Nauru likes us!

Joseph Aaron

Good news everybody!

The Republic of Nauru has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. And if that isn’t enough to cause you to uncork the champagne bottles, Honduras also just announced that it will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It won’t, however, move its embassy there.  President Juan Orlando Hernandez flew to Israel to inaugurate a “diplomatic office” in Jerusalem. The office will be an extension of its embassy in Tel Aviv.

Still, good news is good news. Indeed, Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz was bursting with joy at the announcement that Nauru, a tiny Pacific island country, was doing what it did. Katz, who recently was elevated from transportation minister, where he was responsible for Israel’s planes, trains and buses, to foreign minister, making him Israel’s face to the world, bubbled that “We will continue to strengthen Jerusalem and to bring about the recognition and opening of diplomatic missions and embassies in our capital.”

As always, I hate to let facts get in the way of some BS from Bibi and his bozos, but first please note that Nauru’s population is less than 14,000. So not sure how much its recognition of Jerusalem will strengthen Jerusalem.

Second, as to bringing about the “recognition and opening of diplomatic missions and embassies in our capital,” it is worth noting that Trump’s grand gesture to evangelical Christians of moving the American embassy to Jerusalem has been followed up by the following.

Guatemala has moved its embassy to Jerusalem. Paraguay announced plans to move its embassy, but then changed its mind and reversed the decision. Government officials from the Czech Republic, Romania, Lithuania, Australia and Brazil have expressed interest in moving their embassies to Jerusalem, but then backtracked and not one of them has done so. Hungary has opened a diplomatic trade mission in Jerusalem, calling it a branch of the Hungarian Embassy, which remains in Tel Aviv.

So for those keeping score at home, two countries, Guatemala and Nauru, have actually moved their embassies to Jerusalem. Two countries, Hungary and Honduras, have opened offices in Jerusalem but kept their embassies in Tel Aviv. And five countries have said they are thinking about moving their embassies to Jerusalem but haven’t acted.

Thus is the Trump effect. Not exactly a stampede, indeed barely a crawl.

But you know what, I’m actually not making fun of what Trump did. Truth be told, I don’t really have a problem with what Trump did.  It’s fine. Though I am, in Israeli parlance, a leftist — meaning I still believe in coexistence between Israel and the Palestinians, still believe you can’t go on forever pretending that three million people who have a lot of babies are not there, still believe it is far wiser to strike a deal when you are in the stronger position than when you are backed into a corner. I think all countries should have their embassies in Jerusalem.

Fact is Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Fact is every country should have the right to decide where its capital is and no other country should have the right to tell another country where its capital should be.

I know Jerusalem is a contentious issue, but this really shouldn’t be that complicated. Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, the seat of its government, and so that is where embassies to the country should be. I don’t think recognizing that reality in any way precludes making a peace agreement which yes, may well include some kind of recognition of a Palestinian presence in Jerusalem. The world didn’t change when the American embassy moved to Jerusalem and it won’t change either if there is both an American embassy to Israel in Jerusalem and an American embassy to Palestine in Jerusalem.

Here’s my gripe about the whole Jerusalem embassy thing. I despise how much Israel so often begs the world to recognize this or that about it, recognize what’s important to it. Grow up. Israel is a country 71 years old, is mature and should act like it.  We ain’t in 1948 anymore, begging the world to “legitimize” us. Israel is a vibrant, powerful country and needs to begin acting like it. Israel says Jerusalem is its capital and that should be enough. Enough with the pleading with countries to recognize that, enough with degrading ourselves by making out like Nauru recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a big deal. It ain’t. It’s clear the countries that matter in the world are not following Trump’s lead. Fine. Israel needs to quit acting like a weak, insecure place that lives and aches for Honduras or the Czech Republic to move its embassy to Jerusalem.

I was just in Tel Aviv and drove down embassy row and admit I got a lump in my throat seeing one building after another, this one with the British flag, this with the Swiss flag, this with the Japanese flag, virtually all the countries on earth represented with an official presence in the state of Israel. So it was in Tel Aviv, so what. We need to stop acting like needy toddlers pleading with the world to affirm and endorse our choice of our capital. That’s called giving away the power, looking to ‘other’ for approval. G-d made Jerusalem our capital, the government of Israel long ago made Jerusalem our capital and that should be good enough.

Indeed, it is true of too much that Israel — a very strong country militarily and culturally and economically and scientifically and technologically — acts like a pathetic, scared place. How absurd was it that Bibi was so terrified of two freshman members of Congress, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, that he actually banned them from coming. Is that how a strong, confident country acts? If Israel acted as strong it is, it would have told them sure, come on in, say whatever you want, dish out whatever criticism you wish, make whatever points you want, we can handle it, we have answers for all of it and we have right on our side. We aren’t afraid of what you might say. We are better than that.

And the sick irony of course is that Israel has spent decades fighting countries which ban its athletes and scientists and academics and politicians just because they are from Israel. We hate that some countries do that to us and so we should never do that to anyone. We should say to the world, you may ban our people, which is very wrong, and but we will do what is right, act as countries should and let your people come.

The Torah teaches ‘don’t do unto others as you would not have done unto you,’ and yet the philosophy of the Bibi is if you do it to us, we will do to you. Very immature, very unJewish.

So it is with boycotts. Israel has for decades fought various boycotts against it, currently the BDS movement, which is full of BS. We all hate BDS, think boycotting Israel because you don’t agree with the current government’s policies is immoral, unfair, and outrageous.

And yet the Bibi is constantly boycotting things he doesn’t like or agree with. Instead of setting an example that boycotts are wrong, he shows and tells the world yes, a good way to deal with things you oppose is boycotts because see, we do that all the time.

The most recent example is Boycott Bibi calling for the boycott of an Israeli television channel for producing and screening the controversial HBO series “Our Boys.” Netanyahu has called the show “anti-Semitic” and asserted that it “gives a bad and false name to Israel.”

Forget that we are talking about a TV show and one would hope the prime minister has other things to focus on, like missiles from Lebanon. But no, the Bibi got all riled up because the

first moments of the 10-episode series focus on the kidnapping in June 2014 of three teenage Israeli boys who were found dead two weeks later, and then focuses for the rest of the series on the retaliatory murder of a Palestinian teen by Jewish extremists.

This isn’t the first time the Bibi has gone after Israel’s Channel 12, often criticizing it for its coverage of corruption charged against him, saying recently that stories about his possible crimes are “committing a terror attack against democracy.” Yes, criticizing him is a terror attack against democracy.

First, shame on the Bibi for daring to use the word terror about a TV station, when he knows how potent that word is in a country that has suffered so much from real terrorism. Second, shame on the Bibi for such brazen chutzpah, considering it is the Bibi who has systematically been eroding and undermining democracy in Israel and turning himself into a mini me Trumpputin.

I will only cite the two most recent examples. One is the Bibi’s effort to add new restrictions on civil protests. Under the new regulations, any gathering of more than 50 people will require a police permit, as will marches.

The regulations were created after Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that demonstrations of any size that did not deal with “political issues” did not need a police permit. This included demonstrations against police brutality or government corruption, for example.

The new regulations expose a loophole by creating a new term, “protest event,” defined as any demonstration of more than 50 people “aimed at expressing an idea, protest or message.”

Police would under the regulations be able to set conditions for such protest events. Violating such conditions would be considered a criminal offense.

What in the hell? When did Israel become a police state? When did it become ‘1984,’ in the Jewish state, with terms being created like ‘protest event’ and being used as an excuse to make it a crime to hold a demonstration “aimed at expressing an idea, protest or message.”

The second example of the Bibi run amuck, trying to emulate Trumpputin, is that he recently coerced the top candidates running with him in Israel’s upcoming election to actually sign a loyalty oath to the dear leader, the supreme leader, the Bibi.

The top 40 candidates on Likud’s candidates list signed a pledge that they support Netanyahu to form the next government and will not try to replace him. The signed statement reads, “We the undersigned candidates on the Likud list for the 22nd Knesset emphasize that we will not receive any dictation from any other party. Without regard to the results of the election, Netanyahu is the Likud’s only candidate for prime minister, and there will be no other candidate.”

Sounds like the old Soviet Union, present day Iran or North Korea. In a democracy, you are supposed to be able to express an idea, protest and message. In a democracy, you don’t swear allegiance to a person and forfeit your free will. Trying to stop people expressing themselves is what happens when you are so quick to boycott anything that doesn’t meet your favor, when you are terrified of voices you don’t agree with, when you obsess about whether countries have their embassies in Jerusalem.

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