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Why Jerusalem? Why Not Beijing? Or Washington DC?

Dan Brook
December 12, 2017

by Dan Brook

GIDEON ARONOFF, the leader of Ameinu, was wise in saying that truth is not always wisdom. Of course Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, as is universally known. What other city would be its capital? But East Jerusalem is also the future capital of Israeli-occupied Palestine, as is perhaps less universally known. Trump officially declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, given the tense historical, political, and cultural realities, is not wise because it has no realistic upside yet had some very predictable downsides — which quickly became evident with multinational protests and strained alliances. As with so much of what Trump says and does, however, it tends to coincide with the interests of his vilest base, including white supremacist Steve Bannon, who has long desired culture war with Islam, and rightwing evangelical Christians, with their horrific biblical fantasies of Armageddon. Trump’s ill-advised statement strengthens rightwing hardliners in America and the Middle East, while undermining those working for peace. On the subject of not recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, however, what other country do we do this to? I can’t think of any. Certainly not occupying and genocidal countries like China. Certainly not brutal theocracies like Saudi Arabia. We recognize Beijing, but do not recognize Tibet, which China occupies and where China commits genocide, and do not recognize the independent Taiwan, which China still claims as part of itself. Such injustice and hypocrisy! Do we deny the capital of Morocco because it occupies Western Sahara? Did we deny the capital of Indonesia when it occupied East Timor and killed one-third of its population in a genocidal frenzy with U.S. weapons and full US diplomatic support? Did we deny the capital of South Africa under apartheid, even when it also occupied Namibia? No. That wasn’t even done to Germany during World War II, when many of the innocent citizens of Berlin and elsewhere were being arrested, tortured, and killed during the Holocaust. DO WE DENY the legitimacy of London, Paris, Moscow, and Washington, D.C., refusing to recognize them as capitals of occupying countries? Of course we do not — yet the world is too comfortable singling out and targeting Israel, just as too many in the world are too comfortable singling out and targeting Jews for both real and fictitious injustices. I very strongly believe that Israel should end its occupation and I look forward to an independent Palestine, where both countries can live in peace and prosperity with justice and security. All other countries should also end their occupations. Then, perhaps, we can also refer to Jerusalem as an international city of Abrahamic peace. Does that sound fair? Dan Brook, Ph.D. teaches political science and sociology in the San Francisco Bay Area, wrote An Alef-Bet Kabalah, and edited Justice in the Kitchen: An Or Shalom Community Cookbook.