You’re lying to me! You’re lying to me!
I know, I know. But hear me out!Art Linson, What Just Happened?
There was always going to be a Trump administration Middle East peace plan, for the same reason that the rich always get into modern art sooner or later. You may not be interested in it, you may think it’s junk, but if you made your fortune from Bacon Whip, or Cheese-from-a-Tap, sooner or later you’ve got to have a Giacometti in the rumpus room, and a Picasso to hang beside the clown-on-velvet pics you got on your Reno honeymoon.
That is the spirit in which Trump dispatched his son-in-law Jared Kushner to craft a McKinsey’s style “plan” for this legacy issue about which he doesn’t give a damn, something he made clear in his 2016 campaign.
In that he has been joined by the world.
Fifty years after the Black September movement rocketed the Palestinian cause to global attention with the spectacular blowing up of three hijacked jetliners at Dawson’s/Revolution Field in Jordan in 1970 (no one was onboard, one hastens to add), the issue has lost its prominence as a symbol of Western imperialism — save for those, from both right and left, who need a symbol to keep on fighting it.
“Plucky little Israel”, once the Western right’s idolised Sparta, is now Graftopolis — the social solidarity of its Jewish population destroyed by neoliberalism, its politics so fantastically corrupt and dysfunctional that the incumbent Netanyahu is running in a third election in 12 months and is one step ahead of criminal indictment.
The Palestinian leadership is hunkered down, trying to hold something, anything, together. Far from being the terrifying, nihilistic lions of times past, they have the demeanour of the ALP Socialist Left, putting out Challenge magazine, and holding the occasional bush dance fundraiser.
Trump’s voters don’t give a damn about the issue (with the exception of one state), the Arab monarchies have made their peace with Israel, the right of return is dying with the last living victims of the 1948 Nakba/ethnic cleansing, and new military technologies mean that Israel’s role as US aircraft carrier is superseded. We live in an era when you can launch drone strikes from a Subway restaurant in Maryland, during your lunch break.
Even the BDS movement on western campuses is fading somewhat, as climate change and other such causes take over.
So with the politics evacuated, the time was ripe for a “solution” that is post-political and, in that spirit, eminently political.
The guts of it consists of Israeli-offered plans of the past: Jerusalem as undivided Israeli capital, land swaps for West Bank settlements that shortchange the Palestinians, Israeli control of Israel-“Palestine” “borders”, airspace and electromagnetic spectrum, Israeli cordoned territory between Palestine and Jordan, no contiguity of West Bank territory, the Palestinian state demilitarised and without third-nation treaty capacity rights.
To this is added: the full annexation of the Jordan Valley, on which Palestinian agriculture depends, and Israeli control of the water supply.
In exchange for this, the Palestinians will purportedly get billions for investment in infrastructure, education, health, yada yada, but only if they have transformed their beleaguered Bantustan non-state into, in terms of probity and governance, Switzerland on the Dead Sea.
The proximate cause of this, now, is to help Netanyahu scrape through a third election by grabbing enough votes from hard-right parties to nudge ahead of the Blue and White coalition.
US support for the full annexation of Jordan Valley and the West Bank settlements is the bragging right — the old Israeli right-wing routine of “vote for me, because I can get the US to do what I want”. Whether it will work this time is highly questionable.
If it was working, Bibi wouldn’t have needed to go to three elections. The collapse of social solidarity has disarticulated zionist society.
What was once a religious-ethnic socialist state, which saw a strong role for collective agriculture as a social binder, is now a cyberstate, exporting high-tech human containment technology to the world.
As Jerusalem becomes increasingly dominated by orthodox Judaism, Tel Aviv is becoming one of the LGBTIQ capitals of the world — as separated from the settlements as we in Australian cities are from the realities of life for remote-area Indigenous people.
To this unique conjugation of forces, comes a peace plan conceived as a hostile corporate takeover.
Palestine is dismembered like a failing tootsie roll company taken over by Big Sugar — its assets stripped, its dozy family management left in place, brand Palestine kept to burnish the credentials of the major part of the corporation, Brand Israel.
Against this dismal process, there have been the usual warnings of how the Arab street will react, the unpredictability of its people etc, a nostalgic desire on the left for the radical pan-Arabism of the Cold War.
So far, the residual radicalism that we were promised would erupt with the killing of Qassem Soleimani has failed to occur (though the Iranian leadership may be waiting for an opportune moment to do something special), and a renewed global movement for the Palestinians seems even less likely.
The one caveat to this is that things don’t go in a linear fashion. If the Kushner plan becomes the new standard and the virtual extinguishment of a political process, then an anti-political process — i.e. naked terror — may recommence. Not one authorised by Fatah or even Hamas, but by autonomous actors, against the global Jewish diaspora.
It’s forgotten, deliberately, by both sides, how much targeting of diaspora Jews — zionist representatives, but not always so — there was in the ’70s.
History moves in mysterious ways, and the absurd Kushner plan promises either renewed terror or its utter absence, a Fatah refusal of a State of Palestine offer, and a turn towards a one-state solution. That would then leave Israel as an unquestionable racist, apartheid state — a global grotesque come straight from the fetid race politics of 1870s Vienna into the 21st century.
That is not a sustainable state form, inside or outside the borders.
Ultimately, the one-state solution that may succeed is by the rivers not of Babylon, but Lake Huron — in Michigan, which has the US’ largest Arab-American population, and which Trump won in 2016 on the basis of low turnout for Hillary.
Could Biden, or even Bernie, a Brooklyn Jew, get enough votes, less from pan-Arabism than from pissed off-ness, to flip the state back? It’s far from impossible.
Meanwhile, prepare yourself for a Jared-Ivanka ticket in 2024, the first husband-and-wife ticket in US history. They’re lying, they’re lying, but hear them out!