On May 14, 2018, the United States of America moved its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The choice of May 14 was chosen to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s declaration of independence. Just as President Harry Truman chose to have the United States of America be the first country to officially recognize the Jewish State in 1948, President Donald Trump elected to have the USA be first to formally recognize Israel’s capital in the modern day.
Some protests – particularly from the Muslim, Arab and far-left world – have been loud and furious. This group (and yes, they are coalescing into a single mass) argue that recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel without having a similar declaration for Palestinians is unfair. They note that Trump’s action will make the Arab world angry and provoke violence, leading to deaths on both sides of the conflict. Further, such a move does nothing to advance the cause of peace and is therefore a terrible mistake.
I will not argue that they are not entitled to their opinion. I will instead consider their arguments as though it was 1948.
- Zionists declared an independent country in 1948, even though the local Arab population did not. Was it wrong for the US to recognize the Jewish State even though there was not a corresponding local Arab state?
- The Arab world was furious with the declaration of the Jews and the US response. The armies of five Arab armies (Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt) invaded Israel in a war that claimed thousands of lives.
- No peace has come to the region. Now, over 70 years later, the Israelis have only been able to forge a peace agreement with two Arab countries, Egypt and Jordan.
The arguments of 1948 and 2018 seemingly remain the same. The US recognition was and is unbalanced, foments violence and harms peace efforts. One would therefore conclude that Truman was as wrong as Trump, and for many in the Arab/Muslim/alt-left camp (let’s call them “AMAL” for short, which means “hope” in Arabic), that is very true. (Note: Hebrew, which is read right-to-left would call these people “LAMA” which means “why?”)
But to do so is to contort cause-and-effect, actual history-with-“my truth” philosophy, and equality-with-fairness.
The AMAL legions believe that Israel is a foreign transplant in Arab land. They did not recognize the rights of Jews to live in and have sovereignty in the region in 1922 (as encouraged in international law in the Mandate of Palestine), in 1948 (at Israel’s declaration of independence) and do not recognize it now (as the US embassy moved to Jerusalem). They want Jerusalem for a capital today just as they wanted Haifa as part-and-parcel of Arab Palestine in 1948. They have fought tooth-and-nail against these events for 100 years.
For AMAL, accepting a foreigner stealing your home and land is a negation of one’s narrative and one’s dignity, and there can be no peace without dignity.
The alt-left has joined the anti-Zionist AMAL army in greater numbers as they have embraced and advanced the notion of “my truth” broadly. While the “progressives” may occasionally become offended at the vile anti-Semitism spewed by Palestinian Arabs, the Arab rejection of thousands of years of Jewish history in the holy land and the centrality of the land of Israel in Judaism, the alt-left have nevertheless adopted the underdog. They have redefined the conflict as a matter between Israel and the stateless Palestinians rather than the 100-year old Israel-Arab conflict. The alt-left sees a powerful Israel both economically and militarily on one side against a stateless impoverished people. They therefore see complete lack of equality in the actors, as they narrow the scope past the 20+ Arab and 50+ Muslim countries that dwarf the population of Jews in Israel by 100-to-1, to a scenario where Israel is the Goliath.
With such a mindset, the AMAL army contends that Trump added fuel to the fire of an unfair dynamic, just as when Truman blessed the theft of Arab land in 1948. The action continues to move the parties away from their perceived only pathway to peace which includes a bi-national Israel and a purely Arab Palestine.
The pro-Zionist camp sees the world very differently. It celebrates Truman’s recognition of Israel as part of the restoration of the Jewish people in their homeland. They know that if the Jewish State had been reestablished a decade earlier in the 1930s, tens of thousands of Jews would have been saved from the Holocaust. And they admire the thriving stable democracy which Israel has become, in the middle of a vicious and violent Arab Middle East. Recognition and partnership have been beneficial to both the USA and Israel.
But the soldiers of AMAL deny any recognition of Israel’s reality, whether Jerusalem as its capital, its flag in Judo tournaments, the research of its professors and the goods from the country. Thirty countries in AMAL still do not recognize the State of Israel. Their belief that the United States continues to be wrong from Truman to Trump runs deep.
The lines in the conflict continue to cut deeper. Do not simply consider whether the United States’ recognition of the capital of Israel was right or wrong because it is likely clouded by personal perceptions of Donald Trump. Ask yourself if you think president Truman was right in recognizing Israel 70 years ago to understand whether you are part of the AMAL horde or stand proudly with Israel.
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