Right Move, Wrong Execution in Jerusalem

[promoted from the diaries –streiff]

In 1995, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which basically ordered the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem on the pain of withholding funding. The only “out” was the president’s ability to sign a six-month waiver, which has occurred over three dozen times since its passage. Donald Trump didn’t sign that waiver, thus fulfilling a campaign promise that none of the three previous presidents kept.

However, the first problem was that Trump didn’t condition the relocation. He just operated in his typical glandular fashion, extracting no concessions from Netanyahu or using the relocation as part of a settlement deal. There was a great big lever Trump could’ve used but he didn’t pull it. Come to think of it, the only types of leverage he seems to use are the kind that puts his investors and his country into greater debt.

The second problem is who Trump brung.

Religions like “Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism” lead people “to an eternity of separation from God in Hell,” Robert Jeffress, a Dallas megachurch pastor, once said. He was chosen to give the opening prayer at the embassy ceremony. John Hagee, one of America’s most prominent end-times preachers, once said that Hitler was sent by God to drive the Jews to their ancestral homeland. He gave the closing benediction.

If Mr. Hagee sounds familiar, he’s the guy who endorsed John McCain in 2008 and, once McCain found out about Hagee, rejected the endorsement. Yet here we are, Trump taking the guy to Israel.

The third problem–not of execution, just in general–is the people in charge, and Trump is only a small part of that equation. Netanyahu is nominally for a two-state solution but has done next to nothing toward that end. Abbas is not the answer.

On April 30, Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, provoked an international uproar when he delivered a speech before the Palestinian National Council in which he blamed the Holocaust on Jewish “social behavior” like greedy banking practices. The European Union promptly denounced Abbas; former Secretary of State John Kerry tweeted that there can be “no excuses for antisemitism” [sic]; the dovish Jewish organization J Street warned that “diatribes like this” undermine legitimate Palestinian aspirations; and a New York Times editorial called for his resignation. In fact, Abbas’s contempt for Holocaust historicity was hardly new: His 1982 doctoral thesis trafficked in outright Holocaust denial, questioning the number of victims and claiming that Zionists collaborated with the Nazis.

But the international community missed a more consequential affront in Abbas’s speech: the denial of the Jewish people’s rootedness in the land it shares with the Palestinian people. “Their narrative about coming to this country because of their longing for Zion, or whatever—we’re tired of hearing this,” Abbas told the Palestinian National Council. “The truth is that this is a colonialist enterprise, aimed at planting a foreign body in this region.”

And it’s not as if Abbas hasn’t walked away from previous deals. You could argue that a US Embassy in Jerusalem is a direct result of Abbas’ refusals, which have not gone unnoticed by KSA chief bin Salman. Although our UN Ambassador stated that the location of our embassy has “no bearing on the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders,” it still sends a message.

Hamas certainly isn’t the answer either, given their preference for a one-state solution, with that one state not having Jews involved, which is why they’re being blockaded by both Israel and Egypt.

I won’t say that the fourth problem is the protests, or “protests*”, in Gaza. Hamas aside, Palestinian grievances are legitimate. The violence was expected, as was the response to the violence. The person who started the march intended it to not be so, but he can’t control Hamas and their intentions…

…or the IDF. Of note is that the West Bank–where the new US Embassy is located, right along the 1949 armistice line, has been mostly peaceful.

* It’s no longer peaceful when participants “burn tyres or cut the coils of barbed wire that mark the start of Israel’s frontier with Gaza.”