By Ameer Ali –
President Donald Trump, like the proverbial bull has entered the Jerusalem China shop and destroyed even the little piece that prevailed there after Arial Sharon’s provocative march into Al-Aqsa mosque compound in 2000 (six years after which he fell terminally ill, went into a coma, kept on life support until he was officially pronounced dead in 2014) and Israeli Occupation Authority’s attempt to install electronic gates at the entrance to the Al-Aqsa mosque in July 2017 which were forced to be after violent protests. However, Trump’s announcement to shift the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem should not come as surprise especially to Arab Muslim world. It was part of his election manifesto and the Arab leaders were well aware of his intension when he visited Saudi Arabia. One does not know what actually transpired in the discussion between the Saudi monarch and the president except the billion dollar arms deal. It is reasonable to assume that the embassy issue would have been raised by the president and equally reasonable to assume that the monarch in his enthusiasm to open trade relations with Israel and have access to Israeli technology would have given tacit approval to the shift by remaining silent at the least. This situation also applies to the rulers of Jordan, Egypt and other Gulf states who are also eager to talk peace with Israel. The devil is always in the detail. Why then this rhetorical outrage from these quarters now?
It is obvious and evidence is mounting that this announcement will not be received in silence by the Muslim masses. Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem is the third holiest mosque for the Muslims and it is emotionally and religiously inseparable from the Muslim psyche. The Islamist extremists in particular are bound to unleash another wave of violence and one can expect worldwide protest when the actual shift takes place. At least to demonstrate that they too are in sympathy with the masses these Arab leaders have to add their voices of disapproval for public consumption. Their rhetoric is a set piece of an otherwise sinister drama played out to protect the American Order in the Middle East. The White House and Israel would have factorised these rhetoric and violence in their strategic calculations.
There is some truth in the White House position when its sources said that its policy only reflects the reality on the ground in Jerusalem, which Holy Spot, gradually since 1967 and more determinedly after the so called Oslo Accord of 1993, has evolved into the cultural if not administrative capital of Israel. After surrendering to the diplomatic and strategic manoeuvres of the Americans in 1993 there is no point in PLO leadership protesting about the proposed shift now. PLO actually betrayed the cause of an independent and liberated Palestinian state in 1993. One can also be rest assured that the Arab leaders who are bitterly divided among themselves, who lack popular legitimacy to their rule and remains in power virtually at the behest of US support will tow the superpower’s line ultimately.
In the meantime, there may be some street protests in the US and even in the West by those who are genuinely sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and as part of an overall Anti-Trump phenomenon; but on the whole the American electorate is the most politically uninformed in the world and the state institutions and commercial media will see to that the protests do not escalate beyond the controllable limit. Even in Europe such protests would be tolerated only within certain limits.
The US allies in Europe and in the Oceania who are always more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian will for the time being keep their embassies in Tel Aviv but when the dusts settle after the initial wave of protests and violence, they too will shift their embassies to Jerusalem to reflect ‘the reality on the ground’ while continuing to sing the chorus of a meaningless two-state solution song. Of course none of the Muslim countries will dare to follow suit for a long time.
In the Israeli-Palestinian saga since 1948 the Palestinian cause was sold out by the Arab leaders especially after the 1970s and mostly in the interest of their own survival. This fact cannot be hidden from history and blaming the US, UK or Europe entirely for this tragedy is only an academic exercise. It is the behaviour of the Arab leaders that is largely responsible for the tragedy of the Palestinians. Israel used its brain and brawn powers to win their battles against the Arabs and the Arabs thought their moneyed power will be sufficient to defeat Israel. It is an uneven contest and Israel won its battles comprehensively and the Arabs lost humiliatingly. Having abandoned by their Arab brethren the fate of the Palestinians will be such that in the long run they would become the 21st century aborigines living in segregation in an apartheid Greater Israel.
Dr. Ameer Ali, School of Business and Governance, Murdoch University, Western Australia