By Israel Shamir
The Arctic cold spell that has frozen Palestine for a few weeks apparently departed with President Bush, leaving us to ponder why this strange man came here at all. Some incorrigible optimists expressed belief that Bush had called the Annapolis conference and departed on his present journey in order to achieve peace in the Middle East and to improve his image for future generations. “He does not want to retire with the blemish of Abu Ghraib and the Iraqi war, he dreams of being well remembered”, they say. The same optimists used to say the same things about General Sharon during his much publicised withdrawal from Gaza . It took a year or two for even the dumbest optimists to understand that (as we wrote in real time during the withdrawal) this act allowed the Jews to inflict more suffering on Palestinians and at a cheaper price. Now they can bomb Gaza at ease, without worrying about the stray Jew who might be hit as well. Now they can starve Gaza and make billions by selling their goods to the besieged while the price tab is paid by international community. That was Sharon ’s nature: if he’d give you a piece of bread, look for a needle in it; if he’d give you a glass of water, check it for poison. Like the scorpion in the Middle Eastern tale, he could not behave differently. Bush is an American twin of his vegetable friend Sharon who is now stuck in a comatose limbo reacting to pain. These guys simply can’t do good. If you see Bush doing a good deed, run to the optician! Our friend Jack Graham wrote recently that America is not the Great Satan. True, but under Bush, it will fill the bill until the real Satan comes along.
A psychologist might try to unravel the mystery of Bush’s deep connection with the Neocons -- we won’t go into his motives (Is he zombified? Blackmailed? Bewitched?), we’ll just accept it as a fact. For Neocons, Israel/Palestine is the most important core issue. But they are not satisfied with full control over Palestine ; whatever it is they conspire towards requires securing the entire East from India to Ethiopia . They will come back to deal with Palestinians later, when the rest is secured. Now they wreak havoc and let slip the dogs of war to run free. They intend to undo Pakistan and seize its nuclear assets, they want to bring Russia and China under control, but their immediate desire is to subdue Iran . For this purpose, Bush needs some Arab stooges standing by. The Masters of Discourse claim that the Arabs “are trembling with fear of the alleged 'nuclear ambitions' of Iran and might even be willing to sell out the Palestinian people if the United States were to 'take out' Iran on their behalf”, says John Whitbeck, correctly describing this claim as “psychedelic”. (In reality, “[t]he [Arab] street would be thrilled if any Muslim state within reach of Israel (even a non-Arab and Shiite one) were to acquire nuclear weapons and establish a ''balance of fear" in place of the unilateral terror of the past four decades,” Whitbeck avers.)
It is possible to convince Americans that this psychedelic claim is correct: The Masters of Discourse can convince the majority of US citizens of anything at all, even of Gray Aliens. Americans were convinced that the Vietcong were soon to land in California, that Saddam Hussein has WMD and that Iraqis would embrace the US Marines as their liberators, so they can be convinced again and again, until such time as they undo the brainwashing yoke of the Masters. But the Arabs won’t take it, just as the Iraqis did not. For the next move, Bush must deliver some progress in Palestine . It can’t be true progress of course, because Palestine is the core, the final goal; it will be enough if it just looks like a step forward.
That is why Bush went on with the futile farce of Annapolis . If you believe Annapolis and Bush’s visit have moved the notorious “peace process” forward one inch, you do not need an Electric Monk, the device described by Douglas Adams as a machine created to believe anything people find hard to believe – you can beat this machine at its own game! The soon-to-retire Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem , Msgr Michel Sabbah correctly explained in his Christmas talk: “A new peace effort was begun these last few weeks. In order for it to succeed, there must be a firm willingness to make peace. Until now, there has been no peace, simply because there has been no willingness to make it” and he pointed out “the strong party, the one with everything in hand, the one who is imposing occupation on the other”. Indeed Israel does not want a peace acceptable to Palestinians, but it [along with President Bush] wants peace on its own terms.
The Arabs understand this as well as anybody. Even the most pro-Western Arab mainstream paper, the Gulf News of Abu Dhabi , wrote a “Letter to George W. Bush” saying: “You said that your current tour aims to realise the long neglected peace in the Middle East . Regional peace 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.”
Al Jazeera says referring to ‘analysts’ that “the US president is too late in his calls to Arab allies to confront Iranian 'extremism', as key American allies in the Arab world have thrown their weight behind a growing rapprochement with Iran… American fumbling in the Middle East has pushed Arabs to adopt dialogue with the Islamic Republic”.
Russia ’s rejection of the sanctions against Iran was also instrumental in creating the weather change, and it is possible to say that Bush missed his chance for building an anti-Iranian coalition. However, Western anti-Iranian propaganda did influence many Arabs; even the relatively friendly site of Iraqi resistance, www.uruknet. info, publishes terrible diatribes against “the Persians”. Dr Theodor Reik wrote that people and cultures always trip on the same rake: the Arabs were tricked once into supporting England against the Ottoman Empire . The result was sad; but will this experience keep them from repeating the error, or will they support the US against the Iranians, if offered some convincing performance by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas? Palestine is still the key.