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What will be Trump’s next step on the Israeli-Palestinian front?

Egyptian Jewish activist Levana Zamir believes that Trump’s next move will be to set up an international fund to compensate both Jewish and Arab refugees from the 1948 Israeli War of Independence.

In recent days, US President Donald Trump has taken a number of steps in favor of the State of Israel. Firstly, he relocated the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Afterwards, he cut off funding to UNRWA and the Palestinian Authority without exempting US aid to Palestinian hospitals. And in recent days, Abu Mazen announced that the deal of the century includes the Palestinians being offered a confederation with Jordan, an idea that was rejected by the Hashemite Monarchy and which Abu Mazen was also not too enthusiastic about. Now, the US Department of Education on Civil Rights will be investigating how anti-Israel groups have promoted anti-Semitism at Rutgers University. After taking all of these pro-Israel steps, one must ponder, what unconventional step will Trump take next on the Israeli-Palestinian front?

Between 1948 and the 1960’s, approximately one million Jews were either compelled to flee the Muslim world or suffered from a wave of anti-Semitic violence that prompted them to leave their homes in the Muslim world. Some Jews in countries like Iraq and Egypt were outright expelled. Others in places like Morocco were not expelled but nevertheless suffered intense anti-Semitism that made it impossible to continue living there. As Moroccan Jewish activist Dina Levin explained, “The Jews had no protection. Arabs used to throw stones at us but if Jews did the same in return, they would be imprisoned. The Arabs did not give us a good life. In Morocco, there was a verdict that Jews could not walk with shoes outside of the ghetto. It existed for 400 years.” Furthermore, after the State of Israel was established, what was a horrific situation became even worse. There were a series of pogroms and outright massacres against Jews across the Arab world. In places like Iraq, many Jewish women were raped during these pogroms.

Given that there were two groups of refugees from 1948 and not one, Egyptian Jewish activist Levana Zamir is advocating that Trump’s next move should be to set up a special fund in order to help Jewish refugees from Arab countries and also the descendants of Palestinian refugees to receive financial compensation. According to her, supporting such a compensation fund goes hand and hand with cutting off funding to UNRWA: “They hope in the UNRWA schools that they will have the right of return ASAP and it is only temporary for them. UNRWA is helping them to continue as refugees instead of doing what we did, to leave the camps, to study and to work. Most of the UNRWA money goes to munitions and other things.”

“We began with this more than a year ago by speaking to MK Anat Berko,” Zamir noted. “She was the first to hear from us to stop UNRWA for we have the same rights as them. We asked her to speak out for an international compensation for us and the Palestinian refugees instead of having the world support UNRWA. She asked the Israeli Minister of Agriculture about our compensation. He told her that I am sending a letter to Bibi to talk to him about it. Now, Bibi declared we are going to ask UNRWA to stop all of their budgets for all Palestinian refugees. We are doing things but slowly. The next step will be an international fund that will give money to both groups of refugees. It won’t go to the PA but straight to them, the people.”

Both Zamir and Levin are strong supporters of Trump’s efforts to establish peace, believing that it is the only way forward due to the realism it espouses. According to Levin, “We cannot be in a situation where there is no one to turn to. If not, the situation is wild. The problem is that they were raised with hatred and it is hard to make peace. The children who grow up on hate cannot love us. You cannot be sure about them. That is the danger. But we must try.” Yet Zamir indicated that even though it is hard, Trump’s deal is the only game in town and therefore everyone must invest all of their efforts in it: “We cannot go back to Egypt. Even as tourists, they do not give everyone visas. We for sure cannot go to Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Syria, etc. It was a disaster for the Jews from the Arab states. We got nowhere else to go.”

 

Author

Rachel Avraham
Rachel Avraham

Rachel Avraham is the President of the Dona Gracia Mendes Nasi Center for Human Rights in Middle East (under formation) and is a political analyst at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights. She is also a fellow at the Haym Salomon Center, a news and public policy group. For over 6 years, she has been an Israel-based journalist, specializing in radical Islam, abuses of human rights and minority rights, counter-terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Syria, Iran, Kurdistan and other issues of importance. Avraham is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media," a ground-breaking book endorsed by Former Israel Consul General Yitzchak Ben Gad and Israeli Communications Minister Ayoob Kara that discusses how the media exploits the life stories of Palestinian female terrorists in order to justify wanton acts of violence. Avraham has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben-Gurion University. She received her BA in Government and Politics with minors in Jewish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park.

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