Reliably unpredictable and defiantly unconventional, our President Donald Trump is known as a wily negotiator of real estate and trade deals, a creative manipulator of immigration and election laws as well as grandstander on domestic and foreign policy—tax cuts for the wealthy, reneging on international agreements and treaties (Paris Climate Accord, Iran Nuclear Deal).
But now he’s outdone himself. He’s keeping his promise to make America great again by taking the first step to make Palestine/Israel one country again.
Recognizing the indivisibility of Jerusalem and moving the U.S. embassy to seal the deal on this most sacred Palestinian/Israeli land, Trump is ingeniously leading the way to this sustainable solution for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Indeed, as he might humbly say, even peace for the whole Middle East!
Always attuned to making the most conspicuous splash, Trump saw a big anniversary looming and seized the opportunity: How should he respond to the 70th anniversary of Israeli Independence on May 14? Of course Trump knows that this anniversary marks not only 70 years of Israeli independence from the British Mandatory Government in 1948, but also independence from Israeli commitments to the UN, independence from fessing up to its not-so-secret nuclear arsenal, and most importantly 70 years of independence from international law.
For sure, it takes a rogue president like Donald Trump to recognize a rogue state when he sees one. I’ll bet if he visited Israel’s nearly 500-mile (illegal) “separation wall” winding through the West Bank seizing Palestinian land, he’d probably say, “No Way! I do walls —get rid of yours!”
Recall that a significant part of Trump’s strategy for controlling political narratives is to “stake out territory no one else dares to occupy” (no pun intended). )
With his Tel Aviv-to-Jerusalem embassy salvo he’s shrewdly begun the solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict: the formation of One Democratic State (ODS) from the Mediterranean to the River Jordan, with equal rights for all and a united Jerusalem as the capital of one state for two peoples.
It’s big, it’s bold, and makes America a world leader again.
Indeed, while other US administrations have dickered for decades over details of the “two state solution,” Trump recognizes this non-solution as a never-ending charade –“fake news.” With colossal vision and attention to the “big picture,” Trump –not Obama or Kerry, Clinton, the Bushes or Carter— embraced the wisdom —and inevitability– of this solution to the conflict. While parties to the conflict may have felt joy or rage as Trump ignored or even encouraged the territorial “unifying” intentions of the Israeli government —annexing Palestinian East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank– Trump knows these moves will eventually only advance his ODS initiative.
Sure, he has a lot on his mind of late —Stormy Daniels, Robert Mueller– and to be honest, he’s not known for attending to those pesky details that are right there to support his bold ODS initiative.
Consider: This year also marks the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba or “catastrophe,” the expulsion and dispossession of the majority native Christians and Muslims from their homes in historic Palestine by Zionist Israelis, creating millions of refugees who, despite international law, are still prevented from returning home. Here the fragmentation of historic Palestine began — and a lot of trouble in the Middle East with it.
But let’s remember that Trump is a president who has shown lots of interest in mass deportations and the havoc “illegals” can create at borders.
In fact, Israel is experiencing such “border” tumult right now as the six-week Palestinian Great March of Return in Gaza continues, with Palestinians insisting on their right to return home ( 80 percent of the 2 million Palestinian Gazans are refugees from historic Palestine/Israel). Tens of thousands have been non-violently protesting along an interior route from the south of Gaza toward the northern fence cutting off the Gazan “panopticon” from the world. Meanwhile, marchers are being killed off by snipers under Israeli government orders, with thousands wounded. Whoa! No sanctuary zones here.
And then there’s the 600,000+ Jewish Israeli settlers—“colonists”—in the West Bank? Trump knows illegals when he sees them — dangerous bandits, stealing Palestinian land whenever they feel like it. Who lets that happen?
Yet, even as he presses on, Trump may need reminding of some essential facts that argue for the ultimate success of his ODS initiative.
First, the “apartheid” nature of Israel: that non-Jews –both Palestinian Israeli citizens (20+percent of the population) and Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories—are by law, second-class. Why? Because they are not Jews.
While “the Donald” is no traditional Republican, he might take a lesson from the failed policy of “constructive engagement” promoted by his idol Ronald Reagan when dealing with another apartheid regime, South African, which fell in 1990. While Reagan was appeasing South Africa to prevent communism’s spread, U.S. policy heretofore has also appeased Israel despite its egregious human rights record because of Israel’s strategic goal of protecting U.S. interests in the oil-rich Gulf and against the spread of “terrorism.” Moreover, just as domestic opposition to Reagan’s policy grew, there is also growing international and U.S. opposition to Israeli apartheid, evident in the increasingly successful Boycott Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
In fact at the last (failed) attempts at negotiations for two states by Obama, a Brookings Institution poll found that when asked if the “two-state solution” weren’t possible, 71 percent of Americans surveyed favored one state in which Palestinians and Jews were equal over a state where a Jewish majority was sustained and Jews were privileged over Palestinians. After all they are Americans.
Plus, as our “America First, tax-cutting and bring-the jobs-home president, Trump knows that Americans are tired of paying over $3 billion annual aid to Israel which enjoys a per-day income like South Korea — that’s $10 million dollars per day! Moreover, in opposition to U.S. policy, Israel continues to be permitted to use approximately 26 percent of U.S. military aid to Israel to purchase equipment from Israeli arms manufacturers, thereby subsidizing their U.S. competitors.
Second, historic Palestine was always multicultural, though Muslim and Christian Palestinians vastly outnumbered Jewish “Palestinians.” Even before the UN partition—with 70 percent Palestinians and 30 percent Jews– there were those who wanted ODS —admittedly a minority, including the group Brit Shalom and Hebrew University President Judah Magnes who called for a “United States of Palestine” in 1948.
Now there are growing numbers of Israeli Jews and Palestinians who have formed initiatives that would support President Trump’s ODS, such as “The One Democratic State Campaign” that outlines the process for making this happen.
Finally, Trump’s base seems to have begun to conjure up the “Gandhi” in Trump. Despite their disdain for many international institutions, they surprised many at an April rally in Michigan by shouting out to Trump “Nobel! Nobel!” as he spoke about his upcoming Korean talks. In truth, I don’t think that accolade sits too well with people who remember the president’s constant nuclear threats, including pre-emptive strikes toward North Korea. It looks a bit like fake news for him to take credit for any peace agreement between the two Korean presidents which has also been supported by years of hard work and encouragement by peace activists.
But a Nobel Peace Prize does seem a sure deal for President Trump were he to succeed in negotiating the creation of One Democratic State in Palestine/Israel. He would make himself an ever more unforgettable American President and give the world a real reason to call American great, again.
Justine McCabe, PhD, of New Milford is a cultural anthropologist and clinical psychologist who has worked in Lebanon, Iran and the Palestinian Occupied Territories.