Uneasy in Jerusalem

By Dow Marmur

Jerusalem (Dec. 7, 2017) – For many years and especially after we came to live in Jerusalem, my rare moments of optimism about the Israeli-Palestinian situation were linked to the hope that the status quo would prevail. I couldn’t see any signs that pointed to an improvement of the situation but considerable evidence to the contrary.

The announcement that the United States has now recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel hasn’t changed my unease. Even Trump and his entourage seem to want to assure the world that nothing has changed despite his announcement: the U.S. embassy isn’t moving to Jerusalem. Nevertheless, it’s difficult not to fear that bad things may happen soon, including more senseless terrorism.

So why did he do it? Was it to please the American evangelicals who support him? Was it to help Netanyahu to stay in office despite the threat of being indicted for corruption, and with him, it seems, an ever growing number of his political supporters? Was it to repay Sheldon Adelson for his $25 million contribution to Trump’s election campaign? Was it yet another manifestation of Trump’s determination to humiliate Muslims in general and Palestinians in particular?

What Trump lacks in education and experience he makes up in cunning and mischief. The Jerusalem announcement may be part of it.

Whatever the reasons, Netanyahu uses the decision to his advantage as part of his message to Israelis that despite the investigations against him, instigated of course by hostile and degenerate left-wing media who fabricate fake news, and notwithstanding evidence to the contrary that will soon emerge, he’s moving the country toward ever greater security and success.

Inveterate optimists would like to see the American declaration about Jerusalem as the beginning of an ingenious scheme involving Saudi Arabia and other Muslim states that will lead to a permanent peace agreement, but there’s no evidence of that at the moment, only speculations, even though U.S. Vice-President Pence is on his way to the region to make nice.

A more likely scenario is that the American people have put a superannuated spoiled child in the White House. What Trump lacks in education and experience he makes up in cunning and mischief. The Jerusalem announcement may be part of it.

Jewish liberals in America and elsewhere – J Street, the Union for Reform Judaism and others – have expressed their objections which, of course, makes the objectors in the eyes of Netanyahu and his entourage, traitors and agents of the enemy who’re on their way out of Judaism.

Thinking and caring Israelis irrespective of affiliation may agree that the Trump decision doesn’t really change anything other than annoy Palestinians and their supporters, and give terrorists another excuse to cause mayhem or threaten to do so. Nobody in his/her right mind has ever doubted that Jerusalem is Israel’ capital, irrespective of where states choose to locate their embassies.

It would have been different had Trump declared West Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital as soon as East Jerusalem becomes the capital of the Palestinian state. In the absence of such an outcome of Trump’s meddling, pessimism becomes not only legitimate but inescapable: yet another reason to be confused and worried about the world in general and our little world here in particular.

Rabbi Dow Marmur is Rabbi Emeritus of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto. He lives in Jerusalem.

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