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Trump ‘good for Israel, bad for Jews’: Israel historian

Ilan Pappe, winning author of the Lifetime Achievement Award for his "The Biggest Prison on Earth" at the Palestine Book Awards, 2017 on 24 November, 2017 [Middle East Monitor]
Ilan Pappe, winning author of the Lifetime Achievement Award for his "The Biggest Prison on Earth" at the Palestine Book Awards, 2017 on 24 November, 2017 [Middle East Monitor]

US President Donald Trump’s Middle East policies, especially his unbridled support for Israel, are likely to hurt Jews worldwide, Israeli historian Ilan Pappe told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.

“Outside Israel, the only people who are pro-Israel are those who stand against justice and support racism,” said Pappe, director of the European Center for Palestine Studies at the UK’s Exeter University.

“It’s good for Israel to have Trump, but he’s very bad for Jews all over the world,” he added.

“I tell the Israeli Jews: Now you think Zionism is good for you because you are the privileged ones,” Pappe said. “But in the long run, it will be bad for you.”

Since assuming the presidency in 2016, Trump and his administration have made several decisions seemingly inimical to Arab and Palestinian interests.

These have included cutting aid to the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), unilaterally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, closing the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington, and acknowledging Israel’s right to the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

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Regarding Trump’s so-called “Deal of the Century”, a backchannel US Mideast peace plan, Pappe said: “Trump has driven the last nail into the coffin of the two-state solution. This will be better understood once we know the terms of the deal.”

Details of the “Deal of the Century” remain vague. But according to recent statements by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, the plan would give Israel significant parts of the West Bank that are considered “occupied territory” under international law.

“Some people, especially those in the occupied West Bank, wrongly believe that a two-state solution would end Israel’s control over the land,” Pappe said.

“But they will soon realize this isn’t the case,” he added. “We’re dealing with an apartheid state [i.e., Israel] all over historical Palestine.”

Rising extremism

Regarding last month’s elections in Israel, in which Benjamin Netanyahu secured a fifth term as prime minister and leftist parties performed worse than expected, Pappe said: “You cannot be a leftist and a Zionist.”

He added: “This is the inevitable outcome of the Zionist idea. You can’t be a leftist and a Zionist; you can’t be a leftist and a colonizer. You’re either an oppressor and colonizer or you’re not.”

In the April 9 poll, Israel’s leading leftist parties — Labor and Meretz — only managed to capture 10 out of 120 seats in the Knesset (Israel’s parliament).

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Pappe believes the recent ascension of right-wing extremist parties in Israel has revealed “the true face of the [Zionist] project embraced by the majority of Israeli Jews”.

“Unfortunately, most of them believe it’s better to be a racist ethnic state than a democratic one,” he said. “The notion of a [two-state solution] was totally defeated in this election.”

“We no longer hear anything about ‘liberal Zionists’ or ‘Jewish democracy’, which don’t really exist,” the historian added.

Israel, Pappe continued, “has nothing to do with ‘Jewish values’. It’s an ideological ethnic state based on power and oppression”.

Gaza

Since March of last year, Palestinians have been holding weekly rallies along the Gaza-Israel buffer zone to demand their right to return to historical Palestine, from which they were expelled by Zionist forces in 1948.

They also demand an end to Israel’s 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.

Since the rallies began more than one year ago, more than 270 Palestinian demonstrators have been killed — and thousands more injured — by Israeli army gunfire.

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For Pappe, however, the ongoing Gaza protests have served to create a new balance of power — one which Israel “doesn’t really know how to deal with”.

“The Israel army… doesn’t know how to confront this phenomenon, which clearly resonates with the Palestinian public and Palestinian youth,” he said.

The Gaza protests are “a model for all of us”, Pappe told Anadolu Agency, adding that the rallies had served to expose “the limits of the region’s strongest military power”.

“When people are this determined,” he said, “you can’t stop them with F-16s.”

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