U.S. embassy move won’t help peace process
The split-screen images from Gaza and Jerusalem on Monday were surely painted by Salvador Dali. Only a classic surrealist could render this portrait of absurdity.
In Gaza, the first of two days of mass protests set to culminate Tuesday, 58 were killed and hundreds injured. Protesters hurled rocks, burned car tires and sent flaming kites aloft.
When they charged the fence, the Israeli soldiers fired tear gas, then bullets. It was the worst violence in Gaza since the war in 2014, with more expected this week.
In Jerusalem, a delegation of Americans joined Benjamin Netanyahu to open the embassy of the United States, which has been moved in name from Tel Aviv. The building isn’t new and the ambassador will not work there, but this is about showmanship and symbolism.
The delegation listened to Netanyahu talk peace. It included Ivanka Trump and the jumped-up Jared Kushner, whom Donald Trump promised would deliver peace for the ages.
With every bullet in Gaza and every word in Jerusalem, the contradiction is more exquisite. These two images — the storming of the fence and the opening of the embassy — are lunacy itself. But it’s even worse than that.
Netanyahu, a greater sycophant than Mike Pence, could not resist lionizing Trump for moving the embassy. Bibi has learned how to seduce Trump through flattery and guile; he showed that recently in his strange performance on Iran, in English, on Israeli television.
Netanyahu is having his moment. First Iran, then the embassy. He thinks both will bring peace. More likely they will bring war.
Indeed, an emboldened Trump, having purged moderates from his circle, thinks his moves in Jerusalem will have no consequences. They have. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem has sent thousands into the street and killed Palestinians desperate with their lives in Gaza. While they didn’t need Monday’s ceremony to demonstrate, everyone knew it was a provocation.
It was also strange. There were Jared and Ivanka, who are social pariahs in Washington. For all the talk of moderating Trump, they have nothing to show for 18 months of their humiliation. As for Kushner’s peace initiative, it is now a punch line for late-night comedians.
There were the two Christian clergymen opening and closing the ceremony. Christians who love the Jews too much worry Jews, but this pair is really frightening. One has said in the past that it was God’s plan to have Hitler kill the Jews; the other has said that the Jews are going to hell. Neither seems to like Muslims. Just the people you want at your son’s bar mitzvah.
The deeper absurdity is the administration’s belief that its position helps peace. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem will do nothing to advance the two-state solution. What it does most is shatter any pretence of American openmindedness to act as mediator, as it has in the past.
While the United States looks the other way, Israel does what it likes to the Palestinians, which isn’t to say that the leaders of Hamas are not vile. It means Israel can go on building settlements in the West Bank.
Canada wisely refused to attend the ceremony. We join the rest of the world — and every one of America’s allies — in condemning the move as a strategic mistake.
This did not sit well with Vivian Bercovici, Canada’s former ambassador to Israel, appointed by Stephen Harper. She says that Canada’s position, as stated by our Marc-André Blanchard, Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, is “absurdly and worryingly dissociated from reality.”
She just cannot understand, our incredulous Vivian, why Canada wants a return to the status quo ante.
It is why, fortunately, she was fired as ambassador by the Liberals. She was a shill for the Likud, representing Israel to Canada, badly.
On Israel’s 70th anniversary, Gaza is burning, Netanyahu is under criminal investigation, democracy in Israel is eroding.
An apartheid state looms as a demographic bomb ticks.
But to Bercovici, Trump and company, peace is coming. The Messiah, too. Surreal. Andrew Cohen is a columnist, professor and author of Two Days in June: John F. Kennedy and the 48 That Made History.