Monday Musings: The Tragedy of Jerusalem

Yes, I know it’s not Monday and I should rename this article, but I deliberately held off from writing this so that I could reflect on the reality of what took place in Jerusalem overnight (Australian time) when the United States of America officially opened its Embassy to the State of Israel in the City of Jerusalem.

The move, which the current US President foreshadowed last year, has drawn criticism and condemnation from many quarters, not least because it was a move that would further destabilise an already existing unstable region and for no discernable good. The unilateral move on the part of the US Administration has drawn support from the State of Israel because, well, because it suits their purpose, but has alienated the already alienated Palestinian people who are commemorating the 70th anniversary of the dispossession of their lands that occurred with the founding of the State of Israel.

The opening of the US Embassy in the City of Jerusalem establishes a significant roadblock in the international efforts to reach a negotiated settlement to the ongoing strife between Israel and Palestinians. That the United States had a significant leadership role, both presently and historically, in these ongoing negotiations is an irony that does not escape one’s attention. The ability for the United States to continue that role must surely be compromised, to say the least, or destroyed, which is probably more accurate.

Is there any wonder that the confluence of the anniversary and the opening of the embassy has been seen by Palestinians as a cause for demonstration? Do they really have any alternative?

Certainly, violence is not something to be encouraged; violence rarely succeeds in either achieving the perpetrators’ intentions or drawing the sympathy of other observers. Yet the Palestinians have been consistently ignored in their desire to not be treated as non-humans, or their desire to have the land of their forefathers returned to them (in some form) or their nation returned to them. While not endorsing the violence of their protests, I can certainly harbour some sympathy for their plight and for their cause.

The recognition of the City of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel will do nothing to promote peace and reconciliation in the region, and will only further concretise the belief in Palestinians that the cause they have fought for 70 years is increasingly unwinnable. And that will only lead to increasingly desperate actions on the part of those who believe they have nothing else left to lose.

Update: The following article appeared in La Croix International today, and is worthy of being added to this post…