Trump’s Israel Embassy Move Didn’t Have To Be Done On This Day, In This Way, With Entirely Foreseeable Consequences
President Sidesteps Blame For Wild Violence Accompanying The Opening Of U.S. Embassy In Jerusalem; In Fact, He’s Become The Hero Of This Story To Many Conservative Christians And Jews.
In the end, according to Palestinian Health Officials as quoted by Reuters, 58 people were killed by Israeli forces, and 2,700 were injured on this one day, all or almost all of them Palestinian residents of Gaza who approached or attempted to cross a border fence. This as the ceremony opening the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem went off as planned almost simultaneously.
We found this report from Declan Walsh in the New York Times to be the most complete of any we came across. Here’s a photo of the area around that border fence between Gaza and Israel from that New York Times story (there are a lot more good photos in the story):
What followed was an exercise in laying blame; a “war of words”, most of which was split along the following two lines:
- Either Hamas (which controls Gaza, and gets a lot of support from Iran) was trying to maximize casualties by encouraging (maybe even forcing) people (maybe even terrorists) to attempt to breach a sovereign border with force.
- Or that Israel’s military used excessive force against a largely unarmed or under-armed group of protestors.
The Trump Administration firmly endorsed the first depiction. Watch White House Spokesperson Raj Shah (Click on the photo to play):
Response from other countries ranged from outright condemnation of Israel (South Africa, Turkey), to a more balanced approach from some European allies: tough words for Hamas, but also stern suggestions Israel needs to cool it. The German Foreign Office saying: “Israel has the right to defend itself and to secure the fence against violent incursion. However, the principle of proportionality applies.”
We were surprised at how few people addressed the reckless urgency with which Trump felt the need to open the Embassy, and the fanfare that accompanied it. (Although the New York Times’ Michelle Goldberg did write of “Ivanka Trump smiling in Jerusalem like a Zionist Marie Antoinette”).
We reject the view that maybe things did get a little out of control, but basically there was nothing to do but let it play out.
Even if you agree that Trump’s relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is the right move (which we do), we believe there are lots of things the President could’ve done that might’ve left far fewer people dead (regardless of whose fault it is):
- Instead of making a unilateral move, the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem could’ve been part of peace talks aimed at forging a two state solution with East Jerusalem eventually becoming the capital of Palestine. (We talked to people today who felt like this outcome would’ve been even worse, or would’ve taken too long, or we are naive to even consider that this might’ve been possible).
- This didn’t have to be done on the eve of the 70th Anniversary of the the day referred to by Palestinians as Naqba or “Catastrophe” when hundreds of thousands fled or were forced to become refugees without a country after Israel declared independence. This day each year is already often marked by violence.
- This wasn’t the unveiling of a sparkling new Embassy that required a Gala Grand Opening. This was Trump’s (somewhat ingenious) quick and dirty retrofit and reinforcement of an already-existing U.S. Consulate. Meaning the “new” Embassy could’ve just quietly opened for business. This wouldn’t have been a weak move, it could’ve been the epitome of “walk softly and carry a big stick”. But Trump doesn’t do things that way.
Trump Tweeted only:
Some in Congress had a bit more to say:
Meadows’ words are carefully chosen, and are probably not just political in nature. Because according to Biblical prophesy, having Jerusalem as Israel’s “true undivided capital” is a precondition to the Second Coming. So are “wars and rumor of wars”.