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Israel: Bush's Final Presidential Visit

On the heels of its 60th birthday celebrations, President Bush visited Israel this week, marking his second and last presidential visit to the Middle Eastern state.

While mainstream national newspapers argued as to whether Bush's visit avoided or affirmed key issues in the nation, Israeli bloggers had their hackles raised by the President's address to the Knesset, Israel's house of parliament.

Checkpoint Jerusalem's Dion Nissenbaum writes about “What Bush Didn't Say”:

Bush didn't use his historic address to the Knesset to talk about what is supposed to be a top priority for him in his final year: The peace process he officially launched last November in Annapolis.

He didn't use the address to speak directly to the skeptical lawmakers who will be asked to support any peace deal with the Palestinians.

He didn't use the address to speak directly to the Israeli public and urge them to support a peace deal with the Palestinians…

Still, in many ways, Bush's decision to completely avoid talking about the peace process was seen by some as a squandered opportunity.

Israel Matzav's Carl in Jerusalem is among those who interpreted Bush's remarks about terrorist appeasement of Hamas as an attack on US presidential candidate, Democrat Barack Obama.

President Bush launched a sharp but veiled attack Thursday on Sen. Barack Obama and other Democrats, suggesting they favor “appeasement” of terrorists in the same way some Western leaders appeased Hitler in the run-up to World War II…

“Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along,” Bush said at Israel's 60th anniversary celebration in Jerusalem.

“We have heard this foolish delusion before… As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”

The remarks seemed to be a not-so-subtle attempt to continue to raise doubts about Obama with Jewish Americans. Those doubts were earlier stoked by Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee in the 2008 presidential election, when he recently charged that Obama is the favored candidate of the Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas, which the U.S. government has listed as a terrorist group.

Also on Carl's mind is the President's future relationship with Israel:

Deep in his heart, I believe that President Bush loves this country. I still blame Condi [Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice] and Bush Senior [President George H. W. Bush] for all that has happened in the second term. Yesterday, we saw a flash of Bush's true feelings. I suspect we'll see more when he is no longer in office (just as we saw Dhimmi Carter's true feelings – against Israel – much more after he was no longer in office).

During his short stay, Bush also appeared at the international President's Conference in Jerusalem. Fugitive Peace's Gideon Lichfield listened to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's welcoming speech with split ears:

I’m feeling pretty cynical about the Bush visit, and not just because getting around Jerusalem has been impossible (again)… [During] Olmert’s speech of welcome at the conference hosted by [Israeli President] Shimon Peres, I found myself adding subtitles sotto voce…

“It gives me great pleasure to offer a special welcome to the President of the United States of America, George W. Bush—a great personal friend whose commitment to the State of Israel is immeasurable.”

You’ve taken three days out of your last year in office to party here with the presidents of Poland, Albania, Togo, Burkina Faso and Palau. You must really have bugger-all to do back in Washington.

“You are an unusual person, you are an unusual leader and you are an unusual friend of the people of Israel.”

I’ve met some freiers [suckers] in my time, but you take the biscuit

“Mr. President, in 2004 you said that America as a ‘nation is stronger and safer because we have a true and dependable ally in Israel’.”

You must have been on drugs. Frankly, you need us as an ally like you need a hole in the head.

“Today I say to you Mr. President, Israel is stronger and safer because we look to the future, and we know that the United States of America will always remain our closest and most dependable ally.”

But hey, we’re not complaining. Like I said, get out the chequebook.

Bush left Israel on Friday for Saudi Arabia, proceeded to Egypt, and then returned to the United States on Sunday.

Related Links–
President Bush Visits Israel
Iranian Grand Missiles Hit Ashkelon Mall
What's Carter Doing in the Middle East?

* This article also appears in Voices without Votes.

9 comments

  • We have had 60 years of experimenting about the Israeli- Palestinian struggle. The region would need help before we will be dragged into a World War III.

    The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel were resettled in 722 B.C. in Iran. Iranian Jews are descendent of these exiled tribes. Their exile is a historical fact. Often, the people defeated were scattered and exiled. Judah and Benjamin, two tribes later known as the Jews, claim Israel as their as their ancient homeland.

    Jews and the Palestinians, whatever they were called then, were both in Middle East at the same time. Both Arabs and Jews have historical claims to the Palestine land.

    No one can reject the fact that creation of Israel on the Palestinian land has created tremendous political and economical problems for the United States and the world. World (the United Nation) may have to look outside of the box to diffuse the problems.

    One solution would be for Israel joining us as a member of the Unites States’ Common Wealth. The United States are already supporting Israel economically, politically and by sharing intelligence and military hardware. In addition, some Israeli Americans with both Israeli and American citizenships serve in the Israeli Armed Forces. Our great American Armed Forces will protect the common wealth as they would the homeland.

    Would it be politically more advantages for the United States to manage the Jewish state as a member of our Common Wealth?

    The Israeli Common Wealth will be free to exercise the religious freedom that our great nation would offer without being isolated among the hostile Arabs.

    The Common Wealth would have to include the Arabs who were forced to leave the land when Zionist invaded the land. It should also include all of the land called by Palestinian as their homeland and by Israeli as their state. I don’t suggest this proposal would work or be acceptable by Israel. In my opinion, this may be more destructive for the USA and would not help the Middle Eastern conflict in the future.

    Then, what next?

    Would really two nation model for Palestinian and Israeli work in the future? Many experts on the Middle Eastern politics and people would suggest that a two state solution in not viable model. We have struggled with it for nearly 60 years.

    Should we be looking at the region as a Federal States with one government elected by all of the people? This model may have a much better chance of survival as a solution for both Israeli and Arabs.

    We have been forced into one box by the Israeli Lobby; we need to look outside of this box. We can’t fight wars after wars to support a non-working model of a two state solution. We can’t afford war after war to support a failed two state model.

    Both Jewish and Palestinians have paid a high price for a failed system; they have failed to consider the human side of the Israeli-Jewish struggle for a lasting peace.

    I suggest that only as one nation, Federal State of Israel-Palestine, the peace may endure. We, Americans, have failed to see the both side of the struggle for a lasting peace. The two cousins may have to kiss and forgive for all the hurt they have caused and endured. As Semitic people, they have common historical and religious heritage.

  • Dear St. Michael,

    I see that you’ve devoted a whole blog post to this. Clearly it is an issue that is close to your heart.

    I have to say that I don’t think Israel and Palestine will be the cause of World War III, as you posit. As an American (as well as an Israeli), I can say that I think the US and other countries of the world would be far more likely to bring on an international conflict than our two states– although who is to say? I doubt anyone thought that events triggered in Sarajevo in 1914 would be a sufficient tinderbox for widescale devastation either.

    As to your advice to “Kiss and forgive all the hurt,” easier said than done!

    Thanks for your comment.

    Maya Norton

  • My Correction:
    The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel were resettled in 722 B.C. in Iran. Assyria, the nation that is now Iraq, took the 10 tribes captive and relocated them in Iran (historic Persia). Iranian Jews are descendent of these exiled tribes. Their exile is a historical fact. Often, the people defeated were scattered and exiled. Judah and Benjamin, two tribes later known as the Jews, claim Israel as their as their ancient homeland.

  • Abe Bird

    Saint Michael Traveler:
    * The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel were resettled in 722 B.C. in now days north Syria+north Iraq and then some moved towards Europe , Iran and southern Russia.

    The Jews of today are mainly descendents of Judea, Simeon, Benjamin tribes but also some portion of other Israelite tribes that stilled stayed at the land of Israel after 722 B.C. We know also that Jedaism was a source of belief that attracted many in the ancient world, and some portion of Edomites and Philistines also converted to Judaism around that period of time.

    There weren’t any Palestinian nation at that time, nor Palestine. It’s a Roman name for Israel and has nothing to do with Arabs or Muslims. So I can’t see how are you saying that “Both Arabs and Jews have historical claims to the Palestine land” meets with the historical facts. Arabs as a group first settled in Palestine by the Islamic occupation of Palestine.

    Israel wasn’t created on Arab land but on Palestie land, the Roman name for Israel land. There wasn’t any Palestinian people in history but the Jews. Arabs turned to be called first “Palestinian Arabs” next to the “Palestinian Jews” under the British colonialism regime. When the “Palestinian Jews” called them selves Israelis in 1948 the name “Palestinians” was free to use by others. It took the Arabs in Palestine/Israel some more decades to call them selves “Palestinians” rather then “Arab Palestinians”.

    Arabs were forced to leave the land when they broke a comprehensive war against Israel and not when “Zionist s invaded the land”. Zionists “invaded” aka immigrated to the land by law and moral way.

    There is no any “tremendous political and economical problems” for the United States and the world because of the Israeli – Arab conflict in Israel land. The world has it own problems and we should let Israel to solve that issue. The best solution as I see is cut Palestine into two states and not three. Jordenian Palestine in the eastern side of the land and Israel in the western side. The border in between should be the Jordan river. Arabs on both states will vote for their Parliament in Amman and Jews will vote for their Knesset in Jerusalem.

    The US never have been forced into one box by the Israeli Lobby; Nor to fight any war for Israel. Israel can take care of her own security. Some times the US even ties Israel hands and halt her from reacting as needed.

  • Abe Bird, I am basing my statements on the following assumptions:

    • Both Arabs and Israelis are members of Semitic group of human population.
    • Judaism is a religion.
    • Anyone may accept the covenants of Jewish religion.
    • Jewish religion was promoted by patriarch Abraham.
    • The western and central region of the Middle was populated mostly by Semitic people. Some of the population converted to Judaism.
    • Thus, both those who accepted Judaism and those who did not, irrespective of what they were called, were both present at the same time and the same region.
    • Jewish, Christians and Muslims believe in the same God. Muslims believe in all of the prophets of Jewish religion and Jesus Christ. Muslims consider both the Old Testaments and the New Testaments as holy books.

    The basis for Israeli claim to the region is that once there were Semitic tribes who have accepted Judaism and had formed a regional power (village-city-tribe) as a State sometimes before rise of Assyrian Empire. This regional power thereafter was dissolved and was absorbed into Assyria.

    Empires such as Syria, Persia, Greece, Roman Empire, Arabia, Turkish, Colonialist such as France and England controlled the region. Major segments of Jewish population left the region during the period of 2000 years.

    The majority of the population of the region had converted to Islam and members of the three major braches of religion, i.e. Jewish, Christian and Muslim, had lived on this land. After the World War II, Zionist lobbied some members of the newly formed the United Nations to create the state of Israel. The state was created on the land that up to now were cities and villages for Muslims and Christians.

    Thus, those who believe in Islam and Christianity who have lived in the region for thousands of year had to be displaced to create space for mass migration of Jews. This is the cause for struggle between the Israeli state and the non-Jewish population.

    I indicated that a two- state model for the region would not be a functioning system. Only one nation as a Federal State of Israel-Palestine the region would be at peace.

  • Wow – fascinating comments. Peace in this region seems so far fetched looking at the history of it. But they do have one interest in common and that is the safety of their families and the integrity of the region. It is high time that we as a race focused on our similarities instead of our differences.

  • Dear Abe Bird and St. Michael,

    I have to say, I think we’re much better off keeping prospects for peace in this century. We have very little to gain by going so far back– it certainly hasn’t done a darn thing so far. By stepping out of the current paradigm, we lose what perspective we have gained by negotiations in the last few years.

    Mary, thanks for your comment. Very true.

    Maya Norton

  • […] Daniel Levy of the Prospects for Peace blog and Director of the Prospects for Peace Initiative at The Century Foundation compares the Knesset speeches of French President Sarkozy and US President George W. Bush, during his visit last month. […]

  • […] Daniel Levy, del blogProspects for Peace, direttore inoltre del Prospects for Peace Initiative presso la Fondazione The Century confronta i discorsi tenuti alla Knesset dal Presidente francese Sarkozy e dal Presidente Statunitense George W. Bush, che ha avuto modo di parlare nel corso dellasua ultima visita, il mese scorso. […]

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