What’s the significance of Trump’s Jerusalem Embassy Order? Not much, unless you make it so – by David Firester

by: David Firester

President Trump, in accordance with both his campaign promise and Congressional will, announced on December 6, 2017, that the United States will be moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.[1] In his pronouncement, the president did make some minor factual errors,[2] but on the whole he was accurate in describing the overall truth that Jerusalem is and always has been the center of not only the State of Israel, but of the Jewish people as well.

As there is bound to be some misunderstanding of the implications his decision is said to have, I will point to two. One has to do with geography, whereas the other is based on logic. Let me begin, however, with a brief note on context (or lack thereof).

As there is bound to be some misunderstanding of the implications his decision is said to have, I will point to two. One has to do with geography, whereas the other is based on logic. Let me begin, however, with a brief note on context (or lack thereof).

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Image U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel (REUTERS/Amir Cohen)U.S. EMBASSY IN TEL AVIV, ISRAEL (REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

Contextual Misinterpretation

There is perhaps no conflict less well understood, yet more highly charged, than that between Israel and its Arab neighbors. So much has occurred over time that the original facts have become buried by the new ground truth that emerges. Indeed, a great deal of what is believed to be factual turns out to be a series of myths.[3] There is even a group of academics (most of whom are Israeli), who have attempted to re-write history in ways that are less favorable to both Israel and the facts themselves. Their work, however, has been handily shown to be a farce.[4] Still, putting aside contextually-derived narrative fallacies,[5]there are reasons to view the president’s latest move as having little or no consequence whatsoever.

Geographical Misunderstanding

Moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is of little real consequence for the so-called “peace process,” although some have understandably argued the opposite to be true.[6] The reason is that the location being considered has nothing to do with the final status agreements on Jerusalem. Those negotiations have everything to do with the Old City, East Jerusalem and the region surrounding its northeastern/eastern/southeastern borders.

The capital of Israel, in Jerusalem, is best described in geographical terms as West Jerusalem. It was never under Jordanian rule, which the West Bank (also known as Judea and Samaria) and Old City were between 1949 and 1967, when the Hashemite Kingdom unilaterally expropriated it and instituted a blockade against Jewish and Christian travel.[7]

Image Map of Jerusalem [Source: Central Intelligence Agency, (2006)]

The Israeli capital region is also not one that has ever been under Palestinian control, as it was part of “Mandatory Palestine” under the British and considered lower Syria under the Ottomans prior to that. The negotiations that Israelis and Palestinians entered into during the 1990s centered on what to do with the Old City and East Jerusalem, which is where the Palestinians have advocated for their capital (al-Quds).[8] So, this move doesn’t jeopardize any final status agreement that might evolve from future negotiations between the two parties.

Image Map of Israel / Jerusalem [Source: CIA World Factbook]

Logically Fallacious Justifications for Violence

As with all matters in the region, the likelihood is that “rage” will ensue, as called for not only by Hamas, the terrorist entity that reigns over the Gaza strip, but other Palestinian leaders.[9] Indeed, if history is any guide, violent protests seem not only possible, but probable.[10] It already appears to be underway, although some of it might be more manufactured by propagandists, with the aid of complicit “journalists.”[11]

Whether or not rage manifests itself through violence remains to be seen. Nonetheless, I’d like to draw the reader’s attention to a logical fallacy that might elude the conscience of those who are critical for reasons that are more attributable to emotional instincts, rather than a sober consideration of what turn out to be largely inconsequential facts.

I’m specifically referencing what is known as a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy related to the violence that may ensue. I’ll explain what I mean through the following simple exercise. Let us remove the names of the protagonists and temporarily supplant them with simple letter variables. If A declares a diplomatic real estate arrangement with B, is it logical for C to attack B? Would it be appropriate for D, E and F to direct a diplomatic effort that puts pressure on B for A’s diplomatic overture? Some, who are emotionally averse toward B might argue it makes sense. Yet, if we remove the emotional attachment, the logic falls apart.

What I’m arguing is that when blame is inevitably cast for any violence that may occur, the victim should not be condemned for a crime it has not committed. Nor should it be scorned for an alleged offense committed by another.

Image Palestinians clash with Israeli troops during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017.(AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)


President Trump has simply reversed the status quo that the previous administration established in collusion with the United Nations (a long-time adversary to Israel’s interests).[12] For all the claims that there is some sort of “occupation”[13] of Arab land by the Jewish State, moving the U.S. embassy within the portion of Israel that has never been considered occupied by any party (except those who argue for the elimination of Jews from the continent entirely) shouldn’t evoke a violent reaction toward Israel (or the U.S. for that matter). Such a response would not only be misguided, but would be predicated on a misunderstanding of geography, coupled with a misapplication of logic.

Neither error justifies physical aggression.

David Firester, Lima Charlie News

David Firester, Lima Charlie’s Associate Editor and Intelligence & National Security Correspondent, is the founder and CEO of TRAC Intelligence, LLC. He is also a combat veteran, who held three Military Occupational Specialties in the U.S. Army and has served in a variety of domestic law enforcement roles. He holds advanced degrees in political science and serves as an adjunct instructor at Baruch College in New York City. Contact David @ [email protected]

Lima Charlie provides global news, insight & analysis by military veterans and service members Worldwide.

For up-to-date news, please follow us on twitter at @LimaCharlieNews


[1] The official statement can be found here, “Presidential Proclamation Recognizing Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel and Relocating the United States Embassy to Israel to Jerusalem.” It’s accessible online at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/12/06/presidential-proclamation-recognizing-jerusalem-capital-state-israel-and. For a list of somewhat bipartisan endorsements collected by the White House see “WTAS: Support for President Trump’s Decision to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital.” Office of the Press Secretary; accessible online at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/12/07/wtas-support-president-trumps-decision-recognize-jerusalem-israels.

[2] See Morton Klein’s statement, “ZOA Strongly Praises President Trump for Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital – Moving Embassy There.” ZOA online, December 6, 2017; accessible online at https://zoa.org/2017/12/10377237-zoa-strongly-praises-president-trump-for-recognizing-jerusalem-as-israels-capital-moving-embassy-there/.

[3] Although there are many books and articles that aim to dispel the myths by way of drawing attention to the facts, a few deserve special consideration. See Mitchell G. Bard, ed. Myths and facts: A guide to the Arab-Israeli conflict. AICE, 2002. There is a free downloadable version of the 400-page book available at http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/images/mf2017.pdf.

[4] See Efraim Karsh. Fabricating Israeli history: the” new historians”. Vol. 10. Taylor & Francis, 2000.

[5] See Nassim Nicholas Taleb. The black swan: The impact of the highly improbable. Vol. 2. Random House, 2010. The narrative fallacy is largely discussed in chapter 6, and defined in the glossary on 303 as “our need to fit story or pattern to a series of connected or disconnected facts.” It is, as he points out, quite natural for most people to succumb to its power, as an enduring feature of human thought processes.

[6] See J. David Thompson. “Donald Trump and Jerusalem – What Will Become of Israel’s Holy City?” Lima Charlie News, December 12, 2016; accessible online at https://limacharlienews.com/mena/donald-trump-and-jerusalem/.

[7] To put matters into context, 58 synagogues were destroyed under the watchful eye of the Arab Legion forces. The area was also under perpetual artillery bombardment by the Arabs. See Herzog, Chaim. The Arab-Israeli Wars. Random House, Incorporated, 1985; pp. 62-63. Also, see Eli E. Hertz’s online supplement to Myths and Facts, pp. 11-12 for an account of Arab-Israeli Muslims being barred from entry to the Old City as well, in “Jerusalem: One Nation’s Capital Throughout History,” accessible online at http://www.mythsandfacts.org/Conflict/3/Jerusalem.pdf. In fact, one can go enter the Tower of David Museum through the Jaffa Gate and once inside see the actual written record of Jordanian snipers aiming at Jews from the western façade’s narrow firing positions.

[8] A general map of Jerusalem from the 2000 negotiations can be found here: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/map-of-the-proposed-division-of-jerusalem. For details of the negotiations, see Dennis Ross. The missing peace: The inside story of the fight for Middle East peace. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005.

[9] See Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “PA Promises Bloodshed if Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Capital of Israel.” Palestinian Media Watch, December 6, 2017; accessible online at https://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=24445.

[10] For a series of books that are not only factual, but demonstrate that a penchant for anti-Semitic violence is masked as mere disdain for Zionism, I highly recommend three sequential books by Alan Dershowitz: The Case for Israel. John Wiley & Sons, (2003); The case for peace: how the Arab-Israeli conflict can be resolved. John Wiley & Sons, (2005); The Case Against Israel’s Enemies: Exposing Jimmy Carter and Others Who Stand in the Way of Peace, (2008). This last book really takes aim at what amounts to a farcical diatribe written by two otherwise very accomplished scholars (Mearsheimer and Walt).

[11] See Bassam Tawil, “The Real Palestinian Response to Trump’s Jerusalem Speech.” The Gatestone Institute, December 7, 2017; accessible online at https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/11508/trump-jerusalem-speech-palestinians. Indeed, “Pallywood,” a term apparently coined by Richard Landes, is a big industry in the region. For a journalist’s first-hand account, see Hunter Stuart, “How a Pro-Palestinian American Reporter Changed his Views on Israel and the Conflict.” The Jerusalem Post. February 15, 2017; accessible online at http://www.jpost.com/Jerusalem-Report/A-view-from-the-frontlines-480829. Also, see “Ex-AP Reporter Reveals: Int’l Media Coverage of Israel is a ‘Bluff.’” The Jewish Press, October 17, 2017; accessible online at http://www.jewishpress.com/news/media/ex-ap-reporter-reveals-intl-media-coverage-of-israel-is-a-bluff/2017/10/17/. Among the many antidotes to this long-standing tradition of ‘fake news’ is CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), http://www.camera.org/.

[12] See Alan Dershowitz, “Why Trump is Right in Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital.” The Gatestone Institute, December 7, 2017; accessible online at https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/11509/trump-jerusalem-israel.

[13] For a factual account, among many, that there has never been such an “occupation” see Efraim Karsh. “What Occupation?” COMMENTARY-NEW YORK-AMERICAN JEWISH COMMITTEE- 114.1 (2002): 46-51.

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