Sunday, March 1, 2020

The Elections are Coming!

It is a sad commentary on the state of the Palestinians and their struggle for freedom that articles written more than thirty-five years ago are just as relevant and applicable to their plight today as they were the day they were written. In the November/December 1983 issue of Palestine Perspectives, Muhammad Hallaj wrote the following commentary:
It is often said that the presidential election season is a time of paralysis for American foreign policy. This may be true in some areas of U.S. foreign policy, but certainly not in the Middle East. American policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict does not suffer from paralysis, but instead becomes gripped with a fit of epilepsy.
This pathetic seasonal phenomenon has already made its appearance in preparation for the coming elections. The various contestants, whether they are guarding their jobs or grabbing for them, have already begun to pay homage to Greater Israel. Although we have become somewhat accustomed to this irresponsible ritual, occasionally we are still shocked by how far some candidates go in sacrificing America's interests and integrity in their chase after votes and campaign money. 
This piece was written in response to a speech by Senator John Glenn to the Foreign Policy Association in New York. Dr Hallaj summarized the main thrust of the speech as "an attack on the concept of 'evenhandedness' in U.S. Middle East Policy. He [Senator Glenn] charged that evenhandedness means a 'tilt away from Israel,' as if that were a self-evident evil."

Those words were penned as the nation prepared for the 1984 elections. Today we are preparing for the 2020 elections. Decades have passed, yet in the midst of it all, American policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict suffers another seizure. The new Middle East Peace Plan is introduced by none other than Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel. It is a plan tilted so far toward Israel that even The New York Times cannot ignore the tilt.
Mr. Trump vowed at the start of his presidency that he would negotiate a “bigger and better deal” to broker peace than anyone could imagine. Three years later, experts say that the plan, developed under the supervision of Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, falls remarkably short of that goal and is unlikely ever to become the basis for a peace agreement. 

 What is that saying? The more things change, the more they remain the same.
The phrase was coined by French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

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