Palestinians Must Look Beyond Anti-Trump Anger – OpEd


Nearly two years into President Donald Trump’s term in office, it should be clear to everyone that he is here to stay. And, given the disarray in the leadership of his Democratic critics, he might even get a second term in 2020.

Trump’s critics have gone over the top in their hostility, anger and even hatred. First they said he could never get elected as president — he embarrassed them and proved them wrong. Then they said he would be impeached and thrown out of office before he could finish his first year. It’s now been 19 months.

But, is it clear to Palestinians yet? It should be because they have a lot at stake, and listening to the foreboding predictions of the Trump haters as the basis for their reticence toward the administration won’t hurt the president as much as it could hurt Palestinian interests.

No one knows what Trump’s “ultimate deal” is, although it certainly must include some aspect of Palestinian independence.

Although the Trump administration has given Israel much, including moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s official capital, this extreme support might just be their way of preparing to deliver a painful blow to Israel’s politics.

You can’t write Trump off, just because he is involved in one of the most brutal and sometimes vicious public wars with both the Democratic political establishment and America’s biased, pro-Israel mainstream news media.

The war with Trump is only two years old, but the war for Palestinian independence is more than 100 years old. So maybe Palestinian leaders should stop following the lead of the leftist extremists in American politics. They need to start developing a strategy of their own.

Maybe it’s not obvious to Palestinians that the world around them has seen cracks in the support for their cause starting to emerge. Those cracks are not just visible in the Western world, but also in the Arab world, where Israel continues to exploit the long-standing and unresolved battle between Arab moderates and extremists. The sad truth for Palestinians is that Israel not only has the military advantage over our resistance, but it has played world politics far better, including with the one country that has the most decisive influence over Palestine’s future — America.

Led by outspoken activists who have more weight and voice than Palestine’s feeble government, the Palestinian Authority, some Palestinian activists have undermined peace by reinforcing a non-productive rejectionist strategy based on demanding a one-state solution and rejecting compromise based on the two-state solution. The one-state solution plays to the more energetic emotions of the Palestinian diaspora, while the two-state solution requires confidence in one’s abilities to achieve one’s goals in negotiations.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to change how Palestinians have dealt with setback after setback over the years, and instead evolve into a new strategy that sees past the anti-Palestinian nature of America’s political influence to learn to approach it better?

It is true Trump has tapped several pro-Israel figures to represent his “deal of the century” overtures. They include his son-in-law and envoy for a Palestinian-Israeli peace settlement Jared Kushner, his bankruptcy lawyer and fanatic settler advocate David Friedman, and political extremist Jason Greenblatt. All, like Trump, have limited diplomatic experience.

But, in truth, are they really worse than any of their predecessors, who allowed Israel to expand its settlements during the administrations of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama? Trump’s predecessors reigned over a steady undermining of Palestinian rights, reinforcing Israel’s standing in the Middle East by using its financial leverage to weaken the Arab world’s confrontation of Israel’s repeated violations of international law and violent aggression against defenseless civilians.

The only challenge Palestinians have that they must overcome is the inherent tendency for the majority to allow the smaller but more vocal extremists to bully them into inaction. Hamas and its activists have been fighting against the peace process since it was first initiated by the late President Yasser Arafat.

The extremists have done everything to reject any form of compromise, from Madrid to Oslo, Camp David, Wye River and Taba, and even today they close their eyes to the murderous extremism of Hamas.

Violence is a threat not just to Israelis but to the Palestinians too, and it must be stopped.

Abbas isn’t the strongest or most inspiring leader the Palestinians have ever had, but he would be more effective if Palestinians silenced the extremists and came together with a strategy to survive, rather than pursuing a rejectionist game plan.

It’s time to ignore the spin and the propaganda and take Trump more seriously, recognizing that, when it comes to serving Israel, what he is doing is no different than his predecessors. Trump, however, might be the only person to force Israel to recognize Palestinian rights as part of a final peace accord that ends the conflict, the violence and the hate.

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian-American former journalist and political columnist. Email him at [email protected].

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