End of the obamian era: no more a state beyond the pale

Unconditional support for Israel, a promise that Iran will not have nuclear weapons, and the initiation of a common anti-terrorist front with the Arab world that will bring about a new approach to the peace process with the Palestinians.

It was worth it for Benjamin Netanyahu to firmly resist those harsh eight years of President Obama without taking a step backwards: Trump overthrew the U.S. position with a visit to the Middle East. International public opinion, the UN, and the EU, had been shaped by the Obamian era according to the idea of an Islamic world in which the Muslim Brotherhood was an ally; whereas Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf Countries were marginalized; where Iran was chosen as the main West’s strategic ally; and above all, Israel was transformed into a pariah state.

Trump, yesterday, before the red carpets were rolled out again and Air Force, enormous and light blue, took flight, gave a speech at the Israel Museum that began with his condolences to those who lost family members in the Manchester terrorist attack in order to once again address the subject of terrorism: it threatens the entire world, it makes no difference whether it occurs in the UK or in his own country and Israel, and not even in the Islamic world, which is plagued by continuous bloodshed. The war against ISIS is shared, just as it should be against Hamas and Hezbollah, says Trump, and this is his main strategic message.

Moreover, an ambitious and violent Iran is leading the Shiite world towards nuclearization and an imperialist conquer of the Middle East. Trump pledged both in Riyadh and in Israel that Iran will not obtain nuclear weapons. The basic strategy on which the policy of the new American administration is built is that of an all-encompassing alliance of all men of good will against the forces of evil. For Trump there’s a world that loves death and needs to be defeated. Iran will dot destroy Israel: “Not until Donald J. Trump is here” exclaimed the president, in a remark between ohn Wayne and Lawrence of Arabia: the only typical “Trump-like” assertion he permitted himself to declare. Because, during the rest of his speech he used conciliatory, low, convincing statesman tones: Israel, which has been told repeatedly by UNESCO for three times that Jerusalem doesn’t belong to him, enjoyed for the first time a realistic historical reconstruction. The city of Jerusalem that Trump ardently described has gone back to being the ideal, religious, and historical homeland of the Jewish people as it has been for four thousand years.

In the President’s speech, the capital of the State of Israel has been depicted for what it is, with its alive streets, institutions, malls, with people from all over the world who quietly and respectfully visit the Holy Sepulcher, the Mosques, the Western Wall: a city where the three religions can finally live in mutual respect, in pluralism.

The specifics of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians were not outlined: it appeared rather as a perspective, a paragraph within the general war that has just been declared against terrorism, within the common interests of the moderate Middle East against Isis and Iran. Abu Mazen, whom Trump met yesterday morning in Bethlehem, has been described as a leader who wants peace. And so has Netanyahu.

Probably both leaders have promised a lot of things and many agreements are taking place behind the scenes of which we don’t yet know: Trump hopes to renew negotiations between the two parties in exchange for economic and security contracts while simultaneously consolidating the Sunni Arab world’s support for the overall project. But what comes first? An Arab world’s declaration of appeasement or an israeli-palestinian opening of a new table? The battle is now about this two possibilities, and its solution doesn’t seem to be at the horizon.

This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (May 24, 2017)

Translation by Amy K. Rosenthal

About the Author
Fiamma Nirenstein is a journalist, author, former Deputy President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and member of the Italian delegation at the Council of Europe.
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