America’s empty ‘happy talk’ on Palestine coming to an end
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US President-elect Donald Trump is doing exactly what Palestinians and the Arab world need. He is throwing out all the useless, do-nothing “happy talk” about saving Palestine and Jerusalem that has put the Arab and Muslim worlds in a coma. Arabs and Muslims do not see it because their minds are numbed by nearly 24 years of American “happy talk” about Middle East peace, which has failed to deliver on any of its promises.
The days of relying on American largesse to make peace happen is over. Trump’s recent Middle East pronouncements have yanked away the blanket of hypocrisy that has covered and enabled Israel’s steady destruction of Palestine. Instead of reacting with justified indignation to Trump, as we have seen from Arabs and Muslims in all quarters, we should recognize that the Arab world has been romanced into an atrophy of false promises and hope.
We have been duped. It is hard to see through this fog, but Arabs and Muslims need to open their eyes to what has taken place since Palestinians accepted Israel’s right to exist in a handshake on the White House lawn on Sept. 13, 1993, in exchange for a promise of statehood that has never come. Two years later, Israeli extremists destroyed peace by murdering the one Israeli leader who was willing to make it, Yitzhak Rabin.
Israel has since continued its deliberate and systematic destruction of Palestine under a blanket of “happy talk” about peace, compromise and unfulfilled promises. Many Arabs and Muslims are angrily blaming Trump for destroying this system, as if the US ever really embraced the “two-state solution” or a peace that gives Palestinians statehood.
Look at the reality. Trump has named David Friedman as US ambassador to Israel. Friedman is a well-known Israeli-American settler who has openly denounced the two-state solution, called the Palestinian Authority corrupt, vowed to crack down on “Palestinian extremism,” and urged that economic support be provided to the Palestinian “middle class” to address its needs.
We have always believed their needs would be solved by the two-state solution, which has been propped up as a corpse for the past 24 years. Ironically, the loudest screamers against Trump are Arab activists who have for years rejected the two-state solution, denouncing both Rabin and co-signer Shimon Peres, just the way Friedman has done.
Arab and Muslim extremists have worked hard to destroy the two-state solution, so why are they complaining about Trump? The emotions of these predictable activist extremists have mis-focused the Arab and Muslim world’s dysfunction into a false anger against Trump. He is the wrong target.
As for “moderates” like myself, we have clung futilely to an illusory hope. Two states is the best solution, but the truth is Israel does not accept it. It continues to expand settlements, steal more land and make the occupation of Jerusalem and the West Bank more brutal. Worse is that the most powerful nation on Earth, the US, has been incapable of stopping Israel.
President Barack Obama, who more than any past president strongly advocated the two-state solution as the face of his Middle East policies, has been thwarted not just by the American right and Trump’s conservative circles, but by the hypocritical, double-talking American and Israeli left too.
Palestinians have lost more land, seen illegal Israeli settler numbers increase at a record pace, and witnessed the second-largest civilian death toll during Obama’s presidency than under any of his predecessors. Why did we sit back and accept that reality? Because we preferred smiles, handshakes, false promises and “happy talk” over the truth.
Without getting one significant concession from Israel, Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims have blindly opened their arms and embraced Israel on nearly every level while all this oppression continues unabated. Though Palestinians are far worse off today than they have ever been, Israel is enjoying new partnerships in the Arab world. Israel has received the largest grant of US taxpayer funding in history, more than $38 billion.
It is taking pictures with Arab leaders and sharing in multimillion-dollar business investments. Meanwhile, Arabs sit in cafes smoking hookahs and sipping coffee, pretending that Trump is the problem.
Had Hillary Clinton won the presidency, Arabs and Palestinians would be catatonic on a political gurney being fed lies intravenously to keep us in our coma. Trump has thrown cold water in our faces. If we look, we can see the ugly truth and ignore the worthless “happy talk.” He is waking the Arab and Muslim sleeping giant, but will we be awakened?
Israel’s refusal to accept the right of Palestinians to exist is the main obstacle to peace. Its refusal to implement the basics of the peace accords has fueled growing extremism in the region. Israel is the obstacle to peace.
However, this is not just about the future of the Palestinians. It is also about the integrity of the Arab and Muslim worlds. Israel’s rejection of Palestinian rights is a slap in the face of every Arab and Muslim. Do we just stand there and take it? It is shameful that Arabs and Muslims have done nothing, propped up in our hopes by empty “happy talk” and the false promises of a brighter future that Obama fed us in Cairo in 2009.
Peace does not come from pretense, but from clearly defined and well thought out strategies that Arabs and Muslims must develop to force Israel to recognize Palestinian, Arab and Muslim rights.
Either the Arab and Muslim worlds develop new strategies to restore their honor and force Israel to recognize Palestinian statehood, or we just accept the reality that Jerusalem is irrelevant and “saving Palestine” is a pipe-dream. If that is the case, who cares where Trump puts the US Embassy?