The US has maintained the fiction for decades of being an even-handed mediator between Israel and the Palestinians. This week, President Donald Trump finally junked this tired, old canard by agreeing to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem from its current headquarters in Tel Aviv.
There was huge symbolism in this move that met with universal condemnation. It means the US is abandoning any chance of a two-state solution, which was the original UN plan for Palestine. Henceforth, Palestinians will subsist in a Jewish unitary state as a powerless, restive underclass. Washington is violating international law, the 1993 Oslo Accords, and countless UN resolutions.
Crusader Trump’s decision strongly suggests there will be no Palestinian state, no Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, and no political hope for the region’s 5.5 million Palestinians refugees living precariously in Israel, the occupied West Bank, Gaza, Syria and Lebanon.
America’s president is a notorious Muslim-hater who has sought to bar people from the Islamic world from the United States. Trump knows very little about the Mideast – which I call the ‘American Raj’ in my last book of the same name because of its resemblance to Britain’s imperial rule over India.
Trump is surrounded by ardent Greater Israel supporters in Washington and New York that include his immediate family, and so-called ‘advisors’ from the extreme far right. Amazingly, his much ballyhooed speech last May in Saudi Arabia to assorted Arab potentates and vassals was actually written by a thirty-something ultra-Zionist right-winger from Santa Monica, California.
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Adding to the black comedy, Trump has commanded his young Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to forge a Mideast peace deal. Kushner, a New York real estate executive, is a nice young man but he knows as much about the Mideast as I do about Papua New Guinea.
The ‘peace negotiations’ Kushner has launched are a cruel farce. He and Trump expect a deal of some sort between America’s Mideast vassals – Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Emirates, Jordan, the brutal Egyptian dictatorship, and the medieval king of Morocco.
These powerless satraps can make all the ‘peace deals’ they like. But the true parties who must be engaged are Israel, now governed by a very far right government, and the Palestinians, misrepresented by the corrupt Palestinian Authority (PLO) and nationalist Hamas, as well as splinter groups. The PLO is pretty much a puppet of the US and Israel, run by the doddering old Mahmoud Abbas. In the Mideast, only Turkey remains a truly independent Muslim nation that’s not under Washington’s thumb.
Even so, Abbas, other Palestinians and Arab leaders are all denouncing Trump and his bull in a China shop behavior. Who cares? Trump’s actions show just how divided and impotent the Arab world really is.
The Israelis know that their Arab neighbors can huff and puff all they like, but are powerless to do anything but riot in the streets and burn cars. If anti-Israel riots become too violent, Israel has no compunctions about gunning down the demonstrators or blowing up their family homes. Never has the Arab world shown itself so weak and timid.
Moreover, Israel’s new pals in Saudi Arabia have been stabbing Palestinians in the back for decades and secretly want to see them crushed. The feudal Saudis fear and distrust the modern, educated Palestinians. The same applies to Egypt’s brutish military dictatorship that now thrives on Saudi, Israeli and US money.
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No one has bothered to consult with the Palestinians who have been marginalized, ignored or bombed for over half a century. There will be no real peace without them.
But President Trump cares nothing about these irksome details. He just wants a faux peace agreement adorned with his royal signature. What really counts to Trump is winning American Jewish support in the next election and satisfying his vital evangelical Christian voter base.
America’s Christian far right, which comprises half of Republican voters, earnestly believes in Biblical prophesy that the Messiah cannot come until ancient Israel is reconstituted, the world’s Jews are ingathered to Greater Israel, the Messiah returns and non-believers perish in the final destruction of earth.
These folk are ardent ‘Christian Zionists’ who applaud Trump’s policies. Most of their information about the outside comes from Christian evangelical publications and TV stations or, in the case of Trump, from Fox TV, another dedicated supporter of Greater Israel.
The Christian evangelists are the core of Trump’s support in rural and suburban America. In fact, as Kevin Phillips wrote in his brilliant book “American Theocracy,” the Republicans have mostly become a rightwing religious party representing the less enlightened parts of America. These fundamentalists must be very pleased that their good president Trump is speeding the arrival of the Messiah.