Throughout history, from ancient Biblical mentions to Roman and Greek days and to date, Jerusalem has seen more ink spent on discussing it than probably any other city in the world. Books, treatise, news articles, texts of speeches, scripts of dialogues ad infinitum have pondered about its fate. People have argued and killed for it. They still are!
I happen to have been born in that venerated city in 1943 when its address was: Jerusalem, Palestine. Therefore, aside from a political affiliation with it, I have historical roots and cultural, as well as religious identification that do not erode simply because Israel now claims it, or since I now have an American citizenship. It is too much a part of my very essence, and it will be for as long as I am alive.
As I write this, more ink is being expended on the hundreds of articles being written about it, and, especially, since President Donald Trump has declared that he will not move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem any time before six months. The argument is that, yes, while he had promised to do so during his campaign, he would now like to “give Peace a Chance,” so to speak, while he seeks to make the ultimate deal in order to make that happen. Sean Spicer, speaking for the Administration, and seeking to allay far-right zealots in Israel, as well as in the US, said that moving the Embassy was not a question of “If,” but only “When.”
Hence, to begin with: do I believe Donald Trump? Actually, it is hard to say. He is, after all, very unpredictable and controversial. Nevertheless, he guaranteed to execute his election pledges, as he had promised them during his campaign, and, since he assumed the Presidency, he has been systematically doing just that while being consistently obstructed by Democrats. Not surprising, since Republicans obstructed Obama anywhere they could. It is, mainly, childish tit-for-tat strategy that only goes to prove how dysfunctional our politics are. I, and you, may agree, or disagree with Trump, disparage his agenda, get infuriated at some of his executive orders, but we cannot deny that he has mostly kept to his word. Should the Opposition and the Mainstream Media fail in their vindictive and zealous attempts to impeach him, he might yet succeed in delivering on Israeli/Palestinian peace. Am I being naïve again for believing in the possibility of yet another effort at this elusive peace? Perhaps. It would not be the first time on this obdurate matter. After all, President Obama could not have done any more to disappoint me on that question. So, only time will tell what this Administration will do!
President Trump had also mentioned on a number of occasions that he has assigned his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as the point-man on this mission. I had never heard of Mr. Kushner before our latest Presidential Campaigns and Election. Since then, I see a young, handsome, pensive fellow who appears to be a thoughtful husband and caring Dad. He is also of the Jewish faith. From what I hear and read, he has contributed to Democratic, as well as Republican causes, organizations and politicians. This tells me that he is more likely to be an amalgamation of a conservative-liberal-progressive man than a fanatic ideologue. That would not surprise me at all. Polling says that many young Jewish Americans, while feeling a strong religious, cultural and traditional connection to Israel are quite liberal and progressive, and that the two-state solution is an appealing and realistic idea to them, and one that they support. Is Mr. Kushner of that mindset? I do not know. He has deep-rooted ties to Bibi, which might mean that he could assume a far-right continuation of the Israeli Government’s criminal policies. However, my instincts whisper that I should give him a chance, although my dismal political experiences in life murmur that I should be cautious. Again, only time will tell whether Jared could deliver on that front, or only throw the Palestinian people under the bus for another time during their miserable history!
Important to note that as I survey the world, I am finding that the old political dinosaurs who are remnants of the Holocaust, World War II, the Cold War, and Communism are slowly and surely dying out, as are their set-in-stone passé beliefs. A welcome generational shift is taking place and with it the attitudes and convictions of another era. Unfortunately, quite a few of these old dinosaurs are still around in our US government. I believe that most – not all – of the “Russian Meddling” hullabaloo is due to that, and that Donald Trump’s idea (for which he has been unduly vilified) of a rapprochement with Putin and Russia is not a bad one at all. This does not mean that Putin’s intentions are pure. But then, no politicians are. Right? Also, old habits and mindsets are difficult to change! Nevertheless, my hope is that young Jewish men and women could change the old trajectory in the Middle East which has been dogging our world for far too long.
There have been back-channel and secret talks going on between the Palestinians and Israelis since 1967/68. They never stopped. Then we had Oslo and all the promise of that Peace, which was shattered! However, during all those years, and as a reminder for the many with self-inflicted amnesia and denial, there was an underlying acceptance of the fact that West Jerusalem would always be Israeli territory, and that East Jerusalem would be Palestinian territory despite all of the Israeli Government’s unlawful efforts to demolish anything Palestinian in many parts of East Jerusalem and to create new and newer “facts on the ground” that strive to change the landscape and the demographics. Nevertheless, there have always been tacit understandings that hovered over all the tenuous peaceful efforts. The first one is that the Holy Places and Landmarks would, in any peaceful settlement, be administered by a triumvirate of the three religions: Jewish, Christian and Muslim – with representation from all the different sects of these three religions. The second contemplation was that the smaller area of East Jerusalem plus the suburb of Abu Dis (that lies East of Jerusalem, and that has really become a part of it) would constitute the capital of the Palestinian State. Voila! Israel will then have Jerusalem/Yerushalayim as its Eternal Capital, and the Palestinians will then have Jerusalem/Al-Quds as their desired capital. Win-Win situation, if you ask me! Would that Sanity, Legality, Justice and Balance prevail for the politicians to arrive to that outcome that should end the Jerusalem Dilemma fairly and equitably! Does that mean that all the problems would have been eradicated should this occur? Not unless we are all naïve! However, all can be dealt with when there is a sincere effort to maintain peaceful coexistence. We have seen it happen throughout history. For this reason, if nothing else, the present peace negotiators would do well to include the many smart and mature Israeli members of the Peace Camp, as well as members of Hamas – both of whom have been marginalized. Peace has to include all parties/factions in order for everyone to feel vested in it, and responsible for its success. At the end of the day, Bibi and Israeli Governments since 1948, have been spinning the narrative to their advantage (read below article from The Intercept)
However, lies are short-lived, and they have not managed to spin the steadfast, perseverant Palestinians out of existence. They cannot.
So, when many in Israel, as well as among the Palestinians and Arabs, question: One State, or Two, I maintain what I have outlined in my blog of 11/15/2014:
In brief: Two States to begin with, and after that let the younger future generations make the decision as to whether they would like to combine themselves into One State; into a Federation, or into anything that their bright, young, modern minds could come up with. When Peace prevails, and when the Jerusalem Dilemma is resolved innovations and ideas would find fertile terrain in which to thrive.
The Israel/Palestine conundrum has caused too much turmoil in our already stressed world. I’ll keep hoping for the Better Angels amongst us to prevail and to solve the Jerusalem Dilemma and all the related issues once and for all! Nothing is impossible!