Trump is king of Jerusalem with Palestinian blood on his hands
Yonden Lhatoo is appalled by the slaughter of Palestinians by Israeli forces this week, and blames Donald Trump for provoking and allowing the bloodshed
Donald Trump has to be the most popular US president in history. In Israel, that is.
They just adore him out there. They’re even minting coins bearing his image and naming Jerusalem’s top soccer team after him.
And why not? Trump is making every dream come true for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a grim reaping hardliner who heads the most right-wing and extreme Israeli government ever and has pretty much flushed the last, tattered vestiges of the Middle East peace process down the toilet.
In fact Trump seems to be systematically ticking off a ruthless bucket list for Netanyahu, from helping the Israelis vilify, isolate and confront arch-enemy Iran – going to insanely dangerous extremes such as bombing Syria and pulling out of the Iranian nuclear deal – to moving the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem this week.
Trump’s official recognition of Jerusalem as the “eternal” capital of Israel was bound to have tragic consequences for provoking the Palestinians, who dream of having their own country some day with occupied East Jerusalem as their capital.
And yet he went ahead, knowing full well what the Israelis were capable of doing to protesters.
So now we have at least 60 Palestinians dead and nearly 3,000 injured, many of them maimed and crippled for life, all thanks to Trump.
The split-screen depiction on television of the events of May 14 has to be one of the most sickening and profoundly disturbing spectacles of these morally reprehensible times we live in.
While on the one side, it was all champagne, singing and celebration, with close-ups of a glamorous Ivanka Trump leading a White House delegation at the unveiling ceremony for the new US embassy in Jerusalem, the other showed cold-blooded slaughter and carnage just 80km away at the Gaza border, where tens of thousands of Palestinians had assembled to protest.
While drones dropped tear gas on the crowds, more than 100 snipers positioned along the Israeli side of the border fence slowly and methodically picked off unarmed civilians, one by one, for hours on end. They shot to kill or cripple.
The snipers were using high-velocity rifles, and doctors treating gunshot wounds in overwhelmed hospital wards said the bullets exploded on impact to cause maximum damage, leaving fist-sized holes in victims’ bodies or shattering their legs.
The Israelis claim they were preventing an invasion of “terrorists” deployed by Hamas, the elected fundamentalist group that rules Gaza. Militants in the crowds were seen throwing petrol bombs, but, as it has been widely pointed out, there was no serious threat to Israeli soldiers.
Their response was “wholly disproportionate”, as the United Nations’ human rights chief put it, also noting the Palestinians’ real grievance beyond the embassy provocation – two million of them “caged in a toxic slum”, crying out to an uncaring world that life has become unlivable in Gaza. Crippling and vengeful Israeli blockades have turned this 360 sq km coastal corridor into “hell on Earth”.
If you start counting from March 30, when the Palestinians launched their “Great March of Return” campaign to demand they be allowed to go back to the land they were kicked out of, Israeli forces have killed at least 110 of them, including dozens of children, and injured more than 12,000.
UN Security Council paralysed after 59 Gaza protesters are shot dead while US ambassador applauds Israel’s ‘restraint’
Trump doesn’t give a damn. With the next presidential election already in mind, he’s going gung ho for Israel to pander to his massive evangelical Christian voter base, a 50 million-strong demographic which actually believes he is fulfilling biblical prophecy and heralding Armageddon.
America’s Bible Belt sees Trump as the hand of God who will bring about the end of days through war in the Middle East and provide a one-way ticket to heaven for the faithful. They even see him as a reincarnated Cyrus the Great, an ancient Persian king credited with freeing the Jews from captivity in Babylon and helping them return to the Holy Land. Netanyahu has publicly likened him to Cyrus.
It may sound like crazy stuff, but the impact is real and it’s happening. And Palestinians are being massacred in the bargain.
Give King Donald the Nobel Peace Prize already.
Yonden Lhatoo is the chief news editor at the Post