Overtaking the ceremony, however, was a mounting toll of dead and injured on the border with Gaza. (As I write, hours after the ceremony, fifty-five Palestinians are reportedly dead and more than seventeen hundred are reportedly injured.) Despite the violence, the Embassy festivities continued, with red-white-and-blue laser shows on the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, and signs proclaiming Trump a true friend of Israel. Neta Barzilai, who won the Eurovision Song Contest for Israel, on Saturday, was scheduled to perform a concert in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square later on. By the end of the day, however, the joy seemed forced. What was supposed to be a symbolic celebration of Israel’s might producing a right—to have its disputed capital recognized by the U.S., to sustain the status quo in spite of Palestinian protest—was eclipsed by a far more appalling symbol of how unsustainable the status quo is. Carmela Menashe, a veteran security correspondent for Israel’s Reshet Bet radio station, foreshadowed the bloodshed when she explained the morning before the Embassy ceremony that the Army’s mission on the Gaza border would be to prevent Palestinians from taking pictures of themselves crossing into Israel—pictures that might be used as inspirational propaganda later on. Now Israel would have to contend with a different kind of imagery.
Read on at The New Yorker