Alex Rose

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum

“The only acceptable extremism is humility” [Maimonides]

Donald Trump’s emissaries Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt have gone, leaving hardly a dent in the city of Jerusalem. One news headline reads “Trump aide Kushner has ‘productive’ talks with Netanyahu and Abbas” How is this possible when the latter repeats his ever present demands on refugees, prisoners [terrorists], establishment of a Palestinian state along 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital and no mention of acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state? One should not forget the embarrassing moment when Abbas appeared alongside Trump in front of the cameras for the first time uttering the same demands without a blink from Trump.

Recently, there have been numerous warnings such as “”Trump shouldn’t waste time on the Israel-Palestinian ‘peace process’”, “Why Palestinians cannot make peace with Israel”, “The two-state solution is dead”, “Why Abbas won’t accept ‘2 states for 2 peoples”and “Can Arabs make peace with Israel?”

And indeed, following the visit of Trump’s delegates, despite the announced satisfaction by Kushner, as informed by World Israel News of June 23, 2017; “Abbas ‘greatly disappointed’ by meeting with US officials, insists on funding terror.”

One must surely question the choice that Trump made to lead these futile discussions. Is there any hint to the qualifications of either Kushner or Greenblatt’s experience to commend their suitability for the given role. Surely, an individual of the caliber of Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Charles Krauthammer, Muslim Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, or John Bolton would have made far more sense to challenge the “wily oriental gentleman”.

From the Begin-Sadat Center, we learn that, “The Trump White House is currently re-examining the Allen Plan” an Obama-era proposal which calls for a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders with no IDF presence whatsoever. Not only that, but it makes provision for Israel to place reliance on security in the hands of foreign forces!!

In tracking the short history of Trump’s presidency, we have observed a man who on one side displays brilliance in the form of creativity, understanding of a good number of the issues while on the other side, stupidity, extremely poor judgment;at times displaying the behavior of an enigma, while at other times tending to act like a megalomaniac.

George Will, a highly acclaimed conservative writing in The Washington Post on May 3, 2017 states that “Trump has a dangerous disability.” He lacks what T.S. Elliot called a sense “not only of the pastiness of the past, but of its presence.” Will goes on to point to Trump’s fathomless lack of interest in America’s path to the present and his ”limitless gullibility leaves him susceptible to being blown about by gusts of factoids that cling like lint to a disorderly mind”.

To Will, It is urgent for Americans to think and speak clearly about Trump’s “inability to do either.” He [Trump] suffers from an untrained mind bereft of information and married to stratospheric self-confidence. As a conclusion to the subject column,Will feels that it is up to the public to “quarantine this presidency via their elected representatives against his impulsivity and credulity which render him unfit to “take the nation into a military conflict.” In fairness it should be recognized that Trump has appointed a good number of highly competent officials, by way of examples, Vice President Mike Pence and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Back on July 28, 2015, Professor Mordechai Kedar submitted an essay to the Chicago Policy Review entitled, “Americans [still] don’t understand the Middle East”. Its relevance applies to both Trump and his foreign delegates and to so many of his predecessors and ,in particular, the State Department. The paper consists of several questions and answers. His commencement question – What is the biggest misperception that Western policymakers have about the Middle East?

In answer Kedar sees two basic problems.[1a] The policymakers think that peace between Israel and the Palestinians will facilitate resolution of all other problems. Sunnis will cooperate with Shiites, Arabs with the Persians, and the tribes of Libya will sit around the fire singing “Kumbaya” together. That this is not so is simply because none of the aforementioned struggles have absolutely anything to do with the Israeli – Palestinian conflict.[1b] Solutions which are tailored for western culture do not apply in the Middle East because of a totally different culture.

[2] What are the fundamental causes of conflict in the Middle East? Americans naively see no differences between people. They tend to use their own domestic experiences for judgment. In the Middle East, tribalism, religious issues and sectarian issues are paramount and these differences in many cases result in death rather than peace. In general, the acceptance of differences is not acceptable. Hence in the Middle East, instead of co-existence, the solution is to divide dysfunctional states into emirates, which would be homogeneous.

[3] How do you see that process playing out? Are some of these present struggles a move towards a peaceful ME, or are the conflicts we see now not a sign of progress in the region? Progress can already be observed in the two Kurdistan districts which emerged as a result of the conflicts in Syria. The Kurdish district in northern Iraq, with its capital in Erbil, is very stable and successful. It is the fastest growing economy in the ME. Over 25 years, Erbil has been moving towards in dependence. The other Kurdish district, which arose from the ruins in the Northeast part of Syria, is calm and stable; and will never return to Syria.

The Druze in the South had enjoyed independence under Turkish rule. In time they could establish themselves into a stable, successful and independent state.

[4] Is there a role for federation within states? The best model for a good life in the ME is the emirates model. Consider Kuwait, Qatar, and the seven emirates of the United Arab emirates, where each state is stable because it consists of a single tribe. Foreign expatriates have no political aspirations or expectations. The society is homogeneous – the ruling elite belongs to the society of the tribe. This is the only system which works in the ME and consequently has Kedar promoting the eight Palestinian emirates

[5] How do these factors play into a potential resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? What would a practical solution look like? Hamas could take over the PA only to be a preamble to another Islamic state, just like ISIS. Israel would be doomed to live with this. For this reason, the only solution lies in giving the Palestinians freedom and security by way of the emirates solution.

[6] With that in mind, what role should the US play in the region now, and what does an ideal long term engagement strategy look like? The US has to learn about the ME, about its culture, about tribalism – the loyalties of people to their religion and sect, before intervening. Nobody should come to the region to dictate solutions without knowing the problems and be able to propose realistic solutions tailored to its culture, recognizing how different it is to the US and Europe.

[7] In the ME, one only achieves peace through victory. What does victory look like for Israel?

Victory is achieved in the ME when one party convinces the other party not to interfere by any means, war, incitement, encouragement of hatred and damaging propaganda, because the price would be excessive. This is the meaning of peace.

Yet another warning; “Trump shouldn’t waste time on the Israel-Palestinian ‘peace process’” [Ariel Ben Solomon – The Hill – 12/29/2016]. The author draws attention to announced statistics covering both Israelis and Palestinians who absolutely by a large margin have no confidence in the two-state solution. Based on the Barak and Olmert failures, where generous agreement on most of the Palestinian demands were acceded to, but rejected, following the same path would “likely lead to failure.”

Solomon recognizes that neither Arafat not Abbas were dominated by cultural, religious and economic reasons in arriving at a negative decision, which could conceivably lead to an assassination. He reminds us of a proclamation by Harold Rhode on the American obsession with negotiations which are unsolvable for the foreseeable future. In his words, “No Muslim leader can recognize the right of the Jews to any part of Israel or its ancient history, because from a Muslim perspective it is Muslim.”

Quoting David Wurmser, one time senior on the ME to former VP Dick Cheney, “To admit the failure of the peace process is tantamount to the West’s policy elite’s admitting the complete collapse of the several paradigms upon which the entire world view is anchored.” Given an understanding of this, the Trump administration should view the current peace process as “a black hole” and look elsewhere embracing reality. One would have thought that Trump’s creativity would have prevailed in this instance.

Interestingly, once upon a time, in fact in a matter of 4 months, Trump moved away from a position of appreciating the need for not following the “black hole”.Douglas Altabef records with jubilation the feeling expressed by so many after years of utter frustration. On February 21, 2017, the Jerusalem Post published his, “The two-state solution is dead! Long live the quest for peace!” In this essay, he expressed an optimism in moving from a no-win situation to looking forward to new ideas having a far greater likelihood of producing peaceful relations.

Noting that no PA leader has had the mandate to accept a deal which leaves a Jewish sovereign state in place i.e. perceived Muslim terrain, serves as a commencement point. Indeed, several ideas have been advanced which would provide for peaceful relations between the parties, better conditions for the Palestinians, and undiminished security for Israel.

Altabef’s idea is one of advancing overall Israeli sovereignty. He feels that the average Palestinian has a preference for quality of life over political solutions. This is recognized by looking at the immense progress made by Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria under direct Israeli control from 1967 until Oslo in such areas as literacy and infant mortality.

Gains can be made for both Israelis and Arabs in affordable housing and job opportunities. Further, the condition of approximately half a million residents of Judea and Samaria living in the netherworld of the Civilian Administration could then be addressed. Altabef is also willing to consider limited autonomy of an “emirate” model for the Palestinians.

Retrogressing, Michelle Cohen , founder of Israeli-Frontline penned a piece, “When the Arabs became the ‘Palestinians’ – The Invention of a People”, published on November 13, 2010. This subject is a core issue in that it created a false narrative and empowered Israel’s enemies. Until after the Six Day War, the world was accustomed to following the Arab-Israel conflict. This conveyed an impression of a large Arab contingent in contest with a substantially smaller Israel. By replacing the word “Arab” with “Palestinian” the impression gained was one of a tiny Arab contingent in conflict with a large Israeli enemy. This clever ploy spoke volumes and still does. Too often the media refers to the “poor Palestinians”. Key points from Michelle Cohen’s column:

[a] Arabs from the region of modern day Israel would have us believe that they are direct decedents of the Canaanites and/or the Philistines [the PA’s Saeb Erekot makes this statement, not infrequently].

[b] The vast majority of regional Arabs are Muslims. Since Judaism exists for over 5,000 years, and Christianity for over 2,000 years, while Islam’s recorded origin only dates back to the 7th century, then who are the Palestinians?
[c] The letter ‘p’ does not exist in the Arabic language, much less the name Palestine, which originated from the Roman ‘Judea- Palestina’, intended to humiliate the Jews after the Roman conquest [circa 75 BC over 600 years prior to the commencement of Islam.

In studying Josephus ‘s “Wars of the Jews”, nowhere is there to be found a reference to Palestinians [Temple times].In fact, the only time the Arabs of Arabia, in the first flush of Islamic expansion conquered Palestine from the Byzantines in 638.They lost the region to the Umayyad Caliphate of Damascus in 661, a mere 23 years. So much “from time immemorial.”

The lesson as emphasized by Michelle Cohen is simply that we should never have fallen into the trap of using the word “Palestinian” for “Arab” and should not do so now.

The next lesson relates to another myth, also as a consequence of the Six Day War. Israel’s enemies, who had suffered heavily in every way, used their significant defeat to introduce a reversal in terminology. Israel was now cast as Goliath and the Arabs as David. This theme resonated throughout
the media, the UN, EU, the US State Department and many nations of the world. In 2014, a book by Joshua Muravchik entitled, “Making David into Goliath – How the World turned Against Israel” dedicated to the given subject. It obviously provides in depth reading. Professor Alan M. Dershowitz comments on the book thus; “Muravchik explains the clever, immoral, illegal, and bigoted means used by the hard Left to turn the Palestinians , whose leaders perfected the scourge of terrorism, into victims and Israel into a pariah. Reading this book will convince you that Israel is still the David.”

About the Author
Alex Rose was born in South Africa in 1935 and lived there until departing for the US in 1977 where he spent 26 years. He is an engineering consultant. For 18 years he was employed by Westinghouse until age 60 whereupon he became self-employed. He was also formerly on the Executive of Americans for a Safe Israel and a founding member of CAMERA, New York (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America and today one of the largest media monitoring organizations concerned with accuracy and balanced reporting on Israel). In 2003 he and his wife made Aliyah to Israel and presently reside in Ashkelon.