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Trump’s Jerusalem motives were hatred of Muslims and a diversion from domestic problems

People attend a demonstration against US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, at the Times Square in New York City, United States on 9 December 2017 [Atılgan Özdil / Anadolu Agency]

It was with monumental malevolence that the increasingly unbalanced reality TV personality Donald Trump decided to call a halt to any hopes of an Israel-Palestine peace agreement. The shambolic figure, also known as the President of the United States of America, delighted warmongering extremists by recognising Jerusalem as the capital of the ever-expanding Israel, in spite of indigenous Palestinians claiming East Jerusalem as their own capital. Trump’s intention to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was just as provocative.

You can be certain that Trump’s knowledge of the immensely complicated issues that underpin the world’s most intractable conflict will be cursory to say the least. He will know very little, for example, of the ethnic cleansing, terrorism and indeed all-out war that allowed Israel to be established on Palestinian land in 1948.

Trump’s reckless muddling also ignores international law, through violating American obligations to desist from assisting in an illegal situation, namely the occupation of Palestinian Territories on the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the now ten-year blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israel’s flouting of international humanitarian law has been condemned over and over again by UN Security Council resolutions.

Within hours of Trump’s declaration, Israel was announcing the building of hundreds more houses as part of its illicit colonial sprawl in occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinian protestors were also being shot dead, with hundreds of others wounded. Then, when outdated ordnance was fired out of Gaza, harming nobody, Israel launched missile raids on civilians in the besieged Strip, killing four and injuring dozens, including a six-month-old baby.

Read: Netanyahu fails to sell Trump Jerusalem recognition in Europe

As one of the most asymmetrical conflicts in the history of human warfare flared up all over again, moves were made at the UN and other international bodies, such as the EU, to castigate America for what its president had done.

Trump, though, does not care, as he does not want to work with allies on major global problems, whether climate change or conflict resolution. Quite the opposite, his Jerusalem scheme was just an easy hit on the warped showman’s manifesto – “a great deal” to try and revive a so-far miserably ineffective term of office.

Despite pathetic claims to the contrary, Trump has clearly given up on the two-state solution that might finally bring an end to the carnage and great injustice. When world leaders lined up to decry the Jerusalem decree, the US President displayed no interest at all in the need to respect the ancient city as an essential component of a negotiated peace settlement.

He also appeared oblivious to Jerusalem being the centre of both Jewish and Palestinian nationalism, and indeed the home of some of the most sacred sites in Islam, Judaism and Christianity. One of the greatest fears related to the new policy is that it will embolden Israel to take over Islamic places of worship such as Al-Aqsa Mosque. Trump made a hollow reference to maintaining the status quo on what Jews call the Temple Mount, but Jewish settlers who have already made unauthorised incursions into the Mosque while protected by Israeli police will now feel much more entitled to try again.

Trump’s social media-obsessed, tribal mind-set viewed the status of the holy city as simply another opportunity to humiliate Muslims. He is fiercely prejudiced against their religion, and will always try to associate it with everything that is wrong with the world.

In this respect, Trump is acting just like those alt-right trolls who exult in acts of terror, just so they can use them to demonise their detested enemy online. When an American mass-murderer went on the rampage in Las Vegas in October, leaving 58 dead and 546 wounded, the propagandists went into overdrive desperately attempting to link him to Islam, despite the killer having nothing to do with religion whatsoever.

Read: If Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, then Washington is Bolivia’s capital

The deadliest mass shooting in the history of the US was the latest in a long list that Trump has played down as he continually portrays Muslims as the real threat to America’s security. Hence his election pledge to ban any Muslims entering the country – a bar that has just been reduced to citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries being kept out.

The Supreme Court passed the invidious measure soon after Trump had retweeted three anti-Muslim videos originally posted by a fringe group of racist Islamophobes based in Britain. Trump’s primary message – that he detests Muslims and will do all he can to vilify them at any time – was again projected loud and clear.

Such a position is, of course, highly attractive to the oppressive far-right that currently runs Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, just happens to be a close personal friend of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who, despite being unelected and owing everything to nepotism, is preposterously described as a Middle East advisor.

Neither Trump nor Kushner would have been remotely impartial when Netanyahu instigated the massacre of 2,200 civilians, including 551 children and 300 women, during Israel’s 2014 offensive against Gaza, from where Palestinian rockets were fired, leading to three non-military Israelis being killed, along with a Thai national.

These figures are typical of on-going hostilities in which billions of dollars in American aid make sure that Netanyahu’s war machine can also preside over human rights breaches, illegal land grabs, and unlawful imprisonments and torture. The deceit is that all Arab Muslims are potential terrorists, including the vast majority who despise any kind of violence being used to settle disputes, and to resist occupation.

Now despicable groups such as Daesh and Al-Qaeda will have gained succour from Trump’s dark conduct to justify their barbarism and attract recruits. By firmly entrenching himself on the side of the Israeli hawks, Trump has alienated moderate Jews, Christians, Muslims, atheists, and, it seems, almost everyone else while undermining public safety everywhere.The truth is that this is exactly how allegedly corrupt politicians always operate. Just over a year since his election, Trump faces all kinds of accusations of wrongdoing, and is set on creating bloody chaos overseas – or a “War of Rage” as it is already being called in the Arab World – in a bid to divert attention away from domestic problems and his abject unsuitability for high office.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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