Show me the money is a proverbial way of saying to one’s interlocutors that they must clearly articulate their true intentions. You can’t play games when it comes to money. Trump is a businessman and he is keen to remind his constituents of this fact, like when he reviewed his country’s budget, cutting here (climate, health), increasing there, especially in the defense sector where he has increased the budget by 4.6 percent.
News reports over the last weeks have revolved around the US’s cuts to international contributions, which also highlight the strategic choices in which the Trump administration is ready to implement. They all require the following: respect for America’s choices and for an active vision of the world. This is in direct contrast to Obama who thought that his task was to see the US disengage, disappear, cancel a historical influence that he considered oppressive.
On Tuesday, the president wrote a tweet in which he asked why the US should continue to contribute billions to the Palestinians when they are “no longer willing to talk peace”. Trump also said, “We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table” (on which the Palestinians vehemently brought “as a matter of urgency” to the UN General Assembly and subsequently obtained its No), but also inferred that Israel would have to pay a substantial price for this. He signaled that Netanyahu would have had to give up something important if the Palestinians would have accepted to negotiate.
In short, Trump was saying: I was looking forward to negotiations, and the Palestinians boycotted them. Since 1990, the US has put over $5 billion dollars in their coffers. After so much expense with so little sympathy in return, Trump has had enough, and if they don’t like America, if it’s so despicable, why should it continue to give them more than $300 million annually?
A few hours later, his ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley threatened another important cut, which goes together with the previous threat of cutting US funds to the UN entire budget (USA contribution is a huge 22 per cent) starting from several of its organizations. Haley spoke clearly of the funds that are transferred to UNRWA, $386 million in 2016, a con controversial organization that was created in 1948 solely for Palestinian refugees.
Instead of relocating them, it has kept them in camps over all these years and grew them in millions clinging to the hope that one day they’ll be able to “return” to Israel. It’s the only existing permanent organization for refugees, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and is strongly suspected of complicity with Hamas.
In 2016, also UNESCO has received the announcement of the US delegation’s withdrawal; already in 2011 even Obama withheld funds to the UN’s cultural agency after it voted to accept a Palestinian bid for full membership, so evidently biased was its behavior. A few days ago, the US also announced that it will also cease to provide aid to Pakistan, which receives the substantial allowance of $225 million a year, $33 billion since 2002: Trump declared that he was disappointed with Islamabad’s policy, which has refused to cooperate in the fight against terrorism, and which offers a “safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror”, even when it concerns the kidnapping of Americans.
The Palestinians have reacted with a response that just shows how their policy can reverse the good sense of any discussed subject: they called the simple affirmation a blackmail, and added that if funding is no longer provided, youths will suffer, shared security services will collapse… The simple possibility of going back to a table was not even taken into consideration. They say that without American money, many youngsters will remain in the grip of confusion and violence. Therefore they are standing up against “American blackmail”.
It’s a way of seeing things that reminds of the refusal to admit the simple truth that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel: it’s a diplomacy of lies, against a diplomacy of the truth. This happens when the world is ready to bow its head before arrogance – imagining that by doing so it will achieve peace. Chamberlain like. This is the story that is very similar to blackmail. For example, in the 1980s a secret agreed acquiescence towards the Palestinians should have spared Italy from terror. It didn’t. The massacre at Fiumicino airport in 1985 as the attack on the Great Synagogue of Rome in 1982 in which the child Gaj Taché was killed, show that when you bend to the enemy he only takes advantage of it.
Trump is attempting with his money refusal to create a way to defeat terrorism. Is it possible? Well, better give it a try than accept any Palestinian, UN generated, Pakistani, Iranian threat in silence . His support for those currently courageously protesting in the streets throughout Iran is also part and parcel of this goal.
Translation by Amy Rosenthal
This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (January 4, 2018)