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Israel/America or Netanyahu/Trump?

Photograph Source: U.S. Embassy Jerusalem – CC BY 2.0

The late Uri Avnery (1923-2018), the doughty Israeli seeker of peace with the Palestinian people, posted almost weekly on CounterPunch.

Avnery was savvy enough to know that the Zionist failure to achieve peace with the Palestinians meant that Israel could never be a “normal” state, no matter how much it pretended, hypocritically, to be a “democracy” adhering to “Western values”.

Avnery would have been aghast, but not surprised, at the turn of events taking place shortly before or after his death– Trump recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (both Palestine and Israel claim Jerusalem as their capital, and it will take a peace deal, and not unilateral action on Israel’s part, in order resolve this dispute); closing down the Palestine Liberation Organisation office in Washington; reducing direct aid and aid to the UN agency aiding Palestinian refugees; recognizing Israel’s illegal annexation of the Golan Heights; and supporting Netanyahu in his recent pledge to begin annexing Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank.

The aid reductions involved cutting $200 million in direct aid to Gaza and the West Bank and the freezing of another $300 million dollars provided annually to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

After Ramadan, taking place currently, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, will announce what Trump, with characteristic carnival-barker hyperbole, calls the “deal of the century”.

Leaks hint that Kushner will announce plans for significant investment in Gaza and the West Bank, provided by the Saudis and other Arab states– despots and in some cases murderers eager to cosy-up to Trump.

Kushner himself has touted “a very good business plan with a strong economic component for how Palestinians can move forward economically”, sheerly ignorant of the likelihood that an economic plan, no doubt with strings (or rather chains) attached, will fail if it is not accompanied by a lasting political solution. The latter will not exist as long as Israel persists in grabbing Palestinian land for its settlements, and subjecting its own Arab citizens to a form of apartheid. The US has so far fallen in line with all of this.

Kushner’s “deal” will almost certainly be belly-up on arrival. His father-in-law will of course blame the Palestinians for spurning such “gifts” and the accompanying chance for “peace”.

Trump’s administration recently prevented the BDS cofounder Omar Barghouti from entering the US to embark on a speaking tour, even though Barghouti has a valid US visa until 2021.

Barghouti, one of the founders of the BDS movement, is committed to non-violence, but his denial of entry was welcomed by many US Zionists eager to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-semitism.

Regarding Barghouti, the New York congressman Lee Zeldin, a Republican, tweeted: “This foreigner is filled w/anti-Israel & anti-Semitic hatred. We should reject Omar Barghouti’s hate, reject the BDS movement, & reject his many examples of blatant anti-Semitism”.

In February Barghouti was listed in a report—titled “terrorists in suits”– published by Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs. The report describes BDS “as a complementary effort” to “armed attacks against the State of Israel”. Barghouti has however never been charged with a crime by Israel.

At least 27 states in the US have introduced laws to combat BDS activism. Earlier this year, the US Senate passed an anti-BDS billthat would allow state and city governments to terminate contracts with US entities that support the BDS movement.

In 2018, Bahia Amawi, a Palestinian-American speech pathologist, filed a lawsuit against the Pflugerville Independent School District in Austin, Texas, and the Texas state attorney general, after she had been forced out of the job she had for 9 years for refusing to sign a pro-Israel pledge in her contract.

Amawi saidin a radio interview that she didn’t “want to support [Israel’s] ongoing occupation and aggression and subhumane treatment of the Palestinians, that’s making me kind of like a silent participant complicit with the whole occupation”.

Amawi’s lawyer said in the same radio interview: “Bahia would be disqualified from working for any school district in the state that’s following this law, simply because she chooses not to buy, for instance, Sabra hummus. So her grocery store decision to not buy Sabra hummus and to buy instead another kind of hummus automatically, under this law, disqualifies her from all public employees—all public employment of all kinds”.

Trump and Kushner clearly believe their “deal of the century” will help “normalize” dealings between the Palestinians and their ethnocidal colonial occupier, even though nothing is “normal” when it comes to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people.

Trump believes, or did believe, that his photo-ops with Kim of North Korea would likewise “normalize” relations between their respective countries.

Even right-wing commentators now say Trump is deluded about Kim.

So Trump’s delusions over the “deal of the century”, in the Middle East, will not be a first, and the odds are that they won’t be the last, whether concerning North Korea, or Palestine, or Robert Kraft (the owner of the New England Patriots football team), or….

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Kenneth Surin teaches at Duke University, North Carolina.  He lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.

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