President Trump has unilaterally decided to recognize Jerusalem as the capitol of the State of Israel. He has also announced plans to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Should that move occur, 85 other nations will maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv, and the United States will be the only nation in the world to have its embassy in Jerusalem. This move toward isolationism and blatant disregard for working with other nations to solve global problems seems to be Trump’s preference.
How else can you explain his decision to unilaterally withdraw the United States from the Paris Peace Accords on global warming, leaving the US as the only major nation not committed to that global effort to protect the environment? The same is true regarding the Iran Nuclear Deal in which he refused to keep working with China, Russia, Germany, France, Great Britain and the European Union to curtail Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Add to these bizarre decisions, his recent decision to retweet an anti-Muslim video from a right-wing British hate group that seemed to confirm his own anti-Muslim biases. That action earned him the harsh condemnation of leaders and international bodies from all over the world. Trump should change his slogan from America First to America Alone on the world stage, which is a bad place to be when you cast yourself as “the leader of the free world.”
It should not be lost on the American public that President Trump has taken this unprecedented step regarding Jerusalem against the advice of Pope Francis and Theopholis III, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem. He has ignored the advice of his own national security council: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster. He refused to heed the warnings from the heads of many of our European allies like France and Great Britain. Worst of all, he ignored the warnings of Arab nations that his actions would ignite violence and anti-American sentiment throughout the Middle East; something that has already begun. In addition, it will likely thwart any hopes for a peaceful settlement to the core issue which is the tension between Israel and the Palestinians.
To keep a campaign promise done to win favor with his ever-shrinking political base, a President with a 32% approval rating before the end of his first year in office is acting against the broad popular opinion of the American public who see no logical reason for Trump to take this action at this time. Of course, there are some white evangelical Christians who might welcome this action, because it is consistent with their bizarre theology known as Christian-Zionism; which entails the second coming of Christ, and salvation for those Jews who decide to convert to Christianity when the Messiah returns.
Trump’s actions reflect a colonial mentality in which a powerful nation uses its influence to impose solutions on other parts of the world. The Arab/Israeli conflict was birthed out of such a colonial mentality with the 1917 Balfour Declaration in which Lord Arthur Balfour speaking on behalf of the British Empire established a home for the Jewish people in Palestine. Of course, this was done without consultation with or the consent of the people who were living in Palestine at that time (the Palestinians). Not surprisingly, by 1922 Great Britain had turned Palestine into a Protectorate (occupied colony), thus expanding its empire into the Middle East. A similar imposition of a solution occurred in 1947 when the United Nations Resolution 181 called for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, with the city of Jerusalem to be deemed an international site due to its status as home to the sacred sites of Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
In 1948, the State of Israel was declared by Jewish leaders seeking a homeland for Jewish people from around the world, but especially for those Jews that had survived the horrors of the Holocaust between 1933 and 1945. This decision was driven, in large measure, by the refusal of most Western nations to allow for increased Jewish immigration after World War II. It also occurred, because of a 50-year political and lobbying effort by Theodore Herzl and other Jewish leaders known as Zionism. This effort sought to reclaim Palestine, referred to by them as Judea and Samaria, as the ancestral home of the Jewish people. At every step, the missing ingredient was consultation with and the consent of the people who were occupying the land of Palestine at the time; the Palestinians! The wars between Israel and its Arab neighbors in 1948, 1967, and again in 1973 all had their origins in this one simple fact.
The Palestinians continue to resent Israel because of its practices of building more and more settlements for Jewish families in territory that had been set aside for the Palestinians. This practice continues despite the 2016 UN Resolution 2334 that called on Israel to stop such action in territories ceded to the Palestinians, including East Jerusalem, after the six-days war in 1967. That resolution passed14-0 in the UN Security Council. If Trump had gotten an agreement to link the designation of West Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel, with an agreement from Israel to stop building settlements in Palestinian territory, to agree to a two-state solution that recognized the rights of the Palestinians, and to negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis on East Jerusalem as the capitol of the Palestinian state he would be a shoe-in for the Nobel Peace Prize.
As it is, nothing has changed for the better for any nation involved. Israel does not feel safer from attack. The Palestinians do not feel more independent from Israeli control or encroachment on their territories. The Arab nations that we need to help the U.S. win the war against terror led by Al Qaeda and the Taliban feel betrayed. The United States is no longer viewed as an honest broker in the quest for Middle East peace. Those who believe there is a cultural and religious war being waged by western nations against Islam feel emboldened. All of this, because an amateur with no diplomatic, governing, or multi-national political skills has brought the world closer to regional conflict for no reason other than his own hubris!