Archive for the ‘U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem’ category

UN Security Council Bashes Trump’s Jerusalem Decision

December 11, 2017

UN Security Council Bashes Trump’s Jerusalem Decision, FrontPage MagazineJoseph Klein, December 11, 2017

(Please see also, Defiant Haley chides fuming Security Council members: ‘Change is hard. — DM)

Whichever provisions of Resolution 2334 are legally binding on Israel and all other UN member states, President Trump’s December 6th decision does not have any bearing on the sensitive issue of Israeli settlements or on Israel’s claims to sovereignty over “East Jerusalem.” Thus, invoking this infamous anti-Israeli resolution in the context of President Trump’s decision is a red herring.

“Over many years,” Ambassador Haley said in her remarks to the Security Council, the United Nations has been one of the world’s “foremost centers of hostility towards Israel.”  The Security Council became a kangaroo court on Friday, turning a perverted version of “international law” against the Trump administration for its just defense of the Jewish state of Israel and Israel’s right to choose its own capital as every other member state has the right to do.

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On December 6th, President Trump announced his decision to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to instruct the State Department to begin the process of relocating the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Two days later, at a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council, the other 14 members of the Council, including U.S. allies such as France, the United Kingdom and Italy, ganged up on the United States to condemn President Trump’s decision. Allies and adversaries of the U.S., one after the other, claimed that President Trump’s decision had defied international consensus on how to achieve a viable two-state solution, violated international law and risked destabilizing the region as well as imperiling the peace process. Bolivia’s ambassador was the most strident, demanding that the Security Council take action against President Trump’s decision if it wanted to avoid becoming “an occupied territory.

To add insult to injury, the UN ambassadors from five member states of the European Union – the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Sweden and Germany – further criticized President Trump’s decision in a joint statement they read following the adjournment of the Security Council meeting. They claimed the decision “is not in line with Security Council resolutions and is unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region.”

U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, stood her ground in her remarks to the Security Council. She chastised those “countries that lack any credibility when it comes to treating both Israelis and Palestinians fairly.” All President Trump had done, she explained, was to formally acknowledge the reality that for nearly 70 years “the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of the State of Israel, despite many attempts by others to deny that reality. Jerusalem is the home of Israel’s parliament, president, prime minister, Supreme Court, and many of its ministries. It is simple common sense that foreign embassies be located there.”

President Trump’s change in American policy to reflect this reality does not mean that the United States has taken a position on the specific boundaries or borders within Jerusalem as a whole. “The specific dimensions of sovereignty over Jerusalem are still to be decided by the Israelis and the Palestinians in negotiations,” Ambassador Haley said.

Notably, President Trump’s announcement specifically called for maintaining the status quo at the holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. There is not even the slightest hint that the U.S. would be moving its embassy to the Old City or to any part of “East Jerusalem.” However, the critics of President Trump’s decision refuse to allow for the possibility of a U.S. embassy located anywhere at all in the entire city of Jerusalem – even in what is now referred to as “West Jerusalem,” which is an undisputed section of Jerusalem.

“Israel, like all nations, has the right to determine its capital city,” Ambassador Haley said. “In virtually every country in the world, U.S. embassies are located in the host country’s capital city. Israel should be no different.”

The principal objections to President Trump’s decision are that it sets back the chances for a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the two-state solution, it is apt to destabilize and trigger violence in the region and beyond, and it violates international law.

The first two objections can be given short shrift. For seventy years, there has been no peace because the Palestinians have consistently pursued an absolutist policy rejecting the idea of a Jewish state living side by side with an Arab state. The Palestinians and their Arab state neighbors rejected the partition recommended in UN General Assembly Resolution 181 in 1947. The Palestinians did not declare an independent state of their own when they had the chance. They embarked instead on a campaign of violence. Hamas, Palestinian President Abbas’s coalition partner, still calls for Israel’s destruction. Abbas, who has incited sectarian violence and rewards terrorists, spurned a peace offer from Israel in 2008 that would have resulted in Israel’s withdrawal from virtually all of the West Bank and the relinquishment of Israeli control of Jerusalem’s Old City in favor of placing it under international control. Abbas has refused to this day to agree to direct unconditional negotiations with Israel, a position which long preceded President Trump’s decision.

As for the violence that critics of President Trump’s decision seek to lay at his feet, violence has indeed erupted, not only in the Middle East but elsewhere including Europe. However, President Trump’s decision is being used as a pretext for such behavior that Palestinians and Islamists throughout the world have displayed time and again. We have seen excuses for violence ranging from cartoons and an obscure anti-Muslim video to the installation of metal detectors at the Temple Mount (despite the presence of metal detectors at mosques in other countries). Foreign policy and national security decisions cannot be held hostage to mob rule. Giving in to threats of a violent reaction will only encourage the increased use of such threats to thwart other controversial decisions.

Turning to the objection to President Trump’s decision based on “international law,” the critics have claimed that his declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem violate a whole host of UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. Sovereignty over Jerusalem, they have argued, is a “final status” issue to be negotiated between the parties themselves. They have argued this position while also holding on to the characterization of “East Jerusalem” as part of the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” in the various UN resolutions they cite. In short, the Israel bashers have no problem exploiting UN resolutions to pre-determine the final status of “East Jerusalem,” which contains the holy sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, as belonging to the Palestinians.

Moreover, the UN resolutions that the critics of President Trump’s decision rely upon to support their objections on “legal” grounds do little to help their case. As a matter of international law, there is nothing in the United Nations Charter that grants the General Assembly any power that would render its resolutions, declarations, or recommendations legally binding or enforceable. In any case, the Palestinians and their Arab state neighbors, including Jordan, which illegally seized and annexed the Old City of Jerusalem in 1948, completely rejected the original UN two-state partition resolution, Resolution 181. Their attempt to invoke that resolution or subsequent General Assembly resolutions now to rationalize their position on international law grounds is specious at best.

President Trump’s critics also point for support of their position to UN Security Council resolutions stating that East Jerusalem is part of the “Occupied Palestinian Territories,” declaring Israel’s settlements in East Jerusalem to be illegal, concluding that Israel’s assertion of sovereignty over a unified Jerusalem is null and void, and calling upon member states to withdraw their embassies from the Holy City of Jerusalem.  These resolutions were not explicitly adopted in the exercise of the Security Council’s Chapter VII enforcement powers, which is significant in determining whether they are legally binding unless they are expressly framed as “decisions” of the Council or, at the very least, use such words as “demand” in the applicable provisions. Words and phrases such as “calls upon,” “urges,” “reaffirms,” “underlines,” and “stresses” are deemed insufficient by legal experts in the field to reflect an intention on the part of the Security Council to create a legally binding obligation on any of the member states of the UN.

Many of the ambassadors speaking at Friday’s Security Council meeting invoked Security Council Resolution 478 as a principal basis for declaring President Trump’s decision to be in violation of international law. However, Resolution 478 used the word “decides” only in the context of refusing to recognize Israel’s “Basic Law” declaring Israeli sovereignty over the “Holy City of Jerusalem” and “such other actions by Israel that, as a result of this law, seek to alter the character and status of Jerusalem.” Resolution 478 then “calls upon” (not demands) the member states “to accept this decision,” which means it is up to each member state to agree or not. Moreover, Resolution 478 only “calls upon” the member states “that have established diplomatic missions at Jerusalem to withdraw such missions from the Holy City.” Again, this does not constitute a legally binding obligation. Moreover, it would not appear to apply explicitly to the western sector of Jerusalem, outside of the Old City where the holy sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are located.

President Trump’s decision in no way is inconsistent with Resolution 478. To the contrary, as discussed above, President Trump specifically called for maintaining the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem and left it to Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate the final status of the boundary lines within Jerusalem as a whole. President Trump’s announcement of the intent to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, particularly if relocated outside of the boundaries of the Old City as it most certainly will be, would not be enjoined by Resolution 478’s express provisions, which are not legally binding in any event. Moreover, it is way too premature to consider the legality of such a move since it is likely to take three years or more to occur.

The critics also have referred to Security Council Resolution 2334, passed at the end of last year after the Obama administration decided to abstain rather than exercise its veto power. Resolution 2334 principally addresses Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, which, as in previous resolutions, are said to include “East Jerusalem.” It states that “the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.” Although most of the resolution’s operative paragraphs use non-binding words and phrases such as “calls upon,” the resolution does once refer to the Security Council’s “demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard.” (Emphasis added)

Whichever provisions of Resolution 2334 are legally binding on Israel and all other UN member states, President Trump’s December 6th decision does not have any bearing on the sensitive issue of Israeli settlements or on Israel’s claims to sovereignty over “East Jerusalem.” Thus, invoking this infamous anti-Israeli resolution in the context of President Trump’s decision is a red herring.

“Over many years,” Ambassador Haley said in her remarks to the Security Council, the United Nations has been one of the world’s “foremost centers of hostility towards Israel.”  The Security Council became a kangaroo court on Friday, turning a perverted version of “international law” against the Trump administration for its just defense of the Jewish state of Israel and Israel’s right to choose its own capital as every other member state has the right to do.

US must include “sovereignty” in Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act.

December 11, 2017

US must include “sovereignty” in Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act., Israel National News, David Bedein, December 10, 2017

(Please see also, U.S. Still Won’t List Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital on Official Docs, Passports, Maps. — DM)

The time is opportune to amend the US Embassy Relocation Act, so as to clarify the permanent legal status of Israel in Jerusalem to be in tune with what President Trump said when declaring Jerusalem the official capital of Israel.

The real challenge will be whether the U.S. will do so.

Such a policy change remains much more significant than the move of the U.S. embassy.

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President Trump did Israel a favor when he delayed the US embassy move to Jerusalem.  

Current wording of the US Embassy Relocation Act would move the embassy to Jerusalem, yet deprive Israel of sovereignty in Jerusalem. 

The U.S. Embassy Relocation Act does not officially recognize Jerusalem as part of Israel. The wording of Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act in 1995, as passed into law, reads as follows:

(1) Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected.

(2) Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of Israel.

As a journalist, I cover ed events in the US capitol when Congress passed the “US Embassy Jerusalem and Recognition Act” in October 1995

There was speculation at the time that the US would abandon its policy from 1948 that all of Jerusalem must be a “corpus separatum”– an international zone apart from Israel.

Yet the final wording of the US Embassy Jerusalem and Recognition Act removed references to Jerusalem as part of Israel and gave no assurance that Jerusalem would remain the exclusive capital of Israel.

Instead, the US Embassy Relocation Act reinforced two archaic rules of US policy which date from 1948: Not to recognize Jerusalem as part of Israel, and to define Jerusalem as an “international zone”.

The assassination of the UN envoy to Jerusalem in September 1948 suspended negotiations over the status of Jerusalem. However, nothing canceled these US policies.

The implications of the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act are not lost on American citizens whose children were born in Jerusalem and whose children’s U.S. passports said “Jerusalem”, with no country listed, as their place of birth. For that reason, American citizens in Jerusalem initiated a class action lawsuit which reached the U.S. Supreme Court last year, with a demand to stamp Jerusalem, Israel on their passports.

The family of Ben Blutstein, an American student murdered by a terror bomb in July 2002 while having lunch in the Frank Sinatra cafeteria at the Hebrew University, still cannot get the US State Department to allow his US death certificate to read “Jerusalem, Israel.”

Spokespeople of the US State Department made it clear that under current law, even if the US embassy moves to Jerusalem, US birth and death certificates will still be stamped ” Jerusalem”, with no country.

If the US embassy moves to Jerusalem under current law, that would establish a “de jure” precedent that the embassy could move – yet with no Israel sovereignty in Jerusalem.

If the US still does not recognize Jerusalem as part of Israel, the next time Israel objects to an Arab education curriculum in Jerusalem, and the next time Israel objects to a given policy at the  Temple Mount , the US can repeat the mantra  that “Jerusalem does not belong to you.”

Why, then, the vocal Arab resentment and the overwhelming Jewish enthusiasm over the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act?
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It is doubtful whether either side has read the wording of the legislation.

The time is opportune to amend the US Embassy Relocation Act, so as to clarify the permanent legal status of Israel in Jerusalem to be in tune with what President Trump said when declaring Jerusalem the official capital of Israel..

The real challenge will be whether the U.S. will do so.

Such a policy change remains much more significant than the move of the U.S. embassy.

Defiant Haley chides fuming Security Council members: ‘Change is hard’

December 9, 2017

Defiant Haley chides fuming Security Council members: ‘Change is hard’, Times of Israel, December 8, 2017

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley delivers a speech during a United Nations Security Council meeting on December 8, 2017 in New York City (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images/AFP)

In a Wednesday address from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.

The move was hailed by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.

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At an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday, the US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said President Donald Trump knew his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would raise “questions and concerns,” but that he took it to advance peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

“I understand the concerns that members have in calling this session,” Haley said. “Change is hard.”

Washington’s move left it isolated as one after another fellow UN Security Council members — Russia, France, the UK, China, Egypt, Jordan and a host of others — condemned the announcement.

The debate unfolded at a largely symbolic emergency meeting of the council — no vote on a resolution was planned, as the US has veto power — two days after Trump reversed two decades of US policy on the holy city.

The meeting was convened by eight of the 14 non-US members of the council. It seemed a vivid show of the discord triggered by Trump’s announcement, which included plans to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Asked what he expected to come from the UN meeting, one diplomat said: “Nothing.” Another said the session would show US “isolation” on the issue.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks with Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon before a United Nations Security Council on December 8, 2017 in New York City. (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images/AFP)

Haley said Washington was more committed to peace “than we’ve ever been before — and we believe we might be closer to that goal than ever before.”

Haley said anyone who used Washington’s actions as a pretext for violence was “only showing” they were not partners for peace.

She noted that past Israeli-Palestinian agreements have been signed on the White House lawn, and that if there is a new agreement, there is “a good likelihood” it will be signed there as well, “because the United States has credibility of both sides.”

At the meeting, the UN coordinator for the Middle East peace process warned Security Council members of a risk of “violent escalation.”

Nickolay Mladenov warned that if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict isn’t resolved, “it risks being engulfed in the vortex of religious radicalism throughout the Middle East.”

A Palestinian protestor uses a sling shot to throw stones towards Israeli security forces during clashes after the Friday prayers in the city center of the West Bank town of Hebron on December 8, 2017. (AFP/Hazem Bader)

Mladenov spoke of “a serious risk” of “a chain of unilateral actions” that would push the goal of peace further away. He pointed to the latest clashesbetween Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces and some calls for a new intifada, or uprising.

Mladenov also reiterated Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s words that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be resolved through direct negotiations and that “there is no Plan B to the two-state solution.”

Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour spoke of the “global consensus” against Washington’s recognition and said Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ultimately move the US embassy there should be reconsidered and rescinded.

Palestinian envoy to the UN Riyad Mansour at the UN Security Council, December 8, 2017 (United Nations)

“There can be no just and lasting solution to the Palestine question without a just solution” to Jerusalem, he said, calling the city “the heart of Palestine.”

Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told the council the Trump declaration was “a positive step.”

He called on council members to “send a clear message there is never an excuse for violence. Violence must never be used as a threat.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon holds up an ancient coin from Jerusalem during his address to the UN Security Council debate on Jerusalem, December 8, 2017 (UN Photo/Eskinder DebebeIsrael)

Danon said the recognition of Jerusalem “should serve as a reality check for the Palestinians and for the nations of the world” that “recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a critical and necessary step for peace.”

Danon held up an ancient coin from Jerusalem during his speech, and said that King David made Jerusalem his capital 3,000 years ago.

The British ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, said flat out that Britain disagreed with Trump’s move.

“These decisions are unhelpful for the prospects for peace in the region,” Rycroft said.

He urged Trump to now come up with detailed proposals for an Israel-Palestinian peace accord, a goal which has eluded the US and the international community for decades.

In a Wednesday address from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.

The move was hailed by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.

The Real Palestinian Response to Trump’s Jerusalem Speech

December 7, 2017

The Real Palestinian Response to Trump’s Jerusalem Speech, Gatestone InstituteBassam Tawil, December 7, 2017

Recently, more than 300 Muslim worshipers were massacred by Muslim terrorists while praying in a mosque in Sinai, Egypt. That tragedy was probably covered by fewer journalists than the orchestrated Trump-poster episode in Bethlehem. Where was the outcry in the Arab and Islamic world? Now, Arabs and Muslims are talking about “days of rage” in protest against Trump. Why were there no “days of rage” in the Arab and Islamic countries when more than 300 worshipers, many of them children, were massacred during Friday prayers?

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By misrepresenting the poster burning “ceremony” as a reflection of widespread Palestinian rage concerning Trump’s policy on Jerusalem, the international media is once again complicit in promoting the propaganda of Palestinian spin doctors. The journalists, including photographers and camera crews, have been handed detailed schedules of events that will take place in different parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

When we sit in our living rooms and watch the news coming out of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, let us ask ourselves: How many of these “events” are, in fact, media burlesques? Why are journalists allowing themselves to be duped by the Palestinian propaganda machine, which spews hatred and violence from morning until night?

It is high time for some self-reflection on the part of the media: Do they really wish to continue serving as a mouthpiece for those Arabs and Muslims who intimidate and terrorize the West?

The “rivers of blood” we are being promised are flowing as we speak. Yet, it is the knife that Arabs and Muslims take to one another’s throats that is the source of this crimson current, not some statement made by a US president. Perhaps that could finally be an event worth covering by the roving reporters of the region?

A short three hours after US President Donald Trump phoned Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to inform him of his intention to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a number of Palestinian photojournalists received a phone call from Bethlehem.

The callers were Palestinian “activists,” who invited the photographers to come to the city to document an “important event.” When the photographers arrived, they discovered that the “important event” was a handful of Palestinian “activists” who wanted to burn posters of Trump in front of the cameras.

The “activists” waited patiently as the photojournalists and cameramen set up their equipment to get the “important event” on film. Shortly thereafter, the media was abuzz with reports about “angry Palestinian protesters taking to the streets to protest” Trump’s intention to move the embassy to Jerusalem and his recognition of the city as the capital of Israel. The handful of Palestinians who were filmed burning the Trump pictures were made to look as if they were part of a mass protest sweeping Palestinian communities.

The handful of Palestinians in Bethlehem who were filmed burning pictures of U.S. President Donald Trump on December 6 were made by the media to look as if they were part of a mass protest sweeping Palestinian communities. (Image source: CBS News video screenshot)

The incident represents yet another example of the collusion between the Palestinians and the media, whose representatives are always more than happy to serve as mouthpieces for the Palestinian propaganda machine and provide an open platform for broadcasting Palestinian threats against Israel and the US.

Had the photographers and cameramen not shown up to the erstwhile “spontaneous” poster-burning event, the Palestinian activists would have been forced to quietly slink back to one of Bethlehem’s fine coffee shops.

Yet, there was no worry on that score: the Palestinian activists are well aware that local and foreign reporters are starving for sensationalism — and what better fits the bill than posters of Trump going up in flames in the middle of the birthplace of Jesus, on the eve of Christmas and as thousands of Christian pilgrims and tourists are converging on the city?

By misrepresenting the poster burning “ceremony” as a reflection of widespread Palestinian rage concerning Trump’s policy on Jerusalem, the international media is once again complicit in promoting the propaganda of Palestinian spin doctors. Palestinian leaders and spokesmen strive to create the impression that Trump’s policy regarding Jerusalem will bring the region down in flames. They also seek to send a message to the American people that their president’s policies endanger their lives. In effect, the media has volunteered to serve the Palestinian campaign of intimidation. And the media convergence on the poster-burning farce in Bethlehem is just the beginning.

Now that the Palestinians have managed, with the help of the media, to burn these images into the minds of millions of Americans, they are planning more staged protests. The goal: to terrify the American public and force Trump to rescind his decision regarding the status of Jerusalem. This tactic of intimidation through the media is not new. In fact, it is something that has been happening for decades, largely thanks to the buy-in of the mainstream media in the West.

Now, Palestinian and Western journalists have been invited to cover a series of protests planned by the Palestinians in the coming days and weeks in response to Trump’s policies. The journalists, including photographers and camera crews, have been handed detailed schedules of events that will take place in different parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The journalists have been promised more scenes of burning photos of Trump and US flags. Some of the journalists have even received tips as to the locations where “clashes” are supposed to take place between Palestinian rioters and Israel Defense Forces soldiers. In other words, the journalists have been told precisely where they need to be in order to document Palestinians throwing stones at the soldiers — and the predicted the IDF response.

Here is the funny part. If, for whatever reason, the cameras are a no-show, the “activists” are likely to be as well. In the Palestinian world, it is all about manipulating the media and recruiting it in favor of the cause. And the cause is always bashing Israel — with bashing Trump not far behind.

Yes, the Palestinians will protest in the coming days against Trump. Yes, they will take to the streets and throw stones at IDF soldiers. Yes, they will burn pictures of Trump and US flags. And yes, they will try to carry out terror attacks against Israelis.

But when we sit in our living rooms and watch the news coming out of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, let us ask ourselves: How many of these “events” are, in fact, media burlesques? Why are journalists allowing themselves to be duped by the Palestinian propaganda machine, which spews hatred and violence from morning until night? And, why are the journalists exaggerating and compounding the Palestinian threats for violence and anarchy?

First, many of the journalists want to appease their readers and editors by offering them stories that reflect negatively on Israel. Second, some of the journalists believe that writing anti-Israel stories paves the way for them to win awards from assorted professed “virtue-signaling” organizations. Third, many journalists believe that writing anti-Israel reports give them access to so-called “liberals” and a supposedly “enlightened” coterie who romanticize being “on the right side of history.” They do not want to see that 21 Muslim states have been trying for many decades to destroy one Jewish state; instead, they appear to think that if journalists are “liberal” and “open-minded,” they need to support the “underdog,” who they believe are “the Palestinians.” Fourth, many of the journalists see the conflict as being between bad guys (supposedly the Israelis) and good guys (supposedly the Palestinians) and that it is their duty to stand with the “good guys,” even if the “good guys” are engaged in violence and terrorism.

Recently, more than 300 Muslim worshipers were massacred by Muslim terrorists while praying in a mosque in Sinai, Egypt. That tragedy was probably covered by fewer journalists than the orchestrated Trump-poster episode in Bethlehem. Where was the outcry in the Arab and Islamic world? Now, Arabs and Muslims are talking about “days of rage” in protest against Trump. Why were there no “days of rage” in the Arab and Islamic countries when more than 300 worshipers, many of them children, were massacred during Friday prayers?

It is high time for some self-reflection on the part of the media: Do they really wish to continue serving as a mouthpiece for those Arabs and Muslims who intimidate and terrorize the West?

Journalists are actively colluding with the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to create the false impression that World War III will erupt if the US embassy is moved to Jerusalem. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Christians have been massacred since the beginning of the “Arab Spring” more than six years ago. They were killed by Muslim terrorists and other Arabs. The bloodshed continues to this day in Yemen, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Egypt.

So, make no mistake about it: the “rivers of blood” we are being promised are flowing as we speak. Yet, it is the knife that Arabs and Muslims take to one another’s throats that is the source of this crimson current, not some statement made by a US president. Perhaps that could finally be an event worth covering by the roving reporters of the region?

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.

Days of Media Rage about Jerusalem

December 7, 2017

Days of Media Rage about Jerusalem, Washington Free Beacon, December 6, 2017

A picture taken from the Mount of Olives shows the Old City of Jerusalem with the Dome of the Rock mosque in the centre / Getty Images

I lived in Jerusalem, Israel, for two happy years, and much of my work ever since has involved U.S.-Israel relations. I should know better, yet still I am surprised at the rending of garments and apocalyptic predictions pouring forth from western pundits over something that will not change a single stone in the holy city, or a single person’s access to its holy sites, or a single border—and that overwhelming majorities of Congress and virtually every president and presidential candidate has endorsed for decades. Chalk it up in part to the hysteria that has characterized our political debates in the past two years, and also in part to the enormous influence that former Obama administration officials have in setting media narratives and frames for covering issues on which the current president repudiates the approach of the previous one. So here are some notes of calm, in no particular order:

  1. One of the first arguments critics make against recognizing Jerusalem is that it would so anger the Palestinians that the peace process would never recover. But the Palestinians have rejected every offer of statehood, and have not been willing to engage in real talks with Israel since the Bush administration. They’re already unwilling to negotiate, and were especially unwilling during the Obama years, when the president was openly acting as their advocate. If they are so incensed that the United States is finally acknowledging the plain fact that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel that they will never talk again, it tells us that a negotiated agreement was never possible in the first place. Despite the likelihood of protests and perhaps some violence in the next few days, U.S. recognition of Jerusalem will actually promote peace in the long run because it will help disabuse the Arab world of its fantasy of Israeli impermanence. It will also show Palestinians for the very first time that their rejectionism has costs, and will not permanently paralyze U.S. policy toward Israel. The cause of peace is weakened so long as the Arab self-delusion about Israel’s impermanence is encouraged by U.S. policy.
  2. Another argument common among Middle East pseudo-sophisticates is that recognizing Jerusalem would drive a wedge between Israel and the Arab states, right at the moment when the threat from Iran is bringing them together. This sounds plausible, but the opposite is probably true. The Arab states’ recent rapprochement with Israel is not ideological—it is expedient, because the Arabs are comparatively weak and are seeking protection from a stronger power. Israel’s embrace of U.S. recognition doesn’t change this reality. Indeed, by confidently demonstrating its willingness to assume risk, and by showing its closeness to America, Israel’s attractiveness to the Arab states who need its help against Iran only increases. Arab regimes will howl in public, but in private they will understand that only a strong, determined country can protect them. And that understanding will draw them closer to Israel.
  3. The most craven argument against recognition is that it will spark Arab violence. This argument is being aggressively promoted by former Obama administration officials and their media allies, and by Palestinian and Jordanian officials, who barely attempt to conceal their mau-mauing of western countries with threats of rioting and terrorism. The United States’ response to this tactic should be to tell them to pound sand. The United States cannot allow Middle Eastern rent-a-mobs to exercise a veto over our foreign policy, especially not on an issue in which the threat of violence originates in the rank anti-Semitism of Islamists who deny Jewish history in Israel and Jewish political rights in the region. If the King of Jordan wants to send crowds of his subjects into the streets to riot, that is his problem. What has been pathetic and depressing to witness is the astounding number of western reporters and pundits who are happy to retail a messaging campaign that is barely distinguishable from blackmail.

Just got this in my in box from Ayman Odeh, leading Arab Israeli member of parliament: “Trump is a pyromaniac who could set the entire region on fire with his madness.

Apparently defying his national security advisers and the counsel of all our allies but one, @POTUS recklessly and needlessly lights a fuse that could further inflame the Middle East.http://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/05/world/middleeast/american-embassy-israel-trump-move.html 

    1. Speaking of westerners who are happy to promote Islamist blackmail: The hypocrisy of their sudden concern for violence in the Middle East can only be described as shameless. The very same people—the Obama administration officials and their media and think tank friends—who made endless excuses for doing nothing about the mass slaughter in Syria or Iran’s takeover of Iraq/fueling of war in Yemen, and who cheered the nuclear deal with Iran, which filled the coffers of the leading state sponsor of terror with billions and put it on a glide path to nuclear weapons—these very same people are now so concerned about peace and stability in the Middle East that they need fainting couches over a speech that recognizes Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. How stupid do they think we are?

A final thought: what to make of the hysterics from the peace-process guild, that class of Washington analysts, diplomats, and former officials who have made careers of attempting to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace? Their supercilious denunciations of Trump’s announcement mask an undercurrent of fear – fear for the loss of their own status. They understand, I think, that for them, recognizing Jerusalem represents much more than a discrete policy change. It raises fundamental questions about a cherished multi-decade American diplomatic project, one that has been a pillar of Democratic foreign policy since the early 1990s.

Through three administrations, the script has remained the same: America brokers talks in which the parties reach compromises on the issues of Jerusalem, borders, refugees, settlements, and security, at which point an agreement is signed and everyone involved receives the Nobel Peace Prize and recognition in history as consequential statesmen. Needless to say, this script hasn’t worked. There is not a single issue on which the two sides have ever come close to reaching an agreement.

But for the peace process guild, that’s not a problem. The important thing is to keep trying, to remain guardians of the issue, and to treat alternative approaches with so much contempt and ridicule that they are never given serious consideration.

In recognizing Jerusalem, Trump is showing that this tired script need not be followed—and that this tired guild need not be obeyed. The peace process community correctly recognizes that Trump’s announcement is not just a policy change, but an attack on their authority. And so they are desperate for it to fail, and one senses based on their breathless tweeting over the past few days that many in this community would experience enormous schadenfreude should the coming days be marked by rioting and terror. Any other outcome makes them look like fearmongers, and delegitimizes the other counsel they dispense.

If a president can show that adherence to the traditional confines of the peace process is unnecessary on Jerusalem, why can’t he do it on other issues? Trump’s announcement is not significant in terms of changing facts on the ground, because Jerusalem has always been Israel’s capital. But it may be very significant for the peace process and the network of experts, think tanks, journalists, politicians, diplomats, and ex-officials who have so much vanity and prestige invested in protecting a failed understanding of the region.

Netanyahu Thanks Trump for ‘Historic Decision’ to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

December 6, 2017

Netanyahu Thanks Trump for ‘Historic Decision’ to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital, Washington Free Beacon, December 6, 2017

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday thanked President Donald Trump for his “historic decision” to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying it will advance peace in the Middle East.

“President Trump, thank you for today’s historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” Netanyahu said in a video statement. “The Jewish people and the Jewish state will be forever grateful.”

Netanyahu noted that Jerusalem “has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years” and the capital of Israel for nearly 70 years, describing how the city has been the focus of the Jewish people’s “hopes, dreams, and prayers” for three millennia.

Netanyahu’s comments came shortly after Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, calling the move an “overdue step” for peace efforts between the Jewish state and the Palestinians. Trump also said that he is directing the State Department to make preparations to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Several world leaders, particularly from Europe and the Middle East, have criticized Trump’s decision and said that it will lead to violence. Palestinian factions have called for “three days of rage” over the announcement.

“The president’s decision is an important step towards peace, for there is no peace that doesn’t include Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel,” said Netanyahu, who called on all countries to join the U.S. in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move their embassies to the city.

Netanyahu reiterated his commitment to advancing peace with the Palestinians and all of Israel’s neighbors, adding that the Israeli government will continue to work with the Trump administration “to make that dream of peace come true.”

The prime minister also addressed specific concerns over Trump’s remarks, making clear that “there will be no change whatsoever to the status quo at the holy sites” in Jerusalem.

“Israel will always ensure freedom of worship for Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike,” Netanyahu said.

The Israeli leader called Trump’s announcement “courageous” and said it will advance peace.

“We’re profoundly grateful for the president for his courageous and just decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to prepare for the opening of the U.S. embassy here,” Netanyahu said. “This decision reflects the president’s commitment to an ancient but enduring truth, to fulfilling his promises and to advancing peace.”

President Trump Gives a Statement on Jerusalem

December 6, 2017

President Trump Gives a Statement on Jerusalem, The White House via YouTube, December 6, 2017