America’s empty “happy talk” on Palestine coming to an end
President-Elect Donald Trump’s actions which critics claim favor Israel in fact have the potential of awakening the sleeping giant of the Arab and Muslim World. His appointment of extremist David Freidman as US Ambassador to Israel and his vow to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Occupied Jerusalem break the “happy talk” that has put the Arab and Muslim Worlds in an acquiescing coma and may possibly achieve a Palestine State
Published in the Arab News in Saudi Arabia, Dec. 22, 2016
By Ray Hanania
President-elect Donald Trump is doing exactly what Palestinians and the Arab World need.
He is throwing out all the useless, do-nothing “happy talk” about saving Palestine and Jerusalem that has put the Arab and Muslim World in a coma.
Arabs and Muslims don’t see it because their minds are numbed by nearly 24 years of American “happy talk” on Middle East peace that has failed to deliver on its any promises. The days of relying on American largesse to make peace happen is over.
Trump’s recent Middle East pronouncements have yanked away the blanket of hypocrisy that has covered and enabled Israel’s steady destruction of Palestine.
Instead of reacting with justified indignation to Trump, as we have seen from Arabs and Muslims in all quarters, we should recognize that the Arab World has been “romanced” into an atrophy of false promises and hope. We’ve been duped!
It’s hard to see through this fog, but Arabs and Muslims need to open their eyes to what has taken place since Palestinians accepted Israel’s right to exist in a handshake on the lawn of the White House on Sept. 13, 1993, in exchange for a promise of statehood that has never come.
Two years later, Israeli extremists destroyed peace by murdering the one Israeli leader who was willing to make it, Yitzhak Rabin. Then, with the help of phony promises from successive American Presidents, Israel has continued a deliberate and systematic destruction of Palestine under a blanket of “happy talk” about peace, compromise and unfulfilled promises.
Many Arabs and Muslims are angrily blaming Trump for destroying this system, as if America ever really embraced the “Two-State Solution” or a peace that gives Palestinians statehood.
Look at the reality.
Trump has named David Friedman to be America’s Ambassador to Israel. Friedman is a well-known Israeli-American settler who has openly denounced the Two-State Solution, called the Palestinian National Authority corrupt, and has vowed to crackdown on “Palestinian extremism.” Friedman has instead urged that economic support be provided to the Palestinian “Middle Class” to address their needs.
We’ve always believed their “needs’ would be solved by the Two-State Solution, which has been propped up as a corpse for the past 24 years.
Ironically, the loudest screamers against Trump are Arab activists who have for years rejected the Two-State Solution, denouncing both Rabin and co-signer Shimon Peres — just the way Friedman has done.
Arab and Muslim extremists have worked hard to destroy the Two-State Solution, so why are they complaining about Trump?
The emotions of these predictable activist extremists have mis-focused the Arab and Muslim Worlds’ dysfunction into a false anger against Trump. But he’s the wrong target.
As for “moderates” like myself, we have clung futilely to an illusory hope that just doesn’t exist. Two States is the best solution, but the truth is Israel doesn’t accept the Two State Solution. Instead, Israel continues to expand settlements, steal more lands and make the occupation of Jerusalem and the West Bank more brutal.
Worse is that the most powerful nation on Earth, America, has been incapable of stopping Israel.
President Barack Obama, who more than any past president strongly advocated the Two-State Solution as the face of his Middle East policies, has been thwarted not just by the American Right and Trump’s conservative circles, but by the hypocritical, double-talking American and Israeli Left, too.
As I have documented, Palestinians have lost more land, seen illegal Israeli settler numbers increase at a record pace, and witnessed the second largest death toll in civilians under Obama than under any of his predecessors.
Why did we sit back and accept that reality? Because we preferred the smiles, the handshakes, the false promises and “happy talk” over the truth.
And without getting one significant concession from Israel, Palestinians and the Arab and Muslim Worlds have blindly opened their arms and embraced Israel at nearly every level, even while all this oppression has continued unabated.
Though Palestinians are far worse off today than they have ever been, Israel is enjoying new partnerships in the Arab World. Israel has received the largest grant of American taxpayer funding in history, more than $38 billion. They’re taking pictures with Arab leaders and sharing in multi-million dollar business investments.
Meanwhile, the Arab Street sits in their “shesh besh cafes,” smoking hookahs and sipping finjun kahwah, pretending that Trump is the problem.
Had Hillary Clinton won the presidency, the Arabs and Palestinians would be catatonic on a political gurney being fed “happy talk” lies intravenously to keep us in our coma.
Trump has thrown cold water in our faces. We can see, if we look, see the ugly truth and ignore the worthless “happy talk.”
Trump is waking the Arab and Muslim sleeping giant, but will we be awakened?
Israel’s refusal to accept the rights of Palestinians to exist is the main obstacle to peace. Israel’s refusal to implement the basics of the peace accords has fueled growing extremism in the region. It is Israel that is the obstacle to peace.
But this isn’t just about the future of the Palestinians. It is also about the integrity of the Arab and Muslim World. Israel’s rejection of Palestinian rights is a slap in the face of every Arab and Muslim in the world. Do we just stand there and take it?
It is shameful that Arabs and Muslims have done nothing, propped up in our hopes by empty “happy talk” and the false promises for a brighter future that Obama fed to us in Cairo in 2009.
Peace doesn’t come from pretense or “happy talk.” It comes from clearly defined and well thought out strategies that Arabs and Muslims must develop to force Israel to recognize Palestinian and Arab and Muslim rights.
Either the Arab and Muslim Worlds develop new strategies to restore their honor and force Israel to recognize Palestinian statehood, or we just accept the reality, as we really have, that Jerusalem is irrelevant and “saving Palestine” is a pipe dream.
If that’s the case, who cares where Trump puts the U.S. Embassy?
(Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian American columnist and weekly columnist at the Arab News Newspaper in Saudi Arabia. Read his columns at www.ArabNews.com. Email him at email@example.com.)