For Trump, Jerusalem Is An Extension Of A Global Culture War

The irony here is that, no matter the claims to age-old right that accompany the debate over Jerusalem, the current dispute is profoundly modern. An earlier generation of secular Zionists was disinterested in the holy city, an abode of myriad sects and zealots, and focused on building Tel Aviv and other modern visions of the new Israeli state. But that changed over decades of war.

"The Arab-Jewish conflict escalated into a nationalistic conflict, with Jerusalem at its center," said Yehoshua Ben-Arieh of Hebrew University to the New York Times. "Jerusalem was a city holy to three religions, but the moment that, in the land of Israel, two nations grew - the Jewish people and the local Arab people - both embraced Jerusalem. More than Jerusalem needed them, they needed Jerusalem."

No matter the age of the claim, however, it seems that Trump will allow only Israel to make it. At no point in his speech did he acknowledge majority-Arab East Jerusalem, which Israeli troops occupied in 1967 and which Palestinians view as the seat of their future state. And while he did not disavow American support for the two-state solution, Trump offered nothing like full-throated backing, saying he would support any solution "if agreed to by both sides." Ultimately, many experts concluded, the speech gave the right-wing Israeli government something it has long sought - and offered Palestinians nothing.

Beyond the many concerns that surround the sudden change in long-standing U.S. policy - not the least of which is a potential surge of violence - there's a glaring question: Why do this now? Trump, ever keen to be a disrupter, argued that the methods of the past need to be jettisoned to achieve a lasting peace deal, though it's hard to see how this particular defenestration will help. Some observers suggest instead that Trump was creating a distraction from his encroaching domestic controversies.

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Jerusalem is an extension of Trump's global culture war
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