2017-01-23 – You gotta call a ball a ball and a strike a strike. Donald Trump’s intention to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a ball. It puts a runner on base, but it will mean nothing if he doesn’t do something else to advance the runner.
Some folks want to call it a home run. Some folks think this puts the United States on the side of Israel. But I have news for these folks. The only people in the world fooled into thinking that the United States was anti-Israel was you. Yes, it is a symbolic change, but that’s all it is. The United States has had Israel’s back since the beginning. You may have it in your head that the United States has wavered from time to time. But it’s not true. It’s all been in your head.
Other folks want to call the move to Jerusalem a rain delay—or worse. I have news for these folks. The Israelis and the Palestinians have been on a rain delay for almost 70 years. If a symbolic move like this can make the Israelis feel secure enough to take bold action in negotiations to end the 70-year war, it would be totally worth it.
I’m not holding my breath. It would be wonderful if it happened but, like I said, the gesture just puts a runner on first. So much more has to happen before the runner scores.
And that depends on the willingness of both the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government to acknowledge reality and make tough decisions that will benefit, not just their corrupt selves, but the people they supposedly represent.
The irony of Trump’s move is that it is contrary to the image that is usually painted of him as a denier of reality. Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel since its independence war in 1948. The refusal of nations including the United States to locate their embassies in that nation’s capital was one of those reality-denying things that nations do from time to time—like refusing recognition to Red China or Castro’s Cuba. Their original reasons are forgotten and their passive-aggressiveness accomplish nothing, but last for decades as obstacles to human interaction and problem solving.
One big risk of this move, however, is Benjamin Netanyahu. He drummed up this fake Obama-is-against-Israel hysteria when, in fact, Obama was guarding the store while Bibi and company were doing things far more destructive of peace and the future of the Jewish state. Will he be soothed by Trump’s move in a way that will give him courage to act for peace? Or will he up his demands?
The other big risk, of course, is that the Palestinian Authority and Hamas will dig in further and oppose everything. They have always had it in their power to break the deadlock and have always refused.
Trump is definitely shaking up the situation. I wish him well in following through. He’s claimed to be the best negotiator the world has ever seen. And I have big doubts. But, if he’s got it, this is the time to show it. So far, he’s only got a man on first.