Wily Arabs are hip to White House dynamics. They know who’s running the West Wing and who to flatter. Some in the region have even given Donald Trump a dubious honorific, Abu Ivanka al-Amriki. Being known as ‘father of Ivanka the American’ is, of course, no honor in the muscular, manly Middle East ~ilana
JARED KUSHNER couldn’t stare down an uncompromising foe if his wife, Ivanka Trump, held his soft, lily-white hand throughout the ordeal.
Yet ridiculously, a May 22, McClatchy article claimed Mr. Kushner was fixing to “stare down uncompromising foes in fights over immigration and Middle East peace.”
Let us begin with our debutant’s Middle East peace plan, the thing his father-in-law calls “the deal of the century.”
The notion of Jared solving the Israeli-Palestinian vexation is laughable, perhaps the dumbest thing ever. You just know this is a vain Ivanka move to brand the region and add it to her CV. (Ivanka, to those who don’t know, is intent on riding to the presidency herself on her father’s coattails.)
The Arabs slated to partake in the Kushner summit, Bahraini, Saudi and Emirati participants, are likely laughing the hardest.
For one, the Arabs know that Ivanka is calling the shots—and that the president’s fashion-focused daughter is behind the branding of the sexually androgynous, intellectually inchoate production that is Jared Kushner. If you think that’s something Arabs respect, you don’t know Shiite from Shinola.
Wily Arabs are hip to White House dynamics. They know who’s running the West Wing and who to flatter. Some in the region have even given Donald Trump a dubious honorific, Abu Ivanka al-Amriki. Being known as “father of Ivanka the American” is, of course, no honor in the muscular, manly Middle East.
The timing of the Kushner peace plan is especially asinine. For all the upheaval in the region, the Palestinian Problem has nevertheless dropped off the geopolitical radar as an urgent matter to resolve.
For better or for worse, the two sides are locked in a deadly, tightly choreographed dance. The Palestinians rise in frustration and fury; the Israelis respond with overwhelming force. The world then offers-up perfunctory sympathy for the Palestinians. Everybody moves on.
It’s just the way it is. The world has become desensitized to the plight of the Palestinians.
Take the Economist—a liberal, pro-Palestinian, most excellent weekly. Its editors cogitated but briefly over the Israeli army’s last use of excessive force against the M.O.P.E (Most Oppressed People Ever), concluding nonchalantly that, “Every state has a right to defend its borders.” “It is time for Palestinians to take up genuine non-violence.”
Understandably, the Palestinians will have no truck with the Trump administration.
Then there’s Bibi Netanyahu’s ingenious, Israel First tactics. You have to be a special kind of dumb—Jared and Ivanka dumb—to imagine you can present Bibi with a plan to fix his part of the world. The Israeli prime minister will make the right noises and will … have Jared for breakfast.
Netanyahu has been busy befriending “once hostile neighbors and has gained the respect of world leaders.” Like himself, his new friends (the murderous Saudi regime is among them) don’t seem to care much that Israel’s “supposedly temporary occupation [of 4.5 million Palestinians] has become permanent conquest.”
Don’t blame me for dishing Middle Eastern realpolitik. These are just the facts and the deductions therefrom.
By the Economist’s telling, Mr. Netanyahu’s strategy toward the Palestinians is a finely honed “anti-solutionism.” Netanyahu “has sought to convince Israelis that the conflict can be managed, if the right people are put in charge of managing it, and thus need not be solved.”
From experience, Netanyahu knows that an “anti-solutionism” puts his army and him in control, to better deliver on the security needs of the Israelis. This makes Bibi even more of a mystery to the self-aggrandizing Kushners. After all, they are not acting in America’s self-interest. A provincial leader who does just that is anathema to the mindset dominant in America.
Like him or not, the conservative, patriotic Bibi will not allow Jared Kushner to steer Israel in a radical direction. Instead, Bibi will likely let The American rattle on about radical change (which he, Jared, will not have to live through), and will quietly ignore him in favor of maintaining the safer status quo.
You see, the Israeli prime minister is a grizzled old warrior—and a true populist, the kind that builds walls to protect his people and passes laws to safeguard their ancient patrimony.
Netanyahu and his new Sunni partners will make polite noises and then shrug off this Middle-East plan with a hearty laugh and some good arak, behind Jared’s slender, sylphlike back.
As the Economist noted derisively—its writers, too, are radicals in the mold of Jared and Ivanka—Netanyahu is no radical. He is a reactionary nationalist. Temperamentally conservative,” and “wary of change,” as all true conservatives ought to be, Netanyahu “governs as if Israel needs no change.” The Israeli prime minister has even passed nation-state legislation consecrating Israel as the home of the Jewish people.
But by golly, Bibi will give the first-couple-in-waiting good hospitality—leading Ivanka and her poodle to “think” they succeeded in plastering their brand on the region. Then he’ll send Ivanka’s emissary packing, to be celebrated by his clueless American fans.
And the region will return to its old ways.
Bibi, moreover, reads his voters well. The appetite for the charade that are the Israeli-Palestinians peace talks has diminished. “The percentage of Israelis favoring talks with the Palestinians has dropped from over 70 percent to closer to 50 percent over the past decade. Among Mr. Netanyahu’s supporters it is 30 percent.”
In case you’re unfamiliar with Bibi’s base—supporters of Likud since the party’s inception—they are, “Voters from conservative religious and working-class backgrounds, Russian-speaking immigrants and Mizrahi Jews (who are descended from immigrants from the Arab world).” The political equivalent of Trump’s deplorables.
To sum, “should it ever to arrive,” Mr. and Mrs. Kushner’s peace plan “will be dead on arrival.”
Americans like Jared and Ivanka don’t know the past and show little respect for it. Netanyahu, however, understands history and what it portends for the future. “Because the Palestinian issue cannot be solved,” Bibi’s statecraft entails preparing his people for a reality they understand all too well:
“We will forever live by the sword.” Bibi’s words in 2015.
Let us wrap-up on a more mirthful note.
Here’s some stuff our oracular Mr. Jared has said about rainbows and unicorns in the Middle East:
“Progress could ‘look like a lot of different things.” “Success ‘can look like an agreement, it can look like a discussion, it could lead to closer cooperation, maybe resolve a couple of issues.”
Now that’s deep. Reality TV deep.