On the east side of Jerusalem, over the Kidron Valley – opposite the walls of the Old City and the famed Golden Gate, stands the Roman Catholic Church named ‘Dominus Flevit’ meaning, ‘The Lord Wept’. “As he drew near, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes…”
What is the furore all about?
The Israeli / Palestinian conflict has been going on for decades, with extremists on both sides making peace efforts very difficult. The east part of Jerusalem has traditionally been part of the Palestinian mandate since 1948 but had, since the Jordanian war, been in the hands of Jordan. In 1967 Israel forcibly took it back and were then in the unenviable position of being labelled as the occupiers, which recognisably irked them!
Donald Trump’s announcement that the US now recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and that they would be moving their embassy to that location, was more of a fulfilment of a campaign promise than it was designed to facilitate peace – a banal piece of ‘statesmanship’ if ever there was one. It suggests more brinkmanship than diplomacy and plays directly into the hands of the Jewish extremists, Netanyahu included.
As to the controversy which it has provoked one has to ask whether it is the statement itself or the effect of that statement that is at issue here because in reality, it will not change the status quo. I would say this: that the answer depends on which side of the fence you find yourself, but the effect of the statement is more likely what is at issue here. There are many different elements at play and it is difficult to pronounce on one without that affecting the other!
Also, as one commentator points out, Trump’s statement is so full of ambiguities and holes, just what is it that he hopes to gain from it – clarity, I think not. It really does seem like something which has been hurriedly concocted and not something to which Trump applied his mind – certainly it appears that no regard has been paid to the consequences of this action.
For example, when Trump talks of Jerusalem does he mean JUST West Jerusalem, or does he lump it all together? He talks of Israel’s sovereign claim to Jerusalem as their capital, which would understandably infer the WHOLE of Jerusalem, surely? But the president then contradicts himself by stating in the same proclamation:
“Today’s actions — recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announcing the relocation of our embassy — do not reflect a departure from the strong commitment of the United States to facilitating a lasting peace agreement. The United States continues to take no position on any final status issues. The specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations between the parties. The United States is not taking a position on boundaries or borders.”
Just what type of sovereignty was he referring to? Such couched prevarication just exacerbates an already heated debate and jeopardises any prospect to peace that there may have been – but then, maybe that is what they wanted?
Extremism, whether on the left or the right, or effected by Christian fundamentalists, Muslim extremists or indeed Jewish Zionist fanatics, is reprehensible, unproductive and distinctly anti-social but unfortunately it is one of the ills of our time. Thus, as polemical as it may sound and in my humble opinion, the Zionist fanatic who burns or desecrates Christian places of worship, destroys Palestinian houses and takes away their livelihood is really no better than the Palestinian terrorist who destroys peaceful Jewish lives!
However, before we begin discussing each of the peoples of interest in this opinion piece and in the interests of transparency, let me disclose my worldview, my cognitive orientation as an individual because without doubt one’s philosophical outlook on life has great bearing on what you as an individual put forward as your belief.
By religious conviction, I am a committed Christian, a Catholic; one who believes in a society which is based on compassion, moral rectitude, a joy for the gift of life and a commitment to the forces of justice and peace.
So, what grants a people the right to declare the land, be it region or country, as their inalienable birth right, as their homeland.
For the Jewish people, it is religion. It is the promise made by God in millennia past, to the people of the Exodus, of a promised land, a place to call their own. Despite the Zionist tradition regarding the promise made to Abraham as having been given to all Jews, including proselytes and their descendants, it does not, in my view, include every individual worldwide, who happen to espouse the same religious conviction. That is just a convenient way to populate your belief and justify your action!
The same must be applied to the Palestinian claim – they likewise must have had ancient forbears of this land, whether they be Canaanite or Philistine which, I might add, applies to the majority of Palestinian Christians living in the Holy Land.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of those ‘Palestinians’ who flowed into the area in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in search of work and a better life, but surely then they should be treated in the same way that Jewish migration to Israel has occurred?
As religious as I am, I have to say that the emotive and collegial nature of religion does not always make for the most rational means of dealing with disputations such is this.
I do not claim to have the answer, the silver bullet to solving this impasse but I will say this, that Palestinians who have an ancestral claim to living in the area must be equally accommodated in any solution. Perhaps consideration should be given to the creation of a federal state, with some form of autonomous decision making?
 (Anderson, 2017)
Anderson, S. R. (2017). Trump’s Jerusalem Policy is more ambiguous then it seems. Retrieved December 12, 2017, from Foreign Policy: https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/12/11/trumps-jerusalem-policy-is-more-ambiguous-than-it-seems/