Last December, when Donald Trump announced to great fanfare (because he literally can't do anything any other way) that the U.S. embassy in Israel was going to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem per the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, my reaction was essentially, "Sh'yeah, right! This is just more "boob bait" for his cult of "bubbas" which he's counting on them to forget, and he'll keep issuing the waivers of the embassy move just like his predecessors have done for the past twenty-two years." You know, not unlike how he recertified Barack Obama's Iran nuclear "deal" four times running before finally pulling the plug on it, or how he has kept Obama's DACA and DAPA amnesty executive decrees in place despite posing as the mother of all illegal immigration hawks, or how he folded on gun control after giving NRA speeches that left its members quaking in orgasmic ecstasy, or how he guaranteed he'd repeal ObamaCare "on day one" but made no effort to even stump for it a year ago and badmouthed the fake repeal bills that did emerge as "mean". Donald Trump lies like he breathes - heavily. Ergo ipso facto, his word is worthless; only his deeds matter. And the baseline of the past sixteen months has been meager for those of a conservative bent.
One of Donald Trump’s most contentious foreign policy projects, the inauguration of a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, is being carried out Monday even as peace in the Middle East seems more elusive than ever.
"Today we open the United States embassy in Jerusalem, Israel," U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said at the beginning of the inaugural ceremony, attended by a U.S. delegation from Washington and Israeli leaders.
While Trump, who vowed to move the embassy from Tel Aviv during his campaign, isn’t attending, he’ll address invitees to the designation ceremony via video conference, according to two U.S. officials. Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka and Jared Kushner, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan will be among the U.S. delegation.
I can't help observing that if the embassy move was genuinely as high a priority to him as he has claimed, Trump would have been there in person. That contributes to the impression that Trump really doesn't care where the U.S. embassy in Israel is located, and that all this really was was an exercise in constituent service. "It's a big deal to the religious nuts, and it'll keep them Clintonesquely guarding my scandal flanks, so let's give it to 'em, because we need as many distractions as we can get," in essence. Certainly idolatrous quotes like this one from Church Of Trump "Pastor" John Hagee reflect this concept:
“I told him that the moment that you do that, I believe that you will step into political immortality,” the news site quoted Hagee as saying. “Because you are having the courage to do what other presidents did not have the courage to do.”
"Courage" is easy when you don't actually have any "skin" or philosophical investment in the game. That's what makes it a con.
Trumpragmatists (like a once and perhaps future friend of mine from Murietta, California) come back with the argument that, "What does it matter what Trump's motivations are? Who cares if he's conservative, liberal, transhumanist, or vegan? Getting what WE want is what counts!" That, of course, gets back to that sixteen-month baseline I referenced earlier that makes occasions like today genuinely newsworthy, a kept Trump promise being on the order of hen's lips on the rarity scale.
But honest, heartfelt ideological commitment does matter, because this story does not and will not conclude with the ribbon cutting ceremony. There will be a cost to this move, borne of its inherent, inescapable symbolism, and its extraction has already begun:
Israeli fire killed at least eighteen Palestinians during mass protests along the Gaza border Monday, in a violent burst of bloodshed that cast a cloud over Israel's festive inauguration of the new U.S. Embassy in contested Jerusalem.
It was the deadliest single day of protests since the Palestinians began staging weekly border demonstrations on March thirty in an attempt to break an Israeli-Egyptian blockade. Protesters set tires on fire, sending thick plumes of black smoke into the air, while the Israeli military accused protesters of trying to break through the border fence and plant a bomb, and said troops had come under fire.
By mid-afternoon, at least eighteen Palestinians, including a fourteen-year-old boy, were killed while over five hundred were wounded by Israeli fire, Palestinian health officials said.
In the West Bank, several thousand people gathered in the center of Ramallah, while hundreds marched to the Qalandiya crossing on the outskirts of Jerusalem, where protesters threw stones at Israeli troops.
"Sure," you may be saying, "'Palestinians' are rioting. 'Palestinians' don't need any excuse to riot, or blow themselves up if it will take some Jews with them. 'Palestinians' are the most triggerable people on the face of Earth." And you would be right about that. It's certainly no reason not to move the embassy given that refraining from doing so for twenty-three years hasn't pacified them in the slightest.
But "Palestinians doing what Palestinians do" is just the penny ante. Remember that Trump already fell for the "Middle East 'Peace' Process" mental illness that has addled the minds of presidents for forty years. It's one of the portfolios he delegated to his miscreant son-in-law, if you'll recall. Well, what do you think the perpetual broker of the "peace process" moving its embassy to the capital of one side of said "process" is going to do to the attitude of the other side of that process? I'll give you three guesses, and the first two don't count:
Palestinian [Chieftain] Mahmoud Abbas cut ties with the Trump administration and declared it unfit to remain in its role as the sole mediator in peace talks.
Saeb Erekat, a senior Abbas aide, blasted the Trump administration Monday, saying Trump had violated a promise to hold off on moving the embassy to give peace talks a chance and that his administration is "based on lies."
Erekat said the Trump administration has "become part of the problem, not part of the solution."
Personally, I don't give two leaves off the appropriately metaphorical fig tree what Abbas and the "Palestinian Authority" think about anything. They are "the problem" and always have been. Does the embassy move mean Trump doesn't either? Hard to tell. At times he's been cordial with the PLO kingpin, and at others he's been in virtual shouting matches with him. The latter, of course, has come from what Trump perceived as personal slights, not any matter of policy or worldview - just like with everybody else. Because, remember, the only thing Trump really cares about is himself and his precious "image". Everything else is negotiable. Stroke his ego, and he'll curl up in your lap and purr contentedly; wound it and he'll blister you for all eternity. How much of that ego is invested in the grand "Middle East Peace Agreement" that has thus far eluded him and his six predecessors? If I credited The Donald with anything remotely approaching where he and #Cult45 peg his intelligence quotient, I'd say none. Since I don't, I expect spluttering sulfur to pour from his Twitter feed on this subject in the not too distant future.
Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called on followers Sunday to escalate their jihad against America in response to Donald Trump’s relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The remarks, released in a five-minute video entitled “Tel Aviv is Also a Land of Muslims,” came on the eve of the embassy opening — an event Zawahiri claimed was proof of the failure of the Palestinians’ “appeasement” strategy, according to a transcript released by the SITE monitoring agency.
Trump “was clear and explicit, and he revealed the true face of the modern Crusade, where standing down and appeasement does not work with them, but only resistance through the call and jihad,” said Zawahiri, an Egyptian-born physician who succeeded Osama bin Laden as the leader of al-Qaeda.
Methinks the word "appeasement" means something vastly different to "Doctor" al Zawahiri than it does to the rest of us. Which is to say, it doesn't mean what he thinks he means.
That said, this illustrates indelibly that what the embassy move means is the mother of all pot-stirrings throughout the Muslim world. Or, as it is written in Zechariah 12:3, "It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of Earth will be gathered against it."
Does that mean Trump should have left the embassy in Tel Aviv? Not at all. Inherent in any nation's sovereignty is determining for itself where its capital will be located. Denial of recognition of another nation's capital is childish - one might even say Trumpesque - churlishness. It would be more honest to simply break off diplomatic relations with that country and be done with it. Whenever Israel has existed as a nation, Jerusalem is and always has been its capital, going back over three thousand years. No capital city is more "established" than it is. Denying that is delusional.
But again, there will be a cost that I don't think Trump has counted. The embassy move will bring about difficulties and complications and attacks that staying in Tel Aviv might have averted. The kinds of <ahem> tribulations that require commitment and belief to endure without recrimination or retreat. And it's hardly any secret that further Middle East entanglements aren't exactly congruent with Trump's neoisolationist foreign policy predilections. Is he prepared for new al Qaeda offensives? Will he stand by Israel in its burgeoning war with Iran? Will he put a stake through the heart of the anti-Semitic fraud that is the "Middle East Peace Process"? If freshly-minted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is any indication, the answer is a big, fat "NO!":
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed back on the notion that widespread unrest in Gaza represents an insurmountable challenge for the Arab–Israeli peace process during a Sunday appearance on Fox News.
“The peace process is most decidedly not dead,” Pompeo said. “We’re hard at work on it. We hope we can achieve a successful outcome there as well.”
Your hope if forlorn, Secretary Pompeo. Sometimes in life, you have to choose. Your boss has chosen, whether he realizes it or not. My fear is that he doesn't realize it, and he will be unwilling to pay the cost his choice has incurred. And that will be worse than not having incurred it in the first place.