Bush has driven stake into two-state solution in the Middle East

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June 16, 2008

       Does Israel have a divine right to exist at the expense of its neighbors?

       On May 15, 2008  President George W. Bush spoke before the Israeli Parliament, on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the start of modern Israel. He caused quite a furor when he said, “Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals…. We have heard this foolish delusion before. …. We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement….” (1)

       The media verified with White House sources that President Bush meant these comments as an attack on Sen. Barack Obama. Later the White House denied this was his intent. The attack was unwarranted.  Appeasement means giving something away to the enemy. Obama is only suggesting talking to our adversaries. The media played right into the hands of President Bush in giving wide coverage to his words. Shame on the media.     

       On the other hand I give the media credit for pointing out that President Bush’s own Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said the day before, “We need to figure out a way to develop some leverage…and then sit down and talk with them…..” (2) Apparently Gates knows the difference between appeasement and talking.  Israel does also as it is engaged in discussions with Syria. Sen. John McCain has also criticized Obama for wanting to talk to our adversaries.

       It is a shame that Bush would inject partisan political statements in a speech before a foreign government. I am also disturbed about other points the President made. At the beginning of his speech he lauded the founder of modern Israel, David Ben Gurion, who proclaimed Israel's independence, founded on the "natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate." Bush continued by saying that the founding of Israel was “the redemption of an ancient promise given to Abraham, Moses, and David – a homeland for the chosen people….” With those words he told the Palestinians they have no right to exist there.                      

       In praising Israel Bush said “we see a pioneer spirit” and we see “the talent and determination of a free people who refuse to let any obstacle stand in the way of their destiny.” The ancient Hebrew people claimed the land and destroyed the native inhabitants in the name of God. Modern Israelis are doing the same thing. To make room for the Jewish immigrants 700,000 Palestinians were forced out of their homes and land and are living in foreign countries and refugee camps. The number today is estimated to be between 4 million and 7 million Palestinian people. The Palestinians have a name for this: nakba. This word should be as much a part of our vocabulary as the holocaust or shoah.

       What Jewish settlers have done in Palestine is the same thing the European settlers did in America. They killed or forced out the Native Americans as if the new people had a divine destiny to this land. The Trail of Tears in 1838 is a grim reminder of the cruelty of the new people towards the natives.

Finally Bush closed with these thoughts, “You have raised a modern society in the Promised Land, a light unto the nations that preserves the legacy of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And you have built a mighty democracy that will endure forever and can always count on America to stand at its side. May God bless Israel.”

       President Bush has shrouded his comments to the Israelis with biblical language that is inappropriate in foreign policy and our relations with Israel and the rest of the Middle East. He has effectively destroyed any probability of a two state solution by ignoring the right of the Palestinians to the same freedom and destiny he claimed for Israel. If he wants to use the Bible as authority then he should read Genesis 16-25 where God  promised the same land to the descendants of Ishmael, the other son of Abraham. These descendants are the   present day Palestinians and other people in the Middle East who have lived there for thousands of years.

       Israel is a reality but I think our support of Israel must be tempered by respect for the rest of the people and countries in the Middle East.



(1)  The President’s  actual speech can be found at http://www.isracast.com/article.aspx?ID=121&t=George_W._Bush's_Knesset_Address&play=1 And his prepared text can be found at http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2016246/posts

(2)  http://thinkprogress.org/2008/05/15/bush-obama-nazi-appeaser/