Foreign Policy revealed e-mails written by Jared Kushner and his staff that are so radical and insane, they could only have been concocted by Israel itself. If so, then there are not three parties which are part of the negotiation for the Deal of the Century. But only two parties. The Trump administration and the Israelis are one. This is not a dialogue of equals or negotiation among equals. Rather it is an exercise in capitulation. The Israelis and Americans aren’t trying to persuade the Palestinians to come to the table or accept the plan. They’re attempting to bludgeon them into accepting it.
Remember what happened after World War I, when France wanted revenge against Germany and imposed conditions for surrender that were so onerous that Germany was practically bankrupt. Look what that led to? Do we really want to go there? Not that Palestine is as powerful or central a player as Germany was then. But bullying an entire nation leads to anger, resentment and rage. Rage leads to violence. It happened in Nazi Germany. That is how Hitler came to power. Do we want Palestine to explode like a powder keg?
Tonight’s outrage involves a blatant attempt by Jared Kushner to destroy UNWRA and eliminate the UN status accorded to millions of Palestinians who are Nakba refugees and their direct descendants. THe e mails expose his plan not just to reduce funding for the UN relief agency which feeds and educates Palestinian refugees, but to eliminate it completely:
“It is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA. [It] perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace.”
In its place, Kushner proposes that the Arab countries which currently house these refugees would absorb them permanently. In return, wealthy Arab oil states would pay Jordan, Lebanon and Syria for doing Israel’s dirty work. This approach is one advocated for decades by the Israeli far-right, who’ve long declared that the solution to the Palestinian problem lies in Jordan. In effect, they’ve eliminated Palestine and replaced it with Jordan. Frankly, I can’t see King Abdullah relishing the prospect of offering full citizenship to every Palestinian refugee in his kingdom. Especially after the 1970 Black September in which his father, King Hussein murdered thousands of PLO supporters after they mounted a failed coup against him.
It’s nice work for Kushner if you can get it: it gets Israel completely off the hook. Instead of being burdened with responsibility for the 1-million Nakba refugees it created, it will have no responsibility at all. The problem will be off-loaded onto the Arab states themselves, who had no hand in creating the refugees to being with.
Henceforth, there will be no Palestinian refugees. Thus, the Right of Return would be abrogated. No Palestinian would have any right to his homeland. His home will be wherever s/he and his family took refuge.
The e mails reveal the absolute and dangerous delusions under which Kushner labors:
“Our goal can’t be to keep things stable and as they are. … Sometimes you have to strategically risk breaking things in order to get there.”
Who knew Kushner was a Leninist? Some attribute to him (apparently apocryphally) the famous phrase: “you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.” One wonders how many Palestinians will have to be “broken” before Kushner discovers he’s made a right mess of things and gives up?
Make no mistake, this is an all-out assault on Palestinians in the guise of a peace plan. The goal is to eliminate Palestinians entirely. As such it is monstrous and must be strenuously opposed.
Another bright light in the Trump administration had this innovative thought:
Victoria Coates, a senior advisor to Greenblatt, sent an email to the White House’s national security staff indicating that the White House was mulling a way to eliminate the U.N.’s agency for Palestinian refugees.
“UNRWA should come up with a plan to unwind itself and become part of the UNHCR [U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees] by the time its charter comes up again in 2019,” Coates wrote.
She noted that the proposal was one of a number of “spitball ideas that I’ve had that are also informed by some thoughts I’ve picked up from Jared, Jason and Nikki.”
Doesn’t it just warm the cockles of your heart that a junior Trump appointee is treating the fates of 5 million Palestinian refugees like spitballs thrown around a junior high school classroom?
Many of these noxious ideas originated with Israel’s far-right government. Here a foreign ministry spokesperson falsely claims that the UN treats Palestinian refugees more favorably than any others in the world:
Strohmayer said that Palestinians are the only population that is able to transfer its refugee status down through generations.
But wait. Surprise, surprise. It’s not true:
In an internal report from 2015, the State Department noted that the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees “recognizes descendants of refugees as refugees for purposes of their operations.” The report, which was recently declassified, said the descendants of Afghan, Bhutanese, Burmese, Somali, and Tibetan refugees are all recognized by the U.N. as refugees themselves.
But these lies take on a life of their own when spread by Israeli leaders. Here’s a tweet today from Yair Lapid, the leader of a major opposition party (he touts himself as a moderate, though he’s anything but):
ביטול מעמד הפליטים הפלשתינים מוצדק, הכרחי והוגן. כבר שנים אני מדבר על כך בכל פורום בינלאומי אפשרי. לא ייתכן שהפלשתינים הם העם היחיד בעולם שבו אפשר להיוולד בפריז או בקטאר ולקבל בירושה מעמד של פליט. אין 5 מיליון פליטים פלשתינים. זו אחת ההונאות הגדולות בהיסטוריה.
— יאיר לפיד Yair Lapid (@yairlapid) August 4, 2018
The elimination of refugee status for Palestinians is justified, necessary and proper. For years now, I’ve been saying this in every possible international forum. How is it possible that the Palestinians are the only people in the world for whom its possible to be born in Paris or Qatar and inherit refugee status? There are not 5-million Palestinian refugees. This is one of the greatest frauds in history.
Lapid, a slick Hollywood-handsome former newscaster, isn’t bright enough to recognize the irony in this claim. Today, a Jew can be born in any country in the world and when he makes aliyah to Israel he becomes a citizen automatically. This is even more valuable than granting refugee status. Because the Law of Return immediately confers upon you enormous benefits in order encourage your successful absorption into Israeli society. A Palestinian refugee gets no such benefits, unless getting ones meal from a UNWRA soup kitchen constitutes a benefit.
Imagine if Germany refused for generations to recognize Holocaust survivors as legitimate victims. Then when they finally reluctantly agree to offer reparations they only do so to living Holocaust survivors. If they’ve already died (as the vast majority have), their descendants get nothing. How convenient it would be to kill 6-million Jews, then wait 70 years before you acknowledge responsibility for your crime; and then only do so regarding living survivors. Every Jew in the world, with Bibi Netanyahu shouting loudest, would denounce this as an outrage. And the world would unite against Germany.
The irony here is lost on Israelis. As is typical, they routinely deny to Palestinians what they accord to themselves as a matter of course.
If you would like to donate to UNWRA to support its vital work on behalf of Palestinian refugees, do so here.