As the entire world knows, Jared Kushner has been working very hard over the past two and a half years at crafting a deal with so much cash in it ($50 billion) that no reasonable Palestinian could refuse. To his deepest consternation, when he finally revealed its contents to the public at the beginning of February, nary a Palestinian could be found who didn’t categorically and vehemently refuse it.
On the other hand, many of the most prominent Israelis found it attractive and reasonable. This should hardly surprise anyone since the plan was authored by two militant US Zionists — Kushner and David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel — bravely donning the costume of “honest brokers.” In their honesty, they realized that they had no need to consult Palestinians because cash would settle any differences that exist, as it always does in real estate deals. At the same time, they carefully adjusted the contours of the plan to the public policies of disgraced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
It turns out, however, that even some prominent Israelis are not convinced by the “deal of the century.” In such circumstances, it’s easy to understand Kushner’s chagrin after learning that former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert plans to join forces with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in publicly condemning the Trump peace plan in front of the UN Security Council.
The Times of Israel describes Kushner’s angry reaction upon learning of the press conference planned for Tuesday to denounce his plan: “It is almost pathetic that they are criticizing other people’s efforts to try and reach an agreement. It comes from a lot of jealousy that they couldn’t do it themselves.”
Here is today’s 3D definition:
In the English of the United States, an all-purpose adjective usually delivered with a patronizing tone to criticize arguments the speaker doesn’t agree with but to which they have no reasoned response that could effectively counter the argument.
Armed with the psychological lessons gleaned through his moral experience in his years as a real estate hustler in New York, Kushner is ideally placed to judge the true motivation of Olmert and Abbas. Jared has all the required credentials. He bravely took charge of his imprisoned father’s honest business before being propelled into the exciting world of geopolitical diplomacy by the triumphal enthronement of his father-in-law following the 2016 presidential election. He was clearly the man for the job, with a deep understanding of what it requires to engage in serious problem-solving. As a New Yorker (originally from New Jersey), he finds himself in a perfect position to lecture a Palestinian and Israeli about what’s good for the country they live in.
Kushner at least has the honesty to identify himself, Friedman and Trump as “other people.” Here is how he summarizes the situation: “If you really want to make peace, then you need to encourage the efforts of people to try and make peace instead of trying to make headlines when you are not relevant and intervening in the situation to get attention.”
The idea of “other people” acting as mediators makes sense if those people have no stake in the solution — objective observers and honest brokers. But Kushner and Friedman are only “other” in the sense that they are neither Israeli nor Palestinian but American (a synonym of “indispensable”). Truly “other people” attempt to understand and assess rather than judge the positions of those who live inside the country. Their mission should be reconciliation rather than the imposition of an alien solution. What makes Kushner’s justification of his “other people” argument even more hypocritical is the fact that, according to Israeli law, as Jews (and committed Zionists), both Kushner and Friedman could obtain Israeli nationality in an instant.
Having no rational argument to counter the criticism of Olmert and Abbas, Kushner uses the standard ploy of attributing a specious motive to his adversary. This avoids having to deal with the terms of the debate. Unsurprisingly, as a member of the Trump family, Kushner chooses the easiest and vainest of all motives — sour grapes — when he claims that it was out of “jealousy that they couldn’t do it themselves.”
Kushner implies that the two Middle Easterners — whose lives and families will be impacted by any resolution to the conflict — lack Kushner’s and Friedman’s legitimacy for resolving the conflict. In his eyes, they simply want to spoil the fun and sabotage Kushner’s ability to succeed where they failed. The only problem is that Kushner hasn’t succeeded and it’s quite possible that Olmert and Abbas haven’t failed.
Kushner claims to have read everything written about the endless conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. But as all readers recognize, there are paragraphs that we glide over distractedly and others that we ponder deeply, allowing them to sink into our memory and sculpt our thoughts.
Kushner should be grateful that Olmert has reminded him of a bit of history he seems to have overlooked or under-appreciated. Tuesday’s conference planned by Olmert and Abbas, drawing on recent history, could help to define the conditions that would actually lead to a solution, conditions at a far remove from those of the Trump plan. “Olmert has said that he proposed in 2008 relinquishing almost the entire West Bank to Abbas, with one-for-one land swaps, dividing Jerusalem to enable a Palestinian capital and conceding Israeli sovereignty in the Holy Basin to an international trusteeship.”
If Kushner understands anything about his father-in-law’s vaunted science of negotiation, captured for eternity in his book “The Art of the Deal,” rather than complaining about Olmert’s and Abbas’s reaction, he should be rejoicing in what the reaction has revealed. It points to the possible successful outcome of Kushner’s own strategy. By taking the extreme, one-sided, close-minded approach, which could never meet with the approval of the Palestinians, his proposed deal has opened the door to a solution formulated years ago, but which, for historical reasons, had never been concluded. The Trump-Kushner plan is so extreme and insulting for the Palestinians, that it now makes Olmert’s previous plan immensely attractive. This would be the golden opportunity to reach a truly realistic two-state solution.
It will be interesting to watch the reaction at the United Nations Security Council. According to Foreign Policy, the US has bullied Tunisia, a temporary member of the Security Council, into firing its ambassador to the United Nations, Moncef Baati, because he dared to express his solidarity with the Palestinian position. The US has indicated that criticizing the Trump-Kushner plan could impair any future cooperation with the Tunisian government. This move drew a comment from Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization Executive Committee: “It exposes the length to which the Americans would really go to push their agenda, to pressure the others, to blackmail the Palestinians, yes, but also threatening countries that feel vulnerable and feel they cannot afford to incur the wrath of the United States.”
With its veto at the Security Council and its power of intimidation, the US is likely to block any alternative solution to the Kushner-Trump plan. It’s the “deal of the century” or nothing. But “nothing” means suffering, oppression, apartheid and repeated episodes of revolt. It also means a highly militarized status quo, which some people see as a form of stability.
Perhaps the most curious feature of the story about Olmert and Abbas is that while all of the Israeli media have been reporting on it, none of the media in the US appear to be interested — not even the independent progressive media. Could it be that in a presidential election year, they’re afraid of drawing attention to the never-ending conflict between Israel and Palestine?
[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news.]
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