Posted by Curt on 17 September, 2020 at 9:28 am. 2 comments already!



Over the past several years, a new certainty was added to death and taxes: Jared Kushner would fail in his role as the administration’s Middle East point man.

It caused considerable merriment among President Donald Trump’s critics (and even some of his well-wishers) when he put his son-in-law in charge of brokering peace in the Middle East at the outset of his administration.

It was assumed to be ridiculous that Trump had tapped the 39-year-old Kushner, not a diplomat or an expert in the region, for this role and assumed that everything he did afterward was ridiculous, if not nefarious.

Rarely has so much mockery been directed at an approach that, in the event, was methodical, creative, and ultimately achieved a breakthrough.

Kushner did not make peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, but no one else has, either. What he did was find a path for historic deals to normalize relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, with perhaps other Arab countries to follow. If we don’t know how they will turn out, the deals have the potential to transform the strategic environment of the region, isolating and reducing the influence of Iran and of a feckless and corrupt Palestinian political leadership that has served its people poorly.

If you’ve followed the commentary on Kushner’s efforts the past few years, you’d be truly shocked at this outcome.

It wasn’t just that his detractors were skeptical—God knows, the Middle East usually proves optimists wrong.

It wasn’t just that they doubted the administration’s approach—reasonable people can disagree about strategic and tactical questions in a complicated region.

It’s that they took it as a given that Kushner is an idiot and the entire thing was going to be an embarrassing debacle, and made the same point over and over again in the most insulting terms.

They took their disdain for the president as a license to not even attempt to understand, and completely missed the mark as a result.

One of the administration’s projects was crafting a $50 billion economic plan for the Palestinians, then holding a conference in Bahrain promoting it. A piece in the progressive publication Mother Jones about the conference was titled, “Highlights From Jared Kushner’s Bizarre and Fantastical Middle East Peace Conference.” The item repeatedly cited snide tweets from an Economist reporter covering the conference.

When the administration prepared to follow this up with a peace plan, an expert warned in Foreign Policy: “Trump Must Not Let Jared Kushner’s Peace Plan See the Light of Day.” When the plan was released, another expert wrote an analysis for The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “I’m a Veteran Middle East Negotiator. Trump’s Plan is the Most Dangerous I’ve Ever Seen.” A column in the Washington Post declared, “The Trump administration’s new Mideast ‘peace’ plan is absurd.”

Vox ran a disparaging piece with the headline, “Jared Kushner, architect of Trump’s Middle East peace plan, still doesn’t get it.”

New York magazine ran a piece mocking an interview in which Kushner said he’d read a couple of dozen books on the conflict: “Jared Kushner Claims He Can Solve Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Because He’s ‘Read 25 Books on It.’” Kushner also said he’d “spoken to every leader in the region, I’ve spoken to everyone who’s been involved in this.” That would seem to count for at least a little something, but New York dismissed that, as well.

Vanity Fair ran a piece under the headline, “Jared Kushner: Palestinians Have Never Done Anything Right in Their Sad, Pathetic Lives.” The offending statement was a version of the oft-quoted line from the late Israeli diplomat Abba Eban that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity (he originally said the Arabs, but it’s usually quoted as applying to the Palestinians). Then it noted of the video of the Kushner statement, “Don’t worry, there’s footage of Kushner making this statement, so it can be played back for all eternity.”

It seems pretty unlikely that anyone is going to go back to it now.

The critics took great umbrage at Kushner’s admonishing the Palestinians, not realizing that they were beholden to a conventional wisdom that had been eclipsed in the region. The tectonic plates were shifting such that the only path to peace no longer ran through the Palestinians, if it ever did. The frustration that Kushner was expressing about the Palestinian leadership was shared by key Arab leaders.

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