Donald Trump’s Jerusalem move, recognizing it as Israel’s capital, is now official.
As typical of Trump, he ignored pleas from many against the action. This decision is one more act putting the US outside the global consensus since Trump took office.
In June, the US announced it would withdraw from the Paris climate accord. Other hold-outs included Syria and Nicaragua. Both joined the agreement later.
A few days ago, the US announced it would not be part of the Global Compact on Migration. This withdrawal was yet another isolating move for a nation of immigrants
However, the Jerusalem move is a far more dangerous decision. The risks of the act are because of Jerusalem’s historical significance.
Jerusalem Move: Historical Significance
Jerusalem is a city that is historically significant to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Jesus, Abraham, and Muhammad are all past and present presences in the city.
Therefore, for Christians, Jews, and Muslims, the city is a holy city. Unsurprisingly, since Israel’s 1948 establishment as a state, Jerusalem’s status has been a touchy issue.
Initially, the UN declared Jerusalem as an international city. Although Israel moved many government bodies to West Jerusalem, it was not until after the 1967 war that it was able to annex East Jerusalem.
Still, most countries – including the US – kept their embassies in Tel Aviv. By recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and promising an eventual move of the US embassy there, Trump has isolated the US as a grenade-thrower in the peace process.
Jerusalem Move: Threat to Peace
In 2000, a visit by an Israeli right-wing politician to Jerusalem’s sacred sites led to a long and violent conflict. The fighting claimed 3,000 Palestinian and 1,000 Israeli lives over five years.
After Trump’s decision, there are likely to be more clashes in the region. With Israeli military and technological superiority, it is unlikely that Palestinians will inflict severe damage on Israel.
Far more likely, in my opinion, are the broader threats.
First, if there were any illusions of US even-handedness on the Arab-Israeli dispute, Trump’s Jerusalem decision would dispel such misconceptions.
Second, “extremists and nuts” will use Trump’s Jerusalem move as recruiting and motivating tools for violence. Regions even outside the Arab world could be affected.
Third, it will be hard for Arab and Muslim moderates to be close to the US overtly. Anti-Americanism is bound to rise.
Nevertheless, perhaps that is why Trump made the Jerusalem move.
Jerusalem Move: Deadly Diversion
Let’s face it: Trump is having a rough time.
Despite precautions, it wouldn’t be surprising if someone pissed off at the Jerusalem move would attack US sites and Americans. If this happens in the US, many will panic and seek security.
In the meantime, it will be innocent people who will be the victims of such political moves.