By Jeremy Salt
A reiteration of the war on Palestine, on the Arab world, on the Muslim world, on international law and human rights. There is no other way to describe the Trump-Kushner-Netanyahu ‘deal.’
Media comment centers on the last opportunity for the Palestinians. Will they take the scraps they are offered, or will they miss yet another opportunity to have something taken away from them?
This was the line used over decades by the glib Irish-born zionist ‘foreign minister,’ Aubrey (Abba) Eban. The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, he said many times.
In fact, if anyone has never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity it is the zionists. They could have chosen to live with the Palestinians instead of them. They could have accepted their return after 1948. They could have handed back the land they seized in 1967. They could have honestly engaged with the so-called ‘peace process.’ They could have ended the blockade of Gaza. They could have stopped seizing and settling the land of another people. They could have agreed to share Al Quds. They could have stopped their murders and assassination.
What they could have done they never did. Instead, they headed in the opposite direction, financed, armed, protected and encouraged by the most powerful nation in the world.
A vulgarian property developer who once made ads for Pizza Hut has now told his zionist settler sidekick that he can have Palestine with the lot. Nothing is missed out, not Jerusalem, not the Jordan Valley and not the illegal settlements – the ‘outposts’ – as well as the legal ones, so says Netanyahu. All are completely illegal, of course, as is the presence of every settler on occupied land.
This demented agreement was put together by the plastic-faced Jared Kushner, who said, seriously apparently, that he read all of 25 books to get a handle on the situation. By comparison, Trump is unlikely to have read one so no wonder that he thinks his son-in-law is a genius.
This ‘deal’ – a deal without wheels – is being taken seriously in the mainstream media. In a way, of course, it has to be taken seriously as the zionists have the weaponry to do whatever they want, no matter how mad, rapacious or destructive of their own interests in the long term.
And this is something the media seems to have missed. For whom, really, is this plan the last opportunity? The assumption is that it is the Palestinians but have Trump and Kushner noticed that while the Palestinians do not have the weapons, they have the numbers, that already the Muslim-Christian population of Palestine between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river is already greater than the Jewish population.
Silly to ask, but have either of these two taken into account the Muslim hinterland, the Muslim population of the Middle East and North Africa (close to 600 million) and the world Muslim population (about 1.8 billion)?
By comparison, the Jewish population of occupied Palestine is less than seven million. Far from trying to settle into the Muslim world, over more than seven decades it has done nothing but antagonize it. Like a spoilt child, it then complains that no one likes it, that the real reason for Muslim loathing of the zionist state is anti-semitism, and not its racist, murderous and thieving behavior.
This is the game played endlessly by the zionist lobby around the world. It hides behind the symbols of the religion it has hijacked. The Star of David flies from the pennants of the tanks that shell apartment buildings in Gaza and is inscribed on the wings of the planes that destroy entire families with missiles.
It is scrawled triumphantly on the walls of the West Bank. This is the Israel that the lobbyists and the rabbis defended behind their accusations against Jeremy Corbyn. It is he who wanted to end these horrors and they, behind their lies and false accusations of antisemitism against Corbyn and the entire Labor Party wanted to leave the Zionist state free to continue them. It is they who are the racists and anti-Arab semites, not Jeremy Corbyn.
Palestine remains part of Arab and Islamic history and identity and remains an Arab and Muslim cause whatever the exasperation felt at Arab governments and the bungled and/or collaborationist policies of the Palestinian leadership.
By themselves, the Palestinians had no hope of resisting the zionist takeover of their land. Zionism was an imperial project and the zionist state was sequentially backed by the two mightiest empires on the planet, first Britain and then the United States. No small group of people anywhere would have been able to resist their power.
The greater danger to Israel always lay in the surrounding Arab and Muslim world. George Habash, the founder of the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) was writing in the 1950s that the road to the liberation of Palestine ran through the Arab world and this remains as true today as it was then, although the statement has to be qualified by adding “and the Muslim world.”
Israel understood this just as well as George Habash and knew that if it were to survive in the long term, the Arab world had to be fragmented, subverted, dominated and kept off balance permanently. This was the sine qua non of Israel’s existence. The ties that bound states together, that bound the region together and connected it with the wider Islamic world had to be broken.
It was not just armies and states that had to be broken but the Arab national idea and the Arab world as a presence in history and a place on the map. It would have to be what Israel and the US wanted it to be. It would have to be remade.
Towards this end, the zionists were looking for weak links in the chain of Arab states even in the 1930s. They thought they had found the weakest in Lebanon, where they hoped to set up a puppet Christian government. Not only did this not work but since the rise of Hezb0llah, the weakest link in the chain has turned into one of the strongest.
The Yinon Plan of the 1980s set out the strategy in full. All Middle Eastern states were to be subjected to ethnoreligious or tribal division. This broad script was fine-tuned by Netanyahu and the zionists inside the US administration in the 1990s.
Iraq was the first of seven states targeted for destruction. The destruction through two wars and a decade of sanctions was enormous but the political strategy failed. The Kurdish state-in-being, planned by the US and Israel as a new center for strategic operations in the Middle East, has collapsed. The Shia-dominated government in Baghdad maintains good relations with Iran and following the assassination of Qasim Soleimani the Iraqi parliament demanded the complete withdrawal of US forces. Millions of people marched through the streets of Iraq’s cities as they did in Iran to mourn the murder of this outstanding military commander. Anti-American feeling in Iraq is at an all-time high.
The war in Syria was designed to bring down the axis of resistance (Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah) at its central arch but that has failed, too. Syria, its people, and its military have resisted the most determined attempt ever made to destroy an Arab government.
Always popular, Bashar al Assad is now more popular than ever, as the army, backed by Russian airpower, drives the takfiri terrorists from their last redoubt in Idlib province. Syrian cities have been shattered, perhaps half a million people have been killed but the US-Israeli political strategy in Syria has failed too.
For anyone who has been watching closely enough, the wheel of history, once turning in Israel’s favor, has been slowly turning against it for decades. Israel came close to defeat in the first week of the 1973 war. It drove the PLO out of Lebanon only to awaken a far more powerful enemy, Hezbollah. In every war it has fought or operation it has launched, the remorseless use of airpower has been critical. Nevertheless, even with air cover its foot soldiers were driven out of southern Lebanon in 2000 and, outfought by Hezbollah’s part-time soldiers, humiliated again when they returned in 2006.
Hezbollah and Iran have been working for decades on how to neutralize Israel’s air power. If – or once – they succeed in doing this, Israel is going to be in deep trouble on the battlefield.
Threatened repeatedly with destruction by the US and Israel, Iran has had to develop a new range of missiles capable of causing devastation to US bases, aircraft and warships in the region. The retaliation which followed the murder of Qasim Soleimani was an example. The Americans failed to stop even one of the Iranian missiles directed against two of its bases in Iraq.
Aircraft was destroyed in their hangars and while no soldiers were killed – so the US government says – dozens suffered severe brain injuries, apparently from concussion, with a number being flown to Germany for emergency treatment. Iran says the casualties were far greater than the US is prepared to admit.
Hezbollah has its own stocks of missiles, far greater in number and sophistication than in 2006, and has its targets already worked out for when the next war comes. As Israel’s military commanders are making clear, the next war is a question of ‘when’ and not ‘if.’ They are warning the civilian population to be prepared for the unprecedented scale of the casualties they are going to suffer.
So, for whom is the bell really tolling now, the Palestinians or the zionists? Gideon Levy writes that the Kushner-Trump deal is likely to trigger off a third nakba. This is incorrect, as there has only been one nakba, continuing now for more than seven decades.
David Hearst, writing in Middle East Eye, thinks all the Palestinians have to sit tight, because, between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, they are going to win the war of numbers, if they haven’t won it already. By implication, once the war of numbers is won, the war itself is won. The zionist state will see reason and turn itself into the secular democratic state the Palestinians always wanted, with equal rights for all. Given that they would be the majority, they would have to be the dominant element in any freely-elected government. The zionist dream-nightmare would be over.
This is not likely to happen. Zionism is an extreme ideology and the politicians running the zionist state now are the most extreme since its foundation. They are not going to surrender because of demographics. They will simply try harder to overcome the problem. They still want all the Palestinians out of Palestine or at the very least reduced to an inconsequential ethnic remnant. Between the apartheid state and the democratic state, this is their preferred solution.
What they need is another war enabling them to strike down their external enemies and simultaneously solve the ‘Palestine problem’ once and for all. If (or rather when) such a war does break out, Hezbollah will swamp the zionist state with missiles in such numbers as to overwhelm its defense systems.
The Palestinians will be determined to stay put but in the fog of war, while the world is looking elsewhere, at missile attacks on US bases and soaring oil prices following the closure of the Straits of Hormuz, perhaps they can again be terrorized into leaving. Even the most steadfast Palestinians have families to protect and if they won’t go then the level of terror only has to be increased until they do. This is the evil calculus applied before and likely to be applied again once the opportunity arises or, more accurately, can be created.
Who wants such a war? Not the Palestinians, and not Hezbollah or Iran although they have had no option but to prepare for it. Who has set up the conditions for such a war, decade after decade to the point where it has to be regarded as inevitable unless ‘the Arabs’ and the Muslims really are the useless orientals of the western imagination, there to be kicked around endlessly? Israel has, by its disgraceful behavior.
So has the US and so has the ‘west’ in general, its governments, its media and its institutions (where has the UN Secretary-General, the moral guardian of peace in the world, been during the eight atrocious years of war on Syria? Hiding in a cupboard?). It is ‘the west’ generically which created Israel, and has allowed it to get away with wars, ethnic cleansing, massacres, assassination and occupation generation after generation.
Perhaps a shattering setback is all that will bring this utterly dangerous state to its senses. Of course, there is always the possibility that it will go completely off the edge and use its nuclear weapons, turning the central lands of the Middle East into a wasteland but at least taking its enemies down with it in the most pyrrhic of victories. These are grim possibilities but they have to be taken seriously.
– Jeremy Salt taught at the University of Melbourne, at Bosporus University in Istanbul and Bilkent University in Ankara for many years, specializing in the modern history of the Middle East. Among his recent publications is his 2008 book, The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands (University of California Press). He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.