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Palestinians should take the money and run

Opinion
on 29 Comments

I wasn’t at the “Peace to Prosperity” Summit, but I listened to some of the speeches and read the documents the White House produced for the event. Nothing that I saw or read changed my belief that the entire affair was long on fantasy, short on reality. Even with that, however, a heretical thought came to mind – but more on that later.

Let me make it clear at the outset that I am a fan of imagining the future. During the Clinton Administration my mantra with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian process was that what was needed was “a vision of the future that was so compelling people would be drawn to it.” Back then, there was still the hope that a political solution could be found leading to an independent Palestinian state in the territories that Israel had occupied in 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

It was such a vision that led Yasser Arafat to imagine that with independence, Gaza could become like Singapore. With peace and freedom, Palestinians could connect the West Bank to Gaza. They could build a seaport and airport, attract investment, start businesses and become a commercial hub and a tourist destination.

There were other grand ideas. In fact, despite Jared Kushner’s patronizing presumptuousness, nothing in his vision was new, since Palestinians had already imagined such a future. But all came crashing down to earth when Israel implemented a closure of the borders after an Israeli massacred Muslim worshippers in Hebron in 1994; erected hundreds of purely punitive checkpoints throughout the West Bank; cut East Jerusalem off from the rest of the occupied lands; built a wall inside of the ’67 line and established a network of military outposts and settlements in the Jordan Valley, which denied Palestinians full access to almost 25% of their most fertile fields; intensified policies of collective punishment, repression, humiliation, and degradation of millions of innocent civilians; denied Palestinians access to over 80% of their land and natural resources; blockaded and strangled Gaza; and began a massive settlement expansion program that has seen the number Israelis in the West Bank almost quadruple to over 620,000 settlers.

OK, I know that Kushner warned in his speech that there would be someone like me who would be Mr. Negativity – bringing up the old arguments of the past and blaming Israel for everything. But it’s important to point out that Kushner, while completely absolving the Israelis, did his own share of blaming. Except, in his case, all the blame was placed squarely on the Palestinians’ shoulders – as if all of the Palestinian’s problems were of their own making. I’ve been too close to this situation for too long and while I can find fault in the ossified and struggling Palestinian Authority and the brutally stupid, self-defeating tactics employed by Hamas, the flaws of the Palestinians are a function of the impossible situation created by deformities resulting from Israel’s brutal and oppressive policies. Blaming the Palestinians is nothing more than blaming the victim while letting the victimizer go free.

The reality is that there is a reason why the Palestinian economy never “took off” – Palestinians were denied the opportunity to grow by the relentless occupation that refused to cede control.

Compounding Kushner’s detachment from reality was his lack of self-awareness regarding the impact of the policies pursued by his own administration and the laughable absurdity of his claim that he and President Trump “haven’t given up on the Palestinians” and still care for them! The Trump team has turned a blind eye to Israel’s land seizures, settlement expansion, “legalization” of outposts, and home demolitions. In addition to moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, they have acquiesced to Israeli policies that have consolidated control and expanded settler compounds in East Jerusalem and are even now suggesting that they would look favorably on further annexations in other parts of the West Bank. And they have cut all aid to Palestinian institutions, including hospitals and schools. To now suggest that they want to “empower Palestinians” through education and health care is disingenuous, at best.

With this in mind, as I listened to Kushner’s speech and read through the plans, offended by their lack of reality, patronizing tone, naiveté, and refusal to acknowledge how we got to where we are, a heretical idea came to mind: imagine what might happen if Palestinians were to take the money and run?

From its beginning, Israel mastered the art of dissembling. They have repeatedly agreed to terms that they had no intention of honoring. Instead, they pocketed their gains and moved on. In the beginning, they agreed to a partition and then plotted how to ethnically cleanse the area to make their new state, in Davide Ben-Gurion’s words, “larger and more Jewish”. They signed the Camp David Accords having no intention of fulfilling even its most minimal requirements for the Palestinians. They did the same with Oslo and Wye. And they repeatedly agreed to “settlement freezes” – never intending to stop expanding their control over the occupied lands.

So, what if Palestinians decided to play the same game? What if they did what the Israelis have done? What if they decided to build the Palestinian economy and improve the daily life of Palestinians – while maintaining focus on the long game?

Agreeing to play along in no way negates Palestinian rights. Economic empowerment doesn’t negate political rights, nor will it buy acquiescence to the denial of these rights. Palestinian aspirations can’t be bought and sold for a price.

Let’s face it, we are in an emerging one state reality ­– an Apartheid state. Israeli policy led to this and the Kushner plan will only serve to consolidate it. At present, the majority of the population between the River and the Sea is Arab. The problem is that Palestinians lack rights and power, and they lack a strategy to gain the power they will need to secure their rights.

What if they were to exploit the opportunity provided by Kushner’s plan to build Palestinian society as an important step on the way to developing the strength to secure political rights and freedom? In fact, history shows that when people live in economic despair, they are less inclined to demand political rights. Only when they gain a degree of economic relief do they turn to demand greater political freedom.

So if Kushner is promising: to open up the West Bank by removing barriers to travel; to connect the West Bank to Gaza; to make Gaza a tourist haven; to promote investment in Palestinian institutions; etc. – what if Palestinians took the money and ran? What if Palestinians used this offer to develop a new strategic vision – taking the steps to transform the current emerging one state reality into a democratic secular state?

Kushner may not realize what the end result of an empowered and prosperous Palestinian community will be. And he may be totally naïve in failing to recognize that the Israelis will kick and scream at the prospect of a prosperous and empowered Palestinian community. But that’s his problem, not the Palestinians.

It’s interesting to imagine the future should Palestinians take on this game with a political and strategic vision that sees prosperity not as the end of the road, but as paving the path to Palestinian empowerment and ultimate leadership in the new one state reality. In this regard, we might see Kushner’s plan not as the “too-clever” path to maintaining Palestinian subordination to the Israeli occupation. Rather it may be the naively designed path with the unintended consequence that will lead, a generation from now, to an entirely new reality.

The Israelis and the US will howl, but they are the ones who dug this hole for themselves. Maybe one day the Palestinians could build a resort in Gaza or Jaffa and name it after Jared Kushner – as the father of the new secular democratic state that will come to be between the River and the Sea.

If that’s not exactly the vision of the future the US and Israel are seeking, that’s what they’ll get. Palestinians will continue to demand freedom and rights and as an empowered majority, it’s only a matter of time before they rise up and secure those rights.

If that’s not what the US and Israel want, then it might be a good idea for them to go back to the drawing boards and muster the courage and resolve to end the occupation and provide Palestinians with the justice and freedom they deserve and need to truly prosper in an independent state of their own.

Postscript from the author: 

I had hoped that the ending was clear. What I wrote was:

“The Israelis and the US will howl, but they are the ones who dug this hole for themselves. Maybe one day the Palestinians could build a resort in Gaza or Jaffa and name it after Jared Kushner – as the father of the new secular democratic state that will come to be between the River and the Sea.

“If that’s not exactly the vision of the future the US and Israel are seeking, that’s what they’ll get. Palestinians will continue to demand freedom and rights and as an empowered majority, it’s only a matter of time before they rise up and secure those rights.

“If that’s not what the US and Israel want, then it might be a good idea for them to go back to the drawing boards and muster the courage and resolve to end the occupation and provide Palestinians with the justice and freedom they deserve and need to truly prosper in an independent state of their own.”

Maybe it was a bit too “tongue in cheek” and maybe it was just trying to make the point that any plan that doesn’t end the occupation and provide justice will ultimately fail.

In the end, I believe we are past a two state solution so that the issue facing Palestinians is how to develop a new strategic vision that prepares them for becoming the empowered majority in one state.

That’s not what Kushner wants, but what he and Israel want – they will never get. The problem is that there is, at present, no Palestinian strategy to address the one state reality. So to those who thought I didn’t quite understand the game that’s afoot or was being naïve – not quite.

This post first appeared at the Arab American Institute site on June 29. 

 

James Zogby

James Zogby tweets at @jjz1600 and is the author of Arab Voices and the founder and president of the Arab American Institute (AAI), a Washington, D.C.–based organization which serves as a political and policy research arm of the Arab-American community.

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29 Responses

  1. RoHa on June 29, 2019, 8:15 pm

    “Agreeing to play along in no way negates Palestinian rights. Economic empowerment doesn’t negate political rights, …”

    Nathan will assure us that it does.

  2. Ellen on June 30, 2019, 2:54 am

    Holding that conference in Bahrain of all places says it all. There is NO intent of an honest arrangement. This is nothing more than a grifter’s real estate plan.

    • Misterioso on July 1, 2019, 9:53 am

      @Ellen, et al

      Speaking of “a grifters real estate plan” –

      https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/slumlords-peace-190624192319778.html

      “The slumlords’ peace” Al Jazeera, June 25/19, by Ismail Khalidi

      “Trump and Kushner have crafted a Palestinian ‘peace’ plan with the same ignominy they’ve done dirty real estate deals.”

      “We Palestinians thought we had it bad the past 25 years since the signing of the Oslo Accords under the reign of American and Israeli technocrats and “security experts”. And with good reason.

      “This revolving door of Foggy Bottom ‘doves,’ Arlington spooks and other denizens of the Pentagon and swanky Georgetown restaurants – working closely with counterparts in Tel Aviv – convinced the mediocre Palestinian leadership that a state was attainable if only they would give up just a little more.

      “And so after two and a half decades of being mugged at the negotiating table, the Palestinians have nothing to show for the moribund ‘peace process.’ No state. No sovereignty. No Jerusalem. No human rights. No borders (let alone control of borders). No end to the mushrooming illegal Jewish-only settlements on stolen Palestinian land or the more than a half century of Israeli military rule over Palestinians.

      “Meanwhile, water and other resources are siphoned to the Israeli state and settlers as Israel today pushes the idea of officially annexing swaths of the occupied West Bank. And of course, despite promises to connect Gaza and the West Bank, the two territories have remained divided – with Gaza subject to a brutal siege and periodic pulverisation by Israeli and American munitions.

      “In essence, Palestinians live under a form of apartheid with the timid stamp of Palestinian approval from the unelected Palestinian ‘Authority,’ itself a pseudo-entity created by the Americans and Israelis to outsource the burden of keeping the restive Palestinian natives in their place. Can’t get much worse, right?

      “Wrong. Enter two infamous slumlords (and sons of slumlords): Donald Trump and Jared Kushner.

      “These scions of sketchy New York real estate empires are currently doing business out of the White House, and Kushner the younger has been put in charge of Middle East peace, where he has been pimping something called the ‘deal of the century.’

      “Unfortunately, anyone who has heard anything about (or, God forbid, lived through) the practices of said real estate moguls knows that this so-called ‘deal of the century’ does not portend well for the Palestinians.

      “If only the Palestinians problems were limited to being duped into an overpriced lease for a shoebox apartment in the East village with shoddy renovations, no gas or heat, broken appliances and vermin infestations. But the scale of the real estate swindle the Palestinians are being dragged into is much greater, as is the human tragedy that will follow in its wake.
      Let’s take a look at some of the purported highlights, as leaked in the Israeli press last month:

      “First, there is no mention of the return of Palestinian refugees (homeless since 1948) to a quasi-statelet of ‘New Palestine.’ Of course, Palestinians will be ignored when they insist they would be perfectly happy with ‘old’ Palestine (i.e., ‘historic Palestine.’)

      “Second, Palestinians get no control of their own borders and no army but must pay the Israeli army a fee to protect their reservation, err, territory.

      “Third, Palestinians will not get back any Palestinian land currently occupied by hundreds of thousands of illegal Israeli settlers but will instead receive a slice of land donated by the dictator of Egypt, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. No matter that this land swap will see the Palestinians give up their rich ancestral agricultural lands in the West Bank for a slice of the Sinai Desert. Oh yeah, and the Palestinians will apparently have to pay rent to the Egyptians for this piece of prime real estate. Maybe Kushner and Trump can throw in some quality condos, too. For a price, of course.

      “For anyone who cares about justice, human rights and a lasting peace in Palestine/Israel, the leaked reports of Kushner’s deal makes for grim reading, as does the economic portion of the plan, officially unveiled this past week by Kushner and the White House. But the nuts and bolts of the deal matter far less than the spirit of it and the general parameters, which we know consist of throwing cash and empty promises of prosperity at the Palestinians in the absence of any substantive political and territorial concessions.

      “Considering the way that the Trumps and Kushners have always done business, however, it’s not at all surprising to see how ungenerous the deal is for the Palestinians. For only slumlords could come up with a deal whose terms are so mean-spirited, so insulting, so falsely advertised. And only slumlords like the Trumps and Kushners know how to prey on the susceptible customer, in this case, a stateless nation of refugees and their descendants.
      Fittingly, they have just the supporting cast to get the job done, including a lineup of Washington reruns who should probably have been locked up by now, including the likes of John Bolton, Elliot Abrams (currently executing a coup in Venezuela but surely in the loop on this one), and the bellicose Mike Pompeo to name a few.

      “Then, there are the foreign cosponsors of the deal in the form of two long-standing ‘democracies’ and the closest regional allies of the United States – the absolute monarchy of Saudi Arabia under the Yemeni-butchering, journalist-dismembering Crown Prince MBS; and the apartheid state of Israel under the extreme right-wing demagogue Benjamin Netanyahu.

      “With this dream team drafting up the Palestinians’ fate, is it any surprise that the future looks nightmarish? Perhaps the only hope for us to wake up before it is too late is the shifting opinion of millions of Americans who increasingly see the US one-sided support of a deeply flawed Israeli regime to be a hindrance to peace.

      “I certainly hope so, because, like most Palestinians, I don’t want any landlord lording it over Palestine, let alone two whose properties most sane New Yorkers wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole.”

  3. echinococcus on June 30, 2019, 8:24 am

    Is this really tongue-in-cheek? Buried so deep?

    “From its beginning, Israel mastered the art of dissembling”
    Not “Israel” –the Zionists, way before. Because they had been, and remain, set up, encouraged, and militarily supported by the mightiest empire of the day. Which they almost own. Just like the Palestinian people, don’t you think?

    “So, what if Palestinians decided to play the same game? What if they did what the Israelis have done?”
    Sure, the USZionist Empire will just watch them do it.

    I suppose clowning helps some people when they are desperate.

    • on July 1, 2019, 8:11 am

      hi i have difficulty understanding the language of the above article so please could you just give me the gist please thanks

      • eljay on July 1, 2019, 12:37 pm

        || yoseeq: hi i have difficulty understanding the language of the above article so please could you just give me the gist please thanks ||

        translate.google.com

      • Mooser on July 1, 2019, 1:03 pm

        “i have difficulty understanding the language of the above article”

        And you also have trouble with the registration procedure.

  4. YoniFalic on June 30, 2019, 11:59 am

    I saw the movie “The Grifters” and learned the phrase long con.

    If Zogby thinks Palestinians would see any of the money, I don’t doubt that I could sell him the Brooklyn Bridge — probably several times.

    Kushner & Trump want Palestinians to help con Arab states out of a lot of money that will go into Zio pockets.

    • Kay24 on June 30, 2019, 9:23 pm

      Which begs the question, how much are the Zio’s going to pay for the decades of suffering, and the loss of lands and other resources, that the Palestinians have had to endure? Is Kushner going to insist they compensate the Palestinians for that? Shame on the Arab nations who are going along with Kushner’s farce of a peace deal, all to be in Kushner and Trump’s good graces.

    • hophmi on July 1, 2019, 9:36 am

      I see career antisemite YoniFalic is still posting antisemitic things here. When will Annie enforce the rules and ban him? Twitter did.

      • Keith on July 1, 2019, 10:51 am

        HOPHMI- “When will Annie enforce the rules and ban him?”

        Any career anti-Gentiles you think should be banned?

      • echinococcus on July 1, 2019, 10:52 am

        Hopfmi hasn’t been silenced for his continuous apology of genocide and war of aggression, so he should put a sock in it already re other people’s right to speech.

      • Mooser on July 1, 2019, 12:28 pm

        “When will Annie enforce the rules…”

        Annie Robbins is not a moderator. Hasn’t been for a long time, if I recall correctly.

      • annie on July 1, 2019, 4:21 pm

        if i had control over who got to post on mondoweiss the comment section would be a zionist free zone.

        that said, any money devoted to ‘helping’ the palestinians coming from netanyahu/trump/kushner deal is likely to pay for their continued imprisonment and expulsion, ie the infrastructure for complete annexation. this is why the political component is still secret because a reveal of the 2 plans side by side will make the intent obvious (hence the delay). i doubt they will actually hand over any chunk of money to palestinians except in piddly amounts like an allowance.

      • RoHa on July 1, 2019, 10:12 pm

        Get your whip and boots, Annie. The lads want a bit of discipline and correction.

      • Mooser on July 2, 2019, 12:45 pm

        No whips needed. Here, in this, our digital den, far from haunts of mortal men, she’ll be Queen, and make decrees.
        They may honor them who please.

  5. MHughes976 on June 30, 2019, 2:16 pm

    Most versions of ‘economic peace’ plans that I’ve heard of include some sort of finality clause, ie a promise never to attempt to negotiate for anything better. That’s to say that the option to grab the money and run would seem to be limited to running as far as a meticulously constructed and firmly fortified brick wall. But perhaps finality clauses are bound to fail.

    • JWalters on June 30, 2019, 9:07 pm

      Zogby is suggesting the Palestinians do like the Israelis and ignore any clauses they please. Just grab the money. The money would have to go into a bank the CIA can’t freeze. And the Pals would have to plan for the fact that Israel already knows how they plan to violate the deal.

    • LiberatePalestine on June 30, 2019, 11:39 pm

      There’s no court to enforce such promises. If there were, the Zionist entity would have been imprisoned for contempt scores of times.

      The imperialist double standard, however, allows the Zionists to breach their obligations with impunity while holding the Palestinians to obligations that they haven’t incurred…

      I oppose the proposal of «taking the money». First, there won’t be any money. Second, selling one’s birthright for a mess of pottage has never been advisable.

  6. VQTilley on June 30, 2019, 7:32 pm

    Interesting. Except handing more millions to the PA will only strengthen its corruption – consolidate its patronage networks, sustain its motives to keep the game going. These are not people for whom “democratic secular state” has any appeal at all. And Israel is breathing down their necks. If they venture a toe toward being a true national leadership, they’ll be out on their duffs in an instant, if not dead. Israel has made that much clear.

    But it seems unlikely we’ll have to worry about this, as nobody has any enthusiasm for this charade.

  7. [email protected] on June 30, 2019, 7:38 pm

    I respect James Zogby but got to disagree with his conclusion. Of the many treaties signed with Native Peoples and the US government, some tried to take the money and run. It didn’t work out there and wouldn’t work out here. Settler Colonialism is best resisted with steadfastness and BDS. If this article were to be received with more than a fantastical wish, he would have to demonstrate examples where the colonized were bought off and ended up better for having done so.

  8. VQTilley on June 30, 2019, 8:26 pm

    Interesting. Except handing more millions to the PA will only strengthen its corruption – consolidate its patronage networks, sustain its motives to keep the game going. These are not people for whom “democratic secular state” has makes sense for what the PLO ever was or has any appeal at all. And Israel is breathing down their necks. If they venture a toe toward being a true national leadership, they’ll be out on their duffs in an instant, if not dead. Israel has made that much clear.

    But it seems unlikely we’ll have to worry about this, as nobody has any enthusiasm for this charade.

  9. hophmi on June 30, 2019, 11:04 pm

    Zogby was always a smart guy. Maybe he’ll read these comments and realize that the Palestinians have no greater enemy than their leftist Western supporters, who would much prefer that they continue to suffer.

    • Misterioso on July 1, 2019, 9:37 am

      @hophmi

      “,,,Palestinians have no greater enemy than their leftist Western supporters…”

      Bullcrap!!

      Their number one enemy is racist/fascistic Zionists and those whom they bribe.

    • RoHa on July 1, 2019, 6:45 pm

      You’re slipping, Hophmi. That should be “no greater enemy than their anti-Semitic leftist Western supporters”.

  10. Vera Gottlieb on July 1, 2019, 9:42 am

    And run…where to? Why should Palestinians leave a land they have inhabited for centuries? It is the Zionists who need to learn to peacefully live with others of a different race instead of constantly looking down their noses and carrying that chip on their shoulders.

  11. genesto on July 1, 2019, 1:49 pm

    I like this idea. It really puts Israel and its agent, the US, on the spot, certainly. If Israel accepts this deal, without any political preconditions, it does give the Palestinians a chance to raise themselves from economic misery – at least for some period of time – and, as James says, gives them a better chance of strategizing for a just and equitable political solution later.

    The only problem I see is what would likely happen to the Palestinians once US/Israel presents its totally unacceptable political solution and the Palestinians refuse it. The response could be devastating to the Palestinians at that point.

  12. James Canning on July 1, 2019, 4:36 pm

    An insightful proposal, and one I think should be adopted by the Palestinians.

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