Once again, the Trump administration tells us the “deal of the century” will be revealed in a month or so, possibly only to be laughed at.
The world continues to wait in anxious anticipation of what was once called Donald Trump and Jared Kushner’s “deal of the century” for the Middle East. It may soon be known as “deal of a century” since there’s no telling which century it might be revealed in. That should keep it in the news for some time to come as its release can always be announced as imminent.
Although recently expected for mid-April and previously March, February and January as well as most of the tail end of 2018, the Kushner plan may be released after Islamic month of Ramadan in early June or — according to Al Jazeera — “perhaps not even then.”
Jared Kushner, the identified author, appears worried, if not depressed, by the potential critical reception of his masterpiece. “It’s been very disheartening for us to see the Palestinian leadership has basically been attacking a plan (when) they don’t know what it is,” he said. The one thing they do know, however, is that the plan’s author and the Trump administration as a whole appear to be so ashamed of its contents that they keep postponing the date at which their opponents will have a chance to “know what it is.”
Here is today’s 3D definition:
Deeply disappointing for people who fail to make the slightest effort to understand the futility of their own expectations or the arrogance they project to those they hope to convince
Kushner, the son-in-law of America’s grand master of the “art of the deal,” doesn’t appear to have absorbed the key lessons his father-in-law guru should have taught him. One of the first principles of negotiations should be: Don’t denigrate the party you’re negotiating with, especially if the terms of the negotiation have not yet been made clear. But here is what Kushner says of the Palestinians: “If they truly cared about making the lives of the Palestinian people better, I think they would have taken very different decisions over the past year — and maybe over the last 20 years.”
The Jerusalem Post now affirms that “the plan will be unveiled in June.” Quoting Kushner himself, it reveals how little confidence the author of the deal has in the eventuality of a positive reception. All he can do is hope against hope and count on both parties “believing” in his plan. “I hope they will look at it and suss it and see if they do believe that this is a pathway for a better future.” Kushner even resorted to use the informal British term “suss,” which no Brit would use in such a way and in such a context. This may simply prove that anyone incapable of understanding the practices and assumptions of one culture (Arab) will probably also have difficulty with another one (British).
In an article that begins with the idea that “two states” doesn’t mean the same thing to Israelis and Palestinians, Kushner used a technocratic ploy to avoid dealing with this major issue. “If you say two state, it means one thing to the Israelis and one thing to the Palestinians, so we said let’s just not say it, let’s just work on the details of what it means,” he said. It’s similar to defining the forest one tree at a time before agreeing that the forest exists.
The Times of Israel repeats Kushner’s explanation that the “peace plan is going to be centered around the ‘bottom-up’ model — ‘which is how do you make the lives of the Palestinian people better.’” At least this is clear. He defines the Palestinians as the bottom, who may one day — if they renounce their “evil” ways — aspire to a prosperity similar to (but certainly not equal to) the Israelis’ prosperity. It’s the tiny carrot that replaces the big stick. Explaining his bottom-up approach, he added that he was looking at what they could “resolve to allow these areas to become more investable.” Just as Trump lectured Kim Jong-un about the value of North Korean beach property, Kushner appears to be sticking to the party line if not following Trump’s one-track mind. After all, what is Gaza other than a future Honolulu in the making?
Kushner has been preparing his plan for two years, practically since President Trump’s inauguration in January 2017. Some may remember that at that time, Trump made Kushner “personally responsible for an astonishing variety of tasks, despite lacking any apparent knowledge or experience relevant to any of them.” Now, as the media awaits the reaction to Kushner’s solution for the Middle East, the president’s son-in-law has begun pitching his solution to immigration across the US-Mexico border. The pre-release buildup has begun with a briefing of Republicans in Congress, though no one will be surprised to learn that “a senior administration official … declined to say when the White House would release the plan publicly or when Trump hopes to see action in Congress.”
Jared Kushner lets us know that his peace plan emerged from his own study of the history of Middle East peace plans. He proudly announces the innovative tack he has taken: “We’ve taken what I think is an unconventional approach. We’ve studied the past efforts and how they failed and why they failed … We’ve tried to do it a bit differently.” Most observers take the last part of the sentence to translate as: Why they failed … We’ve tried to do it [fail] a bit differently. And in that he is likely to succeed.
Nothing illustrates Kushner’s confusion and ignorance more than when he “cited as a ‘good attempt’ the Arab Peace Initiative adopted by 22 Arab states in 2002. ‘But if that would’ve worked, we would’ve made peace a long time ago on that basis.’” That should stand as one of the great tautologies in the history of global diplomacy. Seventeen years after the event, we learn that if a proposed peace plan had worked, peace would have been the result. The French call that a lapalissade, derived from the name of Jacques La Palice, a 16th-century nobleman. The classic example is: “If he weren’t dead, he would still be alive.”
*[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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