We need to take a second, albeit a breezily dismissive, laid-back look at the Deal of the Century, a peace plan that it would beggar belief to imagine that Palestinians, and along with them the Arab street, would have taken seriously for one crazy moment. I for one have found the 181-page document great fun to peruse and readily gave it a well-deserved Oscar for the best campy twaddle this side of Gilligan’s Island. My guarantee: Enjoy its campy material or your money back.
That’s not to overlook its sinister intent. Call it the piffle of the century, the joke of the century or, as Palestinian leaders have called it, the slap of the century, but you cannot deny the fact that there has never been, hyperbole aside, anything like it since the infamous Balfour Declaration was released by Britain in its heyday as a colonial power just over a century ago. At its core, this putative peace plan is a relentless and cruel assault on the national, cultural and human rights of the native people of Palestine, and reads like a prison warden dictating the rules that inmates under his control should follow in his prison.
There, Palestinians are told — and told in no uncertain terms — that in their future “state”, whose capital will be in a village called Abu Dis, situated roughly two and a half miles away from Jerusalem, their leaders will not be allowed to do much of anything, from paying welfare cheques to the families of Palestinian political prisoners incarcerated in Israeli jails to joining international organisations “without the consent of the state of Israel”, and from controlling their border crossings and airspace to forging “intelligence or security agreements with any state or organisation without the consent of the state of Israel”. And on and on.
Israelis have built an apartheid state, propelled by expansionist ambitions and a racialist vision, that carries within it the seeds of its own self-destruction.
Your first visceral reaction, especially if you’re Palestinian, is rage. Who the devil do these officials in the White House — who clearly had worked in tandem with Israeli leaders to draft the plan — think they are as to reduce the Palestinian people’s aspirations for national independence to such a fragment? But then, after you calm down, you realise that what you’ve been reading is all campy balderdash — so bad that it’s good. You read it, you wince, you chuckle, then you move on. There are more existentially pressing issues in your daily life to deal with, like feeding the cat, buying groceries, returning your mother’s call.
When, say, a document you’re reading, or a film you’re watching, is so extreme, so over the top, so farcical, so kitschy, yet is presented as serious material, then that document or that film has a kind of wacky, perverse appeal to it that you, a fan of all types of campy media, find irresistible.
What gives the Deal of the Century its campy status is that — like a film produced as serious work but winds up unintentionally comedic, say, ‘Mommie Dearest’ (1981), which has a cult following — it is unaware of its hick naivety and ironic silliness.
Deliciously campy document
If you’re an actual or potential lover of the genre, I urge you to read this 181-page document before you die. It is hilarious. It is fun. It is tacky. It is lowbrow. It’ll have you in stitches. And it is all thrown at you as if it were a bouquet wrapped in diplomatic sophistication — which promptly renders it deliciously campy. And as anything campy is expected to be, it is so bad that it is good. And I repeat my guarantee: Enjoy it or your money back.
Meanwhile, there’s no need for concern about the challenges that face Palestinians at this moment of immediacy in their history — from this plan or any other. Israelis have built an apartheid state, propelled by expansionist ambitions and a racialist vision, that carries within it the seeds of its own self-destruction. The Palestinians, on the other hand, are a native people imbued with the teleological, almost mystical spirit of their ancient land — much in the manner that, say, the Irish people, the Vietnamese people and the Algerian people were — who can “hear” history the way a conductor hears music a beat before it is played by an orchestra.
In this grand context, a peace plan devised by a New York City real estate developer is mere campy piffle to be given no second thought.
— Fawaz Turki is a writer and lecturer who lives in Washington and the author of several books, including the Disinherited: Journal of a Palestinian Exile.