Donald Trump has stated he would like to be the one to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once and for all.
That is a wildly ambitious goal, even by Trumpian standards, but the president-elect is off to a good start choosing David Friedman for his ambassador to Israel. Friedman—a lawyer who has been Trump’s lead adviser on Israel policy—is an op-ed contributor to the Israeli conservative newspaper Arutz Sheva, lives part time in Jerusalem and is identified as a staunch supporter of the Israeli right and the government of Benjamin Netanyahu. (Some say he’s even to the right of the Israeli PM.)
Further, Friedman is also a supporter of the “dreaded” settler movement and a longtime advocate of moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, something Democratic and Republican presidential candidates have pledged they would do for years, only to renege. Friedman, upon the announcement of his nomination, has assured us that under Trump this endless campaign hypocrisy will end. David Friedman will be doing his job in Jerusalem, just down the street from the original City of David.
No wonder the usual suspects are developing a monumental case of the vapors.
This constitutes a significant change, at least in perception, from the decades of the oh-so-diplomatic, putatively even-handed, U.S. policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that dates from the signing of the Oslo Accords (1993) and has accomplished exactly nothing.
But how can Trump, his administration, and his new ambassador take this perception and change the reality on the ground to everyone’s benefit?
For starters, by ignoring conventional wisdom and not doing things in the same manner they have been done over and over again for those last twenty-three years. We don’t have to rehearse Einstein’s famous definition of insanity here.
The bottom line of that conventional wisdom was to reward the Palestinians—largely financially, but also diplomatically—for their “cooperation” and thereby induce them to come to an accommodation with Israel that would result in the vaunted two-state solution.
It never worked. Bill Clinton details in his book how he offered Yasser Arafat what Clinton thought was a “great deal” for a Palestinian state from Israeli PM Ehud Barak only to have the Palestinian leader call Bill a “good man” and walk out on him.
Although Arafat was undoubtedly nervous about the reaction of his more violent cohorts if he made peace (how ironic that such a thing would be possible), the money, as always, was the important part. It’s almost impossible to calculate the total payments over the years to the Palestinians because of the multiplicity of sources (American, European, Japanese, Russian, Iranian, Saudi, Gulf states, foundations, NGOs etc.), over and under the table, but it’s in the many, many billions.
Where has it gone? Mostly to the advancement of terrorism and the enrichment of the Palestinian leaders. Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh estimates the net worth of eleven-year Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas in excess of one hundred million dollars. His predecessor, the aforementioned Mr. Arafat, was, like Fidel Castro, a billionaire. But the PA characters are pikers compared to the despicable Hamas terror masters, a number of whom are billionaires several times over.
Jihad evidently pays. It’s a giant racket.
The methods that have been employed to correct this massive thievery cum butchery have obviously failed, even though, for the most part, they were humane in intention. In practice they were anything but. Yet, as bad as this situation is for the Israelis, Israel has survived and ultimately thrived. The real disaster has been for the Palestinian people, whatever their debated provenance. Their lives—and, more importantly, their children’s lives—have been constantly destroyed by this sick (there is no other word) collaboration between their villainous leaders and the supposedly liberal do-gooders of the West. The West has been the Palestinian leaderships’ enablers and their citizens’ infantilizers.
Trump can begin to change this by completely altering the flow of money, cutting out that leadership entirely and permanently, not even talking to them ever. If money is sent—and if it is, it should be a lot less—it must go directly to places of genuine need, like hospitals, in the most scrupulous manner possible. These payments should not be controlled in any way by such corrupt organizations as the UN or most NGOs. The latter should be vetted, as Donald would say, “extremely.” Such organizations depend on the preservation of the status quo for their incomes and undermine progress.
More generally, first close the tap, then wait. Stay out of it for as long as possible. Fireworks will likely explode. Ignore them. Leave them to the Israelis. They can handle them. But if players like Russia or Iran attempt to fill the vacuum, make them pay economically with all of America’s financial force. Be fierce. They are weak and essentially powerless—especially with a soon-to-be energy independent and rearmed USA—and will go away. It may take a long time, but eventually the fireworks will die down as reality sets in. Then look for new interlocutors, honest ones. That too will be hard, but they’re there.
Peace can then, possibly, be made with no, or at least few, guns fired. In fact, the parties may even do it by themselves, which would be best. But whatever happens, make sure to ban, actually exterminate, the teaching of anti-Semitic hatred, of all religious hatred, in Palestinian schools. That’s where it all begins.
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media. His latest book is I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already.