By J Street U of Colorado College
Last week, the Trump Administration finally released a plan which supposedly aims to forge lasting peace in Israel-Palestine. But the plan does nothing to promote peace and instead furthers the occupation of Palestinian lands and endorses the continued abuse of Palestinian human rights.
The plan, a 181-page document written principally by Trump’s advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner, is eight days’ worth of Hanukkah presents at once for the Israeli political right, granting them nearly everything on their cruel wish list. It would leave all current Israeli settlements in the West Bank intact, designate a unified Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and green light the annexation of large parts of the West Bank, including the politically and economically important Jordan River Valley. It would also deprive a future Palestinian state of a military, giving the Israeli Defense Force virtually total control of Palestinian “security.”
The plan was written without any Palestinian input and has been denounced by Palestinian leadership in no uncertain terms. “We say a thousand times over: no, no, no,” said Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas last week. The PA and the Trump administration have not been on speaking terms since Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in 2017. This was a move the administration knew would irreparably damage their relationship with Palestinian leadership.
Given the one-sided nature of the plan, it seems to be designed as a gift to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rather than a serious attempt to create peace. Netanyahu is about to enter his third election in a calendar year after repeated failure to form a parliamentary coalition large enough to govern. He was also recently indicted on corruption charges. Trump is betting that by offering him a political win at this critical moment, he can keep Netanyahu in office.
The Trump-Kushner peace plan is based in racism, hate, and a desire to interfere in another country’s elections (that one is becoming a bit of a motif, huh?) and we must oppose it. J Street is already circulating a letter in the House condemning the peace plan as it stands, demonstrating important political resistance. But with presidential elections looming, it’s important to recognize that simply removing Trump from office won’t solve this problem. We must demand that our elected officials — present and future, Democrat and Republican — recognize annexation, settlement expansion and occupation as tangible threats to the human dignity of Palestinians and Israelis to which we are so deeply committed. For the U.S. to become a credible thought partner on the future of Israel and Palestine, we need to organize from the ground up. Luckily, here at Colorado College, there are many opportunities to get involved in this work. J Street U is working on a campaign to get the Democratic Party to #callitwhatitis by including the word “occupation” in the party platform — recognizing, in a document that will become a blueprint for the party’s future, that what’s going on in the West Bank is illegal, inhumane, and an obstacle to peace. This would fundamentally shift the narrative within the Democratic Party and would create the political environment necessary to tackle increasingly palpable threats of annexation, ongoing settlement expansion, and occupation. To do so, college chapters, including CC’s, will work to get local party chapters to change their platforms to acknowledge and denounce the existence of the Occupation. Action by local party chapters will trickle up to the state and then national level.
Recently, a group of students started a chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine on our campus. Their first event, a panel discussion titled “Centering Palestine: Activism, Solidarity, and Anti-Colonialism,” took place last Friday. SJP aims to educate students at CC on the history of colonialism in Palestine and believes in the right of Palestinians to return to the land from which they have been displaced.
As both J Street U and SJP exemplify, this conversation is here to stay on our campus. We must turn that conversation into something greater. If you believe in a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that respects Palestinian rights, now is the time to take action. Join J Street U for an organizing training this Sunday, Feb. 9 at 10 a.m. in Worner to develop the skills necessary to activate the broader campus community. Contact Elam or Rachel at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.