Protesting Trump in Israel. Photo by Oded Balilty/AP
Oh, the ruinous phantasmagoria of our moron set loose in the world as a faux-statesman. In two short days, Drumpf careened from a cringeworthy, typo-filled White House statement setting out his goals in the Middle East - “Promote the possibility of lasting peach” - to a gold-encrusted, arms-dealing visit to Saudi Arabia of which he later grandly declared, "They say there's never been anything like it ever before," to a viral landing in Israel where Melania refused to take his teeny hand in what became known as "the swat heard round the world," to bumbling gaffe-laden press conferences with Israeli officials where he a. proclaimed he'd "just come back from the Middle East (the face-palm guy on the couch is all of us), b. boasted one of his advisers "loves Israel so much" he “left a very, very, very substantial job" to be there, and c. inadvertently admitted he did in fact give classified intelligence to the Russians by blurting out the unscripted pronouncement that, "I never mentioned the word or the name Israel" though “they are all saying I did" - which, actually, nobody had said before he said he didn't.
There was also the ghastly spectacle of a "giant hate carrot" awkwardly bowing before the Western Wall before slipping into one of the world's most holy sites what online observers speculated were his unholy requests for, perhaps, pussy, or chocolate cake, or an even yuger wall to keep out Mexicans, or a break from all this bigly hard presidenting, and a 15-minute visit to Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Museum, where he exuberantly wrote in the Book of Remembrance, evidently mistaking it for a Bar Mitzvah guest book, that he had an "amazing" time "with all of my friends." There was Trump breezing through the West Bank for an hour-long photo-op, mumbling platitudes about peace, oblivious of widespread protests, sit-ins, ongoing abuses and the hunger strike of 1,500 Palestinian prisoners denied all basic human rights.
Palestinians were rightly said to be underwhelmed by Trump's cursory visit, calling it "public relations and nothing more." "For us, nothing has changed yet,” said Abu Sada. “Things on the ground are still the same.” Most egregiously, what our idiot abroad utterly, obscenely fails to comprehend is what constitutes "things on the ground." It is the letter just penned to him by the grieving families of hunger strikers facing death, asking him to help end "the Israeli war against our children, our homes, our land, our existence and our rights (so) that our children are not abandoned to die in the occupation jails (of) a nation held captive." It is the Israeli settler gleefully handing out candy to passers-by to celebrate the shooting - one killed, one injured - of two Palestinian supporters of the strikers. It is Palestinians facing what could be the biggest mass expulsion in years from Jerusalem, again by right-wing settlers. It is a long-beleaguered Gaza on the brink of what has been called "systemic collapse" from electricity and other shortages.
And it is the ongoing effort in the South Hebron hills by about 300 Israeli, Palestinian and diaspora Jewish activists to rebuild the former Palestinian village of Sarura - to reclaim the land for Palestinians - by establishing a Freedom Camp there. Organized by a coalition of groups - including the Center for Jewish Nonviolence, Combatants for Peace, Youth Against Settlements, All That’s Left Collective, IfNotNow and local Palestinian committees - the camp was demolished by IDF forces on the eve of Trump's visit, but activists have vowed to continue non-violent resistance to "turn harm into healing." They have dubbed the action #WeAreSumud - sumud is Arabic for “steadfastness” - in part to mark what in June will be 50 years of the Occupation, or what organizers are calling "50 Years Too Many." It is the grim reality of that 50 years of occupation that Trump, while babbling and bowing and "more peculiar" than those before him, will not touch; he barely knows it exists, despite it being the ugly legacy of those who came before him. In a blistering mock tribute to America, Gideon Levy thanks the U.S. for the money, the weapons, the support and the denial over lo these 50 bloodied years. America, he writes, "will continue to be the senior partner in one of the basest of enterprises in the world...Israel is guilty, but America made it possible."
We Are Sumud. Photo by ActiveStills
Protesting Trump in the West Bank; the sign slams U.S. policy "shameful to humanity." Photo by Abbas Momani, AFP/Getty
Trump has so many words. Bar mitzvah invite or grade 6 yearbook?