- - Monday, May 14, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The world did not end when President Trump withdrew from the Paris climate scheme, nor did the heavens fall when he insisted that the United States deserves a fair shake in the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement.

When he took his time showing the love for NATO, the fainting spells and hyperventilation within the establishment bubble was heartbreaking, if you count a broken heart for every light on Embassy Row. He nevertheless put the fear of God into the alliance’s freeloaders, who have been unwilling to pay their share of the bill for their own defense. Some of these nations are changing their tune, and perhaps will change even their behavior.

There was no end of gnashing of teeth and furrowing of brow when Mr. Trump declared in December that he would honor a campaign commitment routinely made and routinely broken by several of his predecessors, and move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to the actual capital of the Jewish state.

The Palestinian authorities, who regard the lives of their own people as cheap and easily disposable, rioted as expected Monday to mark the opening of the new American embassy, but “only” 50 demonstrators departed this life to collect their 67 (or 72 or 81) virgins in Islamic paradise. The Palestinians counted on a greater harvest to make their point.

The opening of the embassy was a moment of gratitude and celebration for the Israelis, and was for once not-so-characteristically multi-partisan. (The Israelis, like the Americans, practice a noisy democracy.) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke, and so did several of his parliamentary foes. Yair Lapid from the center and Isaac Herzog from the left showed up to cheer and praise both Mr. Trump and the United States for the doing the right thing. The scope of the promised Palestinian violence on the border disappointed the Muslim faithful; in Palestinian calculation the greater the number of their own dead the greater the impression they make on the outside world.

Several European leaders suggest they will keep their embassies in Tel Aviv, to show support for the status quo as it used to be. Teresa May says the British will stay behind, but if she really wants to make a dramatic, symbolic point for keeping an embassy out of the hubbub of the capital the British could move their large American embassy on Washington’s Massachusetts Avenue to Rockville in the Maryland suburbs, or even Baltimore. The French could relocate to Front Royal in Virginia, and the Dutch to the Eastern Shore, all to demonstrate that an embassy need not be in a nation’s capital at all. Close enough, like Tel Aviv in Israel, could suffice.

Bad faith abounds. Several television networks — the BBC, CNN and al-Jazeera among them — showed split screens, with the speeches and ceremonies marking the embassy opening on one side, and the clashes on the Gaza border on the other. This demonstrated that moving the embassy to Jerusalem set off the violence they had all predicted would come to pass. The split screen, one Israeli commentator said, was “a victory of sorts” for Hamas.

Israel, as usual, gets the condemnation for outrageous Palestinian violence. The Israelis are begged to show “restraint,” perhaps because the Europeans understand that such pleas to the Palestinians would be wasted breath. “France calls again for Israeli authorities to act with caution and restraint in the use of force, which must be strictly proportional,” said its foreign minister. The Irish foreign minister said moving the embassy “is inflaming already a very tense situation,” and his Dutch counterpart said his country does not “consider it a wise decision to move the embassy.”

The Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania, however, joined to block the 28 member nations of the European Union from issuing a statement condemning the American decision to put its embassy where it pleases. At the end of a tragic day of familiar bloodshed the American embassy in Israel was at last in Jerusalem, where that succession of American presidents promised they would put it. These were promises redeemed, but by Donald Trump.


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