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Fisk writes: "I was called by an Irish radio station in Dublin to respond to President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. What did I think was going on inside the US President's mind, I was asked? And I replied immediately: 'I don't have the key to the lunatic asylum.'"

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli forces near an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Dec. 7, 2017, after President Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. (photo: Abbas Momani/AFP)
Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli forces near an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Dec. 7, 2017, after President Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. (photo: Abbas Momani/AFP)


Donald Trump's Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's Capital Will Only Breed Violence

By Robert Fisk, The Independent

07 December 17


Trump has turned away from any notion of fairness in peace negotiations and runs with Israel’s ball

was called by an Irish radio station in Dublin to respond to President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. What did I think was going on inside the US President’s mind, I was asked? And I replied immediately: “I don’t have the key to the lunatic asylum.” What might once have seemed an outrageously over-the-top remark was simply accepted as a normal journalistic reaction to the leader of the world’s greatest superpower. And re-listening to the speech that Trump made in the White House, I realised I should have been far less restrained. The very text of the document is insane, preposterous, shameful.

Goodbye Palestine. Goodbye the “two state” solution. Goodbye the Palestinians. For this new Israeli “capital” is not for them. Trump did not even use the word “Palestine”. He talked about “Israel and the Palestinians” – in other words, of a state and of those who do not deserve – and can no longer aspire to – a state. No wonder I received a call in Beirut last night from a Palestinian woman who had just listened to the Trump destruction of the “peace process”. “Remember Kingdom of Heaven?” she asked me, referring to Ridley Scott’s great movie of the 1187 fall of Jerusalem. “Well it’s now the Kingdom of Hell.”

It’s not the Kingdom of Hell, of course. The Palestinians have been living in a kind of hell for a 100 years, ever since the Balfour Declaration declared Britain’s support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, when a single sentence – in which our beloved Theresa May takes such “pride” – became a textbook for refugeedom and the future dispossession of the Palestinian Arabs from their lands. As usual, the Arab response this week was sickening, warning of the “dangers” of Trump’s decision, which was “unjustified and irresponsible” – this piece of fluff produced by King Salman of Saudi Arabia, the so-called protector of Islam’s two holiest places (the third being Jerusalem, although he didn’t quite manage to point that out) – and we can be sure that in the coming days many an “emergency committee” will be formed by Arab and Muslim institutions to deal with this “danger”. They will, as we all know, be worthless.

But it was the linguistic analysis of Noam Chomsky when I was at university – he later became a good friend – which I applied to the Trump speech. The first thing I spotted was, as I mentioned above, the absence of “Palestine”. I always put the word in quotation marks because I don’t believe it will ever exist as a state. Go and look at the Jewish colonies in the West Bank and it’s clear that Israel has no intention that it should exist in the future. But that’s no excuse for Trump. In the spirit of the Balfour Declaration – which referred to Jews but to the Arabs as “existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” – Trump downgrades the Arabs of Palestine to “Palestinians”.

Yet even at the start, the chicanery begins. Trump talks about “very fresh thinking” and “new approaches”. But there is nothing new about Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, since the Israelis have been banging on about this for decades. What is “new” is that – for the benefit of his party, Christian Evangelicals and those who claim to be American supporters of Israel – Trump has simply turned away from any notion of fairness in peace negotiations and run with Israel’s ball. Past presidents have issued waivers against the 1995 Jerusalem Congress Act, not because “delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace” but because that recognition should be given to the city as a capital for two peoples and two states – not one.

Then Trump tells us that his decision “is in the best interests” of the US. But he can’t explain how – by effectively taking America out of future “peace” negotiations and destroying any claim (admittedly dubious by now) that the US is an “honest broker” in these talks – this will benefit Washington. It clearly won’t – though it might help Trump’s party funding – since it further lowers American power, prestige and standing across the Middle East. Then he claims that “like every other sovereign nation”, Israel has the right to determine its own capital. Up to a point, Lord Copper. For when another people – the Arabs rather than just the Jews – also want to claim that city as a capital (or at least the east of it), then that right is suspended until a final peace comes into existence.

Israel may claim all of Jerusalem as its eternal and undivided capital – as Netanyahu also claims that Israel is the “Jewish state”, despite the fact that more than 20 per cent of the people of Israel are Muslim Arabs who live inside its borders – but America’s recognition of this claim means that Jerusalem can never be the capital of another nation. And here’s the rub. We don’t have the slightest idea of the real borders of this “capital”. Trump actually acknowledged this, in a line that went largely unreported, when he said that “we are not taking a position on … the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem”. In other words, he recognised the sovereignty of a country over all of Jerusalem without knowing exactly where that city’s borders lie.

In fact, we don’t have the slightest idea of just where Israel’s eastern border is. Does it lie along the old front line that divided Jerusalem? Does it lie a mile or so to the east of east Jerusalem? Or does it lie along the Jordan river? In which case, goodbye Palestine. Trump has awarded Israel the right to a whole city as its capital but hasn’t the slightest idea where the eastern border of this country is, let alone the frontier of Jerusalem.

The world was happy to accept Tel Aviv as a temporary capital – as it was to pretend that Jericho or Ramallah was the “capital” of the Palestine Authority after Arafat arrived there. But Jerusalem was not to be recognised as the Israeli capital even though Israel claimed it was. Then we have Trump stating that in this “most successful” democracy, “people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience”. I trust he won’t be telling that to the more than two and a half million Palestinians in the West Bank who are not free to worship in Jerusalem without a special pass, or the population of besieged Gaza who cannot hope to reach the city. Yet Trump claims his decision is merely “a recognition of reality”. I suppose his ambassador in Tel Aviv – soon, presumably, in Jerusalem (if only, so far, in a hotel room) – believes this tosh; for it was he who claimed that Israel only occupied “2 per cent” of the West Bank.

And this new embassy, when it is eventually completed, will become “a magnificent tribute to peace”, according to Trump. Given the bunkers into which most US embassies in the Middle East have turned, it’s going to be a place with armoured gates and pre-stressed concrete walls and lots of inner bunkers for its diplomatic staff. But by then, I suppose, Trump will be gone. Or will he?

As usual, we had the Trump waffle. He wants “a great deal” for the Israelis and Palestinians, a peace agreement that is “acceptable to both sides” – even though this is not possible when he’s recognised all of Jerusalem as Israeli before the so-called “final status” talks, which the world still fondly expects to take place between “both sides”. But if Jerusalem is “one of the most sensitive issues” in these talks, if there was going to be “disagreement and dissent” about his announcement – all of which he said – then why on earth did he make the decision at all?

Only when he descended into Blair-like verbosity – that the future of the region was held back by “bloodshed, ignorance and terror” – did it really become too much to stomach any more of these lies. If people are supposed to respond to “disagreement” with “reasoned debate, not violence”, what is the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital supposed to produce? A “debate”, for heaven’s sake? Is that what to “rethink old assumptions” means?

Enough of this twaddle. What more folly can this wretched man dream up and lie about? So what was going on in his befuddled mind when he made this decision? Sure, he wants to follow up on his campaign promises. But how come he decided to honour this promise but could not bring himself to say last April that the mass murder of a million and a half Armenians in 1917 constituted an act of genocide? He was obviously frightened of upsetting the Turks, who deny the first industrial holocaust of the 20th century. Well, he’s sure upset the Turks now. I’d like to think he’d taken that into account. But forget it. The guy is crackers. And it will take many years for his country to recover from this latest act of folly.


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+8 # indian weaver 2017-12-07 11:14
Trump did this on orders from the Deep State who own him. Violence is the goal, to make more money for the MIC, which comprises all of congress and the administration now, as well as all those 10,000s of contractors for weapons of mass destruction. Invest now in the war machine for really big money. And pray for WW III, the goal of the USA's money machine.
 
 
+3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-12-07 16:42
i.w. -- good points. I agree entirely. I would only like to submit a different enumeration of modern wars. These are industrial wars financed by banks. The are driven by weapons manufacturers and banks. Here's my suggestion:

WW I: Napoleonic Wars, 1799 - 1815
WW II: Great War, 1913 - 1918
WW III: Fascist wars, 1930s - 1945
WW IV: Cold War, 1945 - 1990
WW V: Global War on Terror, 2001 - 2017
WW VI: Cold War II and Pivot to Asia


Cold wars may not involve total killing and destruction but they spend nearly the same amount of money in buying weapons and training exercises. The US is now in non-stop war exercises off the coast of North Korea. They only thing missing from a hot war is dropping the bombs and launching the missiles. But all the rest of the war activity and the expenditures are now in progress and permanent.

Banks took over government in Europe in the 1700s, mostly the Rothschilds, and we have had permanent war ever since. The middle 19th century was a lull because all nations were undergoing communist revolutions. Nations spent their money suppressing those.

We are now embarking on WW VI. Obama started it. Trump is following his lead. Or more accurately, it was started by the CIA an organization created by banks and wall street.

We should try to imagine how good life would have been had none of these wars taken place. War is the root cause of most evils in society.
 
 
+3 # elizabethblock 2017-12-07 16:20
There may be a silver lining to this. It strips away the bullshit.

Everyone can stop pretending that the United States is anything but an enabler of Israel and all of its worst policies and practices.

And we can stop pretending that there's going to be a Palestinian state. Politicians (and pundits!) who say they are in favour of a two-state solution aren't taking the problem seriously. There's only one state. The question is, what kind of state is it going to be? A binational secular state, a state of all its citizens, or an apartheid state?

People sometimes ask me if I want to see Israel destroyed. No, I say, I just want to see regime change.
 
 
+1 # Texas Aggie 2017-12-08 00:14
Another silver lining for the rest of the US is that if drumpf can give away Jerusalem to the Israelis, then Rami Hamdallah feels that he can give Texas back to the Mexicans. That way the US is rid of Cruz, Cornyn, Gohmert, and a host of imbeciles in the legislature and judiciary of the country.
 
 
0 # Texas Aggie 2017-12-08 00:04
Drumpf just lost any claim that he may have for "honoring" our military. Not only has he recently sent a whole bunch of them into a hell hole, but he is now stirring the fire so that the heat on them reaches unsupportable levels. We can now kiss goodby to any goodwill that we may have once had in places like Iraq, Egypt, North Africa, Kuwait, and the rest of the
 
 
+1 # Texas Aggie 2017-12-08 00:09
drumpf just lost any claim he may have had to "honoring" our military. He has recently sent a whole bunch of them into a hell hole in the Middle East and now he's stirring the flames so that they burn twice as hot. Thanks to his stupidity, we have lost any good will that may have existed among the populations of the Middle East, North Africa, and elsewhere in the world. That will make things a lot worse for Americans and will lead to a whole lot more support for the jihadis of various stripes. Our military is going to take it in the chin, and civilians are also going to be targeted.
 
 
+1 # Depressionborn 2017-12-08 16:29
Quoting Texas Aggie:
drumpf just lost any claim he may have had to "honoring" our military. He has recently sent a whole bunch of them into a hell hole in the Middle East and now he's stirring the flames so that they burn twice as hot. Thanks to his stupidity, we have lost any good will that may have existed among the populations of the Middle East, North Africa, and elsewhere in the world. That will make things a lot worse for Americans and will lead to a whole lot more support for the jihadis of various stripes. Our military is going to take it in the chin, and civilians are also going to be targeted.

hogwash Tex
“I will…quickly and decisively bomb the hell out of ISIS,” Trump, who would name legendary Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis as secretary of defense, promised. “We will not have to listen to the politicians who are losing the war on terrorism."

Just over a year later, ISIS has been routed from Iraq and Syria with an ease and speed that's surprised even the men and women who carried out the mission. Experts say it's a prime example of a campaign promise kept. President Trump scrapped his predecessor’s rules of engagement, which critics say hamstrung the military, and let battlefield decisions be made by the generals in the theater, and not bureaucrats in Washington.
 

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