US President Donald Trump’s latest war has started in the wake of his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his decision to move the US embassy to that city.
By recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the US further isolates itself as it becomes the only country in the world to do so. Clearly the US rejects the idea that Jerusalem is an ‘international’ city sacred to Muslims, Christians and Jews both inside Israel and Palestine and all over the world. The United Nations Security Council’s resolution 476 says that altering the character and status of the Jerusalem would be a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. It would be a serious impediment to a just and lasting peace.
The United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will extend further and deeper the oppression of the Palestinians by Israel. The US has gone along with 50 years of illegal Israeli military occupation of more than 5 million Palestinians, the imprisonment of tens of thousands of Palestinians who dare to speak out, hundreds of children jailed for stone-throwing, and thousands of dunams of land grabbed by Israel. Since 1967, thousands of homes in scores of Israeli settlement ‘communities’ have been built on Palestinian land.
Moving the US embassy to Jerusalem is a signal to the Israeli government that the US will continue to aid and abet the occupation by funding Israel’s military to the tune of $3.8 billion a year for the next 9 years.
Palestinians, many of whom have lost brothers, sisters, parents or children to Israeli violence reject the latest move by the US. Already there have been demonstrations in West Bank towns including Ramallah, as well as the dimming of Christmas lights and cancellations of celebrations in Bethlehem, the occupied West Bank town where — according to the Christian faith — Jesus was born.
And what will the US gain from this? Trump is clearly playing to his base – the 90 million Evangelical Christians in the US who blindly support him. His base also includes pro-Israel Americans such as casino-magnate Sheldon Adelson who donated $25 million to Trump’s 2016 election campaign, and hedge fund manager Robert Mercer and his daughter who gave nearly $1 million.
To move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. It will do nothing to achieve a just and lasting peace in Palestine and Israel.
Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) is a national human rights organization whose mandate is to promote a just resolution to the conflict in Israel and Palestine through the application of international law and respect for the human rights of all parties. There are chapters of IJV in cities across the country, in addition to a growing number of student chapters on major university campuses. IJV supports the right of Canadians to criticize and challenge the current laws and policies of the State of Israel, including through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
By Judy Haiven, who is a founding member of Independent Jewish Voices-Canada. She is a recently retired professor of management at Saint Mary’s University, in Halifax, NS.