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Jerusalem: Israel’s for the taking, and Trump’s to give away?

  • Opinion

By Kushie Amin,

With great urgency, President Trump has decided to meddle in another region’s affairs, causing instability and provoking chaos. Trump declared last month that Jerusalem is to be recognised formally as the capital of Israel. To mark this change, the US embassy will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This is not only catastrophic for US foreign policy but also for any potential peace in a conflict that has spanned 70 years. This length of time is a testament to the complexity and difficulty of finding a mutual solution.

In fact, politicians have had to tread carefully when broaching this topic. US presidents have been notoriously unable to follow through with this policy, often backing out at the last minute. They have all feared the backlash it would cause around the world, and the instability it would create. Former US President Obama was said to have ‘backtracked’ in formally announcing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He deemed it an act that would be ‘explosive.’ This is not dissimilar to the presidents that preceded him. George Bush made the same promise but backed down, opting to focus efforts on peace negotiations instead. Bill Clinton saw that this policy having the effect of undermining peace efforts.

Palestinian land is further being taken away and Palestinians are further being side-lined. Israel, a fully functioning state with their military strength and wealth will always have power over Palestinians and win. Palestinians lack a state and a military to defend themselves, but instead they resist through protests, mobilising through social media platforms, and in some cases, violent resistance. Instances of violent resistance against Israel will always be used to define the Palestinians as a whole and innocent civilians will always be held accountable. Israel’s violent responses will be justified by Israel as a form of ‘retaliation.’ Any opposition to Zionism is deemed ‘anti-Semitic’ by those who deny the ruthlessness of the Zionist mission.

The emotional sensitivity felt by Jews regarding a Jewish homeland and their sense of identity a homeland gives them is widely understood. While there are peace-seeking, and war-weary Israelis, campaigning against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, the Israeli public and governmental discourse is acting relentlessly against Palestinians in Gaza. Everyone deserves an equal place for Jews’ and Palestinians’ lives should be valued equally. So far, the Zionist cause has not even attempted to achieve this. Checkpoints, demolished homes and refugee camps show us that Palestinians do not have the equal freedoms displayed in a holiday destination like Tel Aviv. Zionism created hundreds of thousands of refugees since the creation of Israel. This number has now reached four million.

Trump’s recent decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and declare it the capital of Israel solidifies the US relationship with Israel and legitimises the Zionist mission. Donald Trump is using his presidency to redefine history and national identity on his own terms, and this further side-lines minority groups he refuses to acknowledge, moving others to the forefront. This decision is particularly distasteful and crude, given its lack of sensitivity to the plight of Palestinians and their struggle for autonomy. Donald Trump’s politics is loud, brash and cheap. In his politics a respect for history and compromise have no place. Trump is keen to affirm Israel as America’s ally, and he will go to great lengths to appease them.

In another controversial issue, Trump decertified the Iran nuclear deal and authorised sanctions on the Revolutionary Guard. We can see that Trump is giving Israel precedence over other matters in the Middle East, such as the Iran deal. The US and Israel share a common enemy, Iran, and it appears that Trump is willing to show us where his loyalties lie. He has stated clearly this is not only the interests of the US but Israel too. In his speech he declared the US should avoid Iran’s ‘sinister view of the future,’ and cautioned that ‘their two favourite chants’ are “death to America” and “death to Israel.”’ By coupling the US and Israel together, he shows a clear partnership and alliance between the two nations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that the Israeli-US alliance is ‘greater than ever,’ perhaps suggesting previous relationships were tenuous. The Yesha Council, a Jewish settler organisation, is finding that the priorities of Zionist Jews are being met, and they ‘definitely agree that we are getting the VIP treatment.’ Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer is quoted to have said that relations ‘have never been better than they are right now under President Trump.’

Many are keen to stress that Trump is appeasing his Christian evangelical voters. Christian Evangelicals, hold a firm belief the biblical prophecy that Israel is homeland to Jews, and have lobbied to see this affirmed by the US. Christian right-wing groups and American Jewish Israel promoters have provided large amounts of funding to his presidential campaign. Trump has always prided himself in being able to deliver to his electoral base, and fulfilling every promise, as radical as they seem.

Trump has completely alienated Palestinians, dismissing their struggle and existence completely. To decisively announce Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is to give Israel a monopoly over the past, and shed away any other historic ties. This demonstrates the idea that Jerusalem is a sacred city that cannot be shared, and its history is under exclusive ownership by Israel and the Zionist movement. Zionism shows co-existence to be irrelevant and the presence of Palestinians an impediment to the homeland of Jews.

President Donald Trump only cares for peace for those he thinks deserve it, and he has alienated other nations to prioritise Israel. Appealing to his electorate base at home should not be a factor in setting out such a contentious policy. Especially a policy that has the potential to further destabilise the Middle East, and cause mass outrage. It is an insult to the dignity of innocent Palestinians who have seen their homes demolished and their land occupied. One can only laugh at the façade of the US being the middle man. Now Trump has revealed the lie, and shed that image. No one should be getting priority treatment, especially not at the expense of innocent civilians as we have seen in this conflict.


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