Opinion: Israel-UAE Deal

Official White House photo by Tina Dufour. From whitehouse.gov.

In September, U.S. president Donald Trump brokered a deal between Israel, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain that some media observers pounced on for political opportunity. On the right, followers of the president held critical acclaim, saying he brought “peace to the Middle East.” Some even believed Trump deserved a peace prize. On the other side, liberals gathered to demonize the president for signing a deal that was “good, but not good enough.” However, the domestic political discourse distorts the violence occurring within and on Israel’s borders, with the most forgotten group in this conversation being the Palestinian people. 

Trump’s “peace” deal did not stop Israeli construction crews and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) violently removing 422 Palestinians from  389 homes (just between March and August), according to an article by the Human Rights Watch. As Trump signs this deal and the world smiles at a ceremony of peace, hundreds of Palestinians destroyed their own homes as ordered by the expanding state of Israel. 

What should also be important to note is that the UAE-Israel deal is not unique to Trump’s presidency, but rather consistent with U.S. foreign policy. According to Foreign and Defense Policy researcher Kenneth Pollack, “The United States has been urging its Arab allies to normalize relations with the state of Israel since its founding, so this is a plus for American foreign policy.” Additionally, Pollack theorizes a key factor in motivating the U.S. to strengthen Arab-Israeli ties is its main enemy in the region: Iran. What is now clear is that our motivations are unhinged from peace or nonviolence, but rather a coalition of allies to combat Iran and the wider economic benefits of war in the Middle East.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presides over a state that international human rights organizations, namely Human Rights Watch, have condemned as “entrenched [in] discriminatory systems that treat Palestinians unequally.” During his most recent campaign trail for reelection, the prime minister declared, “Arabs want to annihilate us all. Women, children and men,” a xenophobic sentiment eminating from the Zionist movement. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Israel maintained traffic blocks and economic pressures on the limping state of Palestine. In late May, an autistic Palestinian civilian was fatally shot by IDF border security troops. Again in June, border police shot and killed a Palestinian worker driving between checkpoints after he’d crashed his car. Countless other Palestinian civilians, not terrorists, have been murdered due to the incompetance and racism generated by the state of Israel. 

What Americans thousands of miles away cannot see is the material reality of native communities of Palestinians being destroyed. Media and politicians on both sides champion the president accomplishing arbitrary peace between wealthy elites while innocent people still die, and newer generations of children become radicalized into human bombs. 

What was accomplished was not peace, rather another move in the incessant western game of “good guy versus bad guy” in which we made alliances to stand up to the boogeyman-Iran. In hopes of escaping the Holocaust, we exported this violence onto another group.

Written By: Zeshan Monks-Husain