Embassy: End the Charade
By Stanley L. Cohen
Among Donald Trump’s first acts as President was
Barack Obama’s last – a grant of 221 million dollars
in discretionary humanitarian aid to Palestine.
But why pause
before the next move against Palestine? Move the US
Embassy to East Jerusalem right now and end this charade
once and for all.
like to preach from on high about justice for
Palestinians and Israelis alike… as if the pathway of
pain for occupied and occupier is one-in-the same… as if
these two dramatically different ends of the scales of
justice can, indeed should, be balanced.
When it comes
to Palestine, for decades the United States has hidden
behind a cheap frilly veneer of neutrality all the while
subsidizing, to the tune of hundreds of billions of
dollars, a vicious, often deadly, criminal occupation
that has used impediment and stalling tactics to
re-sculpt a landscape that has been home to Palestinians
for the millennium.
How often do we
hear from US politicians that Palestine is a complex
issue? In point of fact, Palestine is very complicated
only when confusion provides opportune cover for delay.
Of course, ethnic cleansing knows no better cover than
about the whens, wheres and whys can go on and on as not
much more than the allure of excuse. There are, however,
certain fundamental truths about Palestine that cannot
be denied even by those largely European immigrants who
have become expert at rewriting history to suit a land
grab of epic and on-going proportion.
vary from source to source, in 1914, Palestine had a
population of between 600-738,000 Palestinians (Muslim &
Christian Arabs as well as other religions) and
59-94,000 Jews. In 1922, the census showed some
660-725,000 Palestinians and 84-89,000 Jews. In 1931, it
is recorded that 4,075 Jews immigrated to Palestine
along with 1245 Christians and 213 Muslims. In 1935 it
was 61,854 Jews who immigrated with 903 Arabs and 1390
Christians and others. In 1937 it was 10,500 Jews, 743
Arabs and 1196 Christians and others who came to
Palestine. By the end of 1944, the Jewish population had
increased to 528,702 of which 117,226 were natural and
327,686 were immigrants. The Arab population had
increased to 1,061,277 of which 453,405 were natural and
18,695 were immigrants. Christians and others increased
to 149,645 of which 51,616 were natural and 18,948 were
later, in 1948, when land designated as Israel was
ripped from the heartland of Palestine by UN political
fiat, the two sides were ill-matched. The Jewish
community in Palestine was much smaller: approximately
608-630,000 to the Arab, Christian and others 1.3-1.7
million… roughly 30 or so percent of the overall
population. In spite of all Israel’s efforts, the Jewish
population remains in the minority (as it has since at
least the 5th century).
As of 1922 Jews
owned roughly 3% of the land in Palestine which
increased to some 7% of its total over the next decade.
When the State of Israel was established, Jewish
ownership of land stood at 8.6%, with 3.3% owned by
those who were to become known as Israeli-Arabs while
another 16.9% of land was abandoned by Palestinian
owners who fled in advance of the war that was to come.
UN pronouncement, some 700,000 Palestinians were driven
from their farms and villages with estimates running as
high as 20,000 civilians killed, twice as many injured
and hundreds of rapes carried out by marauding
terrorists from the
Stern Gang and
Haganah. Hundreds of villages and towns were
In the war that
followed, another 400 to 600 Palestinian villages were
sacked while urban Palestine was almost entirely
extinguished. Out of about 400 Jewish settlements built
post 1948, 350 were fabricated on Palestinian refugee
property. Between 1948 and 1950 some 369 Palestinian
villages were erased and replaced by 161 new Jewish
settlements. During that same period, Israel seized
two-thirds of all cultivated land which had been owned
by Palestinians who were forced to flee.
estimates indicate that ultimately 80% of the Arab
inhabitants, in what became Israel, left or were
expelled from their homes, swept out by a colonial
design that has run unabated since 1948… one in which
the US has been very much a willing partner, indeed,
enabler of the ethnic cleansing that has ensued.
Forward 1993: The Wasted Talks
Oslo Peace Process of 1993 was intended to lead to a
final negotiated settlement between the parties within
five years. Among other things, it divided the West Bank
into three administrative divisions: Areas A, B, and C.
The first two were the smallest and were to be home to
just Palestinians subject to varying degrees of
Palestinian oversight. Area C, the largest at
approximately 75% of the West Bank, was “gradually” to
be transferred to Palestinian jurisdiction. It also led
to the creation of a Palestinian Authority (PA) with
responsibility for the administration of territory under
Oslo I was
signed in Washington D.C., followed by
Oslo II in 1995. Among other things, this agreement,
also known as the Taba Agreement, called for prompt
Israeli withdrawals from various Palestinian areas and
expanded Palestinian self-rule.
I, in rapid order, came: The
Gaza-Jerico Agreement also known as the Cairo
Agreement on Preparatory Transfer of Powers and
Responsibilities Between Israel and the PLO ( August
Protocol on Further Transfers of Powers and
Responsibilities (August 1995); The
Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron
(January 1997); The
Wye River Memorandum (October 1998); The
Sharm el-Sheik Memorandum (September 1999); The
Camp David Meetings in (July, 2000); The
Agreement on Movement and Access (November 2005);
and, most recently, during 2013-2014, the unsuccessful
attempt by now former Secretary of State Kerry to
restart the so-called peace process.
dozen or so hollow agreements, protocols and meetings
made for powerful photo ops and fine dining, in practice
they provided little more than cover… cover for Israel
to steal more and more Palestinian land and moral cover
for the US to speak of justice while, in reality,
stoking the flames of racial and religious hatred
through billions of dollars for Israeli settlements and
Growth of Settlements
To some degree,
the Oslo Accords are based upon the
Camp David Agreement that resulted in a peace
treaty between Israel and Egypt. At the time of the
agreement, there lived some 7,400 settlers in the West
Bank (excluding East Jerusalem), and 500 in Gaza.
later, at the time of the 1993 Oslo Accords, there were
some 262,500 settlers in the West Bank.
later, at the Camp David Summit of 2000, there were a
total of 362,945 settlers in the West bank with 169,969
in East Jerusalem.
By 2013, some
20 years after the Oslo Accords, the number of settlers
grew to 520,000, across the West Bank, including 200,000
in East Jerusalem.
are approximately 250 settlements and “outposts” in the
West Bank… home to some 800,000 illegal settlers…
constituting approximately 13% of Israel’s population.
Among them are
13 settlements and 12 solely Jewish neighborhoods in
East Jerusalem where 200,000 Israelis live. The
population of East Jerusalem is now down to 37%
Palestinian. Area C of the West Bank is now 99% settler
the election of Donald Trump and his nomination of David
M. Friedman, long aligned with its settler far right, as
Ambassador to Israel, it has approved more than 3,000
new units in the occupied West Bank, and signaled a
green light to take what little else remains.
Bleeding Hearts of the White House
One need not be
a soothsayer to note a steady unbroken pattern of Israel
swallowing more and more of the occupied West Bank even
as U.S. politicians, republican and democrats alike
convene feel good peace conferences or wax on about the
need for justice for Palestinians.
President, Jimmy Carter noted “There has to be a
homeland provided for the Palestinian refugees who have
suffered for many, many years.” Ronald Reagan, spoke of
“autonomy talks to pave the way for permitting the
Palestinian people to exercise their legitimate rights.”
Bush criticized the presence of illegal settlements in
the West Bank noting “Outposts, yeah, they ought to go.”
Clinton opined about the need for the creation of a new
Palestinian State based on the idea of
self-determination for the Palestinian people.
George W. Bush
called for a halt to Israel’s military occupation of
Palestinian lands needed for a state.
ago Barrack Obama decried…“more aggressive settlement
construction over the last couple years than we’ve seen
in a very long time.”
sentiments have been echoed by each occupant of the
White House over the last 40 years, in reality they’ve
reflected little more than a conspicuous political
subterfuge to garner votes while providing Israel
unlimited funds to support its endless aggression.
The cold hard
reality is US politicians care far more about the
domestic political mileage and influence of American
Zionists than they do abstract notions of international
law or justice for Palestinians.
can’t have it both ways… calling out for justice while
subsidizing Israeli hatred and violence with an open
checkbook and empty rhetoric. It’s just not possible to
be a neutral and detached arbiter at the same time
doesn’t matter. Israel simply does not care. 68 years of
its history, and counting, has shown that it has and
will continue to do whatever it wishes to Palestinians
unless and until the United States holds it accountable
by ripping up the blank check or until the pain and
suffering of its colonial enterprise becomes just too
much for Israelis to bear.
Donald trump is
a simple man with a simple mind. It’s his way or none.
He loves the challenge of being the smartest, toughest
and most creative thinker in the room even when he knows
he’s far from it. To Trump there’s nothing like the
grand dare, even when he knows he’s not up to it. And
when all else fails, he simply makes up the narrative to
suit his view. In Trump’s world honesty is for the weak,
reality for those who can’t lie and then simply move on.
presidents have determined that they could pontificate
to the world about justice for Palestinians but finance
Israel in its drive to purge them from the river to the
sea without costs that they were unwilling to bear.
same presidents discerned a bright red line beyond which
they could not cross without unleashing consequences far
too explosive to contemplate… namely, moving the US
Embassy from Tel Aviv to the capital of Palestine in
Donald Trump does not care.
politically naive, such a move would be of little
practical consequence… a mere symbolic gesture. To
millions of Palestinians, indeed hundreds of millions of
Arabs, moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem without their
specific invitation would constitute a point of no
return… a veritable disaster in waiting.
In one fell
swoop, it would signal an end to two separate yet
related fictions that, since Oslo, have helped to enable
a relative calm in Palestine even in the presence of the
loss of much of it to settlers: 1) that the United
States was interested in even the semblance of
neutrality and 2) that the PA has the ability to
represent the traditions and aspirations of the
Palestinian people with meaningful capability and
Trump, proceed at your own peril. If you feel, as
Ambassador-to-be Friedman does, that Jerusalem is
“Israel’s eternal capital”… proceed with your folly.
Move the Embassy.
To millions of
Palestinians, the only answer will be militant and
fierce resistance, and it will come… as sure as the
early morning call to prayer.
L. Cohen is lawyer and
activist in New York City.
expressed in this article are solely those of the author
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of
Information Clearing House.