Nathan and the ‘Deal of the Century’
To be born a Palestinian in one of the Middle East’s refugee camps, or in the Gaza Strip, or on the West Bank, is to be born into the chains of misplacement, occupation, or siege, and probably into poverty. So, is it attractive to hear that the world’s most powerful and wealthy country has a plan to spend $50 billion in your direction? Well no. It is not attractive because the reason for the chains and consequent poverty are not being addressed. It is not attractive because receiving the money will be conditional on acceptance that Israel has the right to continue the annexation of Palestinian land and that Israelis have rights, but Palestinians do not. It is not at all surprising that Palestinians, who were not invited to shape the content of the ‘deal of the century’, will not accept its outcome. Trump and Netanyahu believe the strong have the right to enjoy the bounty of their strength and that the weak must meekly accept this reality.
In my world this view is totally unacceptable and I will not accept the nomenclature of being ‘antisemitic’ for saying so.
Of the $50 billion, it is clear that the US intends to stump up nothing, or next to nothing, or the least with which it can get away. The US is expecting most of the money to come from wealthy Arab States. Parties to the deal intend that nearly half that money be spent outside Palestine in Egypt (Sinai), Jordan and Lebanon. This carries the intention that Palestinians who have been forced to live in refugee camps outside of Palestine since 1948 will accept another country as their permanent home. Presumably these countries will be expected to grant full and unconditional citizenship to those who have been refugees; a right Israel continues to deny Palestinians who have never been refugees and who have lived in what is now Israel for generations.
The chief power struggle underway in the Middle East is between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The US will be looking to Saudi Arabia to make most of the funding available for its ‘deal’. In turn Saudi Arabia will be keen to curry favour with the US in support against Iran. Since the overthrow (and now death) of President Mohamad Morsi, Egypt seeks constraint upon the power and influence of Iran. Thus the common thread uniting the coalition around the US and its plan for Palestine is not the wellbeing of Palestinians, it is the thwarting or subduing of Iranian influence.
Israel costs the American tax payer nearly $10 billion annually. Frequently loans have been forgiven and turned into grants. If 50 percent of this money were diverted over the next 10 years as grants to Palestine, perhaps the ‘deal of the century’ with all its faults could be engaged. But no, it is not simply an empty puff of wind, it is an insult, it is the cowardly attempt of a rich and powerful landowner to offer his vassal subjects a new set of clothes as long as they promise to keep to their allocated place and no longer challenge his right to do what he pleases with what is essentially theirs.
Lift the chains off the Palestinian people and they will develop their own economy.
Netanyahu and Trump would do well to be reminded of the confrontation between King David and the prophet Nathan (2 Sam. 12: 1-7). Nathan said there were two men who lived in a city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had vast lands and large flocks. The poor man had nothing but a little ewe lamb that used to play and eat with his children. A traveller came to the rich man: he was loath to take one of his own flock to prepare a meal for the wayfarer, but rather took the poor man’s lamb to feed his guest. David’s heart was kindled with anger against the man and asked who he was so that he could punish him.
Nathan said to David, you are that man.
Let the one who has ears – hear.