Echoes of FDR in Trump’s Bid for Palestinian Surrender

There’s nothing new about a U.S. president assuming that Palestinians can be bribed into cooperating with Zionist ambitions, writes Lawrence Davidson.

By Lawrence Davidson

President Donald Trump’s peace plan for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, or at least the economic side of it, was discussed at a meeting in Bahrain on June 25 and 26. The plan, euphemistically entitled “Peace to Prosperity” and the “Deal of the Century” is also, inaccurately, likened to a “Marshall Plan for Palestinians.” It is based on the assumption that money, ultimately the better part of $50 billion, can lure the Palestinian people into surrender — that is, the surrender of their right to a state of their own on their stolen ancestral land as well as the right of return for the 7.5 million Palestinians who have been forced into exile. Upon surrender, according to the plan, “an ambitious, achievable … framework for a prosperous future for the Palestinian people and the region” will be put into place. How this idealized future is to be integrated into the apartheid and Bantustan system of control that constitutes the Israeli government’s “facts on the ground” is left unexplained.  

Trump: Offering dollars in lieu of justice. (White House/Shealah Craighead)

This bit of gilded bait was put together by “senior White House adviser” Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law; Jason Greenblatt, chief lawyer of the Trump Organization and now U.S. envoy for international negotiations; and David Friedman, the president’s bankruptcy lawyer who is now the U.S. ambassador to Israel. All of these men are at once unqualified for their present positions as well as Zionist supporters of Israeli expansionism. It is not surprising then that the Israeli government has welcomed this effort. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he “would listen to the American plan and hear it fairly and with openness.” On the other hand, the Palestinian West Bank leader, Mahmoud Abbas, said, “As long as there is no political [solution], we do not deal with any economic [solution].”

There are, no doubt, some Palestinians who are upset at Abbas’s position: perhaps some business people, often-unpaid bureaucrats, and a portion of the frustrated middle-class, who will be dearly tempted by the promise of all that money. These are people who, given over a century of struggle, see no hope of a just political settlement.

Caution Signs 

Nonetheless, those tempted might consider these facts: (1) All those billions of dollars are, as yet, hypothetical. The money is not in the bank, so to speak. And, it is not a given that Trump can actually raise the funds. Thus, for all those ready to trade justice for dollars, it might be premature to actually make the leap. (2) There is a prevailing belief among the Trump cabal putting this plan together that the Palestinians themselves are incapable of running the proposed development programs. They are assumed to be too corrupt or tainted with “terrorist” backgrounds to be trusted. Thus, the question of who would run this effort (Israelis? American Zionists? anyone other than those dedicated to Palestinian interests?) is left unanswered. Relative to this question, it should be kept in mind that the Israelis have made something of a science of robbing the Palestinians of their resources. They are hardly likely to stop now. (3) The raising of money for the Trump plan is in competition with a UN effort to raise $1.2 billion for UNRWA (which Trump stopped funding), the agency that supports programs for Palestinian refugees. That fund-raiser was running at the same time as the Bahrain meeting. If the Trump plan gains traction, there might well be pressure to shut down UNRWA altogether. 

Kushner opening the conference in Bahrain. (YouTube)

Is this really an honest proposal to provide the Palestinians with prosperity? The history of “third world” development efforts sponsored by and run under the guidance of “first world” powers, be they Western governments or institutions like the IMF, is largely one of failure. There is no reason to believe that the Trump plan will fare any better. While these problematic economic efforts may eventually fall short, the political conditions almost certain to be attached to the aid will probably require immediate cessation of all anti-Zionist activities, including the relatively successful ongoing boycott of Israel. 

The Precedent

It might come as a surprise, but this is not the first time that financial bribery to procure Arab cooperation with Zionist ambitions has been tried.

There is a historical precedent for Trump’s attempted “deal of the century” that is detailed my book, America’s Palestine (cheap used copies of which are available on line). Here is how that precedent went: Back in 1942, the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann told members of the U.S. State Department’s Division of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) that Winston Churchill wished to make the Saudi king, Ibn Saud, “the boss of bosses in the Arab World.” The only condition to this offer was that Ibn Saud must “be willing to work out with Weizmann to achieve a sane solution to the Palestine problem.” Weizmann further claimed that the U.S. president Franklin Roosevelt was “in accord on this subject.” 

The response of the head of the NEA, Wallace Murray, a man who knew the Middle East much better than did Chaim Weizmann, was one of skepticism. Murray noted that British influence over Ibn Saud was small and that he doubted the Saudi king wanted to be the Arab “boss of bosses.” Finally, he expressed doubt that anything the Zionists would consider a “solution” would be something Ibn Saud would consider to be “sane.”

Nonetheless, the Zionists persisted along these lines and soon came up with a plan where, in return for a Jewish Palestine, Ibn Saud would be made the “head of an Arab federation in control of a ‘development’ budget of 20 million British pounds.” 

Ibn Saud converses with FDR (right) through an interpreter, Feb. 14, 1945, on board USS Quincy, after the Yalta Conference. (U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons)

At this point Murray became adamant that this would never work. He predicted that Ibn Saud would interpret the offer as a bribe — the offer of a throne in exchange for turning Palestine over to the Zionists. He would interpret the 20 million pounds as a “slush fund.” Consequently, there was every reason to believe that the Saudi ruler would see this whole plan as a personal insult. So Murray suggested that “the less we have to do with the … proposals of Dr. Weizmann the better.”

As it turned out Roosevelt disagreed with Murray and after a conversation with Weizmann in early June of 1943, authorized an approach to Ibn Saud along the lines of the Zionist plan. Why did he ignore Murray in favor of Weizmann? Because Murray’s accurate assessment of Ibn Saud conflicted with FDR’s stereotyped view of Arabs. This is revealed in the minutes of the June meeting with Weizmann wherein the president said that “he believes the Arabs are purchasable.” In other words, following a common Western view, the president saw the Arabs as a backward people who would do just about anything for the right amount of “bakshish.”

Subsequently, the entire scheme came to naught when, in the fall of 1943, Ibn Saud rejected it out of hand. He would subsequently tell FDR that the Jews should “be given the choicest lands and homes of the Germans who had oppressed them.” When the president replied that the Jews would not wish to stay in Germany after the war, Ibn Saud noted that the “allied camp” had “fifty countries” in it. Surely they could find enough open space (he even alluded to the underpopulated areas of the American West) to take in Europe’s Jewish refugees. Roosevelt came away from the exchange rather shaken. He finally understood from it that “the Arabs mean business” when it comes to Palestine.

Al-Quds rally for justice and freedom for Palestinians, June 10, 2018, London. (Alisdare Hickson via Flickr)

Change and Continuity

The world has changed a lot since the 1940s. Ibn Saud has been replaced by the Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. This can be seen as real step down in terms of personal integrity and strategic judgment. Franklin Roosevelt has been replaced with Donald Trump. I will let readers make their own judgments on this change. Actually, the thing that has stayed constant, perhaps because it was always devoid of real empathy for the Palestinians, is the nature of Zionist leadership. Thus, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, has said that the only way the Palestinians can be economically liberated is through their political surrender. But as suggested above, Israel is now a confirmed apartheid state that feels its own “security” necessitates both military and economic control of the Palestinians. Given that reality, Danon’s notion of economic liberation means about as much as Weizmann’s promise of someone else’s (i.e., Britain’s) money. And then there is the replacement of Chaim Weizmann (the Zionist pre-state leader) with Benjamin Netanyahu. The former may have had more persuasive charm than the latter, but certainly their goals were, and continue to be, the same.

It is Zionism’s ambition to possess biblical Palestine that has reduced the Palestinians to destitution. Perfectly predictable and legal Palestinian resistance is the excuse the Israelis use to cover up the segregationist and impoverishing policies that are necessitated by their ideological worldview. And now Trump and his Zionist son-in-law come forward with their plan, fully expecting the Palestinians to trust the Americans and their Israeli allies to make them “developed” and prosperous? I wonder what Ibn Saud would say to that?

Lawrence Davidson is professor of history emeritus at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He has been publishing his analyses of topics in U.S. domestic and foreign policy, international and humanitarian law and Israel/Zionist practices and policies since 2010.

This article is from his website

18 comments for “Echoes of FDR in Trump’s Bid for Palestinian Surrender

  1. esmaiil fotoohi
    July 2, 2019 at 12:49

    Dealers usually do not know that there are things in our world that cannot be bought and sold with money.

  2. Vera Gottlieb
    July 2, 2019 at 12:30

    Can America/Americans sink any lower??? I would not like to be without money but…it isn’t everything. Stepping on a people’s dignity is disgusting but then…America has always been good at it.

    • DH Fabian
      July 2, 2019 at 13:12

      Yes. In the US, we’re a quarter-century into our “war on the poor” — our “surplus population” who are not of current use to employers/the corporate state. We stripped them of the most basic human rights (UN’s UDHR) to food and shelter. While the overall life expectancy of the US poor fell below that of every developed nati0n, it is not considered “an issue of concern.” And from there, we could talk about our prison system. The point is that we don’t know yet, just how low we can sink before the country collapses.

      • July 3, 2019 at 11:05

        The real unemployment number for the USA is 107 million people currently without a job. that number lends a lot of credibility to your argument. So will the US finally come up with a “Final Solution” ( The opiod epidemic is working too slowly) only this time against the poor and unneeded jobless? When you have scary people like Bolton, Pompeo and Bloody Gina in positions of power you do have to wonder no?And we should never forget the cold hand of the Bilderberg Group`s insidious grip on US policy both foreign and domestic.

    • druid
      July 2, 2019 at 14:22

      It seems that since so many in power here have sold their sold long ago for money and power, they cannot imagine that someone else would not do the same. Also, we’re a country ruled by sociopaths

      • druid
        July 2, 2019 at 14:23

        sold their souls

  3. Anarcissie
    July 2, 2019 at 11:52

    Looking at things from a non-elite Palestinian point of view, the question seems to be whether to continue with the prison of the present occupation, decorated by fantasies about a one-and-a-half-state, ‘Bantustan’ arrangement, or to acknowledge the fact of Israeli domination on the ground and demand equal civil, political, and legal rights within it. It is true the second will be an arduous way to go, but the first appears to be no way at all: the situation for the Palestinians has only become worse, day after day, year after year. If I were a Palestinian, I would prefer to deal with realities rather than fantasies.

    • anon4d2
      July 2, 2019 at 20:07

      That “one-state solution” is pure zionist propaganda.
      They would have no more rights in fact under direct zionist domination than they do now.
      Only force will restore the rights of Palestinians; only force will contain the looney zionist racists.
      That applies just as well within the US as in Palestine.

      • July 3, 2019 at 11:10

        You are right. If the Palistinians were to get sucked into this deal they would wind up having the same status as American Blacks have in their country. None.

  4. Brian James
    July 2, 2019 at 11:46

    June 27, 2019 In Gaza, from afar: How survivors struggle with the trauma of war and occupation after leaving

    For many Palestinians, it is a difficult journey. While Palestine is considered to have the highest per capita rates of mental illness in the world, according to Dr. Samah Jabr, the chair of the mental health unit at the Palestinian Ministry of Health, there are only 32 treating psychiatrists in the Palestinian Territories.

  5. AnneR
    July 2, 2019 at 09:44

    Ibn Saud was absolutely correct when he told FDR that the Jews should “be given the choicest lands and homes of the Germans who had oppressed them.” That was the *only* just and equitable “reparation” – but the Germans appear to have been only too happy to ensure that *they* were not the ones, the people who have had to endure the continuous theft, dispossession, ethnic cleansing of their “homeland” in order for Jews to have a “homeland,” to have a sense of security and safety.

    No – the Germans, along with the rest of west, were completely comfortable with all of that and more being done to the Palestinians by the Zionists, really from before WWII, but most egregiously, continuously and in a most brutal, violent, malevolent manner, since 1947. And this only makes abundantly clear that FDR’s orientalist, racist view of “Arabs,” the brush with which the Zionists are only to keen to paint Palestinians (by not calling them Palestinians but only “Arabs” their relationship to their land, their place, their culture is obliterated), is hardly confined to that earlier era. Indeed it is widespread still and just about every president and Congress has held similar views.

    Strumpet is hardly out of line (though I doubt that he has any orientalist conception; in his case it would be pure racism). Where the exception vis a vis Strumpet is concerned, lies in his relationships with out and out Zionists, from Adelson to his daughter and son-in-law. Money for the former group, emotional connection with the latter. He is perhaps, because of this latter linkage to Zionism and Israel, more closely tied to Israel and Zionism and therefore anti-Palestinian than many other prior presidents.

    I just hope that the Palestinians can hold out against all that they are facing and that BDS helps to effect the changes needed to reinstall them in their rightful lands – including the right of return.

    I think also that the political stratum of the US (ignoring the funding sources) can hardly be unaware of their own benefiting from an earlier but equally violent, brutal, genocidal ethnic cleansing and the resulting “bantustans” called reservations on which the remainder of the indigenous peoples of this nation state dwell, largely in poverty and whose rights in their lands are constantly denied whenever some corporation wants to exploit – to its own benefit and that of its shareholders – some natural resource or other. The American indigenous are the Palestinians of the US and we haven’t really altered our treatment of them over the past centuries, so it is difficult to see even present day politicos viewing what is being done to Palestinians by Israelis as anything worth bothering about.

    The MSM certainly pays *no* attention to any of it – unless a Palestinian has hurt, maimed, killed an Israeli or sent a rocket into “Israel.” One hears zero about the continuous, daily harassment, killing, torturing, imprisoning of Palestinians by Israelis, including the so called settlers in the West Bank, nothing about those settlers burning, bulldozing and so on Palestinians’ houses, farms, olive groves. Going by the MSM, you’d think none of this was happening, that the troublemakers were the Palestinians, the Israelis the victims.

    (Vis a vis “right of return” – how it is possible to deny that to the Palestinians while opening arms to not only those born Jewish – albeit with absolutely zero genetic, ancestral heritage to Palestine – but also to those who have recently [and “correctly”] converted, ones with even *less* connection to Palestine-Israel, is beyond comprehension. But I personally know it to be true.)

    • druid
      July 2, 2019 at 14:19

      nobody could have said it better!

  6. July 2, 2019 at 01:34

    I’m an Australian researching the role of Australian President of the UN General Assembly in 1947, Dr H. V. Evatt. He was duchessed both by Churchill and by American Zionists at Harvard etc, and did a lot to push through the partition resolution of 1947. I am amazed at the details you give in this wonderful article and will purchase your book. As you know so much about the shenanigans of the 1940s I wonder if you have any details about Evatt. He was also courted with great success by the liberal American Journalist/editor Frida Kirchwey, an ardent Zionist, I think through purely good-hearted reasons in her case, but without a thought for the Pals as usual.

    Best wishes

  7. July 2, 2019 at 00:50

    For Israel/Palestine the straightforward proposition of a single state with equal rights for all has been mentioned by many but never exposed to world opinion in that form. If proponents of human rights for Palestinians now acknowledge that the two state solution was never seriously considered and could never work, why not give Zionists all of the territory with its millions of Arab Palestinians. Slavery didn’t work in America although it did exist and now black Americans have the vote and political power. The Palestinians are not slaves and in fact might even be treated worse because they offer the Jew less value than slaves to the slave owner. But once they were contained within the new Israel, the battle for equal rights would begin.

    I suppose someone said something like that about slavery long before the Emancipation Proclamation. I suppose slave owners felt it in their bones. Lincoln had it on his mind.What are we going to do with all those free negro people. How about Liberia, Mister Douglas? I don’t think so, Mister President. Let us hope the process is not so painful for Israel as it was for America.

    • Sam F
      July 2, 2019 at 20:17

      A two-state solution is very practical:

      A two-state plan in Palestine enforced by the UN is necessary for at least three generations before any one-state plan could be viable. Otherwise the Israelis would continue to enslave the Palestinians with judicial and economic tyranny. But the UN borders were not within its right to establish and do not make viable states.

      The two-state plan should recognize the right to residence of all who were resident by some prior date, or descended from refugees, due to the difficulty of tracing injustice and the fact that most are innocent. Neither state may maintain military forces, and police should be UN supervised to prevent remilitarization.

      A census to be taken as of some prior year, to prevent packing residents or distorting the asset picture. The gross assets to be cataloged including all offshore and hidden assets, infrastructure, real estate, equipment, and personal property. Each state must be viable in shoreline, ports, water, farm resources, roads, independent utility infrastructure, and residential, commercial, and industrial improvements. A generous DMZ of desert or farmland between the states is reserved, securing bonds. The cost of development required to make each state viable is taken from the total assets before distribution to the two state groups (Js and Ps).

      The combined assets are then apportioned fairly between the two state groups. Distribution must compensate for the Ps deprivation of opportunity to accumulate property, while the Js accumulated property based upon resources taken from the Ps. This will cause loss of resources for the Js due to wrongful takings, but improved security. Stripping or wasting of assets taken is accounted and deducted from the group gross assets, and the owner penalized within the group.

      The gross assets apportioned to each group are distributed within the group, with a minimum share based upon age, and the balance distributed in proportion to each person’s prior assets relative to the group total assets. Persons may receive shares in jointly held property (the DMZ etc.), real estate, or funds; those with homes and business property should retain that or obtain something similar in their destination state, and may owe a government mortgage or receive a subsidy for improvements and relocations.

      Special compensation to be provided for those who were forced to live in refugee camps, suffered injuries, or are survivors of wrongful deaths. When the DMZ is partitioned after several decades of peace between the factions, the land may be sold and those with shares compensated or given mortgages on the land.

      To get there, assuming that Israel refuses to negotiate, it must be completely embargoed and the US must join the UN to demand an immediate two-state implementation, and if they refuse after reduction to poverty, make increasing shows of force, and if they insist so far as to prevent a peaceful solution, destroy all of their weapons, invade, and set up the solution, with Israel to be governed by the UN for three generations.

  8. Joe B
    July 1, 2019 at 21:40

    A very interesting scenario of FD Roosevelt (from the Dutch for Rosenfeld of Jewish heritage) and Weizmann pushing for zionist land theft. In the 1930s the zionists had flooded Palestine and angered the Palestinians, completely abrogating their agreements and even assassinating a British official there, so that no worse location for a Jewish homeland could have been selected. Only the fanatical zionists would have insisted, the least likely to make peace rather than wars to steal land.

    Not at all surprising that the Trump-Kushner-Greenblatt-Friedman-Netanyahu axis pushes for the same, dumping billions of our tax dollars on the zionist racists to bribe US politicians and buy US weapons. Those without personal experience of this will find that the whole of Congress and the judiciary are bought by the same means as the executive branch, as are mass media, owned almost entirely by zionists. So have fun fighting and paying for Jewish land theft and destruction of your own democracy, my fellow Americans. You would be racists not to support such extreme racism!

  9. Dunderhead
    July 1, 2019 at 19:08

    I think for many Americans no matter what the deal of the century entails BDS will not end until the wright of return is granted for all Palestinians who wish to do so. Both political parties in the United States will do their utmost to paper over the sea change in the Americans zeitgeist but the writing is on the wall for the Zionists.

  10. July 1, 2019 at 16:20

    Mr Trump is not the right person to deal with this very sensitive and complex situation. The Palestinian are a resolute and proud people and the vast majority of the world empathise with their piston of underdog….. The situation needs patience and honesty….. Not ethnic cleansing on the quiet with dollar signs all over it… My best wishes for all concerned

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