Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Capital Jerusalem

The decision of the Trump Administration to recognize Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and relocate the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is very troublesome. These acts would have no positive benefit; they would only exacerbate an already very delicate and contentious situation. Until the Israelis and Palestinians can come up with an agreement on how to share the city, the United States should leave well enough alone.

Over twenty years ago I published an article that looked at the history of Jerusalem in terms of how the city has and has not functioned as a capital over the millennia. Posted below are several excerpts from that article as background for this faulty foreign policy move. One update to what I wrote then: currently no country in the world houses its embassy in Jerusalem. They all await a resolution to the conflict before making the move.

"The Capital Cities of Jerusalem," The Geographical Review. Vol. 86, No. 2 (April 1996), 233-258.


An Unrecognized Capital 

"Because Israel refused to recognize the U.N. plan for an internationalized Jerusalem and because of its annexation of occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, no country in the world has offered legal and diplomatic recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Most states, however, have unofficially acknowledged Israel's "sovereignty and actual possession, without recognition of lawful title" (Adler 1985, 45). Informal recognition centers on whether or not a country locates its official diplomatic mission in the city. From 1948 until 1967, as many as twenty-one states--ten Latin American, nine African, plus the Netherlands and Greece--located diplomatic embassies in West Jerusalem; thirty-three countries, including the United States, Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and many other European states, maintained embassies in more politically correct Tel Aviv (Boris 1971, 22).

After Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, only the Netherlands and a dozen Latin American countries retained legations in Jerusalem (Cattan 1981, 112). In 1980, when Israel proclaimed Jerusalem its undivided capital, eleven of the thirteen states, under U.N. urging, moved their embassies from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, leaving only Guatemala and the Dominican Republic with their principal envoys in the disputed capital (Cattan 1981, 222). Today just Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Zaire maintain embassies in Jerusalem. The diplomatic shell game continues, however: Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, and Paraguay announced in 1994 that they would move their embassies to Jerusalem in order to prevent Israel from closing embassies in their countries (Whirbeck 1994).

Although the United States has its embassy in Tel Aviv, it has staffed two consulates in Jerusalem since the days of partition. After Israel gained control of all of the city, the United States continued to keep two consulates--one in the east and one in the west--as a way to protest Israel's annexation of occupied lands (Adler 1985, 45). The U.S. Congress has attempted, often at the urging of Jewish lobbyists, to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Preelection fervor in 1995 prompted Congress, under the sponsorship of Majority Leader Bob Dole and House Speaker Newt Gingrich, to pass a resolution calling for construction of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem to begin in 1996, with relocation by May 1999 (Moffett 1995). Many people, including both Israeli and American Jews, saw this legislation as ill timed, given the sensitive nature of the Arab-Israeli peace process and the status of Jerusalem. President Clinton threatened to veto the bill. On 24 October 1995 Congress passed an amended bill by an overwhelming majority. This new bill gave the administration flexibility in determining when to begin construction and in being able to indefinitely delay the 1999 move, pending resolution of the Jerusalem question. The bill was passed just one day before the visit of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert to Washington to mark the 3,000th anniversary of the establishment of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (Labaton 1995). 


There are many solutions--an almost impossible and ever-expanding number, it seems--for Jerusalem. In its role as a holy city, the best solution would be to depoliticize Jerusalem. The Old City or, better still, the whole region could be internationalized, or both the Palestinians and the Israelis could locate their capitals in different cities. Under the rule of Ottoman Turks, the several communities of Jerusalem lived together in relative harmony. As long as no local community exercised sovereignty over any other, the Jews, Muslims, and Christians coexisted in their separate quarters of the city. Only with the rise of competing Arab and Jewish nationalisms during the late Ottoman era and the British era did competition between Jews and Arabs for control of Jerusalem devolve into conflict. Placing Jerusalem under the control of the United Nations or a coalition of religious bodies would once again give no one community exclusive control. Peaceful coexistence could then return. Establishing either an international capital or a former capital would require significant outside pressure, and even then it is doubtful that Israel would relinquish its claim to eternal Jerusalem. 

For the spatial integrity of Jerusalem, the best solution would be to have a united city under one rule--which, at this point, means Israel. Having a single state rule could work if all peoples accepted the fact, but, given the ties of the Christian and Muslim Palestinians to the city, it is doubtful that they would ever accept complete Israeli control. Limited autonomy through boroughs offers some compensation for Jerusalem's Arabs, but it denies their equally strong desires to have Jerusalem as their capital. With neither group willing to relinquish control to the other, a united Jerusalem under either complete Arab or complete Israeli control would never know true peace. 

Thus the only solution with any possibility of acceptance and success would be for both groups to share sovereignty of the city. Of the many ways of sharing sovereignty, scattered sovereignty seems to best address the needs of the jigsawed Arab and Jewish neighborhoods with the least disruption to the current residential patterns. Just as in the days of King David, Jerusalem would be a compromise capital. In the twenty-first century, however, it would be not a neutral location among the twelve tribal allotments but a meeting point where Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians could come together in a shared city they all call their capital."

For additional reading on a proposal I wrote suggesting a way to peacefully share the city please see:

"The Status Quo Solution for Jerusalem," Journal of Palestine Studies. Vol. 26, No. 2 (Winter 1997), 


Friday, December 1, 2017

Pecking Orders, Natural and Unnatural

This year I decided to treat the various birds that frequent our backyard to a daily breakfast of smashed walnuts on our grape terrace. Most years it is only northern flickers and magpies that can break open the shells and eat. Now chickadees, blue western scrub jays and quail drop by to eat. A few days ago I took the above photo of three of many quail who scurried by to peck at some walnuts. This morning when I looked out to see what birds had happened by I saw nothing on the ledge. Then I noticed that there were no birds in all of our back yard. It was very unusual. I went out to investigate.

There it was in the plum tree, a sharp-shinned hawk pulling flesh and feather from its prey. No wonder no other birds were in sight.

I don't know what kind of bird had met its fate for all that remained was a pile of feathers on the lawn.

Over the years I have certainly noticed a pecking order in our back yard. Today the hawk ruled the roost.

(For more backyard birds go to this blog post:
http://beitemmett.blogspot.com/2016/12/walnuts-candied-and-for-birds.html )

Hawks are carnivores. They don't eat walnuts. They eat other animals. Their pecking order is the order of nature.

In the world of humans there are also pecking orders. These are not the order of nature. They are unnatural and man made. They are also troubling and very much in the news these days. Whites are no better or stronger or privileged that humans of another color and yet racism and white nationalism  are on the rise once again in America. Men have no right to make unwelcome advances on women and yet high powered men in media, entertainment and politics (and certainly elsewhere) think they can have their way with women.

Most troubling in all of this is that President Trump delights in his current position at the top of this unnatural pecking order. He continues to vilify Muslims in early morning video tweets. Instead of honoring code talkers, he offends Native Americans with his petty name calling of Senator Elizabeth Warren while standing beneath a portrait of President Andrew Jackson who used his power to take territory from the original inhabitants of this land. He stands by a politician who has preyed on teenage girls. Sadly political loyalty and expediency is more important than principle. And he now is spinning a tale that he never ever said (in reference to making advances on women): "When you are a star, they let you do it. You can do anything." In other words, when you are a powerful man, you are at the top of the pecking order and you can do anything you want.

Troublesome in all of this is that while others are being held accountable for their preying on others, the man on the top remains immune. Why does Trump get a pass while others don't? Equally troublesome is that his supporters stand by him in his continued belittling of anyone who stands up to him, criticizes him or does not fit into his narrow, twisted view of nation and world.

I stand in awe of hawks, but not hawks (or bullys, predators or haters) of the humankind.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Halloween Eve

 Annual photo. Missing Sarah.

Back-side initials.

 Home grown decorations.

 Mondays are the day we get our weekly letter from Sarah. One e-mail included these fun photos.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Topaz and Black Rock

Today for Fall Break we headed out for a delightful day trip to Utah's west desert.  First stop was the city of Delta.

Topaz Internment Camp is located in the middle of the far left of the map. Northwest of Abraham. The museum provides maps to the site and of the camp site.

Recently opened on Main Street is the Topaz Museum. It is a local, private endeavor to portray the story of the Topaz internment camp for Japanese Americans during WWII. It is a sobering museum that is well worth a visit. The woman behind the museum taught at Delta High School years ago. When the Intermountain Power Plant north of Delta came on line, many new families moved to the area. Old timers and new-comers had a hard time integrating at Delta High. This teacher wanted a project to bring them together. She sent her students out to research the Topaz camp by interviewing locals in Delta who were around during WWII. From those initial interviews emerged a commitment by many in Delta to preserve and tell the story of this unique portion of US history.

The story of Japanese Americans is the story of so many immigrants.  They came for a better life,

 and they often had a hard time integrating and finding acceptance.

During WWII Japanese Americans from the west coast were moved inland in fear that they might not be loyal to America.

8,000 Japanese Americans ended living in the hot-by-summer, cold-by-winter desert of Utah in the barrack city of Topaz which for a few years was the fifth largest city in Utah.

At the end of the war most of the barracks and recreation halls were sold to locals for farm buildings or even homes.  Half of one of those recreation halls has been restored.

To keep busy some of the camp residents gathered shells from the bed of ancient Lake Bonneville that they assembled and painted (sometimes with nail polish) into floral and animal decorations.

 Others painted.

 The Distant Camp by Chiura Obata. 1942

 Guard Tower and Mt Swasey. Which was sent out by Obata as a Christmas card.

Where Would We Go?, Thomas Ryosaku Matsuoka, 1944

One of the biggest challenges for those in the camps was deciding if and how they should show their allegiance to the Untied States. Many young men chose to enlist. Others protested their unjust internment by refusing to serve. George Takei's recent Broadway musical Allegiance depicts the camps and the question of loyalty to country. http://allegiancemusical.com/#guwE9ecOPy99kkfq.97

Adding to the complexity was the fact that young men from Delta were fighting, dying and being imprisoned by Japan. One of these soldiers stated: "Every freedom I had been fighting for had been violated in my own backyard."

In a world where "the other" among us are still viewed with suspicion and treated unfairly, the story of Topaz is a good reminder that we can still do better.

No buildings remain at Topaz, just roads and cement floors.

 The irony. 

 Topaz Mountain to the northwest.

Just to the east of Topaz the western edge of Delta's many alfalfa fields begins.

 Delicious lunch back in Delta. El Jalisciense at the corner of 400 West and Main.

We then headed south through Deseret, east past Clear Lake (dry this time of year) to Devil's Garden in the middle of the Black Rock Desert and just a little west of Flowell.
The name sounded interesting so we drove off road for a mile to this pile of basalt. 

We were surprised and happy to find rock art.

Next stop, the impressive lava flows outside of Flowell. We gathered soft ball sized basalt rocks for a friend to use in his pig roasting pit.

See three previous posts about visits to this area to gather basalt:




Final Stop. Tabernacle hill (its dome is shaped like the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake). It is the eastern remnant of an ancient volcano that blew its top leaving behind it lava core--the dark pointy rise to the right of the large mound.

 From the top of Tabernacle Hill looking down on the center core of the volcano.

A near by lava tube just waiting to be explored.

 Looking north across the Black Rock Desert.

 Atop the core.

Exploring one of the lava tubes. Will's favorite part of the day. Joel had read two books about the Japanese Camps so he also liked the morning part of our day.

On the drive home north along I-15 we were treated with rainbows and a gorgeous sunset. Back to work for the mom and dad tomorrow.