President Trump just declared that the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and will move forward with plans to move the U.S. embassy there.
I have faith that one day, we’ll be strong enough to bend U.S. foreign policy toward justice— but this is really going to test it.
Because this is a reckless, deeply irresponsible decision: for Palestinians, Israelis, and all of us. And it’s on us to stand up.
In addition to the dangers this move poses for the region and geopolitical stability, it’s just flat out wrong. What we need is a U.S. policy that recognizes and addresses the root causes of the ongoing crisis in Israel/Palestine, not one that drastically inflames already existing inequities. Because what’s happening today is an expression of these larger truths:
- That throughout the last 50 years of occupation, successive Israeli governments have stripped Palestinian Jerusalemites of residency rights, citizenship, and access to any type of democratic government. Just in 2016, Israeli authorities demolished or seized 1,093 Palestinian-owned structures1 in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and 2017 is on track to exceed that number.
- That even for the state of Israel to be created in the first place, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were violently expelled from their homes.
- And that for decades, the U.S. has been a one-sided champion for the Israeli government, never an impartial, honest, or productive peace broker.
Trump’s announcement today is especially an example of that final truth. It is a cynical— and ill-advised— chess move, one that overtly aligns the U.S. with an increasingly expansionist Israel, at the expense of Palestinian people’s lives and rights, and without any regard for diplomacy.
Click here to tell your Congressperson: recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital is an attack on Palestinian rights, and dangerous for all the people of Jerusalem and Israel/Palestine. Please make a bold statement against it.
I don’t want to sound alarmist, but I’m alarmed.
No country in the world has an embassy in Jerusalem today, because the international community doesn’t recognize Israeli jurisdiction over the city. And there’s near-global consensus that moving the Embassy is a very bad idea — from Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and other countries in the region, and from Germany, France, and the European Union, not to mention many senior U.S. State Department officials.
There’s a reason the status of Jerusalem hasn’t been determined yet— it’s at the core of the struggle against permanent Israeli domination and Palestinian dispossession.
But the truth is, most Americans don’t have the same sinking feeling in their stomach today that I do, because so many people either don’t know this is happening, or aren’t involved in the conversation about why it matters so much. And we have to take the initiative and start conversations not just about what happened today, but what’s been happening for the last 70 years, and more.
This isn’t really about moving a building. It’s about U.S. policy moving from bad to worse. But Palestinians have been fighting for equality and justice for 70 years and longer without giving up, and we’re not going to give up now either.
Rabbi Alissa Wise
–Jewish Voice for Peace is a national membership organization inspired by Jewish tradition to work for the justice, equality, and dignity of all the people of Israel/Palestine.