Canadian Friends of Peace Now stands with our sister organization, Shalom Achshav in Israel, in protesting the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Peace Now has conducted a public campaign against the move under the slogan: “Not Like This, Not Now.” The Trump-led unilateral embassy initiative is seen as highly provocative and harmful to chances for eventual peace with the Palestinians. The initiative ignores the Palestinians’ aspirations for East Jerusalem as their future capital and it tacitly endorses Israeli claims to the entire city, while asking no concessions from Israel in return.
The timing of the relocation is also injudicious in the extreme. It comes a day before what Palestinians commemorate as Naqba Day-the mourning of their losses in the 1948 war-giving them more fuel for their fury and raising temperatures in an already steaming city to boiling point.
A not insignificant sidebar to all these storms was the kerfuffle over one of Peace Now’s demonstration signs. This was a large banner showing the Israeli and American flags on one side and the Palestinian and American flags on the other, and in the centre the words: “Two Embassies in Jerusalem: An Israeli Interest.” The message of the banner is that a two-state solution with two capitals in Jerusalem is in Israel’s own long-term interests.
Last week, in a pre-demonstration agreement, Jerusalem police approved the placement of the sign in an open area near the new embassy, then reneged on the agreement, calling the sign “incitement.” After the news outlet Ha’aretz began investigating, the police went back to their original position.
That the police would even contemplate banning such a sign shows the hypocrisy of the authorities. As Peace Now pointed out, the police were concerned about the “inciting” effects of a banner 300 metres away from the inauguration ceremony. But a day earlier, they allowed thousands of far-right activists to parade through the Old City in the annual Flag March, an event which has come to include racist slurs and harassment of Arabs.
The name “Jerusalem” in Hebrew suggests a “place of peace.” The city will never become so until Israelis and Palestinians find ways to share it as a capital. Exclusive claims are in neither people’s interest.