The United States’ Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and the Challenge to the International Consensus

by Mandy Turner , Mahmud Muna | published May 16, 2018

On December 6, 2017, US President Donald Trump announced that the US was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would be moving its embassy there from Tel Aviv in fulfillment of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act. In one fell swoop, the US has seriously challenged 70 years of international consensus enshrined in international law as regards the status of the city, and put the potential for a two-state solution into a tail-spin. In keeping with the general chaos surrounding his presidency, Trump and his administration then announced a series of contradictory remarks regarding this historic decision. The original declaration insisted that the decision did not affect final status negotiations regarding Jerusalem, a position that was confirmed by then secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, a few days later. In so doing, Trump threw the diplomatic equivalent of a Molotov cocktail into the incendiary issue of Jerusalem’s status, but then denied he had done so, arguing that his decision was “nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality. But then Trump contradicted himself in a January 3, 2018 tweet, where he stated: “we have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table.” Deciphering the different meanings in Trump’s statements and language is less important than the implications that this decision will have for future diplomatic policy and practice.

BDS in a Time of Precarity

Graduate Students, Untenured Faculty and Solidarity with Palestine

by Omar Sirri
published in MER281

The University of Toronto is not known as a particularly progressive institution. Like many universities, it has adopted neoliberal thinking and practice, becoming part of Academia, Inc. But two seemingly unrelated events during the 2014-2015 academic year showcased the increasing political activity of the school’s graduate student body.

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The Ties That Bind

by Stacey Philbrick Yadav
published in MER281

Yemeni-American activist Rabyaah al-Thaibani was born in Ta‘izz, Yemen’s largest city, in 1977. She moved to the United States as a child to join her father, who was working nights cleaning office buildings in Manhattan. She grew up in Brooklyn, attended Columbia University and since has worked in community development in New York City.

The Travel Ban and Iranian-Americans

by Semira N. Nikou | published May 9, 2017

By the end of his first few weeks in office, President Donald Trump had managed to rile up most everyone in the country who was not agitated already. Of the many unsettling Trump initiatives, one of the most contentious has been his effort to make good on campaign promises of “extreme vetting” of immigrants and visitors from abroad, particularly those from Muslim-majority countries. When he first tried it, in late January, immigration lawyers and protesters turned US airports into hives of resistance, helping affected travelers navigate the new barriers to their entry.

Open Hillel

A New Campus Politics on Israel

by Mimi Kirk
published in MER280

Lodge 5 at Swarthmore College is a dignified building in gray stone, the aesthetic match of much of the rest of the bucolic campus located 20 miles outside Philadelphia. The structure houses three floors supporting Jewish student life: a kosher kitchen, a lounge and a library whose walls are heavy with such texts as the Talmud and Midrash. It is the natural place for Kehilah, Swarthmore’s Jewish student group, to meet in order to plan events and attend to other business.

From the Editors

by The Editors
published in MER280

The surprise election of Donald Trump as president of the United States has already had a dramatic and troubling impact on the domestic politics and foreign policy of the US, and it is sure to affect international relations around the world. Trump is the very caricature of the most negative aspects of the US at its worst—celebrity culture, xenophobia, bigotry, sexism, greed, arrogance and ignorance. Certainly, his corruption, his erratic personal behavior and his seemingly cozy relations with the alt-right and Russian President Vladimir Putin have combined to create an unprecedented situation in the White House. It would be a mistake, however, to focus solely on Trump himself. Doing so risks reducing real and alarming agendas to a personality-driven phenomenon.

From the Editor

published in MER279

At a State Department ceremony on September 14 the United States and Israel signed a Memorandum of Understanding promising $38 billion in military aid to Israel over the ten years from 2019 to 2028. As the White House was quick to point out, it is the largest single military aid package ever pledged by the US to any country, demonstrating President Barack Obama’s “unshakable commitment to Israeli security.”

The Palestine Exception to Free Speech in America

by Joshua Stacher | published February 17, 2016 - 5:51pm

Omar Shakir and Megan Marzec came to northeastern Ohio last week to discuss the constraints on speech about research and activism with regard to Palestinian rights. Their host was the Northeast Ohio Consortium on Middle East Studies (NOCMES).

Letter to Bernie, II

by Joel Beinin | published February 15, 2016 - 11:13am

Dear Sen. Sanders,

I’m a contributor to your campaign and enthusiastically support your bold, relentless critique of the billionaire class that is undermining democracy and making a decent life impossible for millions of people. I’d like you to speak more about how big money has been a destructive force in shaping our foreign policy as much, if not more, than our domestic policies. Perhaps no issue exemplifies this problem like Israel-Palestine.

Letter to Bernie

by The Editors | published February 11, 2016 - 2:49pm

Dear Sen. Sanders,

Congratulations on your strong showing in Iowa and your victory in New Hampshire.

It’s exciting to see Democratic primary voters—especially younger ones—choosing your program of social democracy over the unfettered liberal capitalism to which they’ve always been told there’s no alternative. They’re making that choice even though you call yourself a “socialist” and refuse to disavow the label amid the corporate media’s sneers. Imagine that—voters think they should decide who’s electable.