President Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in defiance of world opinion is the subject of two different articles in this issue of Asian Affairs. Both pieces criticise the move from different points of view but the conclusions concur: the president’s announcement has left the US out on a limb internationally.
However, there is much more to the issue than the question of capital cities. The idea that the United States could be an honest broker in settling this long dispute between the two parties is now dead in the water. Most observers know full well that it is US support for Israel that has enabled the Zionist state to sustain its 70-year persecution of the Palestine people. What started as a relatively even division of Palestine between the new state of Israel and the proposed new state of Palestine by the United Nations in 1948 (Resolution 181) has evolved gradually through a succession of wars, land-grabs and encroachments to expand Israel’s territory at the expense of the Palestinians, leaving their lands occupied, divided and squeezed into a series of ghettoes. Gaza is the biggest ghetto the world has ever seen and nothing goes in or out of it without Israeli sanction.
The Hebrew people did not build Jerusalem. Zionists claim it is the natural home of the Jewish people but it was created by the ancestors of the Palestinians long before the so-called Biblical exodus. Prior to 1967 this city, sacred to so many religions, was at the centre of the West Bank, many miles from the original UN line of demarcation between Palestine and Israel; but that line has, through military conquest, now moved to encompass the city. Israel’s borders have remained fluid ever since 1948 and they continue to move further and further into Palestinian lands in Gaza and the West Bank almost on an annual basis. Israel has everything to gain and nothing to lose by prolonging the dispute. What had been designed as a two-state solution by the United Nations in 1948 is now being described by Israel and the US as a one-state solution.
That means all of Palestine will be incorporated into a new Greater Israel. Some observers, including Daanish Mustafa in this issue, suggest that could mean Israel’s Jewish population might become a minority in an enlarged state of Israel. But that is to underestimate the designs of Zionism. Zionists will find ways to ensure that particular demographic never evolves. They have already used ethnic cleansing in the expansion of Israel and they will do it again whenever they think it necessary.
It is hopeless for the Palestinian people to look to the American or European political classes to deliver justice to them. The party-lines are always pro-Israel and the media seems to be generally blind to the inhuman nature of Israeli reprisals whenever a Palestinian tries to fight back in the only way they can. Those members of the public who support Palestinian demands for justice are automatically described as anti-Semitic when they condemn Israel’s behaviour and its oppression of the Palestinian people.
The only solution to this problem is for the people of the world to recognise it as a humanitarian problem, not a political or religious one. Any impartial examination of the past 70 years in Palestine quite clearly reveals the systemic persecution of the Palestinians by the state of Israel and tacit support for that persecution by Western governments and their establishment media. What is needed is the development of a conscience by the people of American and Europe.
With its huge scope, social media is the best way to appeal to that human conscience. If enough people start demanding a halt to Israel’s repressive militarism and policing in Palestinian lands, a roll-back and an end to further illegal settlements, an end to water deprivation and other devices designed to make life as difficult as possible for the Palestinians, it will make a significant difference. Boycotts of Israeli produce and travel will help but it is the powerful,far-reaching voice of the common people that is now needed.