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Democrats abandon the resist Trump movement when it comes to Jerusalem

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Democrats usually jump at opportunities to counter Trump’s reckless and incendiary policies. That is, when the policies don’t have to do with the state of Israel.

The origins of the Jerusalem controversy date back to the 1947 UN General Assembly partition dividing Palestine into two states (under protest by the majority Palestinian population living there). Rather than giving Jerusalem either to Israel or Palestine, the UN recommended the city be corpus separatum, a “separated body,” administered by the United Nations. The UN’s plan was never implemented. Instead in 1948 Israel ended up with control of the Western half of the city and Jordan held East Jerusalem and the West Bank. In 1967, Israel “unified the city” by occupying the eastern half as well.

Despite numerous UN resolutions calling for Israel to withdraw, Israel has continued to hold the land and take concrete measures to annex it. These actions have included the building of the separation wall to include East Jerusalem within Israel’s boundaries, revoking the residency permits of Palestinian Jerusalemites, home demolitions and ongoing settlement growth. An 2017 bill in the Knesset even tried to formally annex 19 settlements surrounding Jerusalem into the Jerusalem municipality. Transportation Minister Israel Katz proudly declared the intent of the legislation as being to “ensure a Jewish majority in the united city and to expand its borders by adding 150,000 residents to the area of a greater Jerusalem.” Israeli anti-settlement group, Peace Now, succeeded in generating enough opposition that its authors watered it down from blatant annexation. The Prime Minister delayed the planned October 2017 vote on it due to lack of support and possible U.S. disapproval. However, if passed, it would still amount to de facto annexation of the 19 settlements.

From 1967 through today, all countries in the world, in accordance with the UN’s original plan, have refused to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. U.S. policy had been that the city’s status should be not be determined unilaterally but through negotiations.  In 1995, the U.S. Congress reversed this position by passing the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which mandated the U.S. by moved from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem be recognized as the capital of Israel. Democratic president Bill Clinton refused to sign the act, saying it “could hinder the peace process” and used the presidential waiver included in the legislation to prevent the embassy move... Following Clinton, all US Presidents have signed waivers every six months, as required by the 1995 act, to keep the US embassy in Tel Aviv because they know the dangerous spark not doing so could ignite in an already volatile Middle East.

Trump’s announcement stating that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and directing the State Department to begin moving the embassy sparked protests across the world. In the West Bank and Gaza, where even nonviolent protests are met with military force, the first few days saw at least two Palestinians were killed almost 800 injured. Israeli airstrikes on Gaza that Friday, killed two and injured at least 25 people, including a six-month-old baby who was placed in critical condition. Whether the baby is still alive or has succumbed to his wounds is unknown.

One would think Democrats would be be jumping at the chance to hammer Trump for his reckless plans and their consequences, pitting us, once again, against the rest of the world and obliterating our credibility to be an honest broker. Instead, most have been, silent or, worse yet, taking credit themselves for Trump actions.

Senator Ben Cardin, ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, responded to Trump’s actions with the affirmation that “Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel and the location of the U.S. Embassy should reflect this fact.”

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer actually bragged after Trump’s announcement that he had helped convince Trump to  follow through with his campaign promise to move the embassy. “Moving the embassy as soon as possible would appropriately commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification,” Schumer said in October 2017. According to  international law, however, Jerusalem has spent the past 50 years being occupied, not unified.

Democratic whip Steny Hoyer  agreed as well, saying that it was simply “a fact of history that cannot be denied.” Representative Engel of New York stated, “this decision is long overdue and helps correct a decades-long indignity.” Florida Representative Schultz said “We must work toward a day where the entire world recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.” Representative Deutch, also from Florida, released a joint statement with Republican Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen saying, “There is no debate that the Jewish people have a deep-rooted religious, cultural and historic tie to Jerusalem, and today’s decision reaffirms that connection.” Minority House Leader Nancy Pelosi said “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish homeland,” but added that “in the absence of a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem now may needlessly spark mass protests, fuel tensions, and make it more difficult to reach a durable peace.”

Not all democrats have fallen into line behind Trump’s decision. The strongest reaction of opposition to Trump’s decision has come from the Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairs Mark Pocan and Raúl M. Grijalva and Peace and Security Task Force Chair Barbara Lee. They released a joint statement. Trump’s decision fails “to take into consideration the serious and delicate nature of the situation,” said Rep. Grijalva. “President Trump’s decision to declare U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, before reaching a finalized peace deal or two-state solution between the Israelis and the Palestinians, hurts future agreements and will create unnecessary tensions and violence in the region,” said Rep. Pocan. “Make no mistake,” said Representative Lee. “This decision sabotages our diplomatic efforts and makes it even harder to achieve peace.” The statement, however, did not have the signatures of the other 72 members of the caucus.  

In advance of the announcement Senator Bernie Sanders put out a statement saying, “There’s a reason why all past U.S. administrations have avoided making this move, and why leaders from all over the world, including a group of former Israeli ambassadors, have warned Trump against doing it: It would dramatically undermine the prospects for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, and severely, perhaps irreparably, damage the United States’ ability to broker that peace.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, penned a letter to in advance of Trump’s action. “I urge you to reject calls to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel…The future of Jerusalem is an issue that should be decided by Israel and the Palestinians, not unilaterally by the United States. Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital-or relocating our embassy to Jerusalem-will spark violence and embolden extremists on both sides of this debate.”

Before the announcement, Senators Durbin, Booker and Blumenthal expressed  concern that the move would cause violence and suggested that it shouldn’t take place yet. But none of them put out statements of condemnation afterwards. Senator Warren, addressing a Union for Reform Judaism convention in Boston, agreed Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, but said diplomacy, not a unilateral move by the US, should determine the final status of the city. Senator Brown merely suggested, “Let’s see what happens when he announces it.” Senator Murphy said he agreed with Trump that declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel would help the peace process, but stated “It needs to be done at the right time and in the right manner. I don’t see any peace process beginning any time soon, so I seriously question the wisdom of making the choice now.”

Democrats either applauding Trump, not speaking up or only making moderate statements of concern-pretty much everyone except Grijalva, Pocan, Lee, Sanders and Feinstein-are at odds with current American Jewish opinion. A September 2017 survey by the AJC Global Jewish Advocacy, found that 44 percent of American Jews don’t think the embassy should be moved to Jerusalem and 36 percent think it should be moved only “at a later date in conjunction with progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.” Only 16 percent responded that they supported the embassy to be moved regardless of other factors.

Why are democratic positions in congress so out of step with Jewish constituents when it comes to moving the US embassy to Jerusalem? One answer might be the power of the congressional lobby group AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), which spends upwards of $2 million annually lobbying for pro-Israel policies. AIPAC doesn’t give directly to candidates. Instead they connect candidates who support their positions on Israel with pro-Israel donors of enormous means.

The Democrats are even more out of step with global opinion. Federica Mogherini, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, warned the announcement had “the potential to send us backwards to even darker times than the ones we are already living in.” The state of Jordan called it “nuts” and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said it was a gift that “radicals and extremists will use to fan the language of hate. Even U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, despite its budding friendship with Israel, described it as an “unjustified and irresponsible step.”  

Trump’s action has already begun to wreak havoc in the Middle East. We don’t know how far this will escalate, especially as progress continues to actually move the embassy. What we do know is that is the reckless actions of a man who has no regard for international law or conception of what is in the U.S. national interest must be repudiated. So where are the Democrats?

Ariel Gold

Ariel Gold is the national co-director for CODEPINK and leads their campaigns for Palestinian rights.

Other posts by .

Medea Benjamin

Medea Benjamin, cofounder of CODEPINK for Peace, is the author of The Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the US-Saudi Connection.

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19 Responses

  1. Keith on December 12, 2017, 3:54 pm

    ARIEL GOLD & MEDEA BENJAMIN- “… a man who has no regard for international law….”

    When has the empire ever shown a regard for international law?

  2. Boomer on December 12, 2017, 7:36 pm

    Thanks for documenting the reality. Not encouraging, but good to have the facts set down.

  3. Brewer on December 12, 2017, 8:32 pm

    “That has always been Israel’s policy. I had a conversation with the chair of the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East peace negotiations. He told me that the Zionists have not changed their position since the Basel Convention of 1897. They want all of Palestine. What is happening now in Jerusalem is a step in that direction.

    If you look at the recently leaked so-called peace plan that was presented to [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas in Saudi Arabia, he was basically given an ultimatum to either accept some tiny bantustan or forget it. It is very clear that they want all of Palestine, all of the West Bank, all of Jerusalem. They want the Golan Heights and maybe even some more of Syria.”
    – Professor Francis Boyle, who teaches international law at the University of Illinois College of Law and served as a long-time legal adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

    • Talkback on December 13, 2017, 11:00 am

      Must read.

      That’s the reason why the Apartheid Junta and its United boot lickers don’t want Palestine to become a full UN member. Israel wants all of Palestine and has the chutzpah to claim that there’s no peace, because its the Palestinians who want all of Palestine.

      When a Zionist opens his or her mouth, you just have revers his or her lies to get to the truth.

  4. wondering jew on December 13, 2017, 8:20 am

    The partition plan of 1947 declared that for 10 years Jerusalem would be a separate entity. At the end of which Jerusalem could choose its own fate. This 10 year period of separation was not meant to be permanent. This fact is misrepresented here.

    • eljay on December 13, 2017, 9:30 am

      || yonah fredman: The partition plan of 1947 declared that for 10 years Jerusalem would be a separate entity. At the end of which Jerusalem could choose its own fate. This 10 year period of separation was not meant to be permanent. This fact is misrepresented here. ||

      At the end of 10 years Jerusalem could choose its own fate. But Israel has been militarily-occupying and colonizing Jerusalem since 1948, making it impossible for the Partition-era inhabitants of the city to freely decide its fate. This 69-year occupation and colonization of Jerusalem contravenes international law. This fact is misrepresented here.

    • Talkback on December 13, 2017, 10:31 am

      Yonah is correct. The partition scam only allowed a referendum in the city Jerusalem where Jews had achieved to become a majority under the mandate scam.

  5. Ms. Reality on December 13, 2017, 8:38 am

    Mr. Gold, what do you mean when you write “Trump’s action has already begun to wreak havoc in the Middle East”? Are you referring to Palestinian terror attacks? There are always such attacks, even without the Jerusalem announcement. What other havoc do you refer to?

    The Jerusalem announcement does not seem like such a big deal. Israel has had its capital in Jerusalem for a long time. As you note, Jordan held East Jerusalem from 1948 to 1967. Why do you think Jordan did not establish a Palestinian capital there during those 19 years?

    • eljay on December 13, 2017, 9:52 am

      || Ms. Reality: … The Jerusalem announcement does not seem like such a big deal. Israel has had its capital in Jerusalem for a long time. … ||

      The Wedding announcement doesn’t seem like such a big deal, either. The victim has been chained in the rapist’s basement – and he’s had his “capital” in her – for a long time.

    • Talkback on December 13, 2017, 10:33 am

      Ms Reality: “Are you referring to Palestinian terror attacks? There are always such attacks, even without the Jerusalem announcement.”

      ROFL When has there ever been a time since 1937 in which Jewish settlers didn’t commit terrorism and violence to oppress the natives and steal their land?

    • Misterioso on December 13, 2017, 11:03 am

      @Ms. Reality


      By declaring Jerusalem (east and west) as Israel’s capital, Trump has become an accomplice to Israel’s systematic violation of international law, including the UN Charter, which prohibits the acquisition of territory by war and is binding on all UN members. East Jerusalem has been under illegal, belligerent and brutal occupation by Israel since it launched the June 1967 war. Israel has also encouraged and enabled hundreds of thousands of foreign Jews to relocate to and build illegal settlements in East Jerusalem (and for the record, the occupied West Bank and Syria’s occupied Golan Heights.) Hence, Trump is in effect condoning Israel’s violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute, which are binding on all UN members.

      In the summer of 1967, “[t]he legal counsel of the Foreign Ministry, Theodor Meron, was asked [by then Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol] whether international law allowed settlement in the newly conquered land. In a memo marked ‘Top Secret,’ Meron wrote unequivocally: ‘My conclusion is that civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.’” (New York Times, 10 March 2006)

      Security Council Resolution 465 (1 March 1980) “determines that all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity…”

      Israel’s 1980 annexation of East Jerusalem was rejected by the UN Security Council in Resolution 476 (June 30, 1980): “all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the Occupying Power, which purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal validity and constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

      In accordance with the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, ratified by Israel, and further underscoring the illegality of the settlements, Part 2, Article 8, section B, paragraph viii of the Rome Statute of the International Court (1998) defines “the transfer directly or indirectly by the Occupying power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies ” as a War Crime, indictable by the International Criminal Court.

      On 24 February 2004, the U.S. State Department reaffirmed its earlier position in a report entitled Israel and the Occupied Territories, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: “Israel occupied the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights after the 1967 War…. The international community does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over any part of the occupied territories.”

      In its 2004 ruling, the International Court of Justice unanimously ruled that “No territorial acquisition resulting from the threat or use of force shall be recognized as legal.” The World Court denoted this principle a “corollary” of the U.N. Charter and as such “customary international law” and a “customary rule” binding on all member States of the United Nations.

      US Secretary of State, John Kerry: “The US views all of the settlements as illegitimate.” (13 August 2013, Reuters Video)

      UN Security Council Resolution 2334, December 23, 2016: “Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming, inter alia, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force,
      “Reaffirming the obligation of Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, and recalling the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice,
      “Condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, including, inter alia, the construction and expansion of settlements, transfer of Israeli settlers, confiscation of land, demolition of homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions,….”
      “1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;
      “2. Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard;
      “3. Underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations;..”

    • Misterioso on December 13, 2017, 11:36 am

      Ms. Reality

      More ugly reality for you and your ilk:

      December 12/17

      “Gary Lineker hounded on Twitter for sharing video of caged Palestinian children.”

      “Former England footballer attacked by former senior Israeli official and Israeli supporters for criticising abuse of human rights.”


      “Former England footballer Gary Lineker has been hounded by Israel supporters on Twitter after sharing a video of young Palestinian children being held in a small cage by Israeli forces.
      The video, published by the human rights group B’tselem, shows Israeli soldiers gathering and violently detaining Palestinian youths in Hebron in the illegally occupied West Bank, on 13 October.

      “Lineker, now a successful television presenter who fronts the BBC’s flagship Match of the Day highlights show, shared a tweet containing the video which had originally been posted by Ben White, a pro-Palestinian journalist and activist and Middle East Eye contributor, and added the comment “‘sickening'”.

  6. Mooser on December 13, 2017, 11:59 am

    “Donald Trump shakes hands with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schemer…” Photo Caption (verbatim)

    Meanwhile look what happened to Chuck Schumer:

    “Schumer reports fake sexual harassment charge to Capitol Police”

  7. Maghlawatan on December 13, 2017, 2:11 pm

    Shufti baqa.
    Zionists talk about reality. Here it is baby

    The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has formally declared that Palestinians will no longer accept the US as a mediator in the Middle East peace process following Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. 

    In his strongest public statement since Trump’s announcement last week, Abbas said Palestinians would go to the United Nations security council to seek full membership of the UN while asking the world body to take control of the peace process as Washington was no longer “fit” for the task.

    The meeting took place a day after the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, suggested that the linked – and equally contentious – move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem might not actually take place during Trump’s current term in office.

    Abbas was speaking at a hastily convened meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, where members were called upon to recognise a Palestinian state, amid strong condemnations of both the US and Israel.

    Quick guideWhat is the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation?Show

    “Jerusalem is and will forever be the capital of the Palestinian state,” Abbas told delegates. “We do not accept any role of the United States in the political process from now on, because it is completely biased towards Israel.”


    The Palestinian president’s comments were echoed later in the summit’s official closing statement, which declared “East Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Palestine” and invited “all countries to recognise the state of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its occupied capital”. 

    The statement said the OIC summit viewed Trump’s move “as an announcement of the US administration’s withdrawal from its role as sponsor of peace” in the Middle East, describing it as legally “null and void” and “a deliberate undermining of all peace efforts” that would give impetus to “extremism and terrorism”.

    The summit was attended by King Abdullah of Jordan, the Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, the emirs of Qatar and Kuwait, and the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, who called on all Muslim nations to unite to defend the rights of Palestinians

  8. Misterioso on December 13, 2017, 2:47 pm

    A good and uplifting read:

    Jerusalem still speaks Arabic
    Amer Zahr
    December 8, 2017

    It doesn’t matter where anyone builds their diplomatic palaces. Jerusalem still speaks Arabic. I’ve heard her.

    Hundreds of restaurants offer falafel, hummus, shawarma, pomegranate juice, and knafeh. Believe me. I’ve tried them all. But there aren’t any delis. No corned beef sandwiches on rye. No bagel shops. No lox. Don’t get me wrong. All those things are delicious. They’re just not there. Because Jerusalem eats rice and yogurt with every meal. She uses bread as a spoon. She checks her teeth for leftover tabbouli. She’s an Arab.

    Certain aromas waft through the air. Cumin. Coriander. Nutmeg. Cinnamon. Turmeric. Sumac. Allspice. Those spices don’t come from Poland and Brooklyn. Her women push their herbs in her markets. Thyme. Sage. Basil. Mint. Lots of mint. Those herbs don’t come from Russia and Miami Beach. I’ve hung out with her. She drinks coffee that’s almost too strong for human consumption. She eats parsley-infused meats. She sweats garlic like the rest of us. She’s an Arab.

    It’s easy to get confused in her alleyways. They meander every which way, twisting and turning, each corner bringing a new little journey. But if you ask for directions from one part of the Old city to another, her children will just tell you, “Just go straight.” Jerusalem is still an Arab. I promise you.

    Look in her closets. She collects ornately embroidered gowns.
    Visit her weddings. She “changes the light bulb” when she dances.
    Go out to dinner with her. She fights over the bill.
    Talk to her for more than five minutes. She asks you if you’re married. And if you’re not… Well, then prepare yourself for a much longer, and quite uncomfortable, conversation.
    She wears a keffiyeh. Sometimes it’s because she’s protesting. And sometimes it’s just to keep warm.

    When she has some time for herself to listen to some music, she sings along with Fairouz, Abdel Halim, and Um Kalthum.

    Jerusalem’s been Arab for 1400 years. Crusader campaigns tried to change her. It didn’t work. Israeli colonization, settlement, and profanity have tried to change her. They’ve failed terribly. Some stuttering speech about an embassy won’t succeed either.

    She’s been through decades of foreign occupation, more than once. She has suffered the attempted theft of her heritage. She has watched the dispossession, expulsion, and looting of her children’s lives, homes, and histories. She has even endured the propaganda that she still solely belongs to someone who doesn’t remotely understand the beautiful creature she grown into today. Yet, despite these attempts to defeat her, Jerusalem still speaks Arabic. With a Palestinian accent.

    She’s one of us. Don’t worry. She can handle this.

    • just on December 13, 2017, 4:44 pm

      Misterioso~ that is incredible and beautiful and oh -so- true!

      Thank you so much for posting it here~ it brought lovely chills and grateful tears to my heart and soul.


      • Brewer on December 13, 2017, 7:51 pm

        Time for a re-read of Shamir’s delightful “Rape of Dulcinea”:

        “The touching words of Elie Wiesel painted a beautiful portrait of the Jewish people, yearning, loving and praying for Jerusalem over the centuries and cherishing its name from generation to generation……..
        …..Now I find myself in the somewhat embarrassing position of Sancho Panza. I have to inform my master, Don Wiesel Quixote, that his Dulcinea is well. She is happily married, has a bunch of kids, and she is quite busy with laundry and other domestic chores. While he fought brigands and restored governors, somebody else took care of his beloved, fed her, provided her with food, made love to her, made her a mother and grandmother. Do not rush, dear knight, to Toboso, lest it break your heart.

        Elie, the Jerusalem that you write of so movingly is not now and never has been desolate. She has lived happily across the centuries in the embrace of another people, the Palestinians of Jerusalem, who have taken good care of her. They made her the beautiful city she is, adorned her with a magnificent piece of jewellery, the Golden Dome of Haram al Sharif, built her houses with pointed arches and wide porches and planted cypresses and palm trees.

        They do not mind if the knight-errant visits their beloved city on his way from New York to Saragosa. But be reasonable, old man. Stay within the frame of the story and within the bounds of common decency. Don Quixote did not drive his jeep into Toboso to rape his old flame. OK, you loved her, and thought about her, but it does not give you the right to kill her children, bulldoze her rose garden and put your boots on her dining room table. All your words just prove that you confuse your desires with reality. You ask why the Palestinians want Jerusalem ? Because she belongs to them, because they live there and it is their hometown. Granted, you dreamed about her in your remote Transylvania . So did many people around the world. She is so wonderful and certainly worth dreaming about……”–Rape-of-Dulcinea.php

    • RoHa on December 13, 2017, 5:38 pm

      That made me hungry.

      It also made me want to visit Jerusalem, but I won’t.

  9. Maghlawatan on December 15, 2017, 1:40 pm

    Pence is told to fuck off

    This is your mothafuckin conscience. Before you do that you should think about the consequences…

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