Less than a week after Trump’s announcement, predictions that it will inevitably lead to greater violence appear to be coming true as Israel clamps down on protesters taking to the streets. By Sunday night, over 800 Palestinians were injured, and four killed, in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, as well as the Gaza Strip, which has come under renewed bombing. It will likely get worse. Looking beyond the immediate moment, we have every reason to fear the accelerating ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Jerusalem, where Israel is intent on establishing a 70% Jewish majority by 2020 (PDF).
In the meantime, most analysts agree that Trump has sounded the death-knell of the two-state solution. Palestinian think-tank Al-Shabaka executive director Nadia Hijab described the announcement as a nuclear bomb. Lawyer and scholar Noura Erakat went so far as to thank Trump for revealing to the world that the peace process was little more than a fig leaf, and that the emperor is naked. In my own “morning after” thoughts, I compared Trump’s declaration to Lord Arthur Balfour’s, a full century ago. This comparison was meant to reveal the imperial hubris behind the US president’s proclamation. In December 2017, just as in November 1917, there is only one country, from the river to the sea. And in December 2017, just as in November 1917, the Palestinian people are playing havoc with imperial designs.
Yet there has also been a very significant change in the hundred years since Balfour. That change is in global consciousness, at the grassroots level. Zionism, while still pervasive in some communities, mostly of the powerful elite, is gradually being recognized by the people for the racist supremacist ideology that it is. And colonialism, while also still very much alive today, is nevertheless rejected by most as an ideology of the past, which belongs in the garbage bin of history, alongside apartheid and slavery. In a world permanently altered by globalization, postcolonial diasporas, and late-stage capitalism, the lines are being redrawn, along transnational political allegiances.
Particularly in the US, the class divide is growing more pronounced by the day, as “the 99%” realize the extent of their disenfranchisement. The alliances forming today transcend traditional fault lines. The American people are rejecting the edicts of their president, from his gutting of environmental protection, to the Muslim ban, to the Jerusalem announcement. They are joining with Palestinians and their allies globally, to bring pressure on Israel not through the “traditional channels,” not through calls for more United Nations resolutions and even more “negotiations,” but through pressure applied directly, from the people, against the government and its complicit institutions. This is happening at a time when the US government, which no longer hides the fact that it does Israel’s bidding, is trying to criminalize boycotts, in violation of the US constitution, and specifically of the right to free speech as enshrined in the First Amendment.
At the same time, an ever growing number of American Jews, many of whom had been raised Zionist, are distancing themselves from the country that presumes to speak in their name. They are forming alliances with Muslims, and Arab-Americans, as they denounce the creeping fascism of Trump’s America. And in Israel, when BDS is illegal, and BDS organizers can be jailed, Israeli dissidents and anarchists recently protested in the streets of Tel Aviv, courageously holding out giant, festively-lit cut-out boards with the three taboo letters: BDS. These Israeli activists and organizers are calling for an end to Jewish supremacy, and for equal rights for the Palestinian people.
It is likely President Trump had no clue what his “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel” declaration heralded. His record so far has been one of incompetence, clumsiness, buffoonery. He may have been aspiring for “the deal of the century,” when all he has done is unwittingly announced the end of a farce. With the cumbersome “peace process” out of the way, we can focus on the real solution: grassroots activism and global solidarity.
Trump’s announcement will no doubt lie alongside the Balfour Declaration, as a haughty proclamation that caused massive injustice, but failed to achieve its imperial design. Instead, the solution will emerge from the grassroots transnational alliances, from the BDS movement, against what the global elite, from Riyadh to Tel Aviv to Washington DC, attempt to impose.