Dear President Trump,
At the outset, I must admit that as a Palestinian whose people have long suffered from a blatantly biased American foreign policy, some of the statements you repeatedly pronounced during the election campaign resonated well with me, most notably those referring to special interest corruption and to the power of insiders in Washington.
Watching the American political scene at arm’s length from the serenity of Switzerland, I am struck by the influence and power of lobbyists in the U.S.
The pivotal role they play, especially in relation to foreign affairs closely resembles a form of legalized corruption.
Crucial decisions have sometimes been taken by the U.S. administration in accordance with the narrow interests of this or that lobby and its cohorts, and not as an expression of cherished American values, international law, or wider national interests.
As a Palestinian, the declaration I cheered most, was your reproachful reference to the abusive influence of such pressure groups.
One of these lobbies, Mr. President, the so-called pro-Israel lobby, known then as the Zionist lobby, changed the course of history for Palestinians when it succeeded in rallying a reluctant Truman administration to support a non-binding UN General Assembly resolution calling for the partition of Palestine in 1947 and allotting the Jewish minority 55 percent of the land.
At that time, Jews represented 32 percent of the population and only one-third of them were born in Palestine.
President Truman’s initial reaction was to reject the idea of creating a Jewish state or any religious state.
Unfortunately, he was then subjected to intense pressure from Zionist groups that forced him to back down and reverse his policy.
This is how President Truman referred to that episode in his memoirs:
The facts were that not only were there pressure movements around the United Nations unlike anything that had been seen there before, but that the White House, too, was subjected to a constant barrage. I do not think I ever had as much pressure and propaganda aimed at the White House as I had in this instance. The persistence of a few of the extreme Zionist leaders—actuated by political motives and engaging in political threats—disturbed and annoyed me.
The UN non-binding vote in November 1947 was followed by a systematic ethnic cleansing campaign that involved the destruction of more than 500 Palestinian villages, a number of massacres, and the forced eviction of approximately 750,000 Muslim and Christian Palestinians.
The Zionist movement then declared the creation of the state of Israel in May 1948.
Israel was founded on a fundamental injustice that was committed against the Palestinian people. That is why though Israel, a nuclear power, now controls all of historic Palestine and has evolved to be a regional power with one of the most powerful and sophisticated armies in the world, it still considers itself far from secure.
Only a solution with the Palestinian people grounded in universal principles of justice would bring true security to Israel and its neighbours.
To be fair, such a solution must allow for a Palestinian state to be created on the pre-1967 borders and for Israel to accept the Palestinian refugees’ right of return to the 23 percent of territory it added to the 55 percent area allocated to it by the 1947 UN Partition Plan. A comprehensive and lasting peace accord should also provide equitable compensations to the refugees from the remaining areas that fell under Israeli control in 1948.
With the possible exception of John F. Kennedy - who favoured the right of return to the Palestinian refugees- and Dwight D. Eisenhower - who rejected Israel’s expansionist policies and forced it to withdraw from the territories it occupied during the tripartite aggression against Egypt in 1956-; all American presidents that succeeded Truman have somehow managed to overlook the central point of justice in their stratagem about Israel and its conflict with the Palestinians.
You are the first American president this century that does not arrive at the White House with the domineering yoke of pressure groups. That places you in a unique position to exercise your personal acumen and freely seek a lasting resolution to the painful Israeli-Palestinian conflict with impartiality and fairness.
There are now approximately 10 million Palestinians scattered all over the world, half of whom live under Israeli occupation. They are active in all walks of life. There are Palestinian academics, scientists, artists, musicians, architects, entrepreneurs, sportspersons, bankers, farmers, and workers; in brief, all the makings of a modern society.
They also have all the attributes of a nation. They speak the same language, share a common history, and identify with the same country.
They have been longing to exercise their right of self-determination since the days of Woodrow Wilson.
Since the creation of Israel, peace has been absent from the lives of Palestinians and Israelis while violence has too often brought a premature and tragic end to the lives of many among them.
Mr. Trump. It would be wonderful if, as you have recently told The New York Times, you would be the president who finally succeeds in bringing true peace between these two Semitic tribes.