A banquet usually comes after the hard work is done — the wedding, finally, after three years of shilly-shallying; the bar mitzvah, after hours of study and no stickball; the treaty, after twenty-four walkouts and twenty-five resets.
And the dessert always comes after the banquet’s main course.
With its 50 billion dollar economic development plan for the Palestinians, but silence on a political plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, America insults the Palestinians with the world’s biggest, most calorie-bloated, hot-fudge sundae.
The Palestinians, who know a thing or two about healthy Mediterranean eating, are not biting.
What good would all that money do for us, they ask, without the political status to assure its lasting benefit? If you’re filled with ice cream, you may be good for 25 yards, but you’re dead for the marathon.
The Palestinians are not stupid. They know when they’re being condescended to by a U.S. government that has no stomach for, and apparently no understanding of, the hard work necessary to reach a genuine, mutually-agreed, internationally-supported, durable peace.
Trump tossed away American credibility as a neutral arbiter with his blatant intervention in the Israeli election campaign on Netanyahu’s behalf, first with the move of our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, signaling that Palestinian claims to a share of the Holy City mean nothing, and then with official recognition of Israeli sovereignty over what is still juridically Syrian territory in the Golan Heights, as if American interventionism made international law.
(Netanyahu won’t show it in public, of course, but rumor suggests he still has the image of Trump’s lips on his ass, in hot-fudge.)
It’s fair to ask why one should be upset about this. After all, America is being consistent with our fundamental moral obligation to support the protection and well-being of a people — the Jews — who have suffered the worst tragedies imaginable.
And, we should not relax our support for Israel simply because, at least for the time being, it now shares a bed with former Sunni Arab enemies, all facing a common foe in Shiite Iran.
But the Palestinian story is not without its tragedies. And, if our commitment is to justice, they too deserve our support.
Besides being morally defensible, a balanced policy toward Israel and the Palestinians is a matter of practical importance. The Middle East will be turbulent for decades to come. If the Israeli-Palestinian issue (which, after all, has been a primary cause of war and discord for more than half a century) can be resolved with justice, at least we will have one fewer conflict to worry about.
At this point, since the Trump administration’s Israel-Palestine policy is still-born (and driven more by its perceived U.S. electoral advantage than its purported benefits to the adversaries themselves), probably the best we can hope for is regime change — here, at home, with ballots, not bullets.
Do the hard work now. Let the banquet — with a hot-fudge sundae after — be the reward.