Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Deserving Each Other

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

On December 6, 2017 President Grump announced the decision to move the USA's embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Soon afterward, "in a stinging rebuke" of his radical move

128 countries, including some of the US’s most trusted and reliable allies, voted in favor of a United Nations resolution on Thursday calling for a reversal of his position. Only nine countries voted against it.

Though the resolution doesn’t explicitly refer to the US, it’s clearly directed at the White House. The measure declares that any changes to the status of Jerusalem “have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded.”

It also “calls upon all States to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem” — another shot at the administration, which announced plans to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

It's a non-binding resolution and hence will have little impact. The rebuke to Washington thus was largely symbolic, not unlike Trump's decision itself. But anyone who knows how to make a deal- let alone who invented the "art of the deal-" could forsee the response. But unlike Kenny Rogers, the President does not know when to hold and when to fold. In fact

There are even signs that the heavy-handed threats backfired. Barak Ravid, a correspondent for Israel’s Channel 10 news, reported that Canada switched from voting against the resolution to abstaining in order to avoid looking like a puppet of the US.

One newspaper columnist observes "Perhaps the most important change precipitated by Trump’s move is that it has provoked the Palestinians to (probably) exclude any U.S. role as mediator. Without Jerusalem, no peace talks can resume." She has noted also "Trump's unilateral move on Jerusalem gained nothing for Israel, whose captial is and will remiain in the Holy City. It served only to stir up religious tensions and disturb the Christians whom Pence claims he cares for."

But Trump is no more ridiculous, and probably less so, than many anti-Zionists.  The Jerusalem Post reported that New Zealand singer/songwriter Lorde "posted on Twitter that she was planning a tour, including a stop in Israel, writing: “MOSCOW * ST. PETERSBURG * TEL AVIV * LET’S DANCE ——->.” The JP added "Dozens of fans responded negatively to the news, with many predictably urging her to cancel the show in Tel Aviv and support the boycott of Israel." (The artist cancelled the show, much to the regret of the Israeli public relations firm which was promoting it.)

The opposition included a letter from two New Zealanders suggesting Israel practiced apartheid more brutal than that previously seen in South Africa.  In response but prior to cancellation, Jeffrey Singer of the Forward noted

The writers of the letter, one Jewish and one Palestinian, compared Palestinian treatment in the West Bank to South African apartheid and noted the historic effectiveness of boycotting as a tactic. “Today, millions of people stand opposed to the Israeli government’s policies of oppression, ethnic cleansing, human rights violations, occupation and apartheid,” they wrote.

These charges are heavy indeed, and Lorde has responded that she is “considering all options.” Whatever the singer decides to do, her fans can rest easy knowing that they can enjoy her talents in multiple cities in Russia, a country that would never oppress, participate in ethnic cleansing, commit human rights violations or occupy anything — certainly not Chechnya, Georgia or Crimea. For justice-seeking Lorde fans who don’t mind repressed freedom of expression and a dearth of civil rights, there will always be Russia.

Israel is not South Africa, is not practicing apartheid, and if it were involved in ethnic cleansing, Arab Palestinians would be an historic relic by now. Those who would be satisfied if Israel were to vanish as a Jewish state undoubtedly would resist comparison to President Trump. However, their Mideast viewpoints, fueled by falsehood and hatred, are similarly extremist and unwise.

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