Andrew Sullivan on Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

Andrew Sullivan writes:

I have to say I roll my eyes at the various attempts to explain President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state, and to make plans to move the U.S. embassy there. Is it an attempt to shake up the region to make peace more possible — or merely a strategic concession to reality? Why would Trump give the Israelis such a gift while asking nothing in return? Tom Friedman ponderously asks. And how on earth does it help the U.S. in navigating the entire region, since it guts any American pretense at even the appearance of neutrality? The earnest questions are everywhere.

And they are ridiculous.The reason for this move is self-evident. The Trump administration believes in the project of Greater Israel, and the right of just one people to control all the territory from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean.They believe this as a theological and moral imperative, and all other diplomatic considerations take second place. Who are the key figures who hold this belief? Jared Kushner, the dauphin who has dedicated his short adult life to obliterating any concept of a Palestinian state; the U.S. ambassador David Friedman, whose commitment to Jewish supremacy in Greater Israel has always been total; and Mike Pence, whose theological conviction is that Israel must be made whole and eternal (and the Palestinians wished away) if the Second Coming is to arrive. Sometimes, Occam’s razor really helps. There is no need to wonder why this has happened. It has happened because this is now U.S. policy: the extirpation of the Palestinian cause and the complete conflation of America’s national interest with Greater Israel’s in the region. This is what Sheldon Adelson paid for and what Ralph Reed demands. And this is what they will get.

And it is right. For too long the West has been beholden to Muslim oil-producing states demanding that the West refuse to recognise Jerusalem even though the Israelis themselves have declared that their country’s capital. We wouldn’t accept people saying Wellington shouldn’t be the capital, so why should anyone dictate to the Israelis.

Take the absurdity of Kushner as an envoy to both sides. Appointing him to oversee an Israel-Palestine two-state solution is like appointing David Duke to resolve America’s racial tensions:

“According to tax records, the Charles and Seryl Kushner Foundation donated at least $38,000 between 2011 and 2013 to the American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva, the fundraising arm of a Jewish seminary in Beit El, a West Bank settlement. The Beit El Yeshiva Center is associated with Arutz Sheva, also known as Israel National News, a news organization affiliated with the Jewish settler movement […] In 2012 and 2013, the Kushner family foundation donated a total of $15,000 to the Etzion Foundation, which operates three Orthodox Jewish study institutions in West Bank settlements. In 2011, the family donated $5,000 to Ohr Torah Stone, an Orthodox Jewish educational institution in the West Bank settlement of Efrat.”

For much of that time, Jared Kushner was a co-director of the foundation, a role — surprise! — he failed to disclose before his appointment. Kushner, moreover, has continued to fund West Bank settlements even after assuming his current role, as ProPublica reported on Wednesday: “The charitable fund made a donation of at least $18,000 at the ‘Master Builders’ level to American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva Center, according to a donor book distributed at the group’s annual gala Sunday evening.” That Manhattan gala was attended by John Bolton (scheduled for a meeting with Trump today in the White House), and featured a promotional video about the radical settlement. Set to action-movie music, the short film “showed high-school-age youth training in the settlement’s military academy. ‘Beit El is very important because it establishes our claim that God gave us this land,’ said Karen Frager, an activist who spoke on a video shown on stage.”

And who, for years, was the head of this charity? I give you David Friedman, who is now U.S. ambassador! I mean seriously. What more do you need to know?

I admire Sheldon Adelson immensely, and I admire the Jewish community in the US lobbying as hard, if not harder than the gun lobby.

The policy is complemented by a cynical alliance with fundamentalist or authoritarian Sunni states, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, against Iran and Shiite Islam … because targeting Iran is Israel’s primary foreign-policy objective (along with ending the nuclear deal) and getting these regimes to abandon any support for the Palestinians is critical to the legitimization of Greater Israel. Hence the “peace” plan Kushner has discussed with his fellow plutocratic scion, the Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman: “a Palestinian state with only ‘moral sovereignty’ and noncontiguous territory and without East Jerusalem as the capital; no Israeli settlement evacuation; and no right of return for Palestinian refugees.” That is: a few apartheid-style Bantustans for the Palestinians; the designation of Abu Dis, a Jerusalem suburb already cut off by Israel’s wall, as their metaphorical “capital”; and an end to any reasonable two-state solution at all.

And this, of course, has been the de facto U.S. policy for quite a while, because it has been AIPAC’s top policy goal for ages. To see how entrenched this is, it’s important to remember that a two-term president, Barack Obama, was unable even to get a temporary pause in the pace of the intensifying annexation of the West Bank; and that Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer wanted Trump to go even further and use the word “undivided” to describe Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. When Trump says this decision is merely about recognition of reality, he is, in other words, half-right. But it is not a recognition of the reality of the Middle East; it’s a recognition of the reality of American domestic politics, and the unique place that Israel has in it.

A two-state solution is a pipe dream, it will never happen until the Palestinians can agree that Israel has a right to exist. So far they seem content to wage a losing war with Israel.

-Andrew Sullivan

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.