Hasbara culture Will Be Trump’s Greatest Adversary in Quest For “Ultimate Deal” & Israeli Palestinian Peace

It is widely assumed that the biggest challenge to Trump’s ambitious “ultimate deal” for Israeli- Palestinian peace is his ignorance of the myriad contentious issues involved. How can the ill-suited Trump succeed where the most determined, skilled experienced and dedicated diplomats have all been stymied, the political experts ask? But the true success and failure of the deal can be better identified by a Trump flip flop over a tweet, rather than whatever inadequacies this president might have.

Last week after hosting Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the White house, Trump tweeted it “was an honor to host Mahmoud Abbas at the WH today.” The next day that tweet was deleted. Then two days later the WH put out a statement that “the president stands by the original message that indeed it was “an honor” for him to host Abbas in the White House.

The biggest challenge to Trump and his ultimate deal will be changing the public’s mind about the Palestinian people and their leadership. The fact that even showing a simple courtesy to Abbas was controversial demonstrates the scale of the challenge. As a regular Fox news viewer Trump should realize why “honoring” Abbas might offend some. Netanyahu’s message that the Palestinians are “not partners for peace” is the only message heard there. And it needs emphasizing that for him and Fox the “no partner” premise is not based on Palestinian stubborn negotiating positions but on the very nature of the Palestinian people and their national movement. But Fox is not alone. The public relations campaign to demonize the Palestinians has been very successful.

The reason Netanyahu claims the “conflict persists,” and the occupation is reaching its 50th year, is because Palestinian fathers don’t love their kids, the Mufti of Jerusalem came up with the idea of the Holocaust and even today Palestinians are interested in ethnic cleansing Jews. If the Palestinians were like everyone else an agreement would have been reached long ago.

Netanyahu’s message is compelling. He is telling his audience the way things really are, absent the “political correctness” that’s clouding their judgment. Netanyahu is imparting some uncomfortable and difficult truths. The world isn’t the way gullible liberals want it to be. Netanyahu offers “moral clarity” that many feel is missing in the world.

The result of the demonization of the Palestinian people, and the inability or unwillingness to see there is another side to the conflict but theirs, has led the Israeli and Jewish right wing to misunderstand Donald Trump. When ideologues believe their arguments and positions are hallowed then there is little gray area how the world gets divided. Thus, when Trump named David Friedman his ambassador the Israeli right wing was euphoric. It was natural for hasbara culture to believe that it wasn’t a calculated political move, but said something deeper about Trump. It was assumed that Trump must share Friedman’s Manichean view of the Palestinians and their “worse than Kapo” Jewish sympathizers.

But on the issue of peace between Israel and Palestine Donald Trump lives in the real world, and he is not the ideologue many assume he is. And the real world is very different than the one hasbara culture paints. The serious Israelis and Jews with whom Trump speaks to and trusts tell him a two-state solution is imperative for Israel’s national interest and future wellbeing. Trump also hears from his own serious “America first” people that the ultimate deal is in America and the rest of the worlds interest as well.

As it becomes evident how hell bent on his ultimate deal Donald Trump is, some things can be anticipated. Naftali Bennett will use Netanyahu’s own hasbara tropes against him to capitalize on Netanyahu’s predicament to become leader of the Israeli right. (and rejectionist front.) Because it’s just too risky for Netanyahu to publicly question the mercurial Trumps optimism about an agreement being reached. But Naftali Bennett behavior, which is cultivating and energizing opposition to Trump goals, will likely lead to a Trump undiplomatic response to Bennett before long.

Another thing to count on is it won’t be Trump who will be blamed for his supposed messianic delusion about peace. Rather the Jews closest to Trump will be accused by “hasbara culture” deal opponents of being sellouts and betrayers. They will sooner blame Ronald Lauder, Jason Greenblatt, Kushner or others who might have Trumps ear, rather than confront reality that Trump is not a hasbara culture true believer.

In his article “Can Netanyahu outmaneuver Trump?” Ben Caspit makes the point that

“Trump, as opposed to Obama, does not live in the orderly world of checks and balances that usually govern American presidents with everything connected to Israel. Instead, the new president does what he feels like. He is not beholden to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. He does not fear the Jewish lobby. He is not susceptible to the sophisticated restraint systems that Israel created for American presidents in recent decades.”

Therefore, when it comes to Trumps ultimate deal, it follows that his “authoritarian” tendencies might achieve results. Trump doesn’t have the political or personality” restraints” that have handicapped other presidents. But it’s the fabricated Manichean hasbara culture narrative about the Palestinian people that is going to be the very determined Donald Trump biggest political foe on his ultimate deal journey.

And it’s not only Netanyahu who shares his perspective on these issues in this way. One sees the same tendency in the American discourse on the I/P conflict. And with Netanyahu himself not being able to aggressively oppose the deal it will be left to his hasbara culture morally enlightened allies in America, to galvanize Jewish & republican political opposition against Trump’s effort. And the way that will be done will be by using hasbara culture as a weapon against Trump and his ideas. Let’s look at a concrete example of what Trump will be facing.

Take the question; what’s motivating young Palestinians to start stabbing unsuspecting Israelis, in what’s come to be called the “Knife intifada?” What do the Israeli experts say is the cause of the “knife intifada?” The security of the state Israel dictates the answer to this question be as precise as possible.

“the Shin Bet said that most of the attackers were motivated by “personal issues,” notably “a dire personal or financial situation.” Only some of the attacks were carried out due to “nationalistic motives,” the Shin Bet said.”

The Israeli security agency Shin Bet is describing “suicide by IDF” as another recent IDF report also concluded.

Palestinians who want to end their life, for whatever individual reason, become a somebody in Palestinian society, if killed by the IDF.

This video shows what such a suicide attempt looks like:

Note according to the Shin Bet only “some” of the attacks were due to “nationalistic motives.”

Now let’s look how new NYT hire Bret Stephens describes these same Palestinian attacks.

In “Palestine: The Psychotic Stage” Bret Stephens promises the reader:

“The truth about why Palestinians have been seized by their present blood lust.”

This is his answer:

The significant question is why so many Palestinians have been seized by their present blood lust — by a communal psychosis in which plunging knives into the necks of Jewish women, children, soldiers and civilians is a religious and patriotic duty, a moral fulfillment. Despair at the state of the peace process, or the economy? Please. It’s time to stop furnishing Palestinians with the excuses they barely bother making for themselves.
Above all, it’s time to give hatred its due. We understand its explanatory power when it comes to American slavery, or the Holocaust. We understand it especially when it is the hatred of the powerful against the weak. Yet we fail to see it when the hatred disturbs comforting fictions about all people being basically good, or wanting the same things for their children, or being capable of empathy. Today in Israel, Palestinians are in the midst of a campaign to knife Jews to death, one at a time. This is psychotic. It is evil. To call it anything less is to serve as an apologist, and an accomplice.

Like Netanyahu, Bret Stephens is offering hard truth about the world that do-gooder liberal “deep thinkers” don’t have the mettle or “moral clarity” to acknowledge.

But this Palestinian “psychotic stage” with its Jewish blood fetish is a comforting lie. Contrast the shin bet reality with Stephens “truth.” They say that only “some” of the attacks have “nationalistic motives.” And the nationalistic motives are not anti-Semitic motives to Israeli intelligence. The Palestinian violence is not a deep riddle to them that needs “anti-Semitism” to solve. Israeli experts must discover the truth about the world. They must role take with Palestinians, they must see the Palestinian perspective or they would not be doing their job.

But in the American discourse it’s not the Shin Bet but Bret Stephens perspective that’s considered “expert.” For the people, most receptive to this narrative about the Israeli/Palestinian reality, the “truths” that Stephens readers nod to, fall into an already robust social construction of reality about Palestinian and their allies’ motives:

This hasbara is so effective that susceptible armchair public intellectuals are enticed by its Manichean simplicity.

Like the Fox viewer the I/P conflict as part of some broader war against “radical Islam” comfortably fits same anti-PC narrative for even supposedly more sophisticated observers. As we can see Mr. Trump is up against a formidable “sacred” social construction of reality about the I/P conflict he will need to confront

Even more so than the United States the constant Manichean demonization of Palestinians has shaped Israeli political culture and society.

Israeli political culture has become hasbara culture. The public relations effort asserting Palestinians are different than other people under occupation finds a receptive population.

That is the explanation for the short 18-month sentence for the Elor Azaria killing of the prone Abed al-Fattah al-Sharif on a Hebron street in March 2016. And so, powerful is Netanyahu’s and his gov’t “sacred” narrative to the Israeli body politic that even “liberal” politicians find it politically expedient to call for a pardon for the unrepentant Azaria. Because the core of Netanyahu and his gov’t argument is: we are good and the Palestinians are evil. And in this Manichean equation, those that aren’t on Netanyahu side are on the taboo- Palestinian side. That’s behind the “leftists” and extreme Kapo language that’s hurled at those that treat Palestinian like they have a legitimate perspective, worthy of empathy.

The mindset that Palestinians are not like everyone else explains the extreme “populism” and its concomitant legislation that one can read about in the pages of Haaretz every day. Israeli political culture operates like it “knows” Israel has no partner for peace. In this sacred zero sum game against Palestinian nationalism every perceived “Zionist” win is a loss for the wicked other side.

Fear of offending the sacred side of this Manichean construct by seeing things from the taboo Palestinian vantage point, has resulted in denying reality. It’s why even the word “occupation” has become anathema. It was omitted from both political party’s platform last summer and its becoming a dirty word in the Jewish community.

Palestinian violence as a natural reaction to a brutal never ending Israeli occupation can’t even be acknowledged. And that’s because there is only one side to the Zionist Palestinian encounter and other perspectives are taboo. It’s also the ideological explanation for the weekly ritual of Netanyahu lashing out at the “world” when it tries to see things through Palestinian eyes as well as Israelis. In these cultural conditions, it’s left to “fringe” newspaper Haaretz to report from reality, and try to understand Palestinian behavior from the Palestinian perspective not the projection of hasbara culture.

It is no surprise that in this environment astute observers are taken aback by the nonchalant Jewish Israeli’s lack of empathy for Palestinian suffering. It’s because if the Palestinians are who Netanyahu and his ilk say they are, Israeli self-preservation dictates that Jewish Israelis not role-take with them.

Which brings us back to Donald Trump and his ultimate deal. In a sense, Trump job is simple, convince Americans and Israelis what every ex-Mossad head is shouting about; it is imperative that Israel achieve a two-state solution before it is too late. And it’s truly ironic that the reason the in this case honest Mr. Trump will have such a difficult time selling the very favorable merits of his ultimate deal is that in Netanyahu & Naftali Bennett he will be opposed by more effective dissemblers than even himself.