Jared Kushner, former White House adviser and prized son-in-law of Twitter ban victim and ex-US President Donald Trump, has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz.
The nomination is based on Kushner’s role in negotiating last year the “Abraham Accords”, the normalisation deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.
Of course, of all the people to be running around making Nobel Peace Prize nominations, Dershowitz’s credentials are rather dubious. His track record includes advocating for the legalisation of torture and psychopathically arguing in the Wall Street Journal on behalf of a “continuum of civilianality” – according to which it is OK for Israel to kill Arab civilians because, well, many of them are just not that civilian-like.
It is not difficult to see why celebrity lawyer Dershowitz, who also defended Trump during his first impeachment trial, would celebrate the “peace” efforts of nepotism’s favourite poster boy. After all, Kushner’s approach to Middle East peace is to definitively dispossess the Palestinians and thereby finalise Israel’s project of territorial domination based on ethnic cleansing and apartheid.
The thrust of Kushner’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan – unveiled in 2019 as part of Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” – was to inflict on the Palestinians “private-sector growth”, “foreign direct investment”, “free trade agreements”, and all those other neoliberal catch-phrases that magically endow corporate tyranny and mass economic suffering with a veneer of necessary and exciting progress.
Never mind that it is impossible to prosper when you are being bombed on a regular basis by Israel, whose policies of slaughter and other forms of human rights obliteration are never seen by the likes of Kushner and Dershowitz as an impediment either to peace or peace prizes.
When “Peace to Prosperity” failed to be shoved down Palestinian throats, the next-best solution was devised, and Kushner set about working to effectively disappear the Palestinian cause from the international agenda by orchestrating normalisation between Israel and opportunistic Arab regimes – all of them similarly peaceable.
The UAE, for example, has played a starring role in the Saudi-led devastation of Yemen. Dershowitz has thus far refrained from calculating the degree of “civilianality” of Yemeni schoolchildren massacred by the coalition with the help of US-made bombs.
And while the Israeli-Emirati love affair long predated the Abraham Accords – in 2016, for instance, an Israeli firm completed the installation of a super-creepy mass surveillance system in Abu Dhabi – official normalisation can only bring more great things. One need only consider an analysis appearing last year in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, “The real deal for Israel and the UAE is weapons”, which specifies that the Emirates spend billions of dollars annually on arms procurement and that “now Israel stands to get in on the action”.
Anyway, nothing says Middle East peace like more weapons.
Incidentally, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed have also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for normalising relations, notwithstanding the obscene quantity of blood on their respective hands.
Granted, such nominations are less than shocking if we recall that former Nobel recipient Barack Obama would go on to drop 26,171 bombs on seven countries in just his final year as US president.
Then there’s the Nobel Peace Prize that went to former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos who, thanks to a previous stint as defence minister, bears partial responsibility for the notorious “false positives” scandal that saw reportedly more than 10,000 civilians killed by members of the Colombian military, who disguised the corpses as leftist guerrillas.
And there is late Nobel winner Shimon Peres, whose CV ultimately comprised such episodes as the 1996 massacre of 106 refugees – half of them children – sheltering at the United Nations compound in the southern Lebanese village of Qana.
In Kushner’s case, he is responsible for plenty of not-so-peaceable machinations on the domestic scene, as well. When Trump put him in charge of a “shadow task force” to deal with the coronavirus pandemic – one of an array of leadership positions assigned to the presidential son-in-law despite his possession of zero qualifications in any relevant field – even the New York Times ran the headline: Jared Kushner Is Going to Get Us All Killed (the wording was subsequently sanitised).
There is also the matter of Kushner’s family’s real estate company and his professional practices on that front, which as housing lawyer and CUNY Law School Professor John Whitlow commented to me are “predatory and extractive, and depend on weaponising the law against poor and working-class tenants”.
In New York City, he said, Kushner has “benefited from generous tax incentives and exploited loopholes in the state’s rent laws to remove apartments from rent regulation”. In the Baltimore area, meanwhile, his tenants “live amid chronically poor conditions and are subjected to a relentless pattern of petty and meritless litigation”.
Kushner’s business model, Whitlow stressed, is predicated on the “intensification of inequalities”.
And just as there is no peace in inequality, there should be no prizes either.
Belen Fernandez is the author of Checkpoint Zipolite: Quarantine in a Small Place (OR Books, 2021), Exile: Rejecting America and Finding the World (OR Books, 2019), Martyrs Never Die: Travels through South Lebanon (Warscapes, 2016), and The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work (Verso, 2011). She is a contributing editor at Jacobin Magazine, and has written for the New York Times, the London Review of Books blog, Current Affairs, and Middle East Eye, among numerous other publications.