Come Back, President Bush – All is forgiven!

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Failing to clearly define a reason for supporting Israel, Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel has shamed the American Jewish community into attending a rally on September 23, 2001, in New York City. That Sunday between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, therefore, promises to become a significant, almost religious, event, symbolically placing Jewish National survival on a par with the Holocaust, as if the survival of Jews worldwide depended on a respectable attendance.

Previewing the events of that holy day, Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton and American Jewish leaders campaigned outside the UN headquarters on Monday August 20, 2001. Yes, they implicitly blamed the Palestinians for their condition under Israeli occupation, ironically endorsing Israeli violations of UN Security Council resolutions, of human rights, and of common decency.

Only if the September 23rd event is successful, it will eliminate the option that might curb the spiraling cycle of violence in the region: bearing pressure on Israel.

Despite expected opposition to such a proposal, an almost successful precedent had already been made.

President George Herbert Walker Bush had, in September 1991, asked for postponing $10 billion of loan guarantees to Israel, and made the guarantees conditional on Israel ceasing illegal settlement activity. The postponement followed a Saudi Arabia government announcement on July 20, 1991, to lift the Arab boycott of Israel if Jewish settlement of the occupied territories was halted.

Though Bush senior’s effort was well intentioned, either good faith execution or proper follow-through was lacking.

The subsequent lifting of the Arab boycott and Israel’s ensuing economic boom was lost in the Madrid, Oslo, and Camp David shuffle. The ink, however, hadn’t even dried on Article XI of the Palestinian – Israeli Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip signed in Washington D.C. in September 1995, when Israel squandered valuable goodwill by resuming illegal settlement construction at an alarming rate.

The détente, on the other hand, did secure Saudi Arabia’s commitment to maintain maximum oil production during the nineties, bolstering the US economy, leaving American commitment to end Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, including East Jerusalem, to contend with Bill Clinton’s pain.

Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum and self-styled expert on “Islamists”, suggested that an American deception, traced to the loan guarantees drama, could have caused the 1991 failure. Pipes claimed that Bush senior’s ruse might have served to only bolster Arab confidence in American intentions, accurately stating, “Israel won peace negotiations on its terms, the U.S. government did grant the $10 billion loan guarantee, and President Bush reconfirmed his opposition to a Palestinian state. Worse, Bush staged war against one Arab state (Iraq) and imposed sanctions on another (Libya).”

Thus, with a stroke of perceived deception, the two-track American formula for reaching peace in the Middle East appears to lose confidence!

Hence, American policy was never as ready for honest pressure on Israel in the interest of peace. If duplicitous policy had tantalized Israelis with a taste of potential prosperity, imagine what a truly balanced Middle East policy would achieve! As a self-professed military, social, and economic leader, Israel must yield to ending the siege of Palestinian population centers, to stopping the illegal construction of settlements on occupied territory, and to restoring negotiations.

The alternatives are unacceptable. Yet, King Fahd’s recent Washington boycott signals a possible cooling even between Riyadh and Washington, and the previously successful Arab alliance against Iraq now focuses on a possible war with Israel.

Furthermore, a mere postponement of loan guarantees will not, as experience has shown, suffice in convincing Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate confidently. The United States must stop handing out free money and must hold its military and economic aid recipients, especially Israel, accountable. The Middle East’s most powerful military mocks its integrity when it claims that stone-throwing, rifle wielding, moribund, and impoverished Palestinian mobs dictate its agenda for making peace.

Despite past experience and better judgment, however, there are many in Washington who might still prefer Pipes’ Arab/Islamic defamation, like a veritable security blanket, and come September 23, those Washington players might find little courage to oppose the powerful influences that have previously failed at finding a solution.

Yet even Hilary Clinton, personally acquainted with deception, hadn’t escaped Pipes’ paranoiac defense of Israeli interests against enemies, imagined and real. Pipes had outlined the Clintons’ questionable commitment to Israel by describing how a $15,000 grant was indirectly contributed to the Union of Palestinian Working Women’s Committees and the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees under Hilary’s foundation Chairmanship.

Actually, Pipes might even attribute the September 23rd rally to the need for mobilizing American interests against the threat of Palestinian world domination!

(Author of upcoming novel, “Israel, By Any Other Name”, Ghassan Ghraizi was Born in Beirut, Lebanon, and has lived and earned his education internationally.  A US military veteran, he’s experienced both war and peace.  A CPA working for corporate America, his friends and family time is divided between individuals who are as varied as the countries he’d adopted.)

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