Why Singapore statement can’t be applied to the Middle East
Op-ed: Trump didn’t take a gamble in his meeting with Kim. His handshake with the North Korean tyrant won’t do any harm. It can only reduce the threat. An independent Palestinian state, on the other hand, increases the threat, which is why there isn’t a single leader capable of emulating the agreement in our region.
Rumor has it that the American administration is preparing a major deal between Israel and the Palestinians as we speak. It’s a rumor, because no one has seen an actual paper.
Two weeks ago, I sat down with three famous Republicans in Jerusalem. We met at the King David Hotel, the most stable institution in Jerusalem since it was bombed in the days of the British Mandate. They spoke about the big deal, and I drank a big cup of coffee.
Our insights were identical: US President Donald Trump is unpredictable, the speculative deal is unpredictable, and no one has an interest in putting what can’t be implemented on the table.
The Singapore statement can’t be applied to our region. Trump didn’t take a gamble with North Korea. He did the unexpected as part of his odd tradition. The handshake with the North Korean dictator won’t do any harm to anyone. At best, it will help prevent a war or improve the situation of the peninsula’s citizens.
Here, we’re facing an opposite situation. The idea of peace is to reduce risks rather than increase them. Does a return to the 1967 borders reduce the risk? As the answer is clear, there isn’t a single American, Israeli or Palestinian leader capable of creating such an agreement here. A sensible person doesn’t choose to increase risks.
Peace is made with enemies, but as long as these enemies can’t do more harm with an agreement in their hands. The peace with Jordan and Egypt is an example. Not just because of the leeway and wiggle room, but because it basically reduced the threat. An independent Palestinian state, on the other hand, increases the threat.
The world turned upside down on Tuesday with the Singapore handshake. It was a sight only reality could write. The symbol of dictatorship alongside the leader of the free world. A young, fat man who devours donuts at the same rate he kills his family members, alongside an unpredictable adult, a former reality star. What the two have in common is a weird haircut and an interest to change.
The regular political drawers were unable to digest what happened. Left-wing people, who declaim “peace is made with enemies” in the middle of the night, slammed Trump for shaking the tyrant’s hand. Republicans, who up until now swore to fight the axis of evil and criticized the nuclear agreement with Iran, applauded the achievement.
What happened in the United States happened here too. Absurdity ruled. Israeli leaders—from Yitzhak Rabin to Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak—shook hands with arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat. They were applauded by the Left, as part of a general blindness. When Trump shook the tyrant’s hand, those same people flinched. It’s an instinct.
Former US President Barack Obama received a Nobel Prize for potential peace immediately after being elected. He could have just as easily won a Nobel Prize in Literature for a novel he never wrote. Potential is a flexible criterion. Trump, by the book, had no potential for anything, yet the actual meeting moved something. The chance for a Nobel Prize, by the way, is slim. The Norwegians will have trouble digesting it.
How have the tables turned? How are peace supporters against the move and peace opponents in favor? Fixation of thoughts.
Israel is closer than ever to the United States. Administration vis-à-vis administration, leader vis-à-vis leader. Across the US, conspiracy theories are growing among the Democrats that Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer is writing the American president’s Mideast-related speeches. These theories are spilling into the Israeli Left too. Extreme rightists, on the other hand, have adopted weirder theories imported from the US. The leading one is a Grimm Brothers tale about the “deep state”—a world of government workers who control the state behind the scenes.
These theories are foolish and remarkably convenient. In both of them, the leaders have no responsibility. Everything that happens is part of a conspiracy. An extensive system controlling army officers, politicians, judges. When the leader does the opposite of what he has declared, it’s because of those who are maneuvering him. When he succeeds, it’s thanks to his declarations.
With Protocols of the Elders of Zion in a “deep state” version, everything can be explained. They are the ones preventing Israel from building in Judea and Samaria. They are the ones to blame for the peace deal if it actually reaches the Israeli table. Responsibility is an institutional conspiracy.