“Imagine if I were to gouge out your eyes and give you two diamonds there instead,” Mahmoud al-Habash, adviser to Mahmoud Abbas, said to the reporter from the Israel Television News Company. “Would you agree to that?”
The image so perfectly captures Donald Trump’s vulgar pronouncement – that now the Palestinians “get something really good” in return for the U.S. Embassy’s move to Jerusalem – it brings tears to the eyes. Especially when placed side-by-side with Minister Ofir Akunis’ response to the president’s comments – that the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank is a red line for the government, which was uttered with the same cold, indifferent expression worn by all the cabinet members in recent months.
Of course, nothing would be dumber than to attach importance to Trump’s remarks at a midterm election rally in West Virginia, as John Denver’s “Take me home, country roads, to the place I belong ... West Virginia …” plays in the background. Though the lack of imagination indicated by the song choice is worth noting, coming from a man who promises to make the “deal of the century” that will end the long, tragic Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So it’s not really petty of me to look at the deals that have brought him to his current condition – though not terminal at the moment, the potential that it could culminate in his impeachment is there.
Firstly, or maybe lastly, there is the plea deal made by his former lawyer and partner in crime, Michael Cohen. Cohen admitted to making deals, acting on direct orders from his boss, to pay hush money to two women to keep them from divulging their sex-for-money arrangements with Trump. However you look at it, these deals all turned out so badly for him that I wouldn’t jump at his offer to be the mediator who can influence the fate of the two peoples here for generations to come.
And yet we keep eating out of the palm of his hand like there’s no tomorrow. This is the man who bears much of the responsibility for the latest round of violence between Hamas and Israel that began with the Friday protests at the fence; the man who changed our world and divided history into the periods before and after his election; the man who brought back to the West a cult of personality typical of dictatorships, who said that even if he were to shoot a man in New York's Fifth Avenue in broad daylight, he would still get elected; the man who has humiliated even the people closest to him, including his wife and other family members. This is the man who gave Netanyahu’s last term mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and ensured his next term.
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Trump is Netanyahu’s big patron and Israel’s great friend; this is how he is usually described here. He has given Netanyahu some major gifts, the most significant being the unabashed displays of their friendly chemistry. As if to say: Only a complete idiot wouldn’t vote for Netanyahu in the next election when he has the biggest asset an Israeli leader can have – an American president who stands behind him. And never mind all the suspicions of criminal wrongdoing that trail behind Netanyahu as well.
No. Trump cannot understand why anyone would refuse to accept two diamonds in return for his eyes, but this is the language of the region, and even if the Palestinians are gifted at conjuring strong imagery, the price that Israel places on Jerusalem is very high. No deal-making acrobatics by a president who consistently traded favors for money and love for gold coins, and his life is a monument to this, will be of any help here.