Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Embassy’

Moving the Embassy

December 16, 2017

Last week, President Trump announced that the United States would recognise Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and that the American embassy would relocate there. This shouldn’t be a controversial move. Jerusalem is the seat of the Israeli government and it is customary for an embassy to a particular nation to be located in that nation’s capital. There is also the matter that the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 requires the United States to locate its embassy in Jerusalem. The only reason that the US embassy remains in Tel Aviv is that every six months the president has been signing a waiver delaying enforcement of that law. President Trump has simply decided to enforce existing law and recognise the reality that Israel will not yield Jerusalem no matter how many UN resolutions are adopted.

Moving the embassy shouldn’t be a controversial move, yet because it concerns Israel, of course it is a controversial move. I am not going to get into the pros and cons of moving the embassy. It may or may not be a good idea. I just want to point out that the objections to moving the embassy seems to have two motives. The first motive is just the plain, old anti-Semitism that most criticism of Israel is based on. Israel,as a nation has its faults and can be justly criticized on many grounds, yet the tendency to single Israel out as an aggressive violator of human rights while ignoring the far worse actions of its enemies may be a good indication that the critic is less interested in peace or social justice than in attacking the Jews.

The other motive for objecting to moving the embassy is that it is upsetting the status quo, the established framework for thinking about policies in the Middle East. Acknowledging the reality that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel upsets the system of polite lies and ritual platitudes that everyone says to get along even if they know the statements do not accord with reality. Moving the embassy will damage the peace process, the critics assert, and it will provoke violence at home and abroad.

I wonder it if has occurred to the critics that the prevailing orthodoxies are not really working anymore. The peace process has been effectively dead for years. Essentially the Palestinians want Israel to be destroyed and the Israelis do not want to be destroyed. There is not much room for compromise there. As long as the Palestinians believe there is any chance at all that foreign pressure will weaken Israel to the point that it can be destroyed, there will not be peace. As long as everyone pretends that both sides sincerely want peace, there will not be peace. It may be that by showing that the United States stands firmly behind Israel, and will not allow Israel to be destroyed, that Israel’s enemies will finally understand that Israel is not going anywhere, that they will never be able to remove the State of Israel, and that they will simply, somehow come to terms with that fact, will there be any hope for peace in the region. In fact, many of Israel’s enemies; Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia have already quietly come to accept the existence of Israel, and even see Israel as a valuable, though clandestine, ally against the real enemies of peace in the region; ISIS, al Qaeda, Iran. Perhaps, by moving the embassy to Jerusalem, Donald Trump has done more to realize the dream of peace in the Middle East than many of his predecessors.

So far, there doesn’t seem to be the explosion of violence across the Middle East that the critics feared. This is obviously good and it perhaps suggests that outside of Palestine, the “Arab street” is not so obsessed with Israel as is generally supposed. But, even if had been increased levels of violence as a result of Trump’s announcement, that is not a very good reason not to move the embassy. Again, I wonder if it has occurred to the critics that adjusting our policies whenever someone threatens violence is not a good idea over the long term and will only encourage such threats. Here again, the years old practice of caving in and self censoring to appease violent barbarians and then pretending that we are doing no such thing does not serve us all that well.

This seems to be the primary motive for a lot of the opposition to Donald Trump, aside from his personality and public image as boorish and uncouth, that Donald Trump has little use for either  “political correctness” or for doing things the same way just because they have always been done that way. As Trump noted in his statement announcing the change in policy:

When I came into office, I promised to look at the world’s challenges with open eyes and very fresh thinking.  We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past.  Old challenges demand new approaches.

 

Presidents issued these waivers under the belief that delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace.  Some say they lacked courage, but they made their best judgments based on facts as they understood them at the time.  Nevertheless, the record is in.  After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.  It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result.

The old ways are not working so it is time to try new ways. This seems to be the theme behind a lot of what President Trump is trying to do, and this seems to be the reason why a lot of people, who perhaps benefit from the failed status quo, really hate him.

We badly need leaders who will challenge the status quo if we want America to continue to be great. Trump is probably not the best man for the job. There is much to object to in his approach. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to be producing George Washingtons or Abraham Lincolns in this country. We are producing Donald Trumps, and as a former Secretary of Defense put it, “You go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.” and of course, “If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much”.

By that last standard, Trump must be doing more than any other president.

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Deja Vu

September 11, 2012

Here is another item I read at USA Today. It seems to me that I have seen something like this before but I can’t quite remember where.

Egyptian demonstrators climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo today and pulled down the American flag to protest a film they say is insulting to the prophet Mohammad.

Update at 2:07 p.m. ET: CNN reports that U.S. security guards fired a volley of warning shots as the crowd gathered outside the embassy walls.

CNN adds that the embassy had been expecting a demonstration and cleared all diplomatic personnel earlier from the facility.

Original post: The Associated Press reports that embassy officials say there was no staff inside at the time.

Reuters reports that protesters tried to raise a black flag carrying the slogan: “There is no god but Allah and Mohammad is his messenger.”

The news agency says about 2,000 protesters have gathered outside the embassy and about 20 have scaled the walls.

The AP says the protesters were largely ultra-conservative Islamists.

Iran’s FARS news agency says the film is the work of a group of “extremist” members of the Egyptian Coptic Church in the United States.

Al Ahram online says the film is reportedly being produced by U.S.-based Coptic-Christian Egyptians, including Esmat Zaklama and Morees Sadek, with the support of the Terry Jones Church in the United States.

Jones is the evangelical pastor who stirred controversy last year by threatening to burn a Quran in public.

CNN says the film in question is a Dutch production.

The AP says clips of the film available on YouTube show the prophet having sex and question his role as the messenger of Godâ??s words.

After the protest, the U.S. Embassy issued this statement on its website:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims â?? as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of other

The Grand Mufti of Egypt Sheikh Ali Gomaa strongly condemned the movie, AllAfrica.com reports.

“Freedom of speech does not warrant desecrating sanctities,” Gomaa said in a statement Sunday.

Oh, yes. Iran. An embassy seizure would be all we need to complete the “Carterization” of Barack Obama.

By the way, I am a little disgusted by the U. S. Embassy’s statement, not to mention Ali Gomaa’s. Yes, freedom of speech does indeed mean that you have to tolerate what you might believe to be desecration. Otherwise, it is not really freedom of speech at all.It is not an abuse of the universal right of free speech to question or even to insult someone’s religious beliefs. Even, if it were, no hurt feelings justify the sort of violent rage these people have demonstrated.

The fact that this Grand Mufti of Egypt is excusing these people’s’ actions, and perhaps even encouraging them is a good indication what direction Egypt is heading. The fact that the U. S. Embassy, which ought to be standing up for freedom of religion and expression has issued such a mealy mouthed, spineless statement is a good indication that we are not going to do anything to stop Egypt from going down the road to Hell.

 


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