Kissinger, Kerry, Kushner

During the recent Gaza skirmish (so it will go down in history, I predict), some journalists and opinion writers rushed to declare the demise of the Abraham Accords. 

I won’t mention names, but these were some of the headlines: “The mirage of Trump’s ’peace’ deals” (Washington Post), “Violence Shakes Trump’s Boast of ‘New Middle East’” (New York Times), “Not worth the paper they are written on” (Independent), “Jared Kushner’s Middle East fantasy explodes” (CNN), etc. At least two headlines went even further: “How the Abraham Accords Precipitated New Israeli-Palestinian Violence” (US News), and “So much for the Abraham Accords. Trump made things worse in the Middle East” (Washington Post).

I don’t take any of this seriously, and neither should you. I wrote the following at the invitation of a student-run publication, the Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy, at the Harvard Kennedy School. The message, especially to surly folks liable to dismiss anything achieved by the Trump administration, is this: get over it and build on the Abraham Accords. They’re one of the best things America has going for it in the Middle East.

Title of the piece, reproduced below: “Kissinger, Kerry, Kushner: Making and Missing Peace in the Middle East.” You can also download the journal version here. (And please excuse all the Harvard references. I couldn’t resist.)

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After Henry Kissinger (class of 1950), the Harvard undergraduate alumnus who has had the most profound effect on the Middle East to date is Jared Kushner (class of 2003), son-in-law of President Donald Trump and architect of the 2020 Abraham Accords. Ponder the irony. Harvard has produced a cavalcade of experts on the Middle East, both practitioners and scholars, with far more knowledge of the region than Kushner’s. “I’ve been studying this now for three years,” Kushner said of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict last year. “I’ve read 25 books on it, I’ve spoken to every leader in the region, I’ve spoken to everyone who’s been involved in this.”[1] That was his primer for his role as broker, first, of Trump’s “Vision for Peace” (aka “The Deal of the Century”) and later, the breakthrough agreements between Israel and four Arab states. 

By conventional standards, Kushner was “winging it.” But in policy making, as in real estate, success begins with location. Kushner (and his sidekick, Harvard Law alumnus Avi Berkowitz, class of 2016), ended up in the White House riding an unpredictable wave in American politics. These twists of fate are not rare; to the contrary, they are par for the course of history. The events that put Kissinger in the Middle Eastern cockpit fifty years ago were no more predictable. 

Still, being in the right place is never enough. One has to grasp the meaning of the moment. Jared Kushner understood something fundamental about the Middle East that had eluded the long line of secretaries, deputy secretaries, advisers, envoys, and ambassadors who had preceded him. Having read his 25 books about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he realized that not all Arabs were in its grip. 

This was a truth that Barack Obama’s secretary of state, John Kerry, hadn’t fathomed. Kerry, who had tried his hand in the Middle East right before Kushner, will never live down his 2016 statement, preserved on YouTube and gleefully retweeted thousands of times this past year: 

There will be no separate peace between Israel and the Arab world. I want to make that very clear with all of you. I’ve heard several prominent politicians in Israel sometimes saying, “Well, the Arab world is in a different place now. We just have to reach out to them. We can work some things with the Arab world, and we’ll deal with the Palestinians.” No. No, no, and no.[2]

Kushner didn’t dismiss the view of Israel’s “prominent politicians,” but actually put it to the test, and ended up eliciting four “yeses,” first from the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, then followed by Sudan and Morocco. 

Why did Kerry miss what Kushner saw? Some commentators have portrayed Kerry, and indeed the entire “peace process” establishment, as blinded by bias. But the simpler explanation is a generational difference in the American view of the Arabs. There is an older generation for whom the Arab world appeared driven by ideologies and passions, and a younger generation who see it governed by states and interests. 

Kerry, born in 1943, studied political science at Yale when Gamal Abdul Nasser was still riding the crest of pan-Arab sentiment. After 1967, following the emasculation of Nasser, the Arabs seemed to have invested every thought and emotion in the cause of the Palestinians, who violently burst upon the world scene beginning with Black September in 1970. Kerry belonged to the tail-end of the generation that saw the Arabs through the Palestinian prism. “Is the Israel-Palestine conflict still the key to peace in the whole region?” Jimmy Carter was once asked. “Without doubt,” he answered, “the path to peace in the Middle East goes through Jerusalem.”[3] In the estimate of the late Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter’s national security adviser, “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the single most combustible and galvanizing issue in the Arab world.”[4] And to be fair, in the past the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was both combustible and galvanizing. 

But it ceased to be that over time. Thanks to the deal-brokering begun by Kissinger, Israel stopped being regarded in the Arab world as the prime threat to the integrity and stability of Arab states. Peace agreements and American patronage hemmed Israel in. In the place of the Israeli danger, other threats arose: Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which in 1990 briefly erased an Arab state, Kuwait, from the map; and Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran, which energized Shiite minorities against Arab governments. 

When Kushner, born in 1981, came to study at Harvard, the Middle East looked entirely different than it had to Kerry at Yale. The Palestinians had lost their privileged position among the Arabs, first by allying with Saddam, and then by entering the Oslo Accords. State interests had washed ideology and passion out of Arab politics. 

Of course, Arab states had been making their own calculations for years. Egypt and Jordan had reached peace agreements with Israel, and other Arab states had low-profile ties. But while the trajectory was clear, the old hands still couldn’t trace the arc. Kushner, on the other hand, saw the obvious: many Arabs had more important priorities than rallying around the Palestinians.

He also located the tipping point of this sentiment in the Arab Gulf states. For Americans of Kerry’s generation, “the Arabs” came from Beirut and Cairo, Damascus and Baghdad. Americans had a foothold in oil-producing Saudi Arabia, but the rest of the littoral of the Arab Gulf was “flyover country” run by the British. 

The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Qatar didn’t gain independence until 1971. Even then, they weren’t much to write home about. The late Roger Owen, professor of Middle Eastern history at Harvard, evoked the ambience in recalling a visit he made to two of the Emirates in the 1970s: “Abu Dhabi and Sharjah seemed only to come alive when a British Overseas Airways—after 1974, a British Air plane—arrived at dusk, when Land Rovers raced out to meet it, and the passengers disbursed slowly in the evening heat.”[5]

By Kushner’s time, these same emirates had become the Arab world’s glittering “Gold Coast,” centers of fabulous wealth wedded to unashamed pragmatism. The old ideologies that had grown like weeds elsewhere in the Arab world never struck root in the sands surrounding the skyscrapers of the Arab Gulf. Here were places that had “come alive” in a spectacular way, and where Arabs broke taboos every day. 

Yet even this wouldn’t have sufficed to produce a breakthrough. Kushner understood the dread felt by these small Arab states over Iran, and how Israel’s sounding of the alarm resonated with them. In the game with Iran, Arab Gulf states and Israel stood near one another on the scrimmage line, and neither had full confidence in the parade of American quarterbacks, each with a different game plan. 

A question facing any future historian will be this: was the “Deal of the Century,” with its implicit endorsement of Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank, designed in advance as a throwaway, to facilitate the Abraham Accords? Whatever the answer, that is precisely the purpose it ultimately served. “We had been talking to both sides for 18 months,” said a senior American official, “but the annexation issue created the atmosphere which was conducive for getting a deal.”[6] If it was so designed in advance, then far from being a “dead-on-arrival” plan, it was a strategic feint worthy of a Kissinger. If not, it was a deft last-minute shift of gears. 

Whatever the back story, however, the Abraham Accords and their sequels have introduced a new vector in the Middle East. The most creative and dynamic shorelines on the Mediterranean and the Gulf are now linked. They are the counter to the forty-year bond between Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which also links the Mediterranean and the Gulf. There is much potential in this fledgling alignment; how much of it will be realized depends on the ingenuity of Israelis and Gulf Arabs alike. 

But it also depends on the attitude of the United States. Certainly, it has been hard for the old hands of the Democratic foreign policy establishment to concede that Kushner, wet behind the ears, achieved something that had eluded them. They should get over it. One doesn’t have to believe that Kushner (and Berkowitz) deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, though Harvard emeritus professor Alan Dershowitz has nominated them for one, but one must admit that they got this right. 

Remember that Jimmy Carter didn’t toss out the Middle East achievements of Richard Nixon and Kissinger, but built them out into a new security architecture for the Middle East. President Biden should consider that precedent and think hard about how to capitalize on the achievements of Trump and Kushner. That need not mean abandoning the quest for a resolution of the Palestinian question. It need not mean locking the door to Iran forever. It does mean nurturing the cooperative spirit of the Abraham Accords. These US-brokered agreements give the United States a strategic edge. In the Middle East, America needs that more than ever. 

Martin Kramer is chair of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at Shalem College in Jerusalem, and the Walter P. Stern Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He co-founded and edited the website Middle East Strategy at Harvard (MESH) in the late 2000s.

Endnotes 

1. Kushner interview with Sky News Arabia, January 29, 2020.

2. “Remarks at the Saban Forum,” U.S. Department of State, 4 December 2016, https://2009-2017.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2016/12/264824.htm

3. Nathaniel Gardels, “Jimmy Carter takes on Israel’s Apartheid Policies and the Pro-Israeli Lobby in the US,” Huffington Post, 12 December 2006. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/jimmy-carter-takes-on-isr_b_36134

4. Zbigniew Brzezinski, “Lowered Vision,” The New Republic, 7 June 2004. https://newrepublic.com/article/67609/lowered-vision

5. Roger Owen, A Life in Middle East Studies (Fairfax, VA: Tadween Publishing, 2016), p. 117. 

6. Barak Ravid, “Behind the scenes: How the Israel-UAE deal came together,” Axios, 13 August 2020. https://www.axios.com/how-the-israel-uae-recognition-deal-came-together-d0d45b2e-b2c7-4593-b72a-0ef99ec96233.html

Repudiated presidents and Israel

The end of the Trump Administration has prompted much stock-taking. Many have argued that Donald Trump was good for Israel. Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, brokering the Abraham Accords, applying “maximum pressure” on Iran—it’s no wonder that most Israelis would have preferred a second term for Trump.

Yet by the usual measure of presidential success, he was a dud. He joins the short list of only five American presidents who failed to win reelection over the past century. And he has the unique ignominy of having been impeached twice. Many pundits, partisan and otherwise, are predicting that he’ll go down in history as “the worst president ever.”

In truth, nothing is as unpredictable as history. But at the moment, Trump looks like yet another variation on a familiar type: the repudiated president who’s done well by Israel. Scanning the past half-century, the previous two presidents who did the most to secure Israel and bring it peace also were cast aside by the American public. The comparison is revealing, although its lessons are elusive.

“Nixon did not break a single promise…”

The first case is Richard Nixon. From the outset, Israeli leaders and officials liked what they saw in Nixon—none more so than Israel’s ambassador in Washington, Yitzhak Rabin. In a 1972 interview, he said of Nixon that “never in America’s history had any president gone so far in his pro-Israeli declarations or in expressing America’s commitment to Israel’s security.” Coming in an election year, that caused a firestorm, and led to a Washington Post editorial decrying Rabin as an “undiplomatic diplomat.”

At the time, Rabin insisted he had no intention of playing favorites. But in his memoirs, he described Nixon as “the more desirable candidate from Israel’s point of view” even as compared to Democrat Hubert Humphrey in 1968, and expressed disappointment that “America’s Jews did not share my opinion.” He worried that this dearth of Jewish supporters might turn Nixon against Israel. To his relief, he found that Nixon’s views on Israel “were founded on more than political expediency. My fears proved to be groundless.”

The proof arrived in October 1973, when Israel came under a combined, surprise attack by Egypt and Syria. It was Nixon who, in the words of some Israelis, “saved Israel,” first by sending Israel massive arms shipments by air and sea, and then by facing down the Soviet backers of Egypt, to the point of threatening nuclear war. Nor did Nixon flinch when Arab oil states retaliated with a punishing oil boycott.

Israelis felt vindicated for trusting a man many Americans reviled as “Tricky Dick.” “I knew that President Nixon had promised to help us,” wrote Israel’s then-prime minister, Golda Meir, in her memoirs,

and I knew from my past experience with him that he would not let us down. Let me, at this point, repeat something that I have said often before (usually to the extreme annoyance of many of my American friends). However history judges Richard Nixon—and it is probable that the verdict will be very harsh—it must also be put on the record forever that he did not break a single one of the promises he made to us.

When Nixon ultimately resigned in disgrace over Watergate, it pained Meir:

It should not come as a surprise that his resignation—under circumstances unprecedented in American history—caused me deep regret. I was familiar with his virtues and his faults, both of which he possessed in abundance. But above all I had great respect for his broad vision and understanding of global politics…. [H]is doctrine that the United States should help those nations willing to help themselves found very concrete expression in regard to Israel…. Nixon helped to provide Israel with more arms than any other American president. For this, and for his strict avoidance of imposing an unwanted political solution on Israel, he is deserving of this country’s profound gratitude.

In rankings by presidential historians, Nixon has risen a bit over the years, but he still figures in the bottom third of all presidents. In contrast, he would be at or near the top of the list of “best friends” of Israel in the White House.

“Carter has done more and gone farther….”

The second case is Jimmy Carter. Today, it’s usual to view Carter as hostile to Israel, based on the harsh criticism he leveled at Israeli policy after leaving the White House. His 2006 New York Times bestseller, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, made him anathema to supporters of Israel.

But that wasn’t the perception of Carter when he was president, and Carter’s success in brokering Israel’s peace with Egypt at Camp David today looms large, in comparison with the many failures of subsequent presidents. Without Carter’s unique set of skills, Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem in 1977 might have led nowhere.

In late 1979, Moshe Dayan, who had been at Camp David, sang Carter’s praises. “Carter has done more and gone farther than any former president in order to bring peace between us and the Arabs,” he announced. As part of that peace deal, “we have achieved first-class agreements, better than Israel ever had with the United States.”

The later praise by Israeli future-president Ezer Weizman, who also witnessed Carter at Camp David, carried even more weight, since he offered it long after Carter’s political demise: “From an Israeli viewpoint,” he wrote,

Jimmy Carter had been a good president. He was the prime mover in the conclusion of the Camp David agreements and in the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty that resulted. He granted Israel lavish economic and military aid.

But as in the case of Nixon, here, too, American Jews didn’t appreciate what Carter had done:

There was no reason why American Jews should not have supported [Carter in 1980], as they had supported other Democratic candidates like Humphrey, Johnson, and Kennedy—and Carter himself in 1976. But that was not how it worked out. Only 54 percent of Jewish voters opted for Carter [over Republican Ronald Reagan]—a relatively low proportion of Jewish backing for a Democratic candidate.

Of course, it wasn’t only the Jews. No incumbent president was repudiated by the electorate as decisively as Carter in 1980. Reagan’s electoral college victory, 489 to 49, represented the highest number of electoral votes ever won by a non-incumbent.

Carter’s presidency also ended in humiliation. Iran freed the U.S. diplomatic hostages it had held for 444 days only as Carter left the White House on his last day in office. He is regularly ranked by presidential historians in the bottom half of the class.

But the Egyptian-Israeli peace, his greatest achievement, is still considered the gold standard of peacemaking in the Middle East. Another president, Bill Clinton, ached to replicate that miracle in his own Camp David talks with Israel and the Palestinians in 2000. When he fell short, he angrily told Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat: “I’m a colossal failure, and you made me one.”

No one today would call Carter a “great friend of Israel” (although Menachem Begin did just that in 1977). But just as Nixon rescued Israel in its most desperate war, Carter secured for Israel its most precious peace.

“The best friend Israel has ever had…”

Donald Trump now joins the short list of repudiated presidents who did well by Israel.

It will take some time to sort out just how much good he did. As it now looks, Trump’s actions regarding Israel don’t rise to the level of Nixon’s or Carter’s, for sheer impact. That’s because circumstances didn’t present him with an opportunity to make a comparable kind of difference. “We have the best friend Israel has ever had in the White House,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a year ago. But Trump’s “best friendship” was never stress-tested, so we’ll never know.

That’s the role of chance in history. One man, Egypt’s Sadat, created opportunities for both Nixon and Carter. On Nixon’s watch, he launched a war that shook Israel’s foundations. On Carter’s watch, he shook Israel again with a surprise visit to Jerusalem. If Sadat hadn’t acted, there would have been no openings for Nixon and Carter to exploit.

Nothing of similar magnitude happened on Trump’s watch, and his initiatives toward Israel were mostly cost-free acts of recognition. His most substantive achievement, the Abraham Accords, required real diplomatic ingenuity, but it’s too early to judge their long-term significance for Israel, or gauge their resilience in crisis conditions. All that’s certain is that as Trump leaves Washington, he has the potential to be remembered as a president who made a historic difference to Israel. But that’s a call only future historians will be positioned to make.

Not the president you’d like to have

So is there some explanatory connection between leaving the White House under a cloud, and having done exceptional good for Israel? Or is it just coincidence?

If there’s a connection, it’s not obvious, at least to me. But even if there isn’t one, there may still be a few lessons here, for both Israelis and American Jews.

In each election cycle, there is much brouhaha over which candidate is the greater “friend of Israel.” But the evidence is that doing right by Israel counts for only so much in American politics. As we’ve seen, a gallant president can rescue Israel from peril or bring its adversaries to the peace table, but neither will compensate for mistakes he makes arising from vanity, arrogance, or miscalculation.

But even a floundering president must protect U.S. strategic interests. And a wounded one is more prone to obsess over posterity’s judgment. It’s in these two realms that helping Israel adds value to a president, and it’s here that Israel and its supporters should focus their appeals. The political payoff for supporting Israel may be negligible, but the other rationales are persuasive, and deserve greater emphasis.

For Israel, it’s vital to remain non-partisan and non-judgmental when it comes to presidents. Not only does Israel have no decisive influence over who will be president. Israel doesn’t fully control the timing of crises that might require presidential intervention.

When that happens, it shouldn’t matter to Israel what controversies or scandals embroil the president. It shouldn’t matter if he’s a self-righteous prig (like Carter) or a “grab ’em by the pussy” bully (like Trump) or even a country-club antisemite (like Nixon). To paraphrase a quotable American, you go to war with the president you have, not the president you’d like to have.

These failings do matter to American Jews: unlike Israelis, they have the right to take sides, pass judgment, and cast votes. But if they care about the well-being of Israel, they shouldn’t busily delegitimate supporters of Israel on the other side of the partisan aisle. It’s self-defeating, because you don’t know whether your hero or your antihero will be in the Oval Office precisely at the moment of crisis for Israel. If it’s not your hero, Israel will have to rely not on you, but on your opponents.

A certain dispassion may be especially hard to maintain when you view the president as insufferable, as many American Jews viewed Nixon, Carter, and Trump. That’s the time to take a deep breath, remember past precedents, and repeat: “The work of the righteous is done by others.”

Cross-posted at Times of Israel, here.

The Trump plan: history doesn’t run in reverse

On February 5, Gregg Roman of the Middle East Forum interviewed me on the Trump plan for Israel and the Palestinians. I’ve written about it elsewhere; in the interview, I offer some further reflections. (If you prefer, click here to listen.)

MEF: What’s your take on the Trump peace plan?

Kramer: Well, the first thing you have to do is separate analysis of the plan from the partisan political atmosphere that prevails the United States today, and just look at the plan on its merits and limitations. I understand that’s hard to do, but it’s really important because otherwise, you’re letting your political prejudice influence your analysis, and we want to neutralize that.

The plan has three key levels of analysis that you could do. There are the assumptions of the plan; there are the principles of the plan; and there are the details of the plan. It’s important not to reverse the order of discussion and get lost in the details before you look at the assumptions and the principles.

The core assumption is that the end of the conflict is important. [Otherwise,] why have a proposal? There have been administrations that didn’t make a proposal. The Obama administration basically dropped the whole issue at one point, and focused elsewhere. The idea that resolving the conflict could have a positive effect on the US position in the Middle East and on Israel’s position in the Middle East, is the basic underlying assumption of this initiative.

There’s a bit of linkage here—in other words, it’s important because it connects with the way the US is perceived in the region and the way Israel is perceived in the region.

So that’s one core assumption. The second core assumption is that you can’t reverse history, history only goes in one direction.

And that’s reflected in the principles. Now there are two key principles here. One is that there’s no way that you’re going to see the massive movement of peoples or parts of peoples as a consequence of, or as an element in, any solution. What does that mean? Anyone who thinks that 80,000, or 50,000, or 20,000 settlers can be removed from settlements under any political constellation which is imaginable in Israel today, is simply dreaming. It’s not going to happen.

And the second, that anyone who imagines that the West Bank or Gaza could absorb other huge numbers of Palestinian refugees—really, descendants of refugees—from other countries, is also dreaming.

So everyone stays in place in this plan. And I think that’s a core principle.

Another core principle—and you can’t get around it—is that the United States remains committed to a two-state solution. It has been since 1947. Even a man now described as Israel’s best friend ever still cannot put a plan on the table that doesn’t highlight two states.

The rest are details. We can discuss the details; [but] I think that they’re the most flexible part of the plan. In fact, Jared Kushner indicated they’re all open to negotiation. I’d say that even includes Jerusalem; it certainly includes the borders that are proposed on the conceptual map.

So, in a way, it’s pointless to get lost in the details at this point. It’s much more important to focus on the assumptions and the principles.

MEF: So let’s talk about the conditioning of the Palestinian people before we even have any principles associated with the peace deal. Because as far as they’re concerned, anything that this president or Benny Gantz or Benjamin Netanyahu offers to them, they’ll say no. A hundred years of Palestinian rejectionism.

And I’m sure you’re familiar with the campaign that the Middle East Forum ran in Israel last summer, associated with our Israel Victory Project: the idea that you can only make peace with defeated enemies, those who recognize a sense of defeat. What’s your take on that idea? Do you think that there’s a way for the Palestinians to give up on sumud, their “steadfastness,” the rejectionism, sarbanut as it’s called in Hebrew, or are we in for this for another hundred years?

Kramer: Look, let me first begin by making a minor correction to the way you described the plan. You called it a “peace plan.” It’s not a peace plan, it’s a partition plan. And a partition plan doesn’t have to be accepted—no partition was ever accepted by the Palestinians—in order to have historic effects. The 1947 plan by the United Nations, which was accepted by the Zionist movement, and was rejected by the Palestinians, still had transformative historic effects: creation of the State of Israel.

What characterizes a partition plan, is that basically it’s a proposal of a third party, looking from the outside, that has some authority, whether it be the British in 1937 when they proposed a partition plan, or the United Nations in 1947, or the United States today. So in a way, the importance of the plan transcends whether either of the parties accepts it.

And I don’t think that the Palestinians can accept it, or will accept it, given the state of their myth-making in their political vision. There are plenty of elements in the plan which Israel really can’t accept either, although Israel will accept the assumptions and the principles without accepting necessarily the details.

But that doesn’t mean that the plan won’t have an effect. The question is, even if the plan is never implemented (and it will never be implemented in all its details), what will be its historic effect?

What will be transformative here for the Palestinians is that they will begin to understand that history only runs in one direction, and the world is moving gradually to an accommodation with the facts of history. The Palestinians haven’t done that. And the reason they haven’t—part of the reason—isn’t just because they’re hidebound. It’s because the world has told them again and again that history can be reversed. Even the United States at various times has told them that history can be reversed. When people stop telling Palestinians that history can be reversed, that is the beginning of wisdom for the Palestinians. That’s the effect of the plan.

And that’s why the plan is so important. It begins with the United States, it will percolate to other states in the West and Arab states, and the Palestinians will begin to understand that their demand for the reversal of history has no support from anyone else.

MEF: You write, in an article that you wrote on the 102nd anniversary of the Balfour plan on October 31 of last year, regarding this issue, that the declaration “did clearly mark the beginning of the end of the Jewish problem as Weizmann and the Zionists understood it: a total absence of power that left the Jews as wanderers, vulnerable and weak.” What will it take to realize, on the Palestinian side, that there is a vacuum of power there, they have no legitimacy in the eyes of many Arab states (in the eyes of the Arab populations, maybe)? They have no ability to tell their leaders what to do unless they openly revolt and even if that happened, the IDF might come in and save those leaders who are providing sort of a Faustian bargain for security as it relates right now to, at least, the West Bank. And they’re suffering; their brand is crisis. How do we get the Palestinians to realize, like the Jews realized—I guess it was 1948, seventy-two years ago now—that the gig is up, you’ve lost, it’s time to develop your own polity not based on rejecting another. How do we get there?

Kramer: Well, you just did it yourself. You have to begin to tell them the truth. Now coming from Martin Kramer, or from you, it will have no effect on them whatsoever. But when they start to hear it from the very same quarters which historically and traditionally have been supportive of their demands, then that will begin to have an effect.

And that’s why, as I’ve argued elsewhere, what’s really important, [in order] for the Trump plan to have that historic effect, [is that it] be marketed to the Europeans, to the Russians, to the Arabs, so that while they may not endorse it—in fact, very few of them will openly endorse it and many will reject it—they will begin to echo some of the assumptions and principles that are in the plan, and go to the Palestinians and say: “Look, we understand why you reject the plan, it’s full of flaws, and so on and so on. But the basic assumptions and principles have some validity.” And when the Palestinians begin to hear that from friends—not from you and me but from their friends—then that will have an effect.

Much of the responsibility for the predicament of the Palestinians today lies not just on them but on their friends, or would-be friends, or supposed friends, who lied to them, misled them and promised they would deliver to them on fantasies, which were completely detached from reality.

I think Jared Kushner wouldn’t see the Trump plan as some unilateral American act. Even the Balfour Declaration was cleared with all Britain’s allies in advance, as I showed that in an earlier study. It was like a Security Council resolution in practice. The US has put this plan on the table. Now what it has to do is, not to get the endorsement of the full plan from anyone, but get other parties to echo elements of its assumptions and principles, and play those back to the Palestinians.