Yesterday afternoon, Donald Trump announced that the United States will formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, ordering the U.S. embassy to move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. While unsurprising, the move is an escalation of U.S. collusion with Israel at the expense of Palestinian lives.
The decision has been widely condemned by Palestinians and world leaders, including the United Nations, and progressive activists. The move is a flagrant violation of international law — and signals increased conciliation to the decades-old military occupation: majority-Arab East Jerusalem was illegally annexed by Israel forces in 1967. Since then, Israel has demolished 28,000 homes in the city and revoked the residency of almost 15,000 Palestinian residents in what Noura Erakat describes as an explicit pursuit of a Jewish demographic majority. This process of settler colonialism is enforced by Israeli state violence — including the imprisonment and torture of Palestinian children — and apartheid rule, under which Arabs are subject to racist laws that ghettoize neighborhoods and deny Arabs freedom of movement and equal access to work and education. No country in the world recognizes Israel’s ownership of Jerusalem as legitimate, including (until now) the United States.
Of course, our government has long supported the Israeli occupation — and ensuing human rights abuses of Palestinians. So it is odd then, to call this the “kiss of death for peace” in the Middle East, as some have characterized Trump’s decision. Neither Israel nor the United States (even under Democratic administrations) has expressed any interest in a genuine peace that respects the humanity of the Palestinian people. Instead, the United States has allowed Israeli violence to go unchallenged for decades, bankrolling an occupation that has displaced 7.2 million Palestinians. The occupation — and the mass incarceration, police brutality, rape and sexual abuse specifically targeting Palestinian women and girls, and forced deportations that support it — are undoubtedly a feminist issue, and one that Americans are complicit in perpetuating.
Given this history, Donald Trump alone is hardly to blame for Israeli expansionism. Though Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has found a far-right ally in Trump, the United States’ uncritical support of Israel’s human rights abuses is bipartisan. During a week of atrocious actions by Trump and the GOP, from the tax scam that will kill poor people to the Muslim Ban 3.0, Democrats chose to focus on supporting Trump’s plans in Israel: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer “urged” Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital and Kamala Harris recently returned from a trip to visit Netanyahu. Earlier this year, Democrats and Republicans alike tried to criminalize protesting Israel, originally including liberal darling Claire McCaskill and Kirsten Gillibrand. In a political moment where the GOP is wreaking havoc against marginalized people everywhere, it is indefensible for the Democratic Party to spend time lobbying for Israeli occupation rather than poor people, Muslims, immigrants, queer & trans people, and people of color fighting for survival. Even more terrifying is liberal Zionists colluding with the very Nazis who have historically and currently inflicted violence and widespread terror against Jewish people and communities of color.
It is clear that liberation for marginalized people — in the U.S. and in Palestine — will not come from elite political parties. It will come from the people themselves. Resisting state violence is a human right. Let’s not mischaracterize Palestinian protests in the coming days as “violence” or blame Palestinians for resisting the occupation that has destroyed lives and communities.
As Erakat, a Palestinian human rights attorney, tells CBS,
“Trump has done today is to say that the global North will continue to help the evisceration of a Palestinian people and to force us into ghettoized sovereignty where we no longer make those claims. But that is untenable. No people has ever accepted that. And this just means that there is a new chapter of Palestinian freedom fighting and now to end apartheid completely.”
Watch the rest of her incredible interview here.
Header image: BDS Movement