New U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem Could Hurt Long-Term Peace in the Middle East

Reggie Fullwood
Reggie Fullwood

This week the U.S. officially opened it’s new Israeli embassy in Jerusalem as the country celebrated its 70th anniversary. While to many Americans, especially black folk, it may not seem like a big deal – in reality it really is a biggie. It is another example of President Trump being the brazen bully that he has become in world politics.

Several years ago I visited Israel and met with people from all walks of life – Jewish leaders, American transplants, black Jews, and even Palestinians. While most Jews and many Palestinians didn’t agree on critical issues – most of them did feel like Jerusalem should continue to be a neutral religious city free of warring and politics.

For decades Jews and Christians have fought Arab Muslims over the territory that is now knows as Israel.
In his video address at Monday’s embassy opening, Trump said that he was still hopeful for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It was a confusing message in the face of the universal criticism from some of the U.S.’s closest allies in Europe, Arab nations and Palestinians.

While the festivities were going on at the Jerusalem embassy opening, some 50 miles away on the border between Israel and Gaza, Palestinians were protesting and taking gunfire from Israeli troops. Dozens of Palestinians were shot dead and thousands were injured, according to unverified reports.

How can there be peace in the Middle East when the U.S. makes such a bold move?
For those not familiar with the Israeli/Palestinian issue – it’s both simple and complicated. The simplest version is that after World War II, with the help of the United Nations the nation of Israel was formed in 1948. Jews fleeing persecution in Europe (Holocaust) wanted to establish a national homeland.

Land that was shared by both Jews and Palestinians was essentially granted to the new Israeli country, which caused many non-Jews to flee their homes. After several wars – all won by the Israelis – the country has expanded into once Arab Muslim controlled lands.
Both Jews and Arab Muslims date their claims to the territory back a couple thousand years – so the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is really over who gets what land and how it’s controlled.

The 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation called the U.S. embassy move an “attack on the historical, legal, natural and national rights of the Palestinian people.”

Of course, most Israeli people and American Jews applaud the move, but it’s a move that could have a long lasting affect on peace in the region and it puts the United States in a position of no longer being viewed as an objective peace broker.
War and discord in the Middle East is not good for anyone – not the people living in those countries or the United States. Between increasing oil/gas prices and the possibility of sending more troops to the region – turmoil in that part of the world could be devastating.

Speaking at the event, Trump’s new BFF, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was a “glorious day.”
In his speech at the ceremony, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, also spoke of a resolution to generations of conflict. “When there is peace in this region, we will look back upon this day and will remember that the journey to peace started with a strong America recognizing the truth,” he said.

Those very comments speak to root of the issue – whose truth is Kushner talking about? Arabs and many Muslims still do not recognize Israel as a country, which sounds ludicrous, but the hate and resentment runs deep on both sides.

Many people feel that Jerusalem should continue to be a neutral holy city for Muslims, Christians and Jews. The Trump administration move was purely political and had nothing to do with striving for lasting peace in the Middle East. Moving the embassy to the holiest city in the world is simply a move to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, which creates more discord and conflict with Muslims.

Palestinians and many of their supporters have long hoped to see the eastern part of Jerusalem become the capital of a Palestinian state.

It’s important to note that not all Israelis are Jews – a large majority are though. For Jewish Israelis, the move is a long overdue expression of the reality at the city is the country’s capital, which was essentially the truth that Kushner was speaking about.
And I will be totally transparent – I tend to lean on the Israeli side of the overall conflict, but I also understand the Palestinian viewpoint.

Regardless of which side you land, the fact is that in order to have lasting peace there has to be some give and take and diplomacy. Moving the U.S. embassy is a bad move and will hurt any real possibility for long-term peace in the near future.
“Remember, to hate, to be violent, is demeaning. It means you’re afraid of the other side of the coin – to love and be love,” said James Baldwin.

Signing off from a gas station really pissed about gas prices,
Reggie Fullwood

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