President Donald Trump’s decision last week recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital sparked global outrage. The Arab world quite naturally condemned the controversial move. A statement by the 22 members of the Arab League, described the decision as “dangerous and unacceptable” and a “flagrant attack on a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” This view was shared by most of the international community including US close allies. French President Emmanuel Macron gave a similar statement declaring that France did not approve the US decision. “France supports the Two-State Solution, Israel and Palestine, living in peace and security, with Jerusalem as the capital of both States. We must prefer appeasement and dialogue,” according to Macron.
Appeasement seems antithetical to Trump’s political trajectory. Since his nomination last year, the US president has collected controversial policies. His approach to North Korea, marked by unprecedented aggressive rhetoric, is referred to as a “madman strategy” by retired General David Petraeus. Instead of toning down bellicose language, the President doubled down, vowing to answer the regime’s aggression with “fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen before.” On the matter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Trump declared that his decision was in agreement with his “longstanding commitment to a future of peace and security for the region.” Yet, once again, the president does not support appeasement policies and fuels tensions in the region. Arab officials say that the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel risks plunging the Middle-East into “violence and chaos”.
At the same time it complicates relations between the US and the Arab world. Trump already had domestic policies tinged with Islamophobia. His travel ban on several Muslim majority countries underscored this. It alienated the Muslim minority of America while sending a negative message to the Arab world who adhere to Islam, the religion having an official status in most countries. America’s image had already been tarnished in the region for decades; the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan reinforced the negative perception of the US. George W. Bush has been largely condemned and criticized for his military interventions part of his Global War on Terror. Yet, he insisted on the important difference between terrorism and Islam. In the days following 9/11 he declared: “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.” This important distinction is ignored by Trump, who equates Islam and violence and builds tensions around religious beliefs and racial factors. He supports a Huntingtonian view of the world which could turn this “dangerous fantasy” into reality.
The decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital illustrates the US’s confrontational politics. Trump does not favor appeasement when it comes to foreign or domestic policy. While it sometimes has its merits, it is also very risky and can have disastrous consequences. When dealing with the Arab World, Trump fuels resentment towards his nation. Moderates must reject this decision as it is ready made advertising for terrorist and instead work to build a future of peace and security for the region.
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