Maryland Senate candidate denounces US Embassy opening in Jerusalem
Dr. Jerome M. Segal, Middle East expert and Maryland US Senate candidate, condemns opening of US Embassy in Jerusalem
Dr. Jerome M. Segal, lead author of the landmark study, Negotiating Jerusalem (SUNY Press, 2000) and a candidate challenging Senator Ben Cardin in the “Ben or Jerry” June primary in Maryland, today condemned the Trump Administration’s decision to open the US Embassy in Jerusalem.
Dr. Segal, a University of Maryland philosopher said, “The Trump Administration argument, parroted by many members of Congress, that the United States in “recognizing” Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is only recognizing a reality, is truly sophomoric, representing an inability to distinguish two different meanings of the term “recognize.”
This can best be seen in the joke told years ago by a Palestinian comedian: “So, I was recently in Israel, the first time I had been there since my family fled in 1948, and I was standing near a field on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, and somehow, it was obvious that I was a Palestinian. And this Israeli gentleman comes up to me and rather politely, even with curiosity, asks “So why don’t you recognize Israel?”
“So, I give him my best smile, and equally politely, I respond: ‘I do recognize Israel. Look, over there, that’s my family house; that stone wall, my father built, and there to the left, those are our lemon trees where I used to play as a child.”
The issue involved in the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel capital was not a game of “Where’s Waldo?” with respect to the Knesset. It was about whether or not the United States would change a position that it held since the creation of Israel, which is that the question of the sovereignty of Jerusalem could only be settled through negotiations. When we as a government, “recognize” a city or even a part of it, as the capital of a state, we are taking a position on sovereignty. While every state has the right to designate its own capital, that right extends only to the land under its sovereignty. Does France have the right to declare that London is its capital? What would it mean if we accepted such a claim?”
“What Trump did was to take the issue of sovereignty over Jerusalem away from the final status negotiations, where it had been explicitly placed in the Oslo Accords signed on the White House lawn by Arafat and Rabin, and award it to Israel, outside negotiations, something that was supposed to be negotiated, and subject to a trade.”
“What is astonishing about this is that for years, both the United States government and the entire Congress has repeatedly denounced the PLO for attempting to somehow achieve its goals outside negotiations, and now, in either idiocy or hypocrisy, the Trump Administration does exactly that for Israel.”
“And here, the Trump Administration does not bear the full responsibility. Rather it was doing just what it was urged to do by the U.S. Congress. Only a few months prior to the Trump decision on recognition, the Senate, in a 90-0 vote called on the President to fulfill the provisions of a 1995 piece of legislation which explicitly called for U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the Embassy.
“That Senator Ben Cardin would be one of the 90 votings for this legislation is no surprise at all. He is AIPAC’s key workhorse in the Senate. But that our very best Senators, such as Bernie Sanders, would have also voted for this legislation, is a very painful reminder of the reality in Washington: When AIPAC says, “jump” most asks “how high” and the best counter with, “Is it okay if I hop?”
My run against Cardin is the first time in American political history that anyone has singled out a key AIPAC lieutenant, and has sought, for that very reason, to send him into early retirement. I call it “the big dog” model. You go directly at them, head on. If you bring down the big dog, just once, the mystic is broken. If I win, it will be the model of how ordinary citizens can fight against the mega-lobbies. If I can beat AIPAC in Maryland, we can beat the NRA in America.”
Dr. Jerome M. Segal is a Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Intenational and Strategic Studies as well as a Research Scholar at the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at the University of Maryland. In addition, he is President and founder of The Jewish Peace Lobby.
Initially trained as a philosopher, Dr. Segal received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. He taught for several years in the Philosophy Department of the University of Pennsylvania. He then returned to school, and received an MPA from the Hubert Humphrey School of Public Affairs (University of Minnesota).
Between 1975 and 1979, he served as an aide to Congressman Donald M. Fraser (D-MN), first at the United Nations and then in Washington. In that capacity he was the Administrator of the House Budget Committee’s Task Force on Distributive Impacts of Economic Policy.
Starting in 1979, he worked in the U.S. Agency for International Development, first as Coordinator for the Near East, and then as Senior Advisor for Agency Planning. During the 1980’s he returned to the academic world.
Since 1982, he has been active in the American Jewish peace movement. In the Spring of 1987 he was part of the first American Jewish delegation to meet with the PLO leadership (then in Tunis). During 1988 he played a role in the events leading up to the opening of the U.S./P.L.O. dialogue in December 1988. Earlier that year his essays in Palestinian and American papers played a catalytic role in the PLO’s decision to issue a Declaration of Independence and launch a unilateral peace initiative. In 1989 he started the Jewish Peace Lobby, which is now an organization of roughly 4,500 people including some 400 rabbis.
Dr. Segal is the author of five books, Creating the Palestinian State (Lawrence Hill, 1989), Agency and Alienation – a Theory of Human Presence (Rowman and Littlefield, 1991), Graceful Simplicity — Toward a Philosophy and Politics of Simple Living (Henry Holt, 1999), Negotiating Jerusalem (co-author) (SUNY Press, 2000) and Joseph’s Bones: Understanding the Struggle Between God and Mankind in the Bible (Riverhead, 2008). He is the author of over 50 op-ed pieces on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and over 100 radio and TV appearances.
For more information on Segal’s activism for peace, visit his website at: www.jewishpeacelobby.org
For more information on Segal’s candidacy for the Maryland Senate Nov. 6, 2018, visit his campaign website at: www.segalforsenate.org