It would be mistaken to reduce the current political conflict in the US to the clash between the current occupant of the White House and the US press establishment.
President Donald Trump, in no time at all since coming to power, has succeeded in antagonising a vast circle of domestic and international parties, the only exception being Zionist circles in the US and in Israel.
Perhaps the friction between Trump and the US press is the clearest aspect of his current crisis because it is so publicised and can be followed daily in the press and on television.
Certainly, too, the recent publication of Bob Woodward’s Fear: Trump in the White House riveted attention on the conflict between the White House and the press, especially given the advanced publicity given to the book and the sensation surrounding it after The Washington Post published a few excerpts that left readers’ mouths agape.
The campaign also included a recording of Trump, himself, speaking on the phone with the veteran journalist who authored the book.
Trump is heard reproaching Woodward for not getting in touch with him to learn his point of view. Woodward responds that he had, in fact, tried to reach the president numerous times and through many different people.
Listening to that recording, I was struck by the considerable respectfulness in Woodward’s voice, which is to be expected from anyone addressing a president even if they are critical of his policies, and by the fact that Woodward informed Trump that he would record their conversation.
In fact, Trump’s crisis extends far beyond the press and media establishment. It involves all minority communities: Latinos, Muslims, Blacks and all immigrant communities. It includes the political establishment and not just the opposition Democratic Party but also a large swathe of the Republic Party.
Internationally, the crisis covers a long list that includes many of the US’s conventional allies, such as Canada and the UK; the Arabs, of course, with exceptions made for certain rulers; and the rest of the Third World.
During his electoral campaign, Trump excelled at playing on the emotions of the American public, especially the non-politicised segments.
His ultranationalist jingoism conjured up the cowboys-against-Indians spirit on which Americans have been nurtured since their childhood through Hollywood films.
In the process, he capitalised on the climate in the US after the 11 September attacks, the failure of the war in Iraq, the Guantanamo scandals and other painful events and setbacks.
However, his strongest weapon was his ability to exploit the widespread rejection of the US political establishment at a time when his electoral rival was Hillary Clinton, a living epitome of that establishment.
Trump chose a path and a method that were riddled with mines and doomed to failure. His opposition to all existing conditions and all influential circles opened endless fronts of conflict, keeping him engaged in numerous battles at the same time.
The only exception was the Jewish front which includes the Zionist lobbies. Trump never locked horns, opposed or criticised these once since coming to the White House in January 2016.
In fact, he threw himself into the embrace of those groups. Perhaps the clearest example of this was his decision to call occupied Jerusalem the eternal capital of Israel.
That step, which none of his predecessors ventured to take, threw into relief how feeble he was with respect to all political forces at home and abroad. At the same time, US Jewish circles were the least critical of Trump, even if they tended a bit to follow the general trend of ridiculing him.
The sarcasm did no harm and made Trump even more dependent on the support of effective Jewish circles.
We had thought that the decision to move the US embassy to occupied Jerusalem was the farthest Trump could go to please the Jews.
But then we were stunned by that inhumane decision to cut US aid to UNRWA which is responsible for meeting the essential needs of at least three million Palestinian refugees.
Trump, with this decision, effectively ordered the physical annihilation of the Palestinian refugees who depend on UNRWA for their survival. As such, this act was no different from the “final solution”, Hitler’s rubric for the orders he issued during World War II calling for the annihilation of Jews in order to put a definitive end to “Jewish question” just as Trump wants to put a definitive end to the “Palestinian question”.
David Ben-Gurion famously said, referring to the refugees: “The old will die and the young will forget.” If the Palestinian dream still remains alive in the hearts of the Palestinian people 70 years after the founder of the Israeli state said that, leaders of that state, today, find it difficult to accept.
They attribute the continuity of the dream of return through new generations of Palestinians to the existence of a relief agency for refugees, the aid from which reminds the recipients that they are refugees living in lands that are not their home.
Accordingly, they believe that cutting that aid will cause the Palestinians to forget their dream and assimilate into their current environments.
But the logic is flagrantly flawed. Many of the refugees have no means for survival outside the support they receive from UNRWA.
They cannot be nationalised in the countries in which they reside and are not allowed to work there which keeps them permanently on the fringes in those countries.
When we add to this Israel’s refusal to grant the Palestinian refugees the right to return to their original homes, we realise that Trump’s purpose in cutting $350 million a year in US aid is to present Israel with the “final solution” to the Palestinian refugee crisis.
Afterwards, Israel will no longer need Trump and it is not unlikely that the Jewish groups in the US will join the rest of Americans who are calling for Trump’s impeachment or dismissal before he completes his first term in office.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 20 September 2018 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: Trump’s final solution for Palestinians