The Arab world is agog over Trumps’s plan to announce Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The president of Egypt has rightfully called Trump to warn him of the consequences of this dangerous action, as have numerous other Arab and Muslim leaders. The EU has also condemned the move; even Haaretz has come out against it.
Sadly, the truth is that this announcement is nothing new; in fact, it is recycled old news.
The facts are as follows:
- Except for 1956, the United States has always been 100 % behind Israel;
- Congress passed a law in 1995 declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel;
- President Obama showered Bibi with the largest military aid package in history, in hopes of pushing forward a 2-state solution, and failed due to Israeli intransigence;
- The Israeli government has relentlessly pushed its West Bank settlement and annexation policy for decades.
That the West Bank if now part of Israel is a de facto reality; instead of trying for the impossible, perhaps we should listen to what some Palestinians have to say.
For instance, I recall a conversation I had a decade ago, at the Tribeca FIlm Festival, with Mohammed Bakri, the veteran Palestinian actor/director. He vehemently opposed the two state solution, arguing for working within the Israeli system, with the help of the International community, to fight for Palestinian rights.
Certainly demographics and the anti-apartheid stand of the EU would support this view.
In a single state model, Israel would of course one day cease to be a Jewish majority state — unless it was prepared to permanently adopt internal policies that would make it even more of a pariah on the global stage than it is today.
But such a position may be tenable in the short run — so long as Christian evangelicals, right-wing plutocrats, and the Jewish lobby continue to call the shots in Washington.
But American demographics, too, are rapidly changing, and the prospect of a major upheaval in the United States in the next few years is likely.
Such is the long view, one that Trump is likely to care little about: this Jerusalem announcement, whatever its specifics, is but the latest deliberate shiny object distraction from the Muller inquiry and the grotesque Republican tax bill he is about to sign.
But should Israel really bank on the permanent ascendance of the US right to guarantee its long-term existential security in a region of the world where it is loathed for what is has done to the Palestinian people?
Is that the smart move?
We live in a time of massive change.
Lines are being drawn, dystopian scenarios are now common in political non fiction as well as serious literature, with Exit West by Mohsin Hamid being the latest example.
As for Bakri, he continues to make movies, and is currently starring in Annemarie Jacir’s Wajib, her third, and latest, submission to the foreign-language Oscar category. Palestinian voices will never be extinguished, and global historical currents are unlikely to allow the disturbed ravings of a perverted American gangster capitalist to permanently decide how the ultimate fate of Palestine pans out.
Donald Trump, his right-wing supporters, and Bibi Netanyahu and his ilk are relics of a corrupt, ugly past.
The future does not belong to them, but, blinded with hubris, they may be unwittingly digging their own political graves in Jerusalem.