Trump and Jerusalem

Gaza after the previous Israeli bombing

Trump has just offered two early Christmas presents to the imperialist project in Israel. This article briefly explains the wider context for this provocation.

Trump, like the god of war, has unleashed another of his dazzling thunderbolts. His declaration that the American embassy will be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a bomb blast in a geographical and political situation where more bombs are certainly not needed. Although at the moment this is only a virtual bomb, the real and exterminating versions will continue to torment the Middle East for years. The declaration itself might have gone unnoticed if it had been any other head of state, in any other area of the globe, in a less delicate context. But it wasn’t.

The meaning of the statement sounds like a trumpet blast, a sign of war that is music to the Zionist ears of Netanyahu and stuns the Palestinian world, revitalising the clash between the two irreconcilable nationalisms. The removal of the American embassy to Jerusalem is a sign that the American government no longer sanctions the policy (always in words but never in deeds) of two peoples, two states, but that there is now only one state with Jerusalem as its capital. It’s just the same for “peoples”. There is now only one people, the Israeli the other, the Palestinian, is just an old side effect of UN Resolution 181 of 1947 and, therefore, a mere leftover from the first Arab-Israeli war.

Reactions were not slow in coming. Mogherini immediately let it be known, on behalf of the European Union, that the American example will not have many imitators. French President Macron has even accused Trump of putting the peace process in the Middle East in doubt even if, it must be said, the two nationalisms have never been able to find the right path on the much travelled road towards a "negotiated solution". Not only has Israel repeatedly rejected the idea, but the heavy interference of the local imperialisms, and not just over the Israeli-Palestinian question, have always been more about confrontation between their respective opposing interests than solving the problem.

Turkey, in the shape of President Erdogan has heavily railed against Trump and US policy in the Middle East, using terms like "slaughterers" of unarmed populations, "killers" of children and violators of any peace process and instigators of conflicts that risks war across the entire Mediterranean chessboard. With these ringing declarations he aims to defend the (Sunni) Palestinian people and hopes to play a winning card against the silence of Saudi Arabia and its political and military appeasement of those who have always been on Israel’s side and never on the side of the Palestinians. It is a card that, if well played, would give a significant advantage to Ankara over Saudi Arabia in their duel with for leadership within the Sunni world. It should be added that Erdogan’s vehemence against Trump, who he defines as absolutely "unreliable" for international stability, stems from his resentment at American policy in the war against the "disruptive" Islamic State, in US support for Kurdish formations in Syrian territory and in Iraq. Kurdish formations that Erdogan does not even want to hear spoken about, in case he finds the nationalist problem in Syria and Iraq repeated at home, with a reinvigorated PKK.

Putin's Russia, which is considered the real winner in the war against the Islamic State: so much so that it has begun withdrawing troops from Syria, complemented his condemnation in words of Trump's move with some deeds of his own. The new "Tsar" immediately sought out Bashar el Assad to toast victory, to emphasise Russian military presence in the Mediterranean and to emphasise that in Syria the Alawite regime cannot be touched. Its only authorised guardian is Moscow and only Moscow. In the wake of this victory Putin is now trying to go beyond Russia’s traditional Middle Eastern imperialist role. After his visit to Damascus he made overtures to the Sunni world by organising diplomatic, economic and politically strategic meetings with King Hussein of Jordan and Egypt’s al Sisi, now more and more secure in power in Cairo and increasingly suspicious in his relations with the USA. China and Iran have also joined this chorus of criticism. Although economically and strategically divided on various issues, they agree that they are opposed to Trump's move.

The most highly regarded bourgeois analysts on Trump's "shot" on Jerusalem stick to general remarks. For some this episode, however serious, is only the umpteenth attempt by the American President to wipe out all political traces of his predecessor: In this case guilty of having married the idea of the two states and two peoples in order to try to give a "peaceful and definitive" solution to the Israeli-Palestinian question.

Others explain the "shot" more as a result of a difficult situation at home where Trump is in serious difficulties over the "Russiagate" scandal and has a very low approval rating, both with the American public and in his own party. In other words, it could just be a move to secure the support of the pro-Israel lobby in an attempt to boost the opinion polls before the imminent mid-term election.

All valid considerations, at least in part, but which only scratch the surface of the problem triggered by Trump's decision to move the embassy headquarters. The real reasons are to be found in the imminent closure of the battlefield phase of the struggle against the Islamic State which is triggering a political and diplomatic clash over the division of strategic zones in the vast territory of liberated "Siraq". As in all post-war periods, the winning powers present themselves at the "checkout" to receive their pay back in the form of military or commercial influence, exploitation of resources or just for the "control" of strategic geographical areas with the related reconstruction business. More precisely, it appears that the majority shareholder Putin manages the "checkout" and that on the ground he has collected the most "points", allowing him to keep Assad in Damascus, to make use of military bases, build new ones, and deal directly with Cairo and Amman, as never before. Negotiations underway clearly aim to expand Russia’s presence in the Mediterranean militarily, with control of a strategic area of primary importance that connects Europe to North Africa and the Middle East as well as ensure the sale of its gas. The aim is also to deepen ties with Erdogan’s Turkey on both the military and energy (Turkish Stream) fronts. All this at the expense of the US, which entered the Syrian war (under the pretence of fighting jihadist terrorism) precisely to prevent Russia from doing all this.

A first response to Putin's aggression was the inclusion of Israel among the countries that could benefit from "administrative licences", in the hypothetical partition of some Syrian territories. According to Trump's plans, part of southern Syria would be under Jerusalem's control as a demilitarised zone. In fact this area is contiguous with the Golan Heights which both Syria and Israel regard as key for securing their water supply and for securing their own borders. It would be a gift to Israel that would definitively end the dispute with Syria over the return of the Heights (conquered in 1967 during the Six Day War). The addition of this area, north of the Heights themselves, would act as a deep "buffer zone" between the two states, pushing the Syrian border away from the Israeli border.

The USA’s second response is the declaration that the capital of the state of Israel should be Jerusalem. It is a statement that destroys any idea of two states and two peoples with only one capital divided in half. Trump's declaration, as the subtext implies, removes any hesitation about recognising the uniqueness and indivisibility of the state of Israel, except for some "reservation" to be granted to the Palestinian population. It is another gift, however unexpected, that Netanyahu was quick to accept. It will strengthen a "friendship" between the two countries that, in this particular historical phase, in the context of current imperialist competition, moreover in the heart of a region with a high-density of opposing interests, must absolutely be brought to fruition and soon.

American imperialism is in obvious difficulty in the Middle East, allied only to a hesitating Saudi Arabia. Turkey is forever see-sawing but lately is more inclined towards the Russia-China axis despite the latter’s closeness to Iran. Iran is ready to resume its prominent role in the Caspian imperialist terrain in collaboration with the ever-present Russia. Trump's gifts to Netanyahu are nothing less than the attempt to engage Israel on the anti-Shiite and anti-Russian front in an imperialist duel that so far has produced wars, disasters and barbarism. It is preparing for more massacres and further barbarism in the ferocious logic of a capitalist crisis of production brought about by low profitability. In this same violent scenario the umpteenth tragedy of entire populations, of proletarians and peasants delivered to the slaughter, relentlessly enlisted in the factions of their respective bourgeoisies, who in turn choose their imperialist camps, will be played out. The victims will fight for interests that are not their own but those of their class enemies. They are victims of bourgeois ideology and the interests of capital which it serves and which sends them to be slaughtered.

14 December 2017

Translated from Italian by the CWO

Posted By

Dec 17 2017 10:19


  • Trump's gifts to Netanyahu are nothing less than the attempt to engage Israel on the anti-Shiite and anti-Russian front in an imperialist duel that so far has produced wars, disasters and barbarism.

    Fabio Damen

Attached files


Dec 18 2017 13:23

I agree with the main lines of the approach of the above text and the emphasis it places on the root of the US decision being in the context of its rivalry with Russia in the Middle East and preparations for further confrontation now that Isis is on the run. It's a welcome relief to see an internationalist position on the M.E. denouncing all sides rather than the support for this or that section of imperialist cannon-fodder. The underlying cause of the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, already a fact for years, is the geostrategic manoeuvring for future confrontations.

The article however greatly underestimates the real winner in the Middle Eastern stakes and that is Iran. The weakening of the US in the region is underlined by the unprecedented strengthening and reach of Iran. This weakening of the US is also underlined by the fact of its support for a Saudi-Israeli axis to confront Iran (and behind it, Russia) is an alliance that is fraught with difficulties and problems.. Will return to this with more detail.

In the meantime, the "recognition" has once again brought out the left of capital in Britain mobilising for the Palestinian "cause"; remember their odious slogan "we are all Hamas"? And it's thrown a spectacular lifeline to the jihadi's now that their Caliphate has been bombed down the drain. As far as the majority of the population of the West Bank and Gaza are concerned, they are well aware that the "Peace process" has been dead and buried for years.

Also a link here for a recent article on Turkey:

Kerian Alverman
Dec 20 2017 10:42

This is an article that I just published 6 days ago;

On self-determination and opportunist leftism.

In left-wing organizations the question of the Palestine surmounts any other question of national emancipation. To strip the issue of all kinds of distortions, we need to look at the nature of this conflict.
This is a war between two rivalling tribes that dates back as far as perhaps 5000 years. When the Jews returned to Israel at the beginning of the 20th century the conflict re-emerged. Jewish settlers bought Palestinian land. In capitalism, property is holy, yet in the second world war the Palestinians collaborated with the Nazis. In the 1970’s – being as opportunist as can be – the Palestinian cause switched sides and looked for the support of the Cominform, which they obtained. In 1973 a coalition of Arab states waged war against Israel.
This is not a national question. This is a territorial issue fought between capitalist states. Why would one support the Palestinians, yet not support the independence struggle of the Flemish in Belgium or of the Irish? With communism no longer existent in China and Russia, the Palestinian question changed nature. It is far from progressive to wear a Palestinian scarf nowadays. Yes, Israel is a capitalist nation, but so is the Palestinian state. And in the last two decades they have turned to radical Islam. There are more socialists, Trotskyists, anarchists, communists and other left-wing people in general in Israel than in the Palestinian territories. Would communists support Opus Dei, because they are radical? A monkey can throw a rock, but that does not make him into a communist revolutionary (unless he maybe threw it at a guard in the zoo). A Nazi can throw a rock as well.
Yes, we should support the Palestinian trade unions and communist organizations in their daily struggle against any state (But kill your own Buddha first!). It is never communist, socialist or anarchist to support the Palestinian government. For there are racist, anti-Jewish, neo-Nazi bigots that are part of that government.
Neither is it communist to spread biased propaganda movies made in Palestine about the evil Israeli state. I personally saw some anti-Semitic movies both at a PvdA meeting in Belgium and at an Anarchist camp in The Netherlands. Communists produce their own propaganda. And Lenin is very clear about this issue in one of the classics of Marxism “The right of nations to self-determination” [].
The Nazis drove millions of people out of their homes. Did not China and the Soviet Union allow these people to return to their homes after the war? The recent position of the Arab states in defense of a Palestinian East-Jerusalem is the best proof that this is not a struggle for independence, but a question of pan-Arabic and Muslim culture expansion in the area. Saudi Arabia and Dubai are not innocent in this matter.
Does not the Torah describe the territory of the Jews? And does not the Quran accept the Torah as a book of God (Surah 3 Verse 3)? It seems that the Quran is often followed by the Arab leaders when it suits their interests. In the meanwhile the Arab working class is poverty stricken and fighting poor Israeli workers, whilst their sheiks and princes live in palaces with golden taps. Perhaps we should ship some rocks to Dubai and Qatar in order for the poor Palestinian workers to throw at those expensive 5-star hotels and big Rolls Royce limousines?!

Jan 10 2018 13:04

A bit more on the Trump/Jerusalem move and the wider Saudi coalition/Iranian movements in the war in Yemen here: