Opinion |

Trump’s Unsung Marshall Plan for the Palestinians

Tzvia Greenfield
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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with advisors about fentanyl in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, June 25, 2019
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with advisors about fentanyl in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, June 25, 2019Credit: Mandel Ngan / AFP
Tzvia Greenfield

Arguing about Donald Trump and his intentions is like bailing water from a leaky boat far out to sea. The joint efforts of the Democrats, the liberal media in the United States and elsewhere, and European public opinion don’t allow for any comment on the U.S. president that’s not shaped by scorn, contempt and a denial of credit. Even if Trump found a way to save the world, the old-guard liberal order would do everything in its power to thwart the effort and label it a failure.

In the view of these political and philosophical forces, Trump is an “aberration,” as Joe Biden put it, so it’s impossible he’d do anything good or succeed. In the approach of the power and propaganda systems that still have enormous control over the world, it doesn’t matter what we see, the reality as Trump is shaping it is fake because there’s no doubt he’s a failed liar.

But there’s a chance that this ridiculed president will force a new nuclear agreement on Iran, more restrictive than its predecessor. He might also be able to put the brakes, if only to a small extent, on North Korea’s unruly behavior, prevent the Chinese dictatorship from swallowing the West’s economy and prosperity whole, and force the world to more rationally consider the immigration crisis. It’s even possible that all this will be achieved without war, while the U.S. economy will continue to show good results and Trump will be reelected.

All these impressive achievements that are taking shape apparently won’t change the opinions of Trump’s political rivals and the media. To them, this man is doomed to failure, so it's logical that he’s nothing more than a joke. It’s not possible that he’ll succeed.

Maybe they’re right. Certainly many aspects of Trump’s conduct provoke reservations, but it’s wrong for people who see themselves as people of peace to persist in the strategy of ridicule whose sole aim is to make him fail. In this matter, the left’s urge is clashing head-on with the cumbersome American effort to get the Palestinians out of the mire they’re sinking in.

This effort should be important to the liberal front, especially when it turns out that the Trump plan isn’t designed to serve Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the settler right, but rather has been forced on them. Netanyahu definitely prefers a continuation of the existing situation, with the constant gnawing at bits of Palestinian territory, but all of a sudden he finds himself getting pushed into an agreement that could promise the Palestinians basic rights.

When asked why Barack Obama didn’t do everything possible to pressure Netanyahu to achieve an agreement, the peace seekers must acknowledge that for the past two and a half years Trump has insisted on forging an agreement that Israelis aren’t interested in. Though Trump likes Netanyahu and tries to please him, the very fact of his unrelenting push for an agreement with the Palestinians is clear, and the motivations for it come from an altogether different direction.

Apparently Saudi Arabia, Trump’s most important ally in the Middle East, seeks cooperation with Israel but demands some sort of agreement that will protect the Palestinians’ rights. Not a return to the 1967 borders, certainly not the right of return, but the start of a small state that has passports, a flag and a national anthem, like Estonia.

This is the great opportunity with which the Palestinians can begin to rehabilitate themselves. The economic Marshall Plan that Trump will present this week in Bahrain aims to cultivate this, and the peace seekers in Israel shouldn’t fall into the trap of political disparagement. They should support the effort.