May 15, 2018

About the New US Embassy

Random thoughts on the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem:

The president's daughter and son-in-law officially represented the United States, with Jared Kushner giving a long speech (one that, like many delivered around this time of year, had at least three or four endings) and Ivanka Trump 'helping' Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin pull the tarp off the dedication plaque. Here's a photo, in case you hadn't seen one (from JTA).

Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Noteworthy in the picture? The size of Trump's hands name, equal in significance to the name of the country to whom the embassy belongs. Noteworthy in Kushner's speech? The fact that he either ad-libbed or the White House edited the press copy of the speech to leave out the part about Palestinian protesters being part of the problem. I lean more towards the WH editing it (more on that in another post).

The embassy that was dedicated yesterday is in part of the US Consulate General; a permanent site will be chosen and then the real embassy will be built, so while the US Ambassador will be there part time (the rest of his time at the old embassy in Tel Aviv) and a few dozen staffers will also be assigned there, it's not really going to be a typical US embassy.

While the dedication was going on, nearly 60 protesters were killed and over 1300 were injured in Gaza. Pictures of protesters burning tires and hurling rocks towards the Israeli border fence were contrasted with video of people being tear gassed, and shot, by the Israeli soldiers. I can literally only imagine the sentiments on both sides, but the disproportion in weaponry seemed clear in what I saw on television.  (Reports today are that pipe bombs were thrown towards the fence, and that some of those injured or killed were Hamas terrorists, not 'just' protesters).  But still...

In the aftermath of the dedication, and the protests, these headlines were reported, again in JTA:
  • NY Governor Andrew Cuomo postpones solidarity trip to Israel
  • Turkey expels Israeli ambassador over Gaza violence
  • Palestinian protests as Gaza border delayed as funerals take place for at least 58 dead
  • Reform leader 'alarmed, concerned and profoundly saddened' by Gaza deaths
  • Turkey recalls ambassadors to US and Israel amid Gaza Violence 
Meanwhile, the US blamed Hamas for the violence and resulting injuries and deaths; the United Nations held a moment of silence

Ireland and Belgium summoned Israeli envoys, while Germany, while Germany joined those two countries in calling for an investigation; even China called for restraint.

And finally, back to who was representing the US - and us - at the ceremony, we have this:
A Dallas evangelical pastor who once said that Jewish people are going to hell and a mega church televangelist who claimed Hitler was part of God's plan to return Jews to Israel both played prominent roles on Monday in the opening ceremony of the new American Embassy in Jerusalem.
Robert Jeffress, who spoke at President Trump's private inaugural prayer service and is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, delivered a prayer at the opening ceremony on Monday, while the Rev. John C. Hagee, a televangelist who founded Christians United for Israel and leads a San Antonio mega church, gave the closing benediction. 
Comically, the White House expressed a lack of knowledge of how Jeffress and Hagee were chosen. Here's an exchange between Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah and an unidentified reporter:
Q: Thank you, Raj. I wanted to ask you about the embassy opening today. The person who delivered the invocation, Robert Jeffress, he's made some statements in the past that he believes Muslims are going to hell, Jews are going to hell, Hindus are going to hell. Do you think that, considering especially his remarks about Jews, that he's one of the right people to speak at the opening of our embassy in Israel? And can you give us a little more information on how that came to be?
A.  Well, I honestly don't know how that came to be. And I know that Pastor Jeffress has had a strong relationship with many people in the faith community, as well as folks in the administration, and Republicans on the Hill, and others, and I believe Democrats as well. So I think that he has a longstanding involvement with public officials. You know, beyond that, I don't really have a whole lot to add.
To make things worse, another reporter noted that Jared & Ivanka met with a controversial rabbi.
Q. Separate from that, on Sunday Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump met with Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, the Chief Sephardic rabbi in Israel. And he once compared black people to monkeys. So I'm wondering, in all three of these instances can you tell us anything about how these people were brought into the ceremonies? And do you think it's regrettable that people with these views were involved with the American government?
A.  I don't have any readout on how they became involved with these events. All I'll say is that those specific views that you outlined, if they're accurate reflections of what was said, wouldn't be embraced by this White House. Beyond that, I don't have anything else. 
Nor do I.

No comments:

Post a Comment