By Mano Ratwatte –
A lot has been written about Trump’s decision to relocate the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel-Aviv. I am not sure why a lot of people are up in arms now when the US first recognized and declared that Jerusalem was the Capital City of Israel by passing a Congressional act in 1995. The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 is a public law of the USA passed by the 104th Congress on October 23, 1995. This has since been the position of the United States. This act was passed for the purposes of initiating and funding the relocation of the US Embassy in Israel no later than May 31, 1999. The act also called for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city and for it to be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel.(Source : Wikipedia entry verbatim)
There is no need to bash Trump because he pushed for it to actually happen because that act or public law already existed in US law. Trump did NOT do anything against US law and was fulfilling a campaign promise. Trump somewhat significantly owes his victory to the rightwing white evangelical born again type Christians. This is a key element in their extreme ideology. Therefore all he did was deliver on a campaign promise to his base. They use some Biblical arguments to justify this because they believe in something called the “End Times” based on their religion and apparently that has to occur in Israel or the Holy Land.
The difference is, that Presidents Clinton(President from 1992 to 2000), George W Bush(2000 to 2008) and Barack Hussein Obama(2008 to 2016) chose NOT to carry out this controversial plan because of other considerations. They had smart knowledgeable advisors and they were very prudent and they were not egged on by religious forces within the US.
Should have abstained?
Perhaps Sri Lanka erred by not abstaining? Will it now be punished by the US? Trump is a vindictive narcissistic man who takes everything personally and has hysterical twitter rages almost daily. After his UN Ambassador, the former Governor of South Carolina(an Accountancy graduate with zero foreign policy or diplomatic experience before she was made Ambassador) said “we will be taking names” I am sure a lot of people in the US power circles in Colombo who seem to want to interfere with even the writing of a constitution in Sri Lanka, would be irritated by Sri Lanka’s vote too and perhaps the leaders have been reprimanded already(who knows?).
The vote itself was symbolic to assuage the feelings of the Arab masses a lot of whom are in dictatorships or oppressive nations and lack resources or opportunities to be upwardly mobile because of many economic and resource reasons.
On one side, what the UN tried to do was tell a sovereign nation: the USA in this case, that it should model or adjust its internal policies to the will of the UN(sounds familiar when the UN overextends their writ? only difference is this time it is not like how they boss a tiny weak Island nation that had a long civil war trying to assert its sovereignty but the most powerful nation on earth).
On the other hand, it was imprudent for Trump to do it now, because the final question of a 2 state solution and share capital has not ever been settled. But the so called outrage in the Arab world was short lived as expected. Saudi Arabia in the throes of reform led by Mohammed Bin Salman(MBS), is signaling a willingness to work with their oldest western ally and protector the USA and Israel; their ideological enemy is the Persian Iran and they (and Israel) would love to get US involved in a war with Shia Iran.
Egypt and Jordan
One must realize that Israel has a right to exist despite Iranian threats to the contrary. It is important people in Sri Lanka know some facts: The two prudent smart former Arab belligerents : one of which is the most powerful Arab military; namely Egypt, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan both have fully fledged diplomatic ties with Israel. They also have thriving trade between them. Egypt has an Embassy in Tel-Aviv and a Consulate in Eilat. They too allowed the anger on the streets to manage an impression and let the youth vent their frustration. As feared, the protests dissipated quite quickly.
No matter how much the low information angry man in Sri Lanka shouts, note Egypt(military dictatorship) is the second largest recipient of US Aid and military equipment after Israel. This is to maintain the balance of power in the region.
Israel has committed many acts of violence against innocent Palestinians but nothing get accomplished by shouting “Death to Jews” and “Death to Israel” on the streets of feudal kingdoms or non-democratic Arab nations.
A more pragmatic approach will be what the Saudis secretly advocate now as well under MBS: a gradual thawing of relations with Israel and cooperation in fields of technology, science and education with one of the world’s leading hi-tech nations.
Please note, before someone bashes this author here, that India is in the same non-aligned ideological camp as Sri Lanka, has full diplomatic and booming military and trade relations(especially in the field of Agricultural and advanced military technology and Computers etc., with Israel(a democracy). India has had an Embassy in Tel-Aviv since 1992. Please note India is a secular democracy that is host to the third largest Muslim(not Arab, 183 million Muslims) population in the world(only Indonesia and Pakistan have more Muslims than India).
Remember India also voted for the resolution while it has thriving relations with Israel and USA both. No one demands that India breaks off those ties. Wish pragmatic Lankan leaders heeded what Late Chancellor Willy Brandt of West Germany meant when he said “Real politik”. Israel is here to stay as a thriving democracy. Won’t Sri Lanka benefit as well if it follows big brother India rather than remaining overtly hostile to Israel?
It is a fervent hope that a Palestine can one day also be a thriving democracy side by side like their Jewish Cousins and all the hate and violence from all sides disappear for good. If Saudi Arabia reforms and takes the lead perhaps there can be real change by the obdurate Israelis as well. Israel is surrounded mostly by hostile Arab nations who just want to use the Palestinian problem to their own advantage and not really keen on seeing a two-state solution.
And then if all the Sri Lankans who write to CT support a Palestinian state, logically should it not at least also support Autonomy or a Quebec like Solution in Sri Lanka as well? What is the difference in the demands of Tamil speakers and Palestinians?