Stop the pyromaniac!

The unilateral decision of the US President to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and to move the American Embassy there is an act of pyromania!

The UN Security Council resolutions are clear: the status of Jerusalem can only be clarified once a two-state solution is reached. Trump’s announcement was bound to provoke reactions by the Palestinians, people in the wider Middle East and those Israelis who work hard to re-establish a peace process worthy of the name. Violent protests in the West Bank and Gaza strip were to be expected. This decision comes just as the two factions of FATAH and HAMAS have signed an agreement on cooperation, an important step towards the preparation of a new phase of peace negotiations.

It is difficult to understand what the motivation behind Trump’s move was. It cannot be either wisdom or political sense. It gives the impression that this ignorant man does not care about the bigger picture, and manages his country and “his” world like a big company, only making deals to his advantage. Looking at the nepotism and sexism he stands for, it is kind of a cultural backlash. He is supported by a populist anti-Washington and anti-establishment wave of either those who do not care about any societal responsibility – the very rich – and those who have lost faith in democracy as they have lost any perspective of professional and personal integration – the very poor.

The division of the US is worrying and is accompanied in Europe by similar processes in countries that are at risk of moving to a more authoritarian model. Again we see that nothing can taken for granted: neither democracy nor social progress.

It remains our conviction that civil society organisations are key actors in promoting peace, educating and softening the feelings of hatred between the Palestinian and Israeli societies and we will continue to urge the EU to provide more support and space to civil society to enable it to build bridges for peace and understanding in yet another difficult period the region will be facing as a consequence of the US move. We count on the real wisdom and reasoning of our High Representative, Federica Mogherini to make a difference. We will continue to support our partners in both countries to keep engaged in dialogue and to contribute to preventing a new wave of violence which can only result in victims on both sides.

At the same time we need to develop cooperation with our academic and civil society partners in the US as we have shared concerns. Europe is in a difficult situation, but we see some progress on social and economic development. Our social and welfare system is the true cultural heritage, not the untamed financial capitalism and a business mentality that does not care.

We may not be able to stop the pyromaniac who has started fires in his own country and now in the Middle East. Human stupidity is universal, unfortunately, so we will need to continue our commitment to enlightenment and develop policies “for the many and not for the few”. History tells us that social distress prepared the ground for Nazism and fascism and their catastrophic consequences. A word of caution. We are not yet there, and we have to work together globally to prevent it!

This editorial appeared in the Weekly Round Up of 08 December 2017.