As though we had any ground for doubt heretofore, we can now clearly see – in light of his end to $350 million
in annual humanitarian assistance to five million Palestinian refugees – Donald Trump’s cruel and spiteful nature.
It was not enough to stack the so-called peace process against the Palestinians in every possible way, not least by appointing unabashed Israeli partisans as his envoys. It was not enough to give Israel a pass when it murdered noncombatants in Gaza and practiced apartheid in the West Bank. It was not enough to rub the Palestinians’ noses in their powerlessness by mocking their dream of East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestine.
No, he also had to deny the hapless and homeless refugees – victims of the Nakba, Israel’s systematic ethnic cleansing and expulsion of the Palestinians from their ancestral home in 1948 and again in 1967 – food, medicine, and, for their children, education through the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, UNRWA. (This is a reversal of Trump’s position of last year.) Just before that he cut $200 million in other Palestinian aid, including to the Israeli-besieged Gaza Strip prison, where half the population is under 18.
Indeed, Trump went still further by seeking to have most refugees declared nonrefugees (and therefore ineligible for a right of return to Palestine), defining them out of existence with the wave of a hand. He’s attempted, as Geoffrey Aronson put it, to “remove Palestinians from the diplomatic and humanitarian equation.” Of course, if he were to accomplish this end, it would relieve Israel’s rulers and military, as well as its pre-independence leaders and militias, of culpability for their crimes.
Some blame victims; others – like Trump and his ilk – pretend the victims don’t exist. Anyone who attempted something like this with respect to, say, Jews would properly have been denounced by all decent people.
Donald Trump is many things. What he is not is a mensch. But we knew that. This is the same guy who seizes children from parents (who lack government papers), seeks to kick people out of the country who were brought here “illegally” many years ago as children, and strives to deport even Americans with papers whom his administration eyes with suspicion.
A mensch does not act as though millions of people disappear merely because he chooses to ignore them. But Trump acts just that way, just as he acts as though the issue of East Jerusalem could be expected to go away simply by his moving the American embassy to Jerusalem and decreeing it the unified and eternal capital of the State of the Jewish People (anywhere and everywhere), that is, by taking Jerusalem, as he says, “off the table” – as though he had the power to do that. (“So let it be written. So let it be done.”) Modified from S. Richman