‘Breaking history’ for no good reason

My first inclination upon receiving Jared Kushner’s book, Shattered History: A White House MemoirHis review was like everyone else’s, heavy on sarcasm and grunt. But after reading it, I thought better of it for two reasons. First, life is not Twitter. And second, Kushner was a real player in a successor presidential administration. It deserves to be taken seriously, especially when it comes to the part of the world where I have experience and where the former president’s son-in-law focused great attention during his four years in the White House: the Middle East.

There was no doubt that The New York TimesThe Washington Postand others were on their way to their intuition break history Based on who Kushner is — or his caricature of — more than his record while in government, his view of the world, or the assumptions on which his efforts in the Middle East were based. He may be all his critics say about him, but he has also been the Trump administration’s man on serious issues like Saudi Arabia and Israel’s relations with the Arab world, and has been central to Trump’s White House efforts to forge peace between Israelis and Israelis. Palestinians. This is a big problem and reason enough to consider it break history on the merits.

Unfortunately, the book offers neither a thoughtful reflection on the Trump team’s encounter with the Middle East nor an explanation of the intellectual underpinnings of the “turmoil” it claims to cause in the region’s thorny problems. Instead, Kushner recreated his calendar, resulting in a boring 512-page count of his years in the White House. In this replay, the keen reader will notice a paradox at the heart of the book: Despite the title and narration intended to reinforce the idea that Kushner was boldly shattering the old, sclerotic and ineffective politics of the Middle East, he did nothing. from this type.

My first inclination upon receiving Jared Kushner’s book, Shattered History: A White House MemoirHis review was like everyone else’s, heavy on sarcasm and grunt. But after reading it, I thought better of it for two reasons. First, life is not Twitter. And second, Kushner was a real player in a successor presidential administration. It deserves to be taken seriously, especially when it comes to the part of the world where I have experience and where the former president’s son-in-law focused great attention during his four years in the White House: the Middle East.

There was no doubt that The New York TimesThe Washington Postand others were on their way to their intuition break history Based on who Kushner is — or his caricature of — more than his record while in government, his view of the world, or the assumptions on which his efforts in the Middle East were based. He may be all his critics say about him, but he has also been the Trump administration’s man on serious issues like Saudi Arabia and Israel’s relations with the Arab world, and has been central to Trump’s White House efforts to forge peace between Israelis and Israelis. Palestinians. This is a big problem and reason enough to consider it break history on the merits.

Unfortunately, the book offers neither a thoughtful reflection on the Trump team’s encounter with the Middle East nor an explanation of the intellectual underpinnings of the “turmoil” it claims to cause in the region’s thorny problems. Instead, Kushner recreated his calendar, resulting in a boring 512-page count of his years in the White House. In this replay, the keen reader will notice a paradox at the heart of the book: Despite the title and narration intended to reinforce the idea that Kushner was boldly shattering the old, sclerotic and ineffective politics of the Middle East, he did nothing. from this type.

The Trump administration’s efforts in the Middle East bore a stark resemblance to the United States’ bipartisan approach to the region that existed on September 10, 2001: support for Israel and Washington’s Arab partners—regardless of the nature of their regimes—and continued pressure on Iran. Using economic sanctions mostly, but not exclusively.

The gap between what Kushner imagined he was doing and what he was actually doing isn’t her only weakness break history. Almost all former officials emphasize certain policies or events rather than others to show themselves and the departments in which they served in the best possible light. Kushner is no different, but he is strangely silent or barely audible on a number of critical issues. The main interlocutor of US President Donald Trump with Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman mentions the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi in passing. Kushner regrets the dismemberment Washington Post A columnist, but he sees Mohammed bin Salman’s top-down reforms as much more important than blaming the crown prince for a crime everyone understands was committed on his orders.

Others also came to this pragmatic, but morally questionable conclusion, but Kushner did not even stop to offer any insight into Mohammed bin Salman or the contrasts between the brutality of the crown prince’s approach and the positive changes it has brought about in the kingdom. And although Kushner wants out of history, he accepts the parameters of the US-Saudi relationship as they are and have always been: oil and security. He never thinks of the possibility of dangers to Washington with his close association with the crown prince.

One of these dangers lies in Yemen and its civil war. In 2015, Mohammed bin Salman deployed Saudi forces to intervene on behalf of the Yemeni government that had just lost control of its capital. In the following years, the intervention of Saudi Arabia contributed to the destabilization of the Arabian Peninsula and a terrible humanitarian crisis. It has also aligned Saudi Arabia’s opponents in Yemen, the Houthis, more closely with Iran and its regional proxy, Hezbollah, than they had before the intervention, placing Iranian agents in a strategic position adjacent to vital shipping lanes and within walking distance of the United States. partners. On these issues, Kushner is silent.

The decision to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – which was a major break with the past – gets six pages in total. However, there seems to be little point in being that bold. Kushner recounts that his father-in-law asks him what he will get in return for Israel. In response, Kushner can only muster the “goodwill of the Israelis” until they make concessions in the future. It is clear that Kushner had little knowledge of the political dynamics in Israel.

When it comes to establishing peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Kushner, like many in the Washington foreign policy community, clearly despise him, doesn’t even bother asking, “Why are we doing this?” This could have been really devastating. Instead, like peace healers before him, Kushner is locked in a conflict that cannot be resolved. He never thinks of what American interests it would serve to do this job and at what cost.

His peace handling turns out to be the same, with wrinkles that rather than leave everything to negotiation, Kushner’s endgame plans spell out in detail. He clearly did not understand that there was a reason why not all the clever and experienced people before him had elaborated the details of the conflict termination agreement. Isn’t this where the devil resides? In any case, Kushner’s results were similar to those of his predecessors Dennis Ross, George Mitchell and Martin Indyk.

Kushner blames the failure of his “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Israeli and Palestinian Peoples” plan – which appears to have been borrowed from a 1979 proposal developed by the World Zionist Organization – on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. This is an easy play. Abbas is corrupt, afraid of his people, and content with the status quo.

All the while, Kushner takes every opportunity to criticize Abbas and cast him in the worst possible light. In one passage, he wrote of the Palestinian leader: “He was constantly smoking, so he would pull a cigarette from the table every few minutes, put it in his mouth, and wait for a worker to light it. I thought Abbas looked more like a king than a representative of a group of historically persecuted refugees.” . All of this may be true, but the clip reveals something very strange about Kushner’s book. He put a lot of energy into reaching a peace agreement, but he has little to say about the Palestinians, and he has shown no interest in understanding their version of history or their view of what is just.

However, unlike other peace envoys who preceded him, Kushner didn’t bother thinking about where he and his plan might have gone wrong. Regardless of the fact that it left the Palestinians a narrow archipelago of semi-sovereignty along the backbone of the West Bank, Kushner and his team seemed to believe that if the Palestinians were persuaded of their complete defeat, they would surrender. They did not and will not. Steadfastness and resistance are now essential components of Palestinian identity. He replaced Abbas with another Palestinian leader, and the result was the same.

The Trump administration has achieved a major breakthrough in the Middle East: the Abraham Accords. Through many measures, including reports at the time and memories of participants on all sides, Kushner played a key role in the agreements. Long after the incident, Arab and Israeli officials praise Kushner for his efforts, arguing that the Abraham Accords could not happen under any other administration.

Much criticism has been leveled about the normalization of relations between Israel and four Arab countries – the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Bahrain and Sudan – including its persistence despite Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of the Gaza Strip, the amounts of weapons promised by the Trump administration to the UAE, and in exchange for The United States’ recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara in exchange for normalization with Israel. These are valid criticisms of the Abraham agreements, but the peace agreements also produced economic benefits, scientific cooperation, security cooperation, and most importantly, increased contacts between people.

However, when it comes to his accomplishments and that of the Trump administration in the Middle East, Kushner shows a lack of self-awareness and depth. It makes it sound as though the normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE was an astonishing development—similar to former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s trip to Jerusalem in 1977—not a logical step for two countries that had been slowly moving toward normalization over the previous five years.

“I underestimated how little the relationship is between the two countries,” Kushner wrote. Most likely, he was not aware of the extent of the relations even before the official normalization. Athletes from Israel participated in international competitions in the UAE. Before Israel established an embassy there, Israel had a diplomatic office in Abu Dhabi that was officially linked to the International Renewable Energy Agency, but many observers understood that it acted as an unofficial embassy. The Emirati-Israeli security cooperation has also been an open secret. When I met a former Israeli minister in Dubai in late 2021, I asked him if this was his first visit to the UAE. He looked at me strangely and said, “Stephen, this is my thirty-third visit.”

Looking back, Kushner cannot provide a single insight into how the Abraham Accords might or should affect the United States’ approach to the region. Does it make pivoting towards Asia easier? Will the agreements further entrench the United States in a region his father-in-law desperately wanted to leave? What are the disadvantages of Abraham’s agreements? The conventions are historically significant, but Kushner can’t think of anything deeper to convey to his readers other than the who, what and when of it all.

The Middle East has occupied most of the Trump administration’s time, but Kushner’s account of these events is empty. break history They are just words on 512 pages with no lessons, no meaning, no new way of looking at old problems. If a book could be white noise, Kushner produced it. If he was supposed to set the record straight, he failed. It is the work of a scholar.

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: