The Atlantic

Celebration in Jerusalem, Bloodshed in Gaza

The new American embassy opens during a chaotic and violent week in the Middle East—and it's just the beginning.
Source: Baz Ratner / Reuters

JERUSALEM—The signs are plastered all over the city, on buses and street lamps and buildings and thoroughfares: Trump Make Israel Great and Trump Is A Friend of Zion. These messages, celebrating the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, however, are somewhat misleading. Although they may look like Israeli praise for President Donald Trump and his decision to move the facility from Tel Aviv, they’re actually produced by an American evangelical Christian organization called the Friends of Zion Museum. The signs stand proudly along the winding streets of hilly Jerusalem, overlooking Palestinian neighborhoods in the valley below—a perfect metaphor for the divide between one group’s celebration and another group’s mourning. “Congratulations,” Trump said in a video message at the opening ceremony. “It’s been a long time coming.”

And yet, the embassy opened on Monday amid historic, bloody protests in Gaza, where thousands have some three dozen people killed by Israeli forces in protests and nearly 1,000 wounded. The celebration in Jerusalem—a victory claimed by both American Christian and Jewish groups—was a disorienting contrast to the violence in Palestinian territories. Despite calls for peace by Israeli and American officials at the ceremony on Monday, the moment signaled the difficulty of any kind of resolution ahead.

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