision by President Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is an example that offers major lessons.

Long before Trump made the announcement on Dec. 6, 2017, and pledged to move our embassy to Jerusalem, there were endless warnings that the change would cause global unrest. Opponents in America, Europe and the Arab world, including current and former government officials, vehemently insisted the peace process between Israel and Palestinians would be destroyed. Some even warned that America would be sucked into ­another Mideast war.

Ho-hum. It’s a year later and the sky still refuses to fall. Nor is the Mideast burning.

In fact, little or nothing has changed between the parties as a result of the announcement and the subsequent embassy move from Tel Aviv. There was no peace process at the time because the Palestinians had refused even to negotiate, and that remains the case.

Also, Israel already was moving beyond the Palestinian issue and, because of threats from Iran and ­Islamic State, had established working security alliances with several Arab states, including Saudi Arabia. Those arrangements are intact and expanding, as are its relationships with China and others outside the region.

Among the lessons that hindsight affords is that conventional wisdom was simply wrong. It turns out that those supposedly in the know actually knew nothing.

A corollary is that the so-called Arab street turned out to be a ­fictional force, with the promised outpouring of mass support in Arab countries never materializing. ­Although there was grumbling and sporadic rock-throwing and tire-burning, Armageddon stayed off stage.

Another lesson is that strength creates its own advantages. Presidents who blink in a crisis, as ­Barack Obama did by failing to ­enforce his red line in Syria, invite more trouble because opponents believe they will wilt. In ­office for nearly a year, Trump had demonstrated that riots don’t move him, so riots didn’t happen.

I was in Jerusalem the day of his announcement and Israelis were jubilant. Trump was hailed as a hero for the ages because he conformed American policy to what every Israeli knows: Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish state.

Finally, an American president called their bluff and showed that even their threats were empty.

That reality was why virtually every presidential candidate for two decades promised to make the embassy move — but only when the time was right. The hesitation, enshrined in a 1995 law that allowed delays, gave a heckler’s veto to ­Arabs and incentivized violence. Trump changed the pattern by deciding the time was right to do the right thing.

This is not to claim that all the chips fell into place and everyone lived happily ever after. Hamas, true to its terrorist nature, used the actual opening of the new embassy in May to organize attempts to crash the Gaza border fence.

Israeli troops responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, along with live fire, and shot and killed a reported 59 Palestinians. Yet despite the usual condemnation at the United Nations that Israel had used disproportionate force, Hamas ­acknowledged that 52 of the dead were militants, many of them armed.

Meanwhile, thousands of Hamas rockets have been fired at Israeli towns and kites loaded with firebombs sent across the border, starting fires that burned thousands of acres of farmland.

Some of the kites carried Nazi swastikas, according to The New York Times, a reminder about Arab hate and proof that further delay on the Jerusalem declaration would not have changed Hamas’ determination to destroy Israel.

For ordinary Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank, the continuing refusal of their leaders to negotiate with Israel and the Trump administration compounds years of missed opportunities. ­

Every passing day is another lost day where Palestinians could have had their own state.

Importantly, Trump’s team acknowledged the Jerusalem move meant he would tilt to Palestinians on other issues, and he pointedly did not rule out the possibility that East Jerusalem could be the capital of their state.

Yet continuing the pattern started in 2000, when Bill Clinton failed to get Yasser Arafat and then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to create a two-state solution at Camp David, the Palestinians never get to yes.

Time and again, they walk away when a reasonable deal could be made.

Finally, an American president called their bluff and showed that even their threats were empty.