Trump’s “Deceit of the Century” is a masterpiece in up-ending facts, re-framing history, rubbishing international law and norms, blaming the Palestinians, and blindly taking sides with colonial occupying Israel. A remarkable aspect of its text is reflected in the “art” of its wording, fashioning phrases and ignoring standard terminology pertaining to the occupation of Palestine as used and acknowledged by the United Nations and other international bodies. Analysing the entire text from this perspective requires a much larger space than would be allowed in a short article. What follows thus gives attention only to the general description, “The Deal of the Century” and the formal title itself: “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People.”
To start with, the use of the phrase “Deal of the Century,” with all of its used-car lot business-laden connotation, is strange enough in a situation where a near-century long conflict with horrendous casualties has plagued the region. To pervert legitimate national rights and aspirations, the occupation of homelands and expulsion of half of the Palestinian people from their historic territory into a form of some “traded deal” is disparaging, to say the least. Even if a “deal” were to be undertaken, this “Deal of the Century” manages to exclude one of the two principal “dealers,” the Palestinians. Even so, the sound and heavy implications of the term “deal” harbour a hidden message that there is some great “opportunity” that needs to be grasped. And of course, the Palestinians are going to be the ones to miss out on this “opportunity” one more time. A “deal” is assumed to have been negotiated between equal partners, which is of course, not the case here.
The other no less key part of the descriptive phrase is the “of the Century.” This cheap phraseology seeks to create maximum impact, amplifying its own alleged determination to settle once and for all the “Most Intractable Conflict in the World.” With eighty more years of the current century to go, it indeed seems pompous to preclude or forestall any possible more important “deals” than this one yet to even happen. All this deliberate grandiose (and hackneyed) language is designed to conceal the hollowness of the content, no more.
Turning to the official title of the “deal,” “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People,” reveals more important and substantive deceptive tactics. The title avoids the inclusion of any reference to the Israeli military occupation of Palestine or even the “conflict” in general. The vagueness of “Peace to Prosperity” could apply to any situation in the world, especially not one based on a conflict that is rooted in the occupation by one party, of lands of another party, never mind the complete utter political and economic repression of that occupied party. More importantly, what comes after the semi-colon implies an equitable need to “improve” the lives of both the Palestinians and the Israelis. Lumping the lives of both parties under the same “need” of improvement is completely misleading and indeed dishonestly sinister. The miserable life of Palestinians is by no means comparable to the life of Israelis (which is on a complete par with Western societies). Such a vast gap between the lives of two groups is thus buried in just those few words. The asymmetrical and structural binary of the colonised and the colonising is also entirely squared up as if levelled. What is embedded in the title is thus a clear message that the conditions of the two groups are similar (in suffering) and that is what this “vision” is nobly alleviating!
The formal title suggests that the “deal” embarks first from the phase of “peace” to delve into the more advanced phases of “prosperity.” It does not mention the a priori and much-needed phase which is the resolution of the conflict itself. It is, in fact, a faithful reflection of the content of this “deal,” that it considers the status quo as its departure point, contentedly accepting as rote the “facts on the ground" of the Israeli occupation and control of the lives of the Palestinians, the legalized Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and more annexed Palestinian land by Israel. Effectively, “peace” here refers, as outlined in the further content of the document, to the maintenance of Israeli security through the subjugation of the Palestinians. This content states clearly that the “vision” is security-driven, where envisioning the Palestinians as functionaries of that security is indeed the starting and ending point. Not surprisingly, the security of the Palestinian people is hardly mentioned, and no measures stipulated by the “deal” regarding this side of the “equation” are spelt out. On the contrary, one of the most discriminatory and racist articles of the “deal” prohibits (the disarmed and demilitarized) Palestinians from appealing to the International Criminal Court or any other international mechanism to complain about any Israeli action against them, or violations of their security.
The official title of the document uses the description “people” in a puzzling and disingenuous manner: “to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People,” italic added. Typically, the Israeli (and by extension the American) political discourse avoids as much as it can attaching the term “people” to the Palestinians, preferring at all times the generic and less “nationhood” term “Palestinians.” The text of the “deal” adheres to this practice markedly; with the sub-heading of “Section Three” of the document entitled “A vision for peace between the state of Israel, the Palestinians and the region.” It appears that the drafters of the document faced some dilemma in deciding the most appropriate words to be used where some reference to the Palestinian people was expected to be included. If they decided on the standard single-word description “Palestinians” then it would have seemed imperative to use the equivalent term “Israelis” so that balance and logic is maintained in the wording. In not including the term “people” in the description of the Palestinians, it should have required dropping the same term “people” when referring to the Israelis; however, that would have, of course, reduced the “nationhood” mark of the term “Israeli people.” Even at this starting point, there is an avoidance of a clear reference to a “Palestinian people” that would place them at the same level as the “Israeli people.” The title does not say: “Improve the lives of the Palestinian people and Israeli people,” treating them as equal players in this conflict requiring a peace plan in the first place; instead (and this is completely disingenuous) it slurs them together as if they were some uncontested single entity “the Palestinian and Israeli people,” peaceably homogenized into some equally participating, equally endowed nation-group. Surely, it is not because the drafters believed that any repetitive use of the word “people” in a short heading would look slightly awkward and not neat. Political significance should clearly override any consideration for neatness in so “historic” a document.
It is doubtable that the drafters of this text worried overlong over seemingly not elevating the Palestinians to being a “people,” while never downgrading the “Israeli people” to mere “Israelis.” However, their solution to this dilemma as shown in the final title comprises a couple of tepid tactical moves. The first is to place the word “Palestinian” (not Palestinians) before the word “Israelis” or Israeli people. This in itself is at odds with the standard American and Israeli practice that always mentions Israel/Israelis before Palestine/Palestinians. (However, mind you that the very first line of the introduction to the document reverts utterly to that practice by stating “Israelis and the Palestinians have both suffered greatly…” and as such reads the rest of the entire document.) Any reader of the title will get the direct or indirect message of the adjacent words: “Israeli people.” The word Palestinian is never coupled independently with the word “people.” This message is confirmed further by, a second tactic, that is the use of the singular form to describe the Palestinians and Israelis–as a “people” not two “peoples” (“A vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People”). Avoiding the plural form maintains the unequal status between the two groups, stressing the “people-ness” of the Israelis and the “people-lessness” of the Palestinians. Or even more insincere, does the use of the singular “people” in the title above attempt to give the misleading impression that the Palestinians and Israelis are “one people,” united by homogenous equality? Using the plural “lives” should lead to the logical completion of the sentence by using the plural “peoples,” but it never does. However, this title, and the 181-page document that follows it, has been trumped up for the sake of reinforcing the degrading political status of the Palestinians.