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Israel: President Bush Visits Israel

PeaceMeeting

Olmert, Bush, and Abbas last met in November 2007 at the Annapolis Peace Summit. Photo sourced from the United States Department of State.

American President George W. Bush is arriving in Israel today and for once, English speaking Israelis have little to say. Views fall primarily into two camps:

  • Complaints about the short-term discomfort that high security will cause Jerusalemites in their daily routines
  • Concern about new rockets launched from Lebanon and ongoing attacks from Gaza hailing Bush's visit

During his two-day stay, Bush's primary purpose is to monitor and encourage the peace talks between the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority with the goal of establishing a Palestinian state in 2008. While in Israel, he will meet with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and later with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

President Bush's last visit to Israel was in 1998, shortly before his first term as president.

The visit will cost Israel an unbelievable $25,000 an hour in security and force closings of all main streets for the next two days.

Rooftopper Rav of Jewschool exclaims:

“That feels unconscionable. This country kept its high school students out of school for two months because it balked at paying teachers a living wage, still refuses to pay its university teachers a decent wage, hasn’t yet fully made good on its financial and other promises to evacuees from Gaza, and continues to let its poor, its elderly, and its Holocaust survivors languish without proper financial and medical assistance. And somehow there’s enough money to spend $25,000 an hour on George Bush.”

In a post entitled, “Waiting for George,” Gideon Lichfield of Fugitive Peace comments:

“Jerusalem traffic has already slowed to about half its usual speed. Military choppers keep buzzing overhead in both Jerusalem and Ramallah. There are more guns around than at an NRA [National Rifle Association] convention. People are avoiding making appointments for the next couple of days… This had better be good.”

Efratti of From Nation's Capital to Nation's Capital adds:

“This city is totally paralyzed. All of the cops, national traffic police, and other branches of security are in my general neighborhood. I really hope there are no incidents of domestic violence or car accidents that require police attention; those victims will be totally out of luck.”

Eliesheva of Lizrael asks:

“Couldn’t President Bush just hold a conference call with the Middle Eastern leaders? I’m sure between the American and Israeli governments, someone could afford a couple of web cams. Didn’t Israel invent web cams? ICQ? Tiny USB sticks?…

It’s just that – with all due respect (or not) – all of us ‘regular people’ in Jerusalem are going to be mighty peeved as this Wednesday through Friday we sit in hours of traffic, arrive to work late and endure loud caravan sirens on the residential streets. Ah, what we sacrifice in the name of peace.”

Two katyusha rockets were fired into Israel from Southern Lebanon yesterday, causing KGS of Tundra Tabloids to remark:

“So Hezbollah has gotten the green light from its patron in Iran to rattle its saber in wake of the US President Bush's visit to the region. That's to be expected, especially since Iran felt it necessary to provoke an almost certain response from US ships in the Straights of Hormuz.”

Echoing a popular Israeli opinion, he adds:

“As long as the Palestinians have yet to give up on their dream of ‘greater Palestine,’ the Israeli parliament and the people will be in no mood to give any kind of support to anything PM Ehud Olmert agrees to. There are no signs of anything good coming out of a Bush visit to both Israel and the PA… I would hope that if anything positive can be done during his visit, it's in the realm of convincing the Arabs in the region that the US will not allow for a nuclear Iran.”

The author of This Ongoing War adds that rockets are also being launched from Gaza into southern Israel as a warning for Bush's visit:

“By no coincidence at all, the increased heat on our northern front is matched this morning with lethal weapon attacks on our southern front. Bush is coming to town, and the media are here. 9 Qassams and at least 2 mortars have crashed into Israel's western Negev so far this morning (Wednesday) hours before President Bush's arrival at Ben Gurion airport.”

President Bush's Israel visit is part of an 8-day tour through the Middle East. He is also scheduled to visit Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt in an effort to contain the threat of a nuclear Iran.

6 comments

  • dave

    any one who cars about israel should watch this movie
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBt-LxzXllA

  • Ron

    It sounds to me like the security measures that Isreal put into place for the palistineans is working. The people know who the terriorists are who are firing off the rockets, if they want the tight security to halt they must give up the terriorists. The world has had enough of terriorists blowing up innocent people, killing babies for a non existent cause. They kill because they like it. if they had to quit killing they would’nt have anthing to do, so, they kill in the name of God!!! how depraved is that??

  • Ron,

    If only it were that simple.

    I don’t think that I would ever agree to the idea that someone or a group “kill[s] because they like it.” Everyone has reasons to what they do, which they justify in their own ways. Yes, we may think they are wrong, but all actions having meaning to the doer.

    You said: “If they had to quit killing they wouldn’t have anything to do.” They sure would. The quality of life in Palestine is notoriously low from an economic standpoint. The work of building civil society and developing communities is more than a full time job. I, for one, can’t wait until it becomes more of a priority. The Palestinians deserve better and it is the responsibility of their leaders to take steps to improve it.

    Maya

  • Dave,

    Thanks for the video link. I am currently experiencing problems with YouTube, but I’m looking forward to seeing it.

    In the meantime, maybe you have some other suggestions for me. I am in the process of creating a YouTube channel that will serve as an aggregate for a broad range of quality videos about Jewish and Israeli issues. You can see my efforts here and let me know if you have anything to add: http://www.youtube.com/TheNewJewBlog.

    Maya

  • todd

    What is up with the report of Jon Wedeman regarding the horrors of Gaza as if somehow Israel and the US are to blame while Hamas is also an isolated group of militants that somehow took over Gaza leaving the real Palestinians stuck in a bind. As I recall, the Palestinians voted for Hamas, knowing full well Hamas wanted to lead the fight in the destruction of Israel. So you vote for a group of individuals that wants to destroy the very government that is funding them, employing them and and feeding them. I hear that there are good people who want a peaceful existence at the end of the day, who want a place to call home with their own government, welfare system, port, etc… But if that government wants to destroy their neighbors, then I think the neighbors have a right to defend both actively and preemptively themselves. The view of this is bad, but so is the isolated view of a mother yelling at her child, until you realize the child was about to walk into the street. So we can talk about the impoverished existence of people, but give a postmodernist exploration of the individuals you report about. How many of them are acknowledged Hamas supporters and for that matter, how many of them are Fatah supporters for that matter (as Fatah under the leadership of Abbas) is responsible for many of the missiles that hit Sderot daily. And how many of them that are innocent bystanders have a family member or a child involved in the organization. We are not talking about a small offshoot of society like the KKK or skinheads. This is the government voted in by the people.

  • Hi Todd,

    Another aspect to consider is that Hamas, at the time it was elected, was seen as a full service provider to the people of Palestine. If you look at the Hamas charter, what stands out to you and me might be the politics of destruction is contained therein, but there was wide consensus that Hamas was going to make changes to improve the lives of the Palestinian people.

    Link to Hamas Charter: http://www.mideastweb.org/hamas.htm.

    Consider the advantages of a strong king over a weak president. Sure, you may not like everything that the king decrees, but you can be sure that he will remain in power and rule authoritatively. On the other hand, a weak president may not be able to control any sector of society and all may go to chaos.

    Of course I am not advocating dictatorship, but simply suggesting its advantages when viewed in a vacuum. I believe that the Palestinian people voted for Hamas over Fatah because they saw Hamas as the strong king and Fatah as the weak president.

    Perhaps we can get some of our Palestinian writers to weigh in on this as well.

    Maya

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