As a young Jewish American , it is hard for me to discuss what is going on and what has been going in Israel for quite some time without letting my emotions come into play. After visiting Israel as part of the Birthright program and being able to not only interact with regular Israeli citizens, but also travel alongside young Israeli soldiers for a large portion of the trip, it allowed me to readjust my thoughts on the conflict.
Listening to how they felt about the current administration and the strategies they employ to try and obtain “peace” with the Palestinians was very enlightening, enlightening in the way that it showed me that a good portion of Israeli citizens (particularly younger ones) do not agree with how the current administration is handling the conflict.
Thinking about this now shoves the similarity to our country in my face. I am referring to the bitter divide our nation is experiencing because of, perhaps, one of the most tumultuous elections society has ever seen.
As a result of this, a new situation has arose due to the stark contrast between the Obama and Trump administration’s stance on Israel. This situation is the possibility of having the American embassy moved from Tel Aviv (where every other country’s embassy in Israel is located) to the internationally unrecognized capital, Jerusalem. That is very troubling for a few reasons.
The first and perhaps most important reason being the message it will send to not just Palestine, but the Arab world in general. This move would basically say, “Hey Arab World, sorry, but Israel is more important than you and we value our relationship with them a lot more than we do with you, so deal with it.” This could have drastic ramifications in a time when we need the help of the Arab community in as many ways as possible to eradicate ISIS and curb the power of the Assad Regime in Syria.
Secondly, it would place any American citizen working in that embassy in danger. Jerusalem is already a contested region where attacks happen weekly on Israelis, Palestinians and Americans alike. I don’t understand how in good conscience the current administration could place their own citizens in danger like this. The same goes for the Israeli government and how they believe this would be beneficial for them, considering how much violence occurs in Jerusalem already and how big of a step backwards it would be for the peace process.
All in all, the whole situation is worrisome to say the least. Especially since Israel has, once again, vehemently opposed the latest United Nations resolution regarding their settlements in Palestine (which time and time again have been declared illegal under international law), which is another can of worms which I won’t go into for the sake of my sanity and time.
Perhaps one can take solace in the fact that the moving of the embassy has fallen down on Trump’s list of priorities for the time being, according to an article in The Guardian published on Jan. 23 that doesn’t quell the fact that his pick for ambassador to Israel is not only completely opposed to a two-state solution, but has even at times likened “left-leaning Jews in America to Jews who aided the Nazis in the Holocaust”, as noted by Matthew Rosenberg in his Dec. 15 article in The New York Times.
I loved Israel when I was there and it really is a special place, a sentiment I’m sure most Jewish people would echo if they’ve had the privilege of visiting, but my love for the country has not blinded me to the fact that whether I like it or not, some people see me as representative of an ideology which is at least a bit tyrannical.
This is obviously not fair, but I believe that as soon as more voices from all over the spectrum of Israel and Judaism are heard and represented, then these feelings of hate can slowly be quashed and maybe even reversed.
There is a concept in Judaism and Israel called “the right of return.” This means that all Jewish people, regardless of place of birth, are able to become Israeli citizens anytime they see fit. This is not the case for Palestinians or Arabs in general, mainly because Palestine isn’t internationally recognized as a country. This just goes to show how much a two-state solution is needed because no nation is more important than the other. We are all equal.
Josh Biase can be contacted at Jbiase@kscequinox.com