The main front-pager in yesterday’s Times was about how Jared Kushner, top trump advisor and son-in-law, is going to be handling peace in the Middle East, especially in Israel, because he cares about it a lot. Well, he cares about Israel. It’s important to him. The Times is fairly delicate about his shortcomings.
Mr. Kushner, on something of a crash course in diplomacy, has been speaking with Arab leaders in recent weeks. But he is a mystery to most Middle Eastern officials. He has no experience in government or international affairs. His up-close exposure to the Arab world amounts to little more than trips to a handful of Persian Gulf countries and a star-studded jaunt to Jordan.
Though Mr. Kushner has visited Israel since childhood, and more recently to do business, he is little known there. He holds strong views about the state of Israel, but he has not been outspoken about them, save for editorials in The New York Observer, the newspaper he owned. His thinking on matters like settlements is not well understood.
The thrust of the piece, and of Trump’s and Kushner’s ideas, is that a coalition of anti-Iran players such as Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states can form an alliance of sorts with Israel, given a mutual enmity toward Iran, and that can be used to forge peace.
Now, there certainly is an idea there. Mutual enemies are always important. What is left out, of course, is Palestinian national ambition, or how that will actually fit in, and how the governments of these Arab nations will be able to maintain internal peace if they work with Israel without fulfilling Palestinian hopes, which of course will be very hard to do given the tightness team Trump has with Netanyahu, and of course that Kushner seems never to have considered Palestine at all in his equations.
But, for the sake of arguments, let’s stipulate a few things. Let’s stipulate that Kushner is a bright kid. He seems smart, and he did help Trump get elected, which was still a sort of dark genius. Let’s even stipulate that he’s a good person, which I don’t really consider anyone who helped elect a white nationalist know-nothing vacuous reality-show strongman dope to be, but still. Family is family, I guess. This is just for the sake of argument.
Let’s even stipulate that his is taking his crash course very seriously, and that during it, he has found an enormous wellspring of empathy for the plight of the Palestinians, and wants to be an honest broker. Let’s also stipulate that fresh ideas might be best in this stale conflict.
Even stipulating all that, some of which rely on facts not in evidence, it still is the case that Donald Trump, while assuming the most awesome power on the planet, had a chance to consider every single person in the United States to handle one of the most difficult diplomatic challenges on the globe, and came up with the guy who married his daughter.
Think of how lazy that is. Think of how insulting that is. Think of how insular and ridiculous that is. Now, maybe Kushner will turn out to be the exact right guy for this but it would really be a remarkable coincidence that of everyone in the world, including people who have spent their whole lives learning about the region and its players, the one guy who can solve it happens to be in Trump’s Christmas card.
It stands more to reason, one thinks cynically, that Kushner has shown some interest, and that Trump likes him so: sure. Give it to Kushner. If my daughter thinks he’s good enough, so should the Palestinians and the Israelis.
You might love Trump’s politics. But it is hard to argue that this isn’t the single laziest and most insulting Administration we’ve seen.