HOT TOPICS ▶ Climate Change     Undoing The New Deal     The Real Baltimore     Reality Asserts Itself     United Kingdom    

  December 6, 2017

Trump's 'Criminal' Jerusalem Move Could Backfire

By recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moving the US embassy there, President Trump is catering to the US right-wing while risking a new revolt against his Middle East agenda, says journalist and scholar Rami Khouri
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here


Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

I support TRNN because it is the closest expression of the ideal of a free press I have seen. - Daniel
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


Rami Khouri is a Senior Public Policy Fellow and adjunct professor of journalism at American University of Beirut. He is also a Nonresident Senior Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School.


AARON MATÉ: It's The Real News, I'm Aaron Mate. President Trump has formally announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the American embassy there.

DONALD TRUMP: I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today I am delivering. I've judged this course of action to be in the best interest of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

AARON MATÉ: Protests have already begun in the occupied territories where Palestinian factions have declared three days of rage. Well, to discuss this I spoke earlier to Rami Khouri, senior public policy fellow, and professor of journalism at American University of Beirut. Also, a non-resident senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School. I begin by asking Rami Khouri, his response to Trump's announcement.

RAMI KHOURI: Well, I think President Trump showed that he is engaging in dangerous, reckless behavior, which he's been doing all along in his last 10, 11 months in office. But he's dealing in a level of incoherence and recklessness, now that is really unprecedented because he's taking a position, which the entire world, virtually the entire world, rejects. Not just Arabs are angry and Palestinians, the whole world. Then there's United Nations resolutions on the status of Jerusalem and he's just thrown this out the window.

So we're dealing with a level of intellectual and political arrogance by the American president that is really dangerous for the region and I think for the United States. Because what this does is it puts the United States in a position where it is the only country, on a serious level, in the world that is going against established international law and U.N. resolutions on the status of Jerusalem. And it's essentially sending the message that, don't worry about international law, and conventions, and treaties, and U.N. Council Resolutions. You can ignore all that stuff. Do what you want. So this is a recipe for the law of the jungle.

And it further hurts the United States because it basically is sending the message that you can't trust the United States to keep its word or to do the right thing. That the U.S. will do whatever if it wants if it thinks it's good for its own domestic, political purposes, or to raise campaign funding from extremists and Las Vegas and other places in the United States. That's the message that the world gets. It's a combination of political, and moral, corruption and criminality, which is frightening because it's done out of the White House. This is totally un-American. Totally unprecedented and very dangerous.

AARON MATÉ: But in terms of this being un-American and unprecedented, it's true that this is a formal decision that carries some huge symbolic weight for the U.S. to do this. But how much is it an actual departure from existing U.S. policy? In the sense that the U.S. has supported Israel's de facto annexation of East Jerusalem by continuing to provide billions of dollars in aid and also providing plenty of diplomatic cover at the U.N. when other countries tried to hold Israel to account for its takeover of East Jerusalem.

RAMI KHOURI: Well, those are important points that you make and it is really at the symbolic level that this is important. But this is symbolism that is more important than anything that's done at the practical level. Because it's the last arena where Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, Christians, and even many Jews of good conscience, hold out the hope that there can be a negotiated, peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that is fair to Israelis and Palestinians. And this was the last thread linking the condition of the peace negotiations, which have been more open for 20 years under American tutelage. But this was this last thread that possibly gave people some hope that maybe a two-state solution could be negotiated.

Because everything else that Israel wants, the extremist right-wing government under Netanyahu wants. Settlements. Militarism. Siege of Gaza. Putting thousands of people in jail. Expropriating land. Bombing and killing people at will. Arresting people. Torturing people. Everything that Israel has done, the United States, as you said, has either acquiesced in or explicitly supported. But this was the last thread of decency, legality, and good conscience behavior and the United States just threw it in the garbage can.

AARON MATÉ: Can you talk about the Saudi context here because one other thing that makes this different from previous U.S., Israeli policies towards Palestinians, is now Israel appears to have the open cooperation of the Saudi government.

RAMI KHOURI: One of the big issues that's going to become clear in the next couple of weeks, or couple of months if this continues, is that you will see a big gap emerging in some Arab countries between the leaderships and the people. Between the government and the citizens. Because the Arab governments historically have done whatever they need to do, like most governments in the world do. Like Trump is doing now. Do anything that they need to do, to get support politically to stay in power. And Trump is doing this, essentially, for political support of pro-Israeli right-wing extremists, including Evangelical Christian extremists and donors.

And Arab governments are the same. They'll do anything that they feel is going to keep them in power and they will try to figure out a way to be friends with Israel, while the vast majority of their people are critical of Israel in the current situation of Palestinian-Israeli relations. The vast majority of Arabs have made it clear that they're willing to negotiate a permanent, peaceful resolution of the conflict. But in the current situation of Israel continuing to annex and build settlements in Arab, East Jerusalem, the public in the Arab world is extremely hostile to what Israel does. And if the Arab governments try to get closer to Israel, this is going to open a huge wedge between citizen and state, and we may find significant problems within Arab countries.

Not necessarily hostility against Israel or the U.S, which has been expressed before and has achieved virtually nothing, but you will find Arab citizens finally turning against their government and saying, what in the world are you people doing? You can't make war. You can't make peace. You let us be humiliated. You've turned the Arab world into a trash heap of morality, and dignity, and legality and this is the final indignity that the American President imposes on us. Basically telling us that we, the Arabs, the Palestinians, the Muslims, the people of the Middle East, that we have no rights. We have no voice. We have no place in the world. That what we feel, or what we think is our rights, doesn't count and the U.S. can do anything it wants. Even on the most sacred, sensitive, important political issue in our universe, which is Jerusalem.

And the Arab leaders are going to be told, if you can't do anything about this, then maybe you shouldn't be there. So we don't know how it's going to play out, but clearly, this is an issue where leaders and citizens of the Arab world, have very different perspectives.

AARON MATÉ: Robby Khouri, senior public policy fellow and professor of journalism at American University of Beirut. Also, a non-resident senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School. Thank you.

RAMI KHOURI: You're welcome.

AARON MATÉ: And thank you for joining us on The Real News.


Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at

latest stories

Paul Jay On Trump and Bolton: One of the Most Dangerous Times in Human History
Money Can't Wash Blood Off Hands of Saudi Prince
Mired in Corruption Scandals, Peru's President Resigns
Philippines: Duterte's Bloody War on His Own People
Ivan Bates: State's Attorney's Race From Freddie Gray to GTTF
Former Venezuelan Interior Minister Arrested: Fracturing the Bolivarian Movement?
Are Police Reform Efforts Doomed to Fail?
How Long Will It Take for Casino Money to Reach Classrooms?
Trump Boasts of Killer Arms Sales in Meeting with Saudi Dictator, Using Cartoonish Charts
15 Years of Mass Destruction in Iraq
Mercer's Cambridge Analytica 'Utterly Sleazy'
Democracy in Crisis: Take Note
Meet The Man Behind Cambridge Analytica, Who Made Trump President
Will Congress Affirm its Constitutional Power to Stop the War in Yemen?
A Rare Glimpse Inside a Police Body-Camera Review Unit
In Afrin the Turks are Looting and Pillaging with Gunfire
Protester Arrested At State House: Gov. Hogan Would Not Drink Water Contaminated by Fracking
'Samantha Em-Powers Genocide in Yemen': Students Protest US Role in Saudi War
After a Shooting at His School, a Maryland Teacher Speaks Out
European Left Divided Over Brexit
Marilyn Mosby: From Freddie Gray to GTTF
Trump and the Rise of the European Right, with Reps of UK Labour Party, De Linke, Podemos, and Syriza
Petroleum Executives Visit Trump, Increasing Offshore Oil Drilling
EPA Sued for Removing Independent Scientists from its Advisory Board
Inequality in America: A National Town Hall
Laura Flanders Show: Women's History Makes The Future
Corbyn Allies in Labour Attacked For Supporting Palestinian Struggle
Paul Jay: Threats facing Humanity, Russiagate & the Role of Independent Media
Kochs and ALEC Behind Criminalization of Dissent Bills in Five States
West's Anti-Russian Fervor Will Help Putin Win Election On Sunday,, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Web Design, Web Development and Managed Hosting