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Trump’s Middle East ‘Deal of the Century’ Creeping Into View

President Donald Trump’s much-delayed “deal of the century” is creeping into view.

The latest insight is provided by the U.S. decision to defund UNRWA—the UN organization responsible for feeding and educating Palestinians denied a homeland, residing for generations in refugee camps throughout the Middle East, almost everywhere but Israel.

The decision to dramatically reduce U.S. funding for UN programs for refugees, not only those in the Gaza Strip, but also in the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, comes in the wake of Washington’s earlier decisions to reduce aid to the Palestinian Authority and sets the stage for U.S. efforts at the UN to reduce the number of formally recognized refugees.

The fog enveloping Trump’s deal of the century is clearing, revealing a U.S.-led effort to simply remove Palestinians from the diplomatic and humanitarian equation. This policy is far more ambitious than Obama’s ill-famed preference to “lead from behind.” But rather than solve the issue, Trump is implementing a destructive and destabilizing plan to simply wish the Palestine problem away.

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UNRWA was one of the central institutions created by the international community to accommodate the almost one million Palestinians who lost the battle against Israel for the creation of a sovereign state in what was British Mandatory Palestine. More than one half century later, the organization’s staying power is a testament to the failure of all parties to resolve the sovereign status of these refugees and their descendants.

Within a few years of their “Nakba,” it was clear that Palestinians would not soon—if ever—return to their ancestral lands. Diplomats for decades have found it preferable to kick the can down the road. Arab states, weak and untested, offer heartfelt but limited sanctuary. Against these considerable odds, Palestinians dealt a short deck by history, have, no thanks to UNRWA, managed to feed and educate themselves without the considerable advantages of a state to represent and defend them.

UNRWA bears a burden far bigger than itself. It assumes responsibility that no one else is prepared to shoulder—for those orphans of international diplomacy—five million Palestinians without a passport in a world of nation-states.

Palestinians are of two minds about the organization. No one can deny the health and educational benefits it provides, but the price paid for being wards of the international community is considerable, indeed for many unbearable.

Many years ago I sat on the veranda of the Marna House, a gentile guest house on the outskirts of Gaza city run by Alia Shawwa, daughter to one of Gaza’s richest families. She was a woman who knew her own mind and was not shy about telling anyone, including the perfect stranger sipping tea opposite her. UNRWA was an abomination, she declared, responsible for breeding complacency and fatalism among Palestinians and offering an excuse and a means for powers great and small to let the Palestinian problem fester.

Palestinian refugees now numbering in the millions must today compete against new cohorts of unfortunates—Syrians and Rohingya to name but two. Lacking for the first time in decades even the hint of a diplomatic process, they are in so many ways yesterday’s news. For those who want to bury even the idea of Palestine, Trump’s advisors among them, the time to strike is now.

Israel is one of UNRWA’s most significant beneficiaries and the more sober Israelis are well aware of the unrequited service the organization offers. Their cash keeps the lid on—it keeps kids in school and off the streets and pays for things that remain Israel’s responsibility as an occupying power to provide, and would have to be paid by Israel if only as a matter of self-interest if the organization is made to disappear. That’s why Israel’s long-serving prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu loves to hate the UN and its mandate while in public. But through a far colder calculation he understands the value UNRWA—despite its many problems—provides Israel to maintain an unsustainable status quo.  

If simply taking issues such as Jerusalem and refugees “off the table” were so simple, Trump’s road would have been taken long ago. That it has not is for Trump not a sign of their complexity but of the weakness of his predecessors and their failure of imagination. So he is stepping over the wreckage of generations of failed efforts to make peace, forging ahead where they feared to tread.  

Ending funding for UNRWA is one leg of his diplomatic trifecta—the others being his decision in December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and a yet to be mooted decision to purge most Palestinians of their refugee status, and banish their “Right of Return” from the international diplomatic lexicon.

Even advocates of UNRWA’s demise who believe that refugees can be stripped of their status by the simple stroke of a pen stop short at simply cutting them off without a shekel.

“Responsibility for the Palestinians and the UNRWA budgets could be transferred to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, which looks after the rest of the world’s refugees and, unlike UNRWA, works toward solving the refugee problem instead of perpetuating it,” suggests former Israeli diplomat Ron Prosor. [1]

“Alternatively, U.N. agencies that already operate in the region, such as the United Nations Development Program, could be tasked with the job,” he added. “Another option is to transfer the budgets directly to the Palestinian Authority.”

It takes a special kind of chutzpa for an administration—whose record on welcoming Arab immigrants in these last years can be counted on the fingers of two hands—to declare to countries like Lebanon and Jordan, groaning under the weight of hosting Palestinian and now Syrian diasporas, that the responsibility for the care and integration of millions of Palestinians is now theirs.

Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin welcomed the U.S. administration’s “justified decision,” [2] on UNRWA, saying it “finally speaks the truth to the Arab lie that has been marketed all over the world for decades.”

“The solutions for the challenges facing those [Palestinians] currently living in various Arab countries can be found in those countries. There is no reason for them to dream of returning [to Israel],” Elkin said.

Strange words indeed from a man who every year at Passover reaffirms the Jewish peoples’ perenial yearning to live “next year in Jerusalem.”

On the other hand, he explains that “the State of Israel was, is and will always be the national homeland of the Jewish people, on the grounds of 2,000 years of history as well as its official status since the days of the Balfour Declaration.”

With absolutely no sense of irony, Elkin invokes for himself and his people the very sense of historical entitlement he denies to his enemies.

There’s the rub. Trump is not going to all this trouble in order to move pennies from one UN column into another. He indeed wants to take the refugee issue off the table, not by solving it but simply by redefining it out of existence, and if boosters like Elkin have their way, to deny Palestinians the right to even dream about an end to their exile.

Geoffrey Aronson is chairman and co-founder of The Mortons Group and a non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute.

45 Comments (Open | Close)

45 Comments To "Trump’s Middle East ‘Deal of the Century’ Creeping Into View"

#1 Comment By Tyson’s Korner On August 30, 2018 @ 10:08 pm

Here’s the deal: we give Israel everything it wants, and you go away or die off. And we’ll be happy to help you do either or both. Oh, and in future don’t bother calling the White House. You’ll be dealing with our top negotiator, my son-in-law, who contributes money to build Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Trump’s a hell of a guy, isn’t he? 2020 can’t come soon enough for me.

#2 Comment By Whine Merchant On August 30, 2018 @ 11:02 pm

Ah yes, The US Congress and Trump White House – the finest government that Bibi and AIPAC can buy. Throw in KSA paying-off Trumps loans from Putin’s oligarchs, and it’s a done deal.

This has nothing to do with the purported Promised land or middle east security. It is all about Bibi Mugabe wanting to remain in office and the Saudi desire to parry Iran’s stature as the new true defender of Islam.

Now wait for the sock puppets to come out sputtering –

Thank you –

#3 Comment By Oleg Gark On August 30, 2018 @ 11:41 pm

I don’t understand why the US provides uncritical support for Israel when that country’s treatment of minorities is so at odds with American values. Just about any Israeli can become a US citizen, but the opposite certainly isn’t true. You either have to be the right kind of person or be married to one in order to become an Israeli. The vast majority of Americans don’t qualify.

“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness….” (unless you are a Palestinian refugee).

#4 Comment By Mother On August 31, 2018 @ 7:04 am

Wait a minute! Back the truck up!!

I thought Trump just said it was the Palestinians were going to “get something good” because it was “their turn next.”

#5 Comment By General Manager On August 31, 2018 @ 7:50 am

Wow! Telling it like it is. These are people just like Americans, Europeans, Asians, Africans, and yes, even Israelis. How come we have lost sight of this concept of humanity? Thank goodness our Constitution is still in place. Sheldon Adelson et al get an amazing return on their lobby dollar. Congress and the Administration are not representing the goodness inherent in the American soul.

#6 Comment By Kurt Gayle On August 31, 2018 @ 9:46 am

Thinking about the plight of the Palestinian people reminds me of quote attributed to the late Rewi Alley:

“When a people fight back, the whole world moves.”

#7 Comment By Janwaar Bibi On August 31, 2018 @ 9:56 am

Is there anyone who still believes the neocons attacked Iraq, Libya, and Syria and are gearing up to attack Iran because they wish to bring the joy of democracy and freedom to Middle East countries? Or that it was all an honest mistake?

It should be obvious to even blind men that the real goal is what we see unfolding before us: to eliminate all resistance to Israeli domination in the Middle East so they can do whatever they want without opposition. In the past few months, they have gotten the US to recognize Jerusalem as their capital, declared Israel to be an ethno-state for Jews only, and gotten the US to start erasing the Palestinians from the consciousness of the world. The final step will be to ethnically cleanse the Arabs in Israel and the West Bank by forcing them to move to Jordan.

#8 Comment By PCIncorrect On August 31, 2018 @ 11:28 am

There are probably no more than 30 refugees left who are still alive. You cannot be a refugee in the 2nd and 3rd generations. If so-called Palestinian refugees spent more time working for living instead of sending missiles to Israel, they would not have such a filthy place to live as we see above.

#9 Comment By Tom Cullem On August 31, 2018 @ 11:41 am

@PCIncorrect – you’re wasting your breath with this lot. They’ll never mention the years of Palestinian leadership that refused to turn the page of history; they’ll never mention the rest of the Arab world that was pleased to leave the refugee camps there as long as they served a political purpose whilst Israel was still the enemy, and not Iran, and who refused to take any of those refugees . . .

And as for AIPAC – they’ll also never acknowledge that it’s one of many influential lobbies in DC, and the Saudi lobby gives it a run for its money any day of the week.

You are correct: for 3rd and 4th generations to call themselves refugees is absurd.

Israel is not going away. Hamas and Hezbollah and the rest trying to persuade the Palestinians that one day they will wake up and Israel will be gone, so don’t make any deals.

Hamas, of course, knows full well that once a small Palestinian state is established, Hamas turns into just another small political party fighting for power in a small, insignificant state. They hold on to far more power using their brethren as pawns in their game.

But hey, let’s not mention all that when we can still play the 3rd generation Palestinian Refugee America Just Pudding In The Hands Of AIPAC moves.

#10 Comment By Oleg Gark On August 31, 2018 @ 2:09 pm

Where are all those Palestinians going to go when they are expelled from Israel? Jordan won’t take them all and Europe seems to have had their fill lately. Is the US going to opens its’ doors to millions of refugees in order to solve an Israeli problem? You don’t have to like the Palestinians to see that the Israelis are trying to privatize the profits and socialize the costs of getting rid of them.
Why American politicians provide cover and support for this effort is a mystery.

#11 Comment By J Stern On August 31, 2018 @ 3:23 pm

Anyone who can say, with a straight face, that “Israel’s treatment of minorities is so at odds with American values,” as Oleg Gark did, clearly knows absolutely nothing about Israel.
He’s never probably even been there.

But even if he had, he would’ve looked for, and seen, only bad things—people like that reside in an alternate universe, where facts and history don’t count.

In the real world, however, Israel is one of the most vibrant liberal-democratic societies–imperfect, like any other country, but always striving toward total equality for all minorities.

How many Arab or Muslim nations have a Gay Pride parade? How many nations in the world allow in their Parliament hostile individuals who identify with a nationalist cause that essentially wants to see the end of the existing State? Israel’s Arab MKs mostly make little pretense about where their sympathies lie.

#12 Comment By J Stern On August 31, 2018 @ 3:24 pm

In the early 20th Century, as the concept of a reconstituted State of Israel gathered momentum, 3/4 of Palestine—already earmarked for the Jewish homeland–was lopped off and renamed Transjordan. It’s potation was and is, 80% Palestinian Arab–i.e. Arabs whose native land is the region called Palestine.

There’s your Palestinian state—as a simple matter of common sense, basic morality, fair play, any definition at all.

#13 Comment By Heaven Knows On August 31, 2018 @ 3:25 pm

PCIcorrect.

On generational retribution? Nazi loot stolen from people during WW2 continues to be returned (when identified properly) to the children and grandchildren of the rightful owners. Displaced “natives” in the colonized “new world” countries continue to demand and often get vast tracks of land returned to their “children.” BTW these people also believed in deities that bestowed these land on them and their progeny. Why would Palestinians who were forcibly expelled from their property not expect similar treatment? Or a balanced and fair approach.

#14 Comment By shiny On August 31, 2018 @ 3:53 pm

Why are Palestinians continually referred to as “refugees” decades after losing a series of wars for control of the territory? Most displaced property owners prior to the conflict are deceased. The descendents of refugees are not, themselves, refugees, unless you also want to refer to many Israelis as refugees from Medina.

A case could be made that these descendants deserve some form of financial compensation proportionate to the land value at the time of this war. I wouldn’t make it, but it’s not a crazy position.

But then you’d have to explain to me why Turkey doesn’t also owe the Greeks the same. Or why Egyptians don’t owe a similar sum to the Italians. Unlike with the Israelis, which confiscated wasteland from their enemies, the Egyptians and Turkmen confiscated some of the richest property in the world by force.

#15 Comment By JM On August 31, 2018 @ 4:20 pm

Mr. Aronson argues for the “Right of Return” of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to their former homeland in Israel/Palestine. Does he also support the right of Jews to return to their former homes across the Middle East, from which 600,000 Jews fled in fear of their lives after the founding of Israel in 1948, whom Israel successfully sheltered and integrated into their national community? (Approximately equal to the number of Palestinians expelled from Israel in the same year, one might add.)

Of course not. No one would suggest such a thing. It is delusional to think that a Jewish community could survive in any Arab country in the Middle East nowadays. Unlike Mr. Aronson, Arabs have long memories, and they are well aware of who their ethnic enemies are. Hence their persecution of the native Jewish communities of their countries and their refusal to even attempt to integrate the Palestinian refugee diaspora into their countries. That issue must be kept alive, in order to eventually expel the Jews from what was once Arab land in Israel, or demographically overwhelm them at some point in the distant future.

What happened to the Palestinians is tragic. But the idea that Israel “owes” something to them now, half a century on from the last major exodus of Palestinian refugees from the West Bank, is absurd. Israel has already paid its dues by the human wreckage which resulted from the founding of Israel and the defeat of the Arabs in 1948-1973–by taking in the Jews which no Arab country would have sheltered, then or now.

The notion of a Palestinian “Right of Return” is a sophistical piece of propaganda designed to disguise the double standard that is always applied to Israel. Mr. Aronson has sadly fallen victim to moral hypocrisy and equivocation.

#16 Comment By Lonely boy On August 31, 2018 @ 4:22 pm

@PCIncorrect says:You cannot be a refugee in the 2nd and 3rd generations.

How ironic. Israel was created just to be a country to Jewish refugees, their rights and the rights of their descendants to the nth generation.

Of course that’s different.

#17 Comment By Janwaar Bibi On August 31, 2018 @ 5:05 pm

OK I’ll bite.

1) And as for AIPAC – they’ll also never acknowledge that it’s one of many influential lobbies in DC, and the Saudi lobby gives it a run for its money any day of the week.

It is possible to believe that *both* lobbies have too much power over US politicians, no? Most people who have commented on this issue on this forum mention both lobbies in their posts.

Do you have proof that the Saudi lobby gives the Israeli lobby “a run for its money?” They certainly lobby US politicians but I am not sure they donate anywhere near as much money as Sheldon Adelson, Paul Singer and other Israel lobby donors. You can find stats here:
[3]

2) You are correct: for 3rd and 4th generations to call themselves refugees is absurd.

Yet diaspora Jews, whose ancestors may have left Israel 2000 years ago, are entitled to “return” to Israel. This is the case even if one has just one Jewish grandparent out of four! Why is this fair if it is absurd for 3rd and 4th generation Palestinians to call themselves refugees?

3) Here is a 2015 article from that old humbug Jonathan Sacks, who was chief rabbi of the UK, demanding that Europe open its borders to millions of Muslim “refugees.”

[4]

Now is a unique opportunity to show that the ideals for which the European Union and other international bodies such as the United Nations were formed are still compelling, compassionate and humane.

Yet Israel has refused to take any of these refugees, and is actively trying to deport refugees in Israel from South Sudan to Rwanda and Europe.

[5]

Can you explain to me why diaspora Jews like Sacks feel free to give lectures on compassion to Christian-majority countries like the US and UK while remaining silent about Israel’s policy of turning away refugees who are not Jews?

Do you think this is hypocrisy or do you think it’s OK to have one standard for Jews and Israel and a different standard for other people and other countries?

#18 Comment By b. On August 31, 2018 @ 5:57 pm

“The latest insight is provided by the U.S. decision to defund UNRWA [..] Israel is one of UNRWA’s most significant beneficiaries”

If this was Primary Trump, the headlines would be:

“Trump to cut US aid to Israel!”

But its Grand Old Trump instead. Now for a message from the Trump-Kushner sponsors:

[6]

#19 Comment By Jo Ann On August 31, 2018 @ 5:59 pm

This article is nothing but lies and propaganda .If you want to know the truth concerning the Re-born Sovereign Nation of Israel ? Then read the Torah and the Tanakh .Also study Jewish History and please ,please read the Balfour Declaration .Where is the history of the Arab people in Israel ? Where is the archeaological evidence of these Arabs ? What coinage did they use ? Who was their king ? Where was their seat of Parliament ? Yasser Arafat who was a Terrorist was born an Egyptian .

#20 Comment By jon On August 31, 2018 @ 6:41 pm

Trump has become just another Israeli pawn, more like a Viceroy than a true leader. He is another president who takes his orders from Israel allowing them to dictate a foreign policy that makes a mockery and hypocrisy of America’s stated ideals. Obama has been the only president that looked after America’s interest when he signed on to the Iran deal. It appears that with regard to foreign policy Sheldon Adelson is now the American president. America first? That’s a lie. It’s Israel first for the president and the Congress.

#21 Comment By Cornel C Lencar On August 31, 2018 @ 8:49 pm

Two legs good, four legs bad!

#22 Comment By MB On August 31, 2018 @ 9:04 pm

“No thanks to UNRWA” in paragraph 6 doesn’t make sense. Author must mean “thanks to UNRWA” or “no little thanks to UNRWA”.

#23 Comment By South Mountain On August 31, 2018 @ 9:35 pm

Nobody cares anymore, Donnie! Don’t waste your time! Nobody cares whether there’s a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians anymore. It can’t be the “Deal of the Century”, because nobody cares. Talk of a new “peace deal” just means that Uncle Sam’s about to get ripped off again.

Everybody knows the Israelis and Palestinians are parasites. Everybody knows they’re liars and users, two of the least trustworthy actors on the world stage. Everybody knows that “peace talks” are only about how much cash can be squeezed out of the American taxpayer, for them to pledge not to kill each other for a few months or years.

Screw that. Waste your breath on something else, Donnie, and get us out of the Middle East. Away from the filth who drag us into their messes, take our money, and spit in our face – and lest we forget, who provoke terror attacks against America like 9/11.

#24 Comment By Lenny On August 31, 2018 @ 9:41 pm

PCIncorrect says:
August 31, 2018 at 11:28 am
There are probably no more than 30 refugees left who are still alive. You cannot be a refugee in the 2nd and 3rd generations. If so-called Palestinian refugees spent more time working for living instead of sending missiles to Israel, they would not have such a filthy place to live as we see above.

And to which generation did the European Jews who claimed ancestry to the holy land belong?

In any case, Israel will gets what it so much desire, just not what it expects

#25 Comment By Louism On August 31, 2018 @ 11:21 pm

Yes, Israel and AIPAC like Trump but leftist liberal jews in media (Hollywood, entertainment, news, publishing, etc) hate Trump.

Jews are tribal. Orthodox jews will side with Reformist Jews will side with Zionists will side with atheist jews that are jewish only by ethnicity.

If Arabs and muslims truly cared about Palestinians then the Palestinians would not be in the situation they are on. Name me a country that actually cares for, sides with and will lobby on behalf of Palestinians. Any muslim country? No one cares about Palestinians in Indonesia, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Jordon, Syria, Turkey, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, etc. Insult Islam and the will commit terrorism, issue a Fatwa, rape and kill a Kafir (non-muslim) etc but confine Palestinians into a ghetto, disarm them, deprive them of nation-state, commit acts of genocide or mass murder. Nothing will happen. Oh maybe a vote of UN condemnation but no real consequences.

If Iran is a greater threat to Sunni’s than Israel is to Palestinians well who do you expect to speak up?

If the wealthiest and most powerful muslim nations aren’t willing to put the fate of their wealth and nation on the line on behalf of Palestinians, then who do you think will.

Its not surprising Trump would adopt the attitude he has towards Palestinians. The only consequences to Trump are from Israel. There are no consequences to the US from any muslim nation.

Conversely EU is far more distanced from Israel because there are far too many muslims in Europe and those muslims constantly and consistently make Europeans pay consequences for anything remotely anti-Islamic.

#26 Comment By Ft. Marcy II On August 31, 2018 @ 11:49 pm

Israel, Palestine, Israel, Palestine, blah blah blah. No real American gives a damn about it. No real American asked Trump to do anything about it. So why is he chattering or twittering about it or whatever the hell it is he does instead of his job?

He promised to get AMERICA out. So GET AMERICA OUT already.

#27 Comment By Bleak Housing On September 1, 2018 @ 5:01 am

@PCIncorrect “There are probably no more than 30 refugees left who are still alive. You cannot be a refugee in the 2nd and 3rd generations. “

You may have just disqualified most of Israel’s population from living there.

Seriously, most Americans are sick of hearing about Israel/Palestine, and they’re definitely sick of paying for it. No Deal of the Century please, Mr. President. At the rate you’re going it’ll bankrupt us. Leave them alone to make peace their own way or wipe each other out. Either way, the rest of the world will cheer.

#28 Comment By Here’s The Deal On September 1, 2018 @ 5:17 am

Trump needs to play the America card. That’s the card where America tells the Israelis and Palestinians to go fark themselves and orders US troops back to America to do something useful for a change, like keeping illegals from flooding across the southern border.

#29 Comment By Club Med USN On September 1, 2018 @ 8:15 am

So the “deal of the century” is that Israel and Egypt keep getting billions in US taxpayer dollars every year? Trump has already spent more on Israel and Egypt in the last two years than he did on a wall he to protect us from alien invaders! Israel and Egypt already got the cash. America never got the wall.

What kind of deal is that?

Trump said he was going to kick foreign freeloaders off the dole. Instead he’s buying them new nosebags.

#30 Comment By DownHome On September 1, 2018 @ 8:22 am

Wake me up when Trump does anything to prove he’s an “America First” president.

We didn’t hire him to make peace between the black ants and the red ants. We hired him to put America first. That means focus on America. Spend money on America. Build American infrastructure. Get America out of foreign hellholes. No more American money for foreigners. No more foreigners coming into America and taking American jobs. No more foreigners coming to America to blow up Americans or involve us in their s!!!.

This “deal” has a lot to do with Trump’s ego and little to do with America. It’s a big, expensive distraction that means fewer promises kept to America.

#31 Comment By Lenny On September 1, 2018 @ 9:36 am

So for 3rd and 4th generations to call themselves refugees is absurd, but for Jews who lived in Europe for centuries, they can claim back some ancestral lands?

This fiction has run out its course, and you can clearly see it in the shift in support for Israel among Democrats and Europeans, despite ISIS. The only outcome this move will be to weaken whatever allies America have in the middle east and give Iran a powerful propaganda tool.

20 years form now, Iran will be the dominant power in the region, and Israel might not have a Trump in the White House, but a Bernie Sanders or Keith Ellison .

#32 Comment By TheSnark On September 1, 2018 @ 10:46 am

Israel’s policy is ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. The Palestinian’s policy is ethnic cleansing of the Israelis. The only real difference between the two is that Israel has the political, economic and military capability to implement it’s policy, while the Palestinians do not.

The question is: why does the US support either one of them?

#33 Comment By Habarigani On September 1, 2018 @ 11:45 am

@PCIncorrect, @Tom Cullem
It is not as if the 2nd or 3rd generation Palestinian Refugees have any choice but to remain refugees. The countries hosting them (Lebanon, Jordan …) will not allow them to become citizens. They cannot get permission to work. They are confined to camps by host countries. So question to you is how are the Palestinians supposed to escape the refugee status?

#34 Comment By Madeleine Neidoff On September 1, 2018 @ 12:15 pm

In the western world countries are increasing becoming multi cultural because of immigration. The middle east remains an area sharply defining cultural/religious differences even among racially similar populations. The US was originally a nation that was founded by and for racially white immigrants. The humanistic ideals were extended at the cost of horrific bloodshed. Israel was established to be culturally exclusive to Jews just as there are countries all over the world that are culturally and racially exclusive, notably in Asia. It is possible to defend Israel and to support the positive outcome of the natives who were displaced but not if their right to reenter Israel and change the fundamental exclusivity of that nation is supported – which just continues the suffering.

#35 Comment By Jeeves On September 1, 2018 @ 12:36 pm

Thank you @PCIncorrect and @Tom Cullem. I wonder what Mr. Aronson has in mind for “the end of their exile.” Assimilation-in-place, or a Right of Return? The latter will never happen, not even for the handful of genuine “exiles” that may remain 70 years after they foolishly trusted their fellow Arabs to welcome them.

#36 Comment By HAL9000 On September 1, 2018 @ 2:35 pm

“There are probably no more than 30 refugees left who are still alive. You cannot be a refugee in the 2nd and 3rd generations. If so-called Palestinian refugees spent more time working for living instead of sending missiles to Israel, they would not have such a filthy place to live as we see above.”

The irony being, as the article alludes to, is that part of the central mythos of Zionism and the very idea of the Jewish state is that Jews themselves were refugees for thousands of years in the diaspora. How many generations is that?

So, whether or not your point about 2nd and 3rd generations being considered refugees is valid, it’s still a bit rich to hear this sentiment from Israeli officials or their supporters. The argument itself undermines the very foundation and purpose of the Jewish state.

If we do take that argument on its face, and neither Palestinians nor Jews in the diaspora were refugees in any real sense, and therefore any attachment or entitlement to their ancestral homeland is illegitimate – then the Zionist project and the resulting State of Israel become simply acts of colonialism and its maintenance an exercise in raw power politics.

This isn’t necessarily a value judgement, and in some ways shares some parallels with the colonization of the United States. But I would never blame the Native Americans for fighting back – what else were they supposed to do? Colonialism has consequences. And if in these circumstances support for Israel is still required for geo-political reasons, have our representatives lay them out and argue for it on that basis. Just spare me the talk about the moral high-ground and platitudes about democracy that so often come up regarding this issue.

#37 Comment By Lawrence Duffield On September 1, 2018 @ 9:16 pm

Geoffrey, it appears as though President Trump is trying to remove a $300 million annual incentive to continue advocating for the extermination of Israel.

UNWRA uses a definition of “refugee” used by no other UN organization – one that includes not only refugees recognized by all agencies, but their descendants down 2 or more generations. Cutting off this support will seriously incent Palestinian “refugees” to negotiate in good faith and not aim, and teach their children to aim, for the destruction of Israel. This may, ironically enough, lead to real peace.

#38 Comment By EliteCommInc. On September 2, 2018 @ 2:52 pm

I was fine until —–

“On the other hand, he explains that “the State of Israel was, is and will always be the national homeland of the Jewish people, on the grounds of 2,000 years of history as well as its official status since the days of the Balfour Declaration.”

Excuse me, but the last 2000 years have been demonstration of a people with homeland, having been decimated by the Romans and scattered not for the first time to the four winds.

Clearly, the UN failed. And they failed because they were unprepared for what the Jews had in mind. They were just caught six ways to Sunday blind sided. And instead of calling a halt to the process and figuring out what was happening, they pressed forward – it was a mistake.

Then implementing the boundaries and the creation of a new state, they failed to consider what would be required to physically manage the process. As consequence, jews, began a rather brutal and detrimental land grab and theft minus any compensation for the current population.

Of course, we are not talking about the jews of the Torah hindered by such issues of spiritual and biblical law and pleadings about fairness, justice, honor — no this was pure secularist behavior. Bad form, bad policy and bad for the future which we now own.

It would have been better for the UN or private donors to have paid every Palestinian the some of 2 million dollars and allowed them to make their way anywhere in the world they so chose. But for the Palestinians which is not comprised of a single ethnicity as I recall but several, once even jewish it too is about ancestral home.

The defunding will place more ownership of the regional states to address what should essentially be a regional issue and might very well be resolved minus US counter weight so heavily Israeli.

Inevitably this is going to be a debate about Israeli homeland and again scripture (much abused in these discussions) will be front and center, I am sure.

#39 Comment By Locksley On September 2, 2018 @ 3:00 pm

Why don’t the Palestinian exiles (not ‘refugees’, if you like) simply convert to Judaism and go back to Israel under the ‘Law of Return’? Then they could vote themselves into power and de-convert.

#40 Comment By Mother124 On September 2, 2018 @ 3:35 pm

Trump said the Palestinians were going to “get something good in this deal, because it’s their turn next!”

#41 Comment By peary On September 2, 2018 @ 10:31 pm

Trump wisely cut off funding for UNWRA in order to give the Palestinians context for the upcoming negotiations. The context being that if they want their children to eat, if they want them to be educated, then they better shut up and do what Israel wants.

#42 Comment By A Barstool Leg, Say On September 3, 2018 @ 6:44 am

“Creeping” is the operative word. They’re creeping all over the White House. This kind of gratuitous stupidity is the result.

“Trump said the Palestinians were going to “get something good in this deal,”

Slight misquote. He actually said they’re going to “get something good and hard …”

#43 Comment By jay out west On September 3, 2018 @ 7:36 am

“what should essentially be a regional issue and might very well be resolved minus US counter weight so heavily Israeli.”

This is the key. The US shouldn’t be involved at all. Let the regional powers arrive at their own solution.

All we’ve managed to do in the Middle East is screw things up. We make the kind of “friends” who want to use our money and our military to fight their enemies. The result is we get terror attacks, including 9/11, while our “friends” sit back and watch us bleed and pay.

Let them bleed and pay for a change. Or let them wise up and make a lasting peace. But keep America out of it.

#44 Comment By middle america On September 4, 2018 @ 1:12 am

There are still Israelis and Palestinians? Interesting. Still trying to kill each other, huh? Thought so … (yawn)

#45 Comment By Sick Puppet On September 4, 2018 @ 2:11 am

“Deal of the Century”!

That sort of brought it all home for me. He’s a sleazy used car salesman. He looks like a sleazy used car salesman. He acts like one. And now, yes, very belatedly, I realize that he talks like one too.

Trump’s “Deal of the Century” will go the way of everything that ever billed itself as “The Deal of the Century”. I just hope he doesn’t blow any more of our money on these creeps.