Bush Middle East tour & The Hands of Esau
Uri Avnery is a member of Israeli Knesset and a columnist, who is bold and is a straight shooter. His appraisal of President Bush's trip to Middle East in January 2008 is funny, humorous and real.
The the Gulf News has published an editorial in the form a letter, quite a good assessement of his trip.
The President should not have made that trip, as Uri says, and I agree, he broke all the records of being the worst president in our history. Congratulations, he deserves to be the worst president of our nation, at least that is a record.
He has butchered a Million plus Iraqi's and some 4000 of our men and women for his personal vendetta, he was written to endlessly to stop the the bombarding of Lebanon by Israel, he was even asked - did he want half a million Lebanese made homeless before he takes the action? He did not care.
He is a lame duck president now, which simply means useless.
The two articles below;
Letter to George W. Bush
Published: January 10, 2008, 23:32
Dear Mr. President;
Lest you forget. Invasion of Iraq. Thousands of dead. Looting the National Museum. Disbanding the Iraqi army. Donald Rumsfeld. Shock and Awe. Jay Garner. Paul Bremer. Inciting sectarianism. Abu Ghraib. Thousands of detainees without charges. Torture. Oil. Ghost WMDs. The Niger connection. Halliburton. Blackwater. Deadly security contractors. Mercenaries. Fallujah. Haditha massacre. Blind support of Israel. Instigating the suffering of Gaza. Ignoring the expansion of illegal colonies. Defying United Nations resolutions. Securing "a Jewish State". Allowing Israelis to extend the destruction of Lebanon in the 2oo6 war. Providing Israel with new Bunker Buster bombs to attack Lebanese towns. The War on Terror. "The Crusade". Clash of civilisations. Where is Osama Bin Laden? Afghanistan. Bagram massacre. Bombing media offices. Guantanamo Bay. Kangaroo courts. Indefinite detention. Presidential orders to ignore Geneva Conventions. "Unlawful enemy combatants". Illegal National Security Agency wiretapping. Fingerprinting visitors. Black prisons. Kidnapping foreign citizens on foreign lands. Khalid Al Masri. Abu Omar. Maher Arar. Central Intelligence Agency. "Aggressive interrogation techniques". Destroying the torture tapes. Iran tension. Isolating Syria. Embracing Syrian opposition Iraq style. The Chavez coup. Denial of global warming. Rejecting Kyoto Protocol. Marginalisation of the United Nations. John Bolton. Paul Wolfowitz and the World Bank. Carl Rove. Alberto Gonzales. Firing attorneys. Nepotism. False democracy promises. Dick Cheney, Dick Cheney and Dick Cheney.
The list goes on. You might not be able to recall some of it. But the people around you, Cheney and Condoleezza Rice especially, would. And they realise that on the subject of human rights, your administration has had the worst record of all, surpassing most Third World countries. The tension and the misery in parts of this region can very well testify to this.
In a famous speech in 2003 you announced an "historic" shift in US foreign policy. You pledged to support democracy and liberty while declaring "victory" in Iraq. More than four years later, Iraq is in chaos. It has virtually disintegrated and "the surge" did little to stop the killing or ease the sectarian tension. At the same time, you gave up on your freedom-for-all prophecy. We are all back to the old ways of doing business - arms and oil. The agenda of your current tour is evident.
This is your first official trip to a land you long claimed has a very special place in your heart. The land of the Prophets. However, you started out wrong. By maintaining your support of an Israeli "Jewish State", you are flouting your own ideals upon which your great country was founded more than two centuries ago. So much for the promise of democracy. What you advocate in fact is the creation of states on religious and racial lines, thereby justifying the atrocious actions of terrorists who hate and seek to eliminate the followers of other religions: The same terrorists you like to blame for every ill on earth and every failure of yours.
It has been reported that you are here to "lecture" us on democracy and human rights. But with a record like yours, you will not be very convincing. The people you are addressing have greater respect for human rights and dignity.
You also said that your current tour aims to realise the long neglected peace in the Middle East. Regional peace, Mr President, will not be achieved by escalating tension and threatening to change regimes. And most importantly, it will not be achieved by supporting Israel, which continues to defy international law, occupy Arab lands, oppress the Palestinians and rebuff peace initiatives.
We hope you have enjoyed the trip so far. The scenery is great. The food is exotic. As for the more "serious" things, it is unlikely you will make any difference.
The Hands of Esau
By Uri Avnery
Which of the two men is the leader of the greatest power on earth and which is the boss of a small client state?
A visitor from another planet, attending the press conference in Jerusalem, would find it hard not to answer: Olmert is the president of the great power, Bush is his vassal.
Olmert is taller. He talked endlessly, while Bush listened patiently. While Olmert anointed Bush with flattery that would have made a Byzantine emperor blush, it was quite clear that it is Olmert who decides policy, while Bush humbly accepts the Israeli diktat. And Bush's flattery of Olmert exceeded even Olmert's flattery of Bush.
Both, we learned, are "courageous". Both are "determined". Both have a "vision". The word "vision", once reserved for prophets, starred in every second sentence. (Bush could not know that in Israel, "vision" has long become a jocular appellation for highfaluting speeches, usually in combination with the word "Zionism".)
The President and the Prime Minister have something else in common: not a word of what they said at the press conference had any connection with the truth.
One OF the most moving dramas in the Bible tells about our old blind forefather, Isaac, who wanted to bless his eldest son, Esau, a reddish and hairy hunter. But the second son, the homebody (or rather tent-body) Jacob, exploited the absence of his brother and went to his father in order to steal the blessing. He wore Esau's clothes and covered his arms with hairy goat skins. The ruse nearly failed, when the father felt the arms of Jacob and his suspicion was aroused.
That's when he uttered the famous words: "The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau." (Genesis, 27: 22).
Yet Jacob, the impostor, did receive the blessing and became the father of the nation which was named after him (he was also called Israel). It seems that Ehud Olmert is a true successor: there is no connection between his voice and his hands.
Anyone who listens to him - not just at the press conference, but also on every other occasion - hears words of peace and reason: The Palestinians must have a state of their own. The "vision" must be realized while Bush is president, because Israel has never had and never will have a truer friend. The settlement outposts must be removed, as promised by us again and again. The settlements must be frozen. Etc. etc.
That is the voice of Jacob. But the hands, well, they are the hands of Esau.
* * *
BEFORE ANNAPOLIS, during Annapolis and after Annapolis, nothing at all was done to promote the Two-State Solution. The negotiations were about to begin - any moment now - a year ago, and now they are again about to begin - any moment now. Yes, the "core issues" - borders, Jerusalem, refugees - will be addressed. Sure. Any moment now.
But in the meantime, the hands of Esau are working feverishly. All over the occupied territories, the settlements are being enlarged. The existing outposts remain untouched, new ones spring up from time to time. Around them, a well choreographed dance has evolved, a kind of formal ballet executed by the settlers and the army. The settlers set up a new outpost, the army removes it, the settlers return and set it up again, the army dismantles, and so forth.
In the meantime the outpost gets bigger and bigger. The government connects it to the electricity and water systems and builds a road. And the army, of course, protects it day and night. We cannot leave good Jews at the mercy of the evil Palestinian terrorists, can we?
Bush knows all this and still continues to blabber that "the illegal outposts must be removed". And so it continues: the voice is Jacob's voice, the hands are the hands of Esau.
But one cannot fool all of the people all of the time, to quote another American President who was slightly more intelligent than the present incumbent.
And so, after Olmert and Bush repeated the mantra about removing the outposts and freezing the settlements, one of the journalists popped an innocent question: How does this fit together with the announcement about the building of a huge new housing project at Har Homa?
If anyone thought that this would embarrass Olmert, he was sadly mistaken. Olmert just cannot be embarrassed. He simply answered that this promise does not apply to Jerusalem, nor to the "Jewish population centers" beyond the Green Line.
"Jerusalem" - since the time of Levy Eshkol - is not only the Old City and the Holy Basin. It is the huge tract of land annexed to Israel after the Six-Day War, from the approaches to Bethlehem to the outskirts of Ramallah. This area includes the hill that was once forested and called Jebel Abu-Ghneim, now the site of the big and ugly Har Homa settlement. And the "population centers" are the big settlement blocs in the occupied Palestinian territories, which President Bush so generously presented to Ariel Sharon.
This means that almost all the extensive building activities that are now going on beyond the Green Line are not covered by the Israeli undertaking to freeze the settlements. And while Olmert publicly announced this, President Bush was standing at his side, smiling foolishly and painting on another layer of compliments.
The following day, Bush visited Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah and told the shocked Palestinians that the innumerable Israeli roadblocks in the West Bank, which turn the life of the Palestinians into hell, are necessary for the protection of Israel and must remain where they are - until after the establishment of the hoped-for democratic Palestinian state.
Condoleezza Rice was quick to remind him in private that this was not very wise, since he was about to visit half a dozen Arab countries. So Bush hastened to call another press conference in Jerusalem, talking about the "core issues": there would be a "contiguous" Palestinian state, but the 1949 borders (the Green Line) would not be restored. He would not speak about Jerusalem. Also, the refugee problem would be settled by an international fund - meaning that none at all would be allowed to return.
Altogether, much less than Bill Clinton's 2000 "parameters", and less than most Israelis are already prepared to accept. It amounts to 110% support for the official Israeli government line.
After that, Bush had dinner with Israeli cabinet ministers. He cordially shook the hand of Minister Rafael Eitan, the former spymaster who controlled the Israeli spy in Washington, Jonathan Pollard, whom Bush refuses to pardon. (Eitan would be arrested the moment he set foot on American soil.) He spoke cordially with the ultra-rightist Minister Avigdor Liberman, urging him to support Olmert. Throughout the dinner, he talked and talked, until Condi sent him a discreet note suggesting that he shut up. Bush, in high spirits, read the note out loud.
* * *
I HAVE mentioned more than once the British World War II poster which was pasted up on the walls in Palestine: "Is this trip really necessary?"
That is again the question now: Is this trip of Bush's really necessary?
The answer is: Of course. Necessary for Bush. Necessary for Olmert. Necessary for Abbas, too.
For Bush, because he is a lame duck, in the last year of his term, and therefore almost paralyzed. In the United States he is rapidly becoming irrelevant. His touted Middle East tour has been drowned out by the primary elections mayhem, which produces a new drama almost every day. While Hillary wrestles with Obama and the glib Bill competes with an impressive black grandma, who cares where the worst president in American history is traipsing around?
Olmert is well aware of the situation. When he declares that the last year of the term of his noble friend must be used, what he really means to say is: he cannot exert any pressure on us, he cannot even "nudge" us, as he promises. There is no need to remove even one single outpost for him. So let us squeeze the last drop of juice out of his presidency, before he is thrown onto the trash pile of history.
But Olmert needs the presence of Bush at his side, because his position is not much more secure than Bush's. Bush is bankrupt in a big way, after starting one of the most pointless and unsuccessful wars in US history. That is true for Olmert in a small way. He is bankrupt too, and he also started a pointless, failed war.
In two weeks time, the Winograd Commission will publish its final report on Lebanon War II, and everyone expects it to come down on Olmert like a 16 ton weight. He may survive, if only because there is now no credible substitute. But he needs all the help he can get - and what better help than the "Leader of the Free World" gazing at him with liquid eyes?
It's the old story about the lame and the blind. * * *
THIS WAS NOT Bush's last presidential visit to Israel. He has already promised to return on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state, which falls this year (in accordance with the Hebrew calendar) on May 8. What else can a president do in his last months in office, except star in ceremonies with kings, presidents and prime ministers?
Perhaps he had intended to finish with a big bang, a historic climax that would overshadow even his invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, such as a grand attack on Iran. But it seems that the US intelligence community, in a patriotic act that makes up for some of its earlier sins, has prevented this by publishing its sensational report.
True, this week something happened that put on a warning light. Some small Iranian boats were reported to have made a provocative gesture against the powerful American warships in the Strait of Hormuz.
That takes us right back to 1964 and to what has become known as the "Gulf of Tonkin incident". President Lyndon Johnson announced that Vietnamese vessels had attacked American warships. That was a lie, but it was enough for Congress to empower the president to widen the war that killed millions of people (and buried Johnson's career).
But this time the red light went out quickly. The US Congress is not what it was, it seems that the Americans have no stomach for another war, the historical parallel was too obvious. Bush has been left without an option for war. He has been left with nothing.
Apart from Olmert's flattery, of course.
Uri Avnery is an Israeli peace activist who has advocated the setting up of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. He served three terms in the Israeli parliament (Knesset), and is the founder of Gush Shalom (Peace Bloc)