Trump’s ‘Jerusalem’ Stroke: Part of US Exceptionalism!

With a sense of arrogance, Trump officially announced that US will recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, referring to the move as an acknowledgement of “historical and current reality”, even as world leaders condemned the relocation and change in Jerusalem’s diplomatic status – an announcement he knows will stir hornet’s nest not just across the ME, but beyond as well. He also instructed his State Department to begin the years-long process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, – a sacred city of importance to all Abrahamic faiths and the most contested city in the world. Adding humour to his announcement, he also quipped that it will be  “a step to advance the peace process” with Palestinians and “a long-overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting agreement”. This announcement no doubt bears many serious consequences, although many observers may shrug  it off as just another insane move by a demagogue and narcissist Trump, whose credibility was shattered to smithereens even before he was elected to office last November.

His recent tweets sharing anti-Muslim videos of an ultra far right groups showed his temperament and unstable mental state of mind, let alone his suitability to act as a future honest broker to the perennial Palestinian conflict. In fact, diagnosing Trump’s alleged mental disorder has become a popular pastime, not just among mental health professionals but also among politicians, journalists, pundits, comedians, and ordinary people gathered at coffee breaks. He is an undisputed poster boy for narcissism. According to Allen Frances, M.D, Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences Specialist, Trump demonstrates in pure form every single symptom described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) criteria for narcissistic personality disorder, Humorously, the title of John Gartner and Rachel Montgomery’s book “All I Ever Wanted to Know about Donald Trump I Learned From His Tweets” is self- explanatory. Be it as it may, whatever he utters, however narcissistic they may be, is taken as the US viewpoint. Incidentally, if ‘American Exceptionalism’ in Post- 09/11 period in particular and |Cold-war era in general, has made the world a much worse place to live in, Trump has virtually made ‘America’ much dirtier in the minds of the outside world and a laughing stock in the community of nations.

To be quite honest, US has never ever been a honest broker or taken genuine measures to ensure the Palestinian people are given their historic right to their own homeland usurped by US’ Zionist agent  in the ME region. Simply put, the US cannot act as an honest broker while at the same aligning itself with and serving as Israel’s strongest ally. American double standards and hypocrisy on matters related to the Israel-Palestine conflict account for much of the recent decline in international admiration and deference to U.S. leadership in the Middle East and elsewhere. Therefore, expecting Trump with his narcissist frame of mind  to do so will be insane. Perceived American double standards and hypocrisy on matters related to the Israel-Palestine conflict thus account for much of the recent decline in international admiration and deference to U.S. leadership in the ME and elsewhere.

In that respect,  this ‘Jerusalem stroke ’ cannot be viewed as altogether surprising and thus this move can be dubbed as the latest of  their hypocritical moves to support Israeli hegemony and highhandedness. Of course, other US allies in the region led by Saudi Arabia will initially make some noises in this direction; but they are not likely to hold US to account for this dangerous move as much geo- political interests are at stake. All the energies of Saudis ‘led’ by the ambitious Prince Mohamed Bin Salman and its’ allies will continue to be engaged elsewhere in confronting Iran, along with their US masters and of course  their ‘ally’ Israel. However, it will be interesting to see what Organization of Islamic Cooperation(OIC) led by Turkey will do to confront US with regard to this move.     

Lord Folke Bernadotte, the first UN mediator to the Arab-Israeli conflict, stated: “It would be an offence against the principles of elemental justice if these innocent [Palestinian] victims of the conflict were denied the right to return to their homes, while Jewish immigrants flow into Palestine.” In delivering justice , it is easy to see the hypocrisy of the US as the so-called leader of the free-world. Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, in his The Hisham B. Sharabi Memorial Lecture rightly exposed the continued hypocrisy of the US vis-à-vis the resolution of the Palestinian conflict thus:

‘US determination to protect Israel from the political and legal consequences of any and all of its actions has also taken its toll, earning the wrath of the international  community and the UN / international organizations as well as earning a dubious reputation in polluting the integrity of international law. The UN Security Council was conceived as the ultimate arbiter and enforcer of an international order in which law could protect the weak and vulnerable from the depredations of the strong. It was however despicable that the U.S. has routinely exercised its veto to prevent the application of well-established principles of international law to Israel, when the international community has been attempting to allow justice to accrue to the Palestinians, the underdogs. Repeated American vetoes on behalf of Israel have reduced the UN and other international fora to impotence on fundamental questions of justice and human dignity. Confidence in these institutions has largely disappeared. Thus, the Israel-Palestine dispute has shaped a world in which both the rule of law and the means by which it might be realized have been deliberately degraded.. The inability of the US to build on the obvious shared interests of Palestinians and Israelis is, at best, damning testimony to the incompetence of those Americans who have made a career of processing peace without ever delivering it’.

Israel’s strength and prosperity depend on American government and private subsidies as well as Washington’s political and legal protection. For Israelis, the moral hazard created by such irresponsible indulgence and unsparing American support has been a tragedy. It has enabled Israel to follow its most self-destructive inclinations by relieving it from the requirement to weigh their consequences. It has bred hubris that encourages the Jewish state to pursue short-term advantage without consideration of the resulting risks to its long-term viability. For the Palestinians, America’s slavish support of Israel has meant an unending nightmare, trapping them in a limbo in which the protections of both law and human decency are at best capriciously applied. For the US, deference to Israel’s counterproductive policies and actions has become a debilitating drain on American power to shape events. The US is now so closely identified with the Jewish state that Americans cannot escape perceived complicity with any and all of its actions, whether they agree or disagree with the Israelis. In the eyes of the world, Israel’s behaviour is a reproach to the American reputation as well as its own. In this context, the diplomatic isolation to which the US has grown accustomed on the issue of the occupation will grow more deeper, consequent to this latest US move to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

It was virtually last month that Britain joined Israel to commemorate the infamous Balfour  Declaration Centenary with ‘pride’, and this long passage of time to solve the Palestinian crisis should therefore cause a sense of shame to the Muslim world in particular and the international community and UN in general for their abject failure to do so and stop the illegal Zionist occupation. Lack of progress in negotiations toward a two-State solution was leading to growing anger and profound disillusionment among Palestinians who are dreaming of  their own homeland. The explosive situation has been weakening moderates on both sides, and sleep-walking into another violent conflict consequent to this insane Trump drama  will be suicidal, when the region as a whole needs moderate forces to unite and saner counsel to prevail.

Not every news however is bad news. Given the protracted failure of U.S. diplomacy in the Israel-Palestine arena, others in Europe and elsewhere have taken alarmed note of the adverse effects of the unending conflict on Israel, on the Palestinians, on Arab politics, on regional stability, on inter-religious relations, on Arab and Islamic relations with the West, on international law and organizations, and on world order. Even the media outside the US have taken progressively more balanced and nuanced note of the human suffering in that area of conflict. The day-to-day realities of the Zionist occupation, are amplifying calls around the world for Palestinian freedom. The scrutiny is clearly being felt in Europe, where Israel does by far its greatest amount of international trade. Settlement products are being subject to sanctions as several large businesses and financial institutions have stopped doing business with Israeli counterparts who have interests in the Occupied Territories. Grassroots activism on behalf of the Palestinians is also gaining momentum. The movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is a global phenomenon that, despite remaining politically marginal in the US, appears to gather steam in Europe and elsewhere as Israeli excesses, grows ever more reliable.

Further, the Palestinians also formally joined the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2015, deemed as  a key step towards being able to pursue Israel for alleged war crimes. By bringing the issue of the occupation to the international legal and political system, through the ICC, the Palestinians can ratchet up the pressure not only on Israel but also the US. Israel knows it needs Europe. Should cases against Israel reach the ICC, European states will eventually cut commercial ties to Israel and push the EU to start taking concrete steps of its own.

It should be also be borne in mind that  the vitriolic nature of the public discourse is alarming. Every incident that takes place evokes impassioned narratives and counter-narratives that feed a vicious cycle of hatred and division. There is the imperative need to urgently de-escalate the crisis and restore hope in Palestinians, as the Quartet – consisting US, Russia, the EU and the UN, organizations and people of goodwill enhance their efforts to create awareness in the world of the oppression faced by the Palestinians. Negotiations should not be delayed further, despite the lack of resolution on preliminary issues as Obama once said, ‘Despite all the obstacles, despite all the history, despite all the mistrust, we have to find a way forward…. We cannot continue the same pattern of taking tentative steps forward and then stepping back’. We at the grass-root level should remember what Nelson Mandela once said,’ “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

-Lukman Harees