President Trump, fulfilling a promise that other presidents have made but failed to keep, recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and started the process of moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Times reporters were predictably aghast, both downplaying Jewish ties to Jerusalem and warning of violence and endangement of the non-existent "peace process."
Sewell Chan and Irit Pazner Garshowitz’s “The Current Conflict in Jerusalem Is Distinctly Modern” ludicrously tried to downplay historical Jewish ties to Jerusalem:
It is perhaps fitting that President Trump appears to have chosen this week to announce that the United States will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, despite concerns from leaders of Arab countries, Turkey and even close allies like France.
Conflicts over Jerusalem go back thousands of years -- including biblical times, the Roman Empire and the Crusades -- but the current one is a distinctly 20th-century story, with roots in colonialism, nationalism and anti-Semitism. The New York Times asked several experts to walk readers through pivotal moments of the past century.
“It was for the British that Jerusalem was so important -- they are the ones who established Jerusalem as a capital,” said Prof. Yehoshua Ben-Arieh, a historical geographer at Hebrew University. “Before, it was not anyone’s capital since the times of the First and Second Temples.”
Many early Zionists were secular European socialists, motivated more by concerns about nationalism, self-determination and escape from persecution than by religious visions.
“Jerusalem was something of a backwater, a regression to a conservative culture that they were trying to move away from,” according to Michael Dumper, professor in Middle East politics at the University of Exeter in England. “Tel Aviv was the bright new city on a hill, the encapsulation of modernity.”
The reporters twice quoted the controversial Columbia professor Rashid Khalidi, a former spokesman for the terrorist Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), chaired by Yassir Arafat for 35 years, without mentioning that highly relevant fact.
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“Jerusalem became the center of a cultlike devotion that had not really existed previously,” said Rashid Khalidi, a professor of modern Arab studies at Columbia University. “This has now been fetishized to an extraordinary degree as hard-line religious nationalism has come to predominate in Israeli politics, with the Western Wall as its focus.”
The Times managed to blame a Jewish politician for Palestinian violence, even though Ariel Sharon’s visit was clearly a convenient pretext for Palestinian violence that would have happened anyway:
A visit by the right-wing politician Ariel Sharon in 2000 to the sacred complex known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary -- which contains Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock -- set off violent clashes and led to a second Palestinian uprising that claimed the lives of about 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis over five years.
Another quotation of former PLO spokesman Khalidi:
“The entire international community has been in accord that Israeli annexation and settlement of East Jerusalem since 1967 is illegal, and refuses to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” Professor Khalidi said. “If Trump changes this position, given the importance of Jerusalem to Arabs and Muslims, it is hard to see how a sustainable Palestinian-Israeli agreement or lasting Arab-Israeli normalization is possible.”
Deep into one of the paper’s two lead articles on the move, reporter Mark Landler admitted that Congress in 1995 overwhelmingly passed a law, unanimously affirmed by the Senate six months ago, that requires the president to move the embassy to Jerusalem unless he signs a waiver.
Religion reporter Laurie Goodstein put a damper on Trump’s move in “American Jews Split Over the Ramifications of a New U.S. Stance -- Cheers on Right; Fears on the Left.”
If he was hoping for thunderous applause from American Jews, President Trump may be disappointed.
His announcement on Wednesday that he will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital went down well with those on the political right, who have urged the step for years. They will be telling him so at the White House Hanukkah party on Thursday, they said.
But other Jewish leaders said they were more worried than glad, fearing that the precipitous step would inflame tensions in the region, provoke more terrorism, put peace with the Palestinians even farther out of reach, and worsen the diplomatic isolation of both Israel and the United States. They say they wish he had held off, as previous presidents have done.
Jewish leaders are not alone in expressing alarm at Mr. Trump’s move. Leaders of other faiths decried it, including Pope Francis, Orthodox patriarchs and Protestant church leaders in Jerusalem and the United States, and Muslims around the world.
On the same page, lefty reporter Jason Horowitz flicked on his respect-for-religion switch and quoted Pope Francis at length in “From Allies to the Pope, World Leaders Express Alarm Over Declaration.”
Pope Francis said, “I cannot remain silent.” The United Nations secretary general spoke of his “great anxiety.” The European Union expressed “serious concern.” American allies like Britain, France, Germany and Italy all declared it a mistake.
A chorus of international leaders criticized the Trump administration’s decision on Wednesday to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, calling it a dangerous disruption that contravenes United Nations resolutions and could inflame one of the world’s thorniest conflicts.
Secretary General António Guterres and Pope Francis both expressed alarm that the announcement would provoke new tensions in the Holy City, which is revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims.
Horowitz took seriously a statement from Israel’s friends (heavy sarcasm) at the United Nations, which is operationally and viciously anti-Israel.
Reading a statement outside the Security Council chambers at United Nations headquarters in New York, Mr. Guterres criticized “any unilateral measures that would jeopardize the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians,” underscoring the administration’s departure from decades of American policy.
In Rome, Pope Francis prayed that Jerusalem’s status be preserved and needless conflict avoided.
In especially strong language, the pope added, “I pray to the Lord that such identity be preserved and strengthened for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the entire world, and that wisdom and prudence prevail, to avoid adding new elements of tension in a world already shaken and scarred by many cruel conflicts.”
The warnings by the pope, the United Nations and the European Union spoke to a broad fear that Mr. Trump’s announcement would be the death knell for an already moribund peace process and that it would pull the plug on a two-state solution.
Horowitz eventually admitted that the Catholic Church has its own political stance, in sympathy with the Palestinian cause.
Like much of Europe, the Vatican has long been sympathetic to the plight of Palestinians. The Vatican established full diplomatic relations with Israel in 1994, and Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI visited Israel and the Palestinian territories.