Another way Trump will get us Killed: to move US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The White House says that the US is preparing to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognize that city as Israel’s capital instead of Tel Aviv. It is calling this move a “recognition of reality.” It is not, it is the creation of a deadly and dreary reality that will get Americans blown up. Trump is doing this for his evangelical base and for billionaire campaign backers like Sheldon Adelson. The latter have tunnel blindness and can’t see the world as it is– dangerous for the rest of us because of their hobbies.

In international law, Israel does not have a right to all of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was not even awarded to Israel by the UN General Assembly partition plan of 1947 (a plan that itself has little legal grounding since the UN executive is instead the Security Council).

Israel conquered most of Jerusalem and its hinterlands in 1967. It then annexed these regions in a quite illegal move. Occupying powers are not allowed to annex occupied territory, by the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions (which were enacted to discourage people from acting like Nazis). The disposition of Jerusalem in the law should depend on final status negotiations between Israel and the state of Palestine.

The reason that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian West Bank has gone on for decades and become so distorted as to be illegal is that the United States wants it this way. Washington power elites treat Israel like a big aircraft carrier in the Middle East, a way to continue to dominate the region after decolonization.

This is what I wrote the last time this issue was broached, a year ago. It is all still relevant:

Jerusalem is extremely important and holy (just after Mecca and Medina) to the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims.

One of the three major motivations for Usama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda to attack the United States in 2001 was the Israeli occupation of the Muslim parts of Jerusalem. (The other two were the US sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s that were thought to have killed 500,000 children, and the presence of US troops at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia).

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s provocative demarche on the Aqsa Mosque complex in Jerusalem in 2000 caused Bin Laden to try to move up the date of the planned attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., as ‘punishment’ for Sharon’s implicit threat.

Bin Laden composed a poem for his son’s wedding in Afghanistan in fall of 2001, “The wound of Jerusalem is making me boil. Its suffering is making me burn from within.” Bin Laden was a mass murderer and not a good Muslim, but his rage over Jerusalem is shared by many in the Muslim world.

Muslims ruled Jerusalem nearly 1200 years, much longer than did the monotheistic Jews of the Ezra tradition.

It is foreseeable that a unilateral US recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, and moving the US embassy there (US embassies are big buildings increasingly built like fortresses, and it will be quite visible) will provoke attacks on the United States by angry Muslims. While the US should not shy away from taking risks on matters of principle, in this case Israel and the US are in the wrong, legally and morally, so that we’re doing something unethical and also risking attacks because of it.

Israelis consider an undivided Jerusalem as their capital, and Trump wants to acquiesce in that view. Unfortunately for the Israelis, their position contradicts international law, and if brought to the International Criminal Court it would certainly result in the conviction of high Israeli officials on charges of genocide.

In the Sykes Picot agreement during WW I, Jerusalem was given to Russia. The Communists under Lenin later pulled out of this deal, and the British got Jerusalem and the Mandate of Palestine. Palestine was a Class A Mandate and the British expected it to become the independent state of Palestine around 1949. When instead massive immigration took place by European Jews fleeing Fascism, civil war broke out in 1947-48. The 500,000 Jewish immigrants expelled 60% percent of the over one million Palestinians from their homes and made these families homeless, stateless refugees ever after. The newly minted Israelis just moved into the Palestinians’ homes and farms, forever confiscating them.

In fall of 1947, the UN General Assembly proposed an extremely unfair division of Palestine, giving massive amounts of territory to the Jews, who owned only 6% of the land. This UNGA plan was only proposal and was never endorsed by the UN Security Council, the only body with authority. The Palestinians and other Arabs rejected the partition as grossly unfair. Although Zionist propagandists say that the Jewish immigrants accepted it, their leadership did no such thing. David Ben Gurion clearly wanted much more land than the UNGA had suggested, and his forces went on to grab extra land. In later years the Israelis would try to annex parts of Egypt and Lebanon, and in 1967 they militarily occupied part of Syria and all of the Palestinian West Bank.

The UN General Assembly did not suggest giving Israel all of Jerusalem, including the Palestinian East of the city, and it didn’t have the authority to make such grants of territory in any case.. Nor did that part of the city become part of Israel in 1948. But the Israelis conquered it along with the rest of the West Bank in 1967. They then annexed all of Jerusalem and part of the West Bank, adding that territory to Israel. Although military occupation of territory during war time is not illegal, annexing territory by military conquest is definitely illegal. It is strictly forbidden in the UN Charter and subsequent treaties and instruments, including the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court. Moreover, military occupiers may not radically alter the lifeways of the people they occupy (1907 Hague Agreement, 1949 Geneva Accords). Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians has become illegal because of extensive Apartheid policies.

So, Palestinian East Jerusalem belongs to Israel only in the way that the French city of Nice belonged to Mussolini during WW II (he annexed French territory to Italy by military fiat).

What is curious is that most Americans do not know that Jerusalem was one of three planks in al-Qaeda’s anti-American platform. Even more curious is that the US responded to 9/11 by invading and occupying Iraq, making Muslims even more upset. (Incoming Secretary of Defense Gen. Mike Mattis invaded and destroyed Falluja in 2004; one of the insurgent groups there had modeled itself on Hamas in Palestinian Gaza, and fought US occupation as an analogy to the fight against Israeli occupation). Mattis later frankly admitted that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian West Bank is a severe security problem for the United States.

Now Trump is planning to ratchet up tensions even further.

The national security elites in Washington and Tel Aviv have dealt with Muslim anger over the impoverishment of the Palestinians and the Israeli threat to the Muslim holy places of Jerusalem by covering up these actions, denying them, obfuscating them, and then crushing any Muslims who dare complain about them.

They call this counter-terrorism policy. And they’ve made it work for them in grabbing power, both in the world and at home, where they argue to us that the terrorism that they are helping provoke means we have to give up the Bill of Rights.



Related video:

Al Jazeera English: “Trump to call Jerusalem Israel’s capital, move embassy”

27 Responses

  1. Zionist Alan Dershowitz in recent days has defended Trump, a bad omen, by saying “You can’t make everything political a crime.” Flattering/ defending Trump is a sure way to his black heart.

    History will see Trump and his bumbling son in laws efforts “For the first time to bring peace to the middle east” as the equivalent of what Ms. O’Leary’s cow did to refashion Chicago.

    • An anti-immigrant canard! If Catherine Donegan’s married name had been Washington, Jefferson or Lincoln, the Evening Journal would have found another scapegoat. I’ve milked a few cows and it was not a thing we did at night.

      Journal of the Chicago City Council, 10.28/97:

      WHEREAS, A fire broke out on the evening of Sunday, October 8, 1871, in the barn of Patrick and Catherine O’Leary on the west side of the City of Chicago; and

      WHEREAS, While it ironically spared the O’Leary’s house, located at 137 DeKoven Street, the blaze tragically spread out of control and burned a huge swath, approximately three and on-third miles in size through Chicago; and

      WHEREAS, Before the Great Chicago Fire died out in the early morning hours of Tuesday, October 10, it had killed three hundred (300) people and destroyed property valued at One Hundred Ninety-two Million Dollars ($102,0000,000); and

      WHEREAS, Even as the conflagration raged, Mrs. O’Leary and her cow were being blamed as the source of the biggest catastrophe ever to occur in the Windy City; and

      WHEREAS, The Chicago Evening Journal first spun the yarn that the Great Chicago Fire was sparked when Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lantern while Mrs. O’Leary was milking the bovine animal; and

      WHEREAS, Mrs. O’Leary claimed she had a solid alibi and was asleep in bed with her husband, Patrick, at the time when the fire first broke out; and

      WHEREAS, A neighbor, Daniel “Peg Leg” Sullivan, was a man who some historians now suspect may have been the true culprit behind the fire; and

      WHEREAS, Although contemporary research appears to vindicate Mrs. O’Leary, she has unfairly remained vilified and maligned by history; now, therefore

      Be It Resolved, That we, the Mayor and members of the Chicago City Council, assembled this twenty-eighth day of October, 1997, do hereby forever exonerate Mrs. O’Leary and her cow from all blame in regard to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871; and

      Be It Further Resolved, That a suitable copy of this resolution be presented to Dr. Douglas Greenberg, President and Director of the Chicago Historical Society.

  2. International law is not the most important thing when it comes to international relations; facts are, and these often are the results of wars, with some people -the winners- being able to get their way, and others being the losers.

    Israel does not abide by the international law : they want more than they got, and they work hard to get it, with success. The palestinians do not abide by it either : they want to reverse it, they also work hard for that, although very unsuccessfully, but in the end they believe it is only a matter of time before Israel disappears, just like the crusaders did.

    Israel conquered Jerusalem and declared it is its capital, and this is a fact that nobody was able to reverse as of now.

    The US has always been an ally of Israel, they always supported it, so what Trump is doing now is in fact much less hypocritical than pretending the US cares about the international law.

    Israel will continue its war of attrition against the palestinians, the palestinians will continue to resist desperately, the US will continue to support Israel, the Arab states will continue to pretend they support the palestinians and to betray them.

    The future is bleak for the palestinians, as it has been since 1947.

    As for the Israelis, how long will it take before they will start being ashamed of being abusers instead of being proud of not being abused ? Centuries, probably.

    • This is one further step toward an eventual takeover of Jerusalem by Israel and the eventual eradication of Muslim influences within the city.

      This would be eventually accomplished by the demolition of the al-Aqsa mosque – and this action has been bandied about by top leaders within Israel in recent years.

      PM Netanyahu raised this proposition in an secretly-taped discussion that was later leaked via Army Radio in which he told Likud Party activists that “we could easily destroy al-Aqsa” but had no inclination to.

      Likud Party MK Oren Hazan, currently serving as a Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, has been more blunt about the topic of demolishing both al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock, telling a group of student activists “when I have the opportunity to do it I will.”

      Hazan recently was photographed with Donald Trump.

      The genesis of the idea of destroying the al-Aqsa compound and the Dome of the Rock is rooted in the concept of constructing the Third Temple on Temple Mount.

      Some links:

      link to we dont-want-to/

      link to

      link to

      • It is generally NOT a good idea to anger 1.7 Billion humans, especially when many of those humans have nuclear weapons.

        Sure, Israel can threaten the Muslims with nuclear attacks, BUT with the temple mount cleared of the Muslim holy buildings, there would be nothing to stop the Muslims from nuking Israel.

        In reality, if Israel attacks the dome of the rock, they will be committing suicide.

        Basically a significant number of Israelis are flat out delusional, thinking they are the center of the universe when in reality, Israel is a miniscule and insignificant country.

        When Israel pushes the muslim too far, they will pay a huge price, possibly to the point of being driven out of the Mideast completely.

    • I think a number of Germans in 1933 would have whole-heartedly concurred that international law means nothing, and would have suggested that like those Palestinians of today, the future for Jews in Europe of 1933 was bleak indeed.

      It’s only because states around the world decided that these principles were unacceptable, that just about any Jews survived at all- and the same opposition to German plans, that those Germans should not be allowed to annihilate a people, resulted in the creation of that very Israel that now creates such a bleak future for another, completely innocent people.

      Israel may have its dreams of cultural- or, in fact, literal genocide of the Palestinian people (whose “little snakes make big snakes”). But as with those Germans, there is a large world out there that has something to say about it.

  3. Resolving the status of Jerusalem will not bring peace to Israel. No “peace plan” currently talked about will bring peace to Israel. True peace for Israel will come when Israel itself is fixed. Israel is a brutal racist state and will have peace only when that ugly fact is changed.

    When Israel becomes a true democracy for all the people who live there and were driven from their homes only then will there be peace. When that happens the status of Jerusalem will be solved.

  4. Trump sure doesn’t do things by half. Quite aside from whatever this action provokes immediately, the divergence between leaders and led is already a tinderbox in any number of areas where unless the leader’s response is really serious the whole place could erupt, palaces crumble, and more US freedoms fade like cloudy dreams slipping from the eye. Might it unite the Islamic world, reduce Israel to some semblance of conformity with norms, and vindicate the long-suffering Palestinians. The Guardian yesterday reported that Gaddafi’s son Saif is headed back to a political career and it could perhaps provide him a tide to ride. link to

  5. Josh Marshall, over at Talking Points Memo, had some useful commentary on Trump’s impulsive decision:

    Here are a few excerpts:
    The motivation: “The idea that you would just do something like this purely to gratify the Republican base, spurred by the President’s boredom and desire to upset people. That’s all unthinkable. Yet that is pretty clearly what is going on here.”

    What the Zionist right wing in the US is saying, through Trump, by this move: “What keeps the conflict going is Israel’s and the international community’s indulgence of unrealistic expectations on the part of the Palestinians. The path to peace is to make it totally clear, with established facts, that the Palestinians will essentially get nothing. “

    Marshall concludes “Obviously nothing possibly good can come of this.”

  6. my comment is not one of great importance or enlightenment however if you are familiar with the english language term, ‘rabble rouser’ donald trump is exactly that. it is a person who by a speech or similar action provokes agressive, dangerous actions for political gain. a president may never take on the role of ‘rabel rouser’ in a democratic republic ……there are many words but i think before more damage is done,it is time, and we have the legal means, to stop this person from leading us and the rest of the world into war, for his enjoyment and of course the supreme feeling of power to which he is adicted.

  7. This decision is so stupid, beyond belief really, that I wonder if Trump is deliberately creating a provocation to foment a “clash of civilizations”. In this way he can then seize upon Muslim reaction as a justification for his anti-Muslim bias and actions. This will solidify his support among his racist and xenophobic base and so what, he figures, if it leads to violent unrest and more Americans killed.

  8. “Palestine was a Class A Mandate and the British expected it to become the independent state of Palestine around 1949. When instead massive immigration took place by European Jews fleeing Fascism, civil war broke out in 1947-48. ” The Zionists were calling for Jews to come to Palestine many decades before the Holocaust began.

  9. Two of the strongest voices behind the throne who urged Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel were Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN and Mike Pence, the US vice president.

    The former has always been a staunch supporter of Israel and sponsored legislation in South Carolina to criminalize the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement against Israel. She did so in spite of her own United Methodist Church’s calls for divestment and calls for Israel to respect UN resolutions on the status of Jerusalem.

    VP Pence left the Catholic Church when in college to become a radical Christian supremacist, an evangelical Christian jihadist.

    In July 2017, Mike Pence addressed the Christians United for Israel’s 12th annual summit, assuring that not only he, but President Donald Trump are proud supporters of the Jewish state. “And under President Donald Trump, if the world knows nothing else, the world will know this: America stands with Israel. Now and always,” he said.

    “I promise you that the day will come when President Donald Trump moves the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It is not a question of if, it is only when,” Pence said to a standing ovation.

    The Vice President also claimed that his love for Israel comes not from politics, but from the Bible, which suggests that he confuses the recent invention of the State of Israel with the Biblical kingdom that disappeared almost two thousand years ago.

    See link to

    Trump may be a “vile and disgusting man”, as Pence’s wife is reported to have remarked but many Christian extremists believe God will use Trump as an instrument to hasten the Rapture.

    Or perhaps he will be Satan’s instrument to bring chaos to an increasingly fractured world.

    • It seems like that in the fundamentalist following to which Pence belongs, the Apocalypse via Battle of Armageddon (an actual place in Syria?), followed by the Rapture and/or a Second Coming, is what these people are pining for. And, the potential of Pence’s misty-eyed vision of his own central role in the End Times is what motivates him.

      If this is true, we might want to rethink the alternatives to Trump’s itchy finger on the nuclear trigger.

  10. Trump needs some terrorist attacks to bolster his followers’ fears. This will help instigate terrorist attacks, and make his evangelical buddies happy as well. Next up: blaming Iran for any terrorist attacks.

    One wonders what would happen if there was a new Arab oil embargo… or if Russia, China, the European Union, and the Arab countries declared sanctions against all Trump properties worldwide…

    • De acuerdo. That is precisely how this games out, and it fits the limited range of Trump’s vision (sic) perfectly.

  11. Trump is as dumb as they come. When the King of Jordon says its a dumb thing to do, he is usually right.

    How to piss off millions of people in one swoop, just do what Trump did. He must be doing this to simply keep his evangelical base happy and some of his Jewish supporters, although I doubt if all Jews are happy about Trump’s latest idiot idea.

    Given Canadians can be mistaken for Americans, it just makes it more difficult for us to travel safely.

    Jerusalam is as much a Muslim city as it is a Jewish city. Trump obviously doesn’t understand history. Perhaps the man is only happy when there is conflict and he just keeps conflict going so he keeps happy. Its almost like a little kid breaking a window and saying, see what I can do.

    No one ought to have exclusive rights to Jerusalam. as to its being Israel’s capital, who are they trying to kid.

  12. Medipart reports that Salman, Netanyahu, Kushner and Jason Greenblatt have been cooking up a deal to ‘resolve’ the Palestinian issue, and that while in Cairo negotiating the reconciliation of Fatah and Hamas Abbas was invited to Riyadh to hear the great plan, proffered with stick and carrot; the offer of vast sums to establish the state and the corresponding threat of closure of the PLO Washington office, and worse to come.

    The offer itself is reported to have been along the lines:

    A Palestinian state composed of several fragments of the West Bank, with no territorial continuity, and limited Palestinian sovereignty in their own territory. The majority of the current settlements in the West Bank to remain in place, under Israeli control. Jerusalem becomes the capital of Israel but not of the scattered Palestinian state, which could be set up in Abu Dis, an agglomeration of eastern Jerusalem, but isolated from the city by the separation wall. Another provision of the plan: no right of return, even symbolic, for Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

    Finally, Salman let it bem known that Mohammed Dahlan, Abbas’s enemy whom he dreams of succeeding, had his exile in the United Arab Emirates to travel to Riyadh at the same time indicating to Abbas that the next generation is ready in case he is too stubborn.

    I have no idea if any of this is true but the writer, René Backmann, is a distinguished ME commentator. It does seem to explain various obscure manoeuvrings of late.

    link to

    • Dahlan is seen by Palestinians as an Israeli stooge who can not deliver what the Palestinians want.

      If Abbas shuts sown the PA and resigns, Dahlan will not be able to capture any power. He will be just like the puppets the USA has tried and failed to install around the world.

      Dahlan does not have a power base in Palestine.

  13. INterestingly, the US was not the first superpower to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Russians did it first in April 2017.

    link to

    If Russia and the US are aligned on a geopolitical issue in the Middle East it will actually be achieved.

  14. You are exactly correct, however this is a good thing!

    What this does is to strip away a number of lies that we have lived by for decades:

    America as a “honest broker” between Israel and the Palestinians? Gone!

    The two state solution as the only “reasonable” path to peace? Gone!

    People who are liberal but never-the-less use some rationalization to support Israel? Gone!

    All of these lies have allowed this festering wound to continue for decades. Lets end the lies and face the facts. There can be no peace without reforming Israel. The struggle now one of “civil rights” not exclusion i.e. “the two state solution”. It is what we went through starting 50 years ago. That is the struggle in Palestine now.

    The ignorant Trump stumbled into what may become a good thing.

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