My Spotify workout playlist is a time warp. Growing up in a blue-collar neighborhood of New York City in the 1990s and early 2000s, listening to popular East Coast hip-hop was practically required. So on a recent morning in which I had planned to write a column about Israel/Palestine, I jammed out to Jay-Z & Beyonce’s famous power-couple-jam, “’03 Bonnie and Clyde.” The song revolves around a former street dude and his loyal girlfriend, ready to face off against the world like the title’s outlaw couple.
Ironically, this got me thinking about the U.S. and Israel, President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu. Because, if we’re honest with ourselves, the ditty could just as easily describe the still-fresh political romance of “B and D,” as well as the 70-year relationship between the U.S. and Israel.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has recently, and probably accurately from his perspective, called Donald Trump “the best friend that Israel has ever had in the White House.” Netanyahu has proven himself all too willing to exchange political loyalty for gifts, and perhaps no one has offered him more than the 45th president of the United States. These include, but are not limited to: moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the contested Golan Heights region (after which Bibi cutely named a Golan ghost town settlement for The Donald), and reversing 50-plus years of U.S. policy by declaring that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are not in violation of international law. In light of these giveaways, the terms of the administration’s newest “peace” deal for the Holy Land should come as no surprise. Amazon.com Gift Card i... Buy New $10.00 (as of 08:25 EST - Details)
In characteristically bashful style, Trump has dubbed his Israel-Palestine plan the “Deal of the Century.” But even a cursory reading of the lengthy proposal, and an elementary understanding of the contested region’s history, reveal that it’s nothing more than a “raw deal” that effectively erases the Palestinian people. “Scam,” “Betrayal,” “Deceit,” or “Shame of the Century” would all be more accurate descriptions.
The U.S. has never been an “honest broker” in the Holy Land, having provided more financial support to Israel since World War II than to any other nation. So it’s no surprise that it’s the Palestinians who stand to lose the most in this proposal: all semblance of a contiguous sovereign state, control of their own borders, an equal-status capital in East Jerusalem, any “right of return” for expelled refugees or restitution of lands stolen by Israeli settlers.
Trump, ever the corrupt real estate tycoon, seems to believe he can buy off Palestine’s unconditional surrender with a few modest subsidies for a rump statelet. It’s Extortion 101, and yet another example of Trump’s toxic negotiating style. Alliances are meaningless, and everything is transactional.
That the deal’s terms were negotiated by Jared Kushner, the president’s 39-year-old son-in-law and a billionaire with no expertise in diplomacy or the Arab world, makes it all the more cynical and insulting.