As the year came to an end and another began,
And the snowflakes took flight all over the land,
Crazy tales were told to rapt children ‘round fires,
of a plan – a great plan – to bring peace to holy shires.
The Ultimate Deal™, the Deal of the Century,
call it what you will, this plan will give sanctuary,
to the weak and the weary and the rich and the poor,
to all except you, you’re Palestinian, you sucker!
This was not Nikki Haley’s Christmas message to the United Nations. Which is a shame: It would have been honest.
But at least she talked. Hers remains the last public commentary we have from any senior US official on the much-awaited, almost mythical unicorn peace plan that is going to solve the Palestine question for once and all and is being worked out in the Donald Trump White House by son-in-law Jared “if he can’t do it no one can” Kushner.
The plan, she informed us on 18 December, would offer a “choice between a hopeful future that sheds the tired, old and unrealistic demands of the past, or a darker future that sticks with the proven failed talking points.”
The key word here is “unrealistic,” and the key audience is the Palestinians. Give up, Haley is saying in not so many words, on your “tired, old” aspirations for justice and freedom, these “talking points.” Accept instead a “massive improvement” in your quality of life and “far greater control” over your future.
What an offer this promises to be. Imagine the relief of the slave with just one shackle attached facing the prospect of “far greater freedom,” or the wrongly accused death row prisoner whose sentence is commuted for a decades-long prison sentence and “far greater life.”
Who said America, the land of the free and home of the hotdog, did not stand up for the little guy? Is that a shining city on the hill, a beacon of democracy, liberty, individual freedom and the pursuit of happiness? Or just some light escaping a gold brick crap house?
A little relief
It is of course news to no one (except perhaps those in the Beltway bubble) that the US has never been a force for democracy, human rights, freedom and all good things to all mankind. In this way at least, the Trump administration’s more transactional, more nakedly self-interested approach, in which vice has long stopped paying tribute to virtue, is a welcome relief from the delusions of the past.
The US should not – as Trump recently said – be policeman to the Middle East or any other part of the world. Any such role cannot be entrusted to a single country, especially not one so in thrall to special interests. You want an international policeman? Abide by international law, and agree that the body tasked with administering it, the UN, be enabled to enforce it.
But Washington’s current penchant for 20th century nation-state power politics does nothing for anyone not already on top, least of all the Palestinians.
In her December UN swan song, Haley suggested that Israel would take greater risks while Palestinians would reap greater benefits from accepting the Trump plan.
What’s left? The booming settlement construction sector? What harm to Israel could possibly arise from a plan put together by settlement benefactor Jared Kushner, settlement advocate David Friedman, and settlement guard Jason Greenblatt?
In this shambles of a state of affairs, two things bring relief in the new year.
First, no one is going to have to suffer the indignity of pretending to take the US administration’s plan seriously for a while. By all accounts, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to call early elections and ward off the threat of corruption charges has caused the White House to delay releasing its plan until after that April vote.
Secondly, Americans on the right, supporters of Trump and Israel, those rarely reached by the likes of this august publication, will become increasingly aware of the actual cost to the US of America’s support for Israel: $4.5 billion a year and more “frankly … if you look at the books.”