It’s interesting to watch the fallout from Donald Trump’s brazen move today to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It is a very cynical one that will have unpredictable and unsettling ramifications for the region. That much is obvious.
But the resolution of this ongoing occupation will only happen when we have managed to dispel a series of Orwellian mantras that obscure the realities of the issue. These are myths which must die before anything can meaningfully change. Chief among these is the façade known as the ‘Peace Process’.
The ‘Peace Process’ is basically the recycled political term for perpetual and deliberate stalemate, which then allows incremental annexation of Palestinian land and stepwise erosion of Palestinian human rights. Central to this lie is the image of the United States as some kind of benevolent, neutral arbiter.
Nothing could be more absurd. The United States has either actively or indirectly supported the crime of Israeli occupation and aggression since 1967. Anyone who’s followed this issue honestly knows this. Democrat, Republican, a ‘Moderate’ or a ‘Hawk’ President, it makes no difference.
The Peace Process is itself the biggest barrier to peace, because it pretends that the United States is a disinterested arbiter.
Enter Trump. One of the potentially useful things about Trump and his administration of cowboys is their lack of nuance. So for example, where Obama may appoint as Secretary of State a seasoned politician with the skill to understand the relationship between foreign policy and the interests of oil companies, Trump just appoints the former head of Exxon Mobil.
It’s the same in this scenario. Trump can’t help but appear completely impartial and biased towards Israel. And this may be the silver lining. Of all the breathless denouncements discussing the threat posed to the ‘Peace Process’ by this new policy, Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, has made the most useful comment and the one that we need to most urgently heed – the United States can no longer pretend to be a neutral arbiter.
This is a crucial reality. The ‘Peace Process’ may be over, but it is not over just because one side has been unwilling to shake hands with the other. It is over, and always has been, because the party that is supposed to be moderating the negotiations is fatally biased.
This isn’t a surprising or revelatory point by the way. This has long been known by Palestinians who live under occupation. As with anything, the ignorance belongs to us – by which I mean supposedly educated, liberal Western citizens. The Israeli-Palestine issue is not a complicated one – a five year old could understand the basic problem and what needs to be done. More than this, there is an accepted understanding of what needs to be done that is supported by a vast majority of nations.
The reason that reality is so easily denied is, as ever, a matter of propaganda. There is an intricate and systematised propaganda apparatus created by the Israeli state, supported by the United States, and lazily reiterated by Western media outlets.
Consider how powerful and effective this lie-machine is – it has taken a mentally impaired megalomaniac blaring out his untrammelled support for Israel to finally open people’s eyes to a long obvious fact – that having the United State’s play negotiator is the absolute height of absurdity.
This is the great craft of propagandist machinery – to make absurdities seem reasonable. To make obvious facts into their opposite.
But the skill of former US administrations to present a façade of impartiality has allowed the US to hold this role. Which in turn has allowed Israel to continue to degrade the rights of Palestinians and to continue their annexation with impunity. This ultimately has stymied the ability of someone like Mahmoud Abbas to make a comment like the one he made today. Trump’s behaviour has, in part, allowed him to do so.
In the face of such prejudice, the most logical step is for a genuinely neutral country with international respect to take over the job of interlocutor and negotiator. I’ve always thought that New Zealand has the potential to be this kind of country, although the extent of our involvement in a network of illegal surveillance and the loss of our sovereignty to US interests in these domains certainly threatens our image of neutrality. Still, I live in hope. Another nation, perhaps one of the BRICS nations, may be more suitable. This is also an opportunity for the European Union to put into practice its professed discontent over Israel’s expansionist and aggressive actions.
In the world of politics and public relations, words mean everything. People always make comment on why it is this particular issue provokes such strong passion. I don’t think that’s difficult to answer. It is simply staggering in its injustice – and the only reason that injustice is allowed to continue is because the nation pretending to be the negotiator is actually the facilitator. It’s really that simple.
If we consider ourselves responsible people, if we wish to live in an age where we feel enlightened and want to talk about privilege, then we need to stop and examine the language that permits ignorance. We must assess its utility to the powerful.
In this upside-down, frightening hall of Orwellian deceit, the ‘Peace Process’ is just a propagandist term which in the real world means the deliberate maintenance of an unjust status quo: the slow annexation of Palestinian land, the degradation of Palestinian rights and freedoms and the wholesale, periodic slaughter of innocent men, women and children whenever Israel feels it necessary to “mow the lawn”.
The ‘Peace Process’ needs to die an ignoble death – it has been walking dead for a long time anyway. And may Trump’s lack of understanding of the ‘reasonable’ way of talking about these issues and his apparent ignorance of the stifling rules of international diplomacy be the precipitant for its demise.