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Monday, 18 December 2017 07:07

Trump's Terrible Jerusalem Decision Par for the Course With US and Palestine

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Jeru 1218wrp optThe Temple Mount (Photo: jaime.silva / Flickr)We were certainly taken aback. There was no conceivable way that the US, an honest powerbroker in the Middle East, particularly in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, could ever take sides. But then, out of the wild blue yonder, President Donald Trump chose to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and plans to move the US Embassy there.

While consternation may be the reaction of the Democrat-leaning mainstream media and Democratic politicians, unfortunately there is no reason for such jaw-hanging stupefaction. Though this particular US policy may have now changed, Trump's policy is more of the same.

At least since the 1967 Six Day War, the United States has been Israel's strongest advocate. The US consistently protects Israel's illegal behavior from international condemnation at the United Nations and has provided at least $130 billion in primarily military aid since 1948. Additionally, bipartisan local US politics have recently, in many cases, subordinated the First Amendment to absurd and arguably treasonous "Israel first" laws penalizing supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement. In one case, this prevented aid from going to Hurricane Harvey victims in Dickinson, Texas. Oddly enough, those who claim to be fervent far-right adherents of US nationalism (you've heard it, the vapid "America First" slogan) are more than willing to yield their constitutional rights on behalf of another country.

Furthermore, the mainstream media, Democrats and Republicans were mute towards Israel's war crimes against Gaza Strip in 2014, which was Israel's most significant atrocity in decades. Out of a total of Palestinian 2,104 dead, 1,462 were civilians. While in the same conflict, Palestinians killed 66 Israeli soldiers and seven civilians in Israel. This barbaric discrepancy was lost on Democrats, due to their allegiance to Israel and to the Democratic President Obama, who would later provide a $38 billion gift to the Israeli military. In response to each, Democrats, Republicans and the mainstream media did not bat an eyelash.

The recognition of Jerusalem continues not merely an extremely pro-Israel American policy, but perpetuates what is principally an Israel-directed US policy towards the Middle East. The one exception is Saudi Arabia's influence on US Mideast policy, which is not as powerful as Israel's sway, but remains significant.

The US's pro-opposition policy in the Syrian Civil War (including support for radical Salafi elements early on) is driven not only by Saudi Arabia's sectarianism foreign policy, but also by Israel's animosity towards Iran. Syria, under Bashar al-Assad, has acted as an intermediate in Iran's relations with Hezbollah. And what are the so-called "terrorist" aims of Hezbollah? To prevent Israel from invading Lebanon again and, more recently, to fight Sunni extremists and ISIS in Syria. It is also completely overlooked that Israel casually launches missiles towards Damascus, as though it were simply "mowing the grass" in the Gaza Strip. As an aside, consider for a moment, Israel's self-described phrase "mowing the grass" to describe their military operations toward Gaza. Palestinian people are the "grass" to be mowed, indicative of the lower-than-animal esteem that Israel views Palestinians.

In the US's support for the anti-Assad opposition, the dog is wagged not only by Saudi Arabia, in their anti-Shia efforts to diminish perceived rising Iranian regional power. It is also wagged on behalf of Israel's most high prized "security." "Security" is a euphemism for Israel to do as it likes in the occupied Palestinian territories, without any military retaliation or denunciation from Arab countries.

Consider also the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did his best prevent this, including through a speech to Congress warning of the putative catastrophe that the agreement would engender. Thanks to the prime minister's intervention and lobbying by American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Iran Deal faced significant opposition in US Congress. The US's hostility to Iran derives, in part, to its acting as one of the few remaining Middle Eastern countries not to close its eyes to Israel's illegal occupation. Additionally, Saudi Arabia's dislike for "heretical" Shia Iran supports the Israeli-Saudi tail's wagging the US dog in the Middle East.

As both the US's role in the Syrian Civil War and tensions with Iran are driven in no small measure by Israel, the mainstream media's rebuke of the US's new Jerusalem policy is interesting. In short, US's Mideast policy is guided by Israel, and to a lesser extent Saudi Arabia, so why is the media surprised when the US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital? Surely, the mainstream media can't believe that we are not unabashedly biased in support of Israel.

That's not to say that Trump' recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and plan to move the US embassy isn't a blow towards Palestinians and peace prospects. Surely, it is.

However, since at least the Six Day War, the US has acted as a roadblock to Israeli-Palestinian peace through its flagrant bias towards and enabling of Israel. This stands in stark contrast President Dwight Eisenhower's courageous denunciation of the British, French and Israeli invasion of Egypt in the Suez War and his pressure on Israel to withdraw from the Sinai. Ike's actions in this conflict offer faint glimmer of hope that the US may revert towards a more neutral stance towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and be a true arbiter of peace.

But, it seems that time has long passed. The US has supported Israel's policies for over a half-century, which all coalesce into Israel's continual driving Palestinians from their land and compulsive avoidance of conflict resolution (with the Oslo Accords as a brief exception). Since Israel enjoys an increasingly advantageous status quo, the permanent occupation and ownership of greater Palestine, there is little desire for peace.

In US support of Israeli occupation, it has always acted as the international exception. Trump's recent action on Jerusalem is well within this tradition.