Pakistan Today talks to Americans from across the divide, including celebrities, journalists, writers, activists, as well as everyday law-abiding citizens
LAHORE: US President Donald Trump’s decision to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and officially recognise the ancient city as the capital of the state of Israel enraged the Muslim world as well as the international community at large.
However, while the move has been divisive on a global scale, it has also left a clear chasm as an increasingly split American electorate seems to have found another defining issue of political standing.
Given the situation, with even the Jewish-American diaspora split on the move, Pakistan Today (PT) spoke to Americans from across the divide, including Israeli-Americans, Palestinian-Americans, celebrities, journalists, writers, activists, as well as everyday law-abiding citizens.
“Trump’s decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem is aimed at the Evangelical Christian Zionist base, who think that US support of Israel plays a huge role in the End of Times,” American stand-up comedian Jeremy McLellan told Pakistan Today.
“They’re actually trying to start the Armageddon. Trump is losing support and he needs to give stuff to his Protestant Christian base,” elaborated the comic on the extreme religious dynamics at play in the matter.
Fellow comic and Iranian-American Maz Jobrani also weighed in, telling Pakistan Today that “[Trump] seems to be stirring a bee’s nest at a time when we need to be working on a solution towards peace. In typical Trump fashion, he’s throwing things into further turmoil.”
New York-based journalist and artist Molly Crabapple was less politically correct with her statements, declaring, “Trump is like a toddler who [defecates] in the corner of a room, then tries to distract from it by [defecataing] in another corner. All of his decisions should be read in this light.”
But she went on to agree with McLellan’s comments, saying that “Obviously, it’s horrific—influenced by lunatic evangelicals, who think moving the capital will bring on the apocalypse.”
Anthropologist and writer Laurie King also toed this line, telling PT, “It’s madness! But among Trump’s evangelical Christian Zionist base, though, it is welcomed as a step towards Armageddon.”
The general feeling continued to be that Trump is doing nothing more than pandering to his floundering base, with singer from Stratford, Dylan Connor, telling Pakistan Today, “I feel that Trump is scoring political points with his base at home. Trump is an utter embarrassment to the majority of Americans, and a danger to the world.”
Intercept journalist Murtaza Hussain also declared it a move of hostility against the Palestinian people, saying, “It’s another sign of reckless and ideological policymaking by this administration.”
Jamal Dajani, a Palestinian-American journalist and an award-winning producer, also described the feeling amongst Palestinian Americans telling Pakistan Today: “Palestinian Americans are disgusted by Trump, but not surprised by his action, as his anti-Arab, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant [policies] are evidence that he was not going to be on the side of the Palestinians. At the same time, Congress’ blind support of Israel is by no means a reflection of American citizens’ attitude.”
A large portion of the general American public, too, has been agitated by the event. This was also reflected in Pakistan Today’s sampling of Americans from all over the country.
Jose Obregon, 44, from Houston, Texas told PT: “I’m against it as I think it’ll make relations worse with the Middle East.” Cheryl Seelhoff, a legal professional from Washington, said she was “horrified” while Carol Sughrue from Sacramento described it as “idiotic” and Florence McPartland, from New York, said she thought it was “an unnecessary and uncalled for provocation against the Palestinian people.”
Mary Scully, an activist from Saint Paul, Minnesota called it a “detestable provocation to the Palestinians,” adding that the move “exposes the US-brokered peace process as a fraud.”
While much of the Protestant base remained ecstatic given the religious deliverance that the move meant for them, even the Israeli-American diaspora remained divided over Trump’s actions. Jewish organisations for a two-state solution such as J Street, a liberal advocacy group, called it “an unhelpful step with no tangible benefits, only serious risks.”
There was also sharp criticism from prominent rabbis in the US, such as Rabbi David Shneyer, who said, “I don’t think a decision like this can be made by one individual, whether it’s the president of the United States or the creator of the universe.”
However, these were more anomalies than anything else, with the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) telling President Trump “history will honour you as one of Israel’s greatest friends.”
And as one Trump supporter, Ricardo Regalado, 35, from Houston, explained: “I agree with [Trump’s decision]. I think according to historical records, Jerusalem is and always was the capital of Israel. Trump declared what was already a fact.”
The situation which has so greatly irked the global community as yet another violation against the Palestinian people has also ripped yet another chasm into the American political reality. Jose Obregon, from Houston, Texas summed it up by saying, “So, basically, conservatives, republicans—one and the same really— ‘Christians’ and Chickenhawks are for it, whereas progressives and liberals are against it.”
And as Professor Stephen Zunes of the University of San Francisco analysed, “The decision further reduces the chances of Israeli-Palestinian peace. He is likely wanting to take advantage of the popular outrage over the decision, and to use the subsequent terrorism to his own interests.”
Lastly, American journalist Bilal Abdul Kareem, who is currently covering the war in Syria, said, “Donald Trump is more honest than the previous administrations. Why the US president continues to support Israel at the expense of the American people is beyond me. So many terrorist attacks on innocent Americans are attributed to anger resulting from US support for Israel. It’s not clear why Americans keep letting this continue.”
Additional reporting by Abdullah Niazi