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Bush on Israel: Heartburn for All ^ | 6-4-07 | Daniel Pipes

Posted on 06/04/2007 11:07:50 AM PDT by SJackson

Consistency and predictability are core strengths of George W. Bush as a politician. Be the issue domestic (taxes, education) or foreign (terrorism, Iraq), once he settles on a policy he sticks with it. There is no ambiguity, no guessing what his real position might be, no despair at interpreting contradictions. Even his detractors never complain about "Tricky George" or "Slick Bush."

But there is one exception to this pattern. And - couldn't you have predicted it? - the topic is the Arab-Israeli conflict. Here, Bush not only seems unable to make up his mind, but he oscillates between two quite contrary views.

For example, at the height of the Palestinian assault against Israel last April, the president delivered a major address that contained within it a flagrant contradiction.

* He began by slamming Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority (PA) for its terrorism against Israelis, and he fingered several groups, one of them (Al-Aqsa Brigades) under Arafat's control, attempting to destroy Israel. In this spirit, not surprisingly, Bush approved of Israeli efforts at self-protection, saying that "America recognizes Israel's right to defend itself from terror."

* Then, in concluding the speech, he drew policy conclusions at odds with this analysis. The president asked Palestinian leaders to make some nominal gestures to prove they are "truly on the side of peace," then demanded that Israel's government reciprocate with four giant steps (halt its military efforts, withdraw from areas it had recently occupied, cease civilian construction in the occupied territories and help build a viable Palestinian state).

In sum, Bush theoretically backed Israel and condemned Arafat while practically he backed Arafat and punished Israel. All this left most observers stumped.

Their puzzlement then grew, specifically about the requirements for a Palestinian state. In June 2002, amid much fanfare, the president unveiled a major initiative making this contingent on significant changes in Palestinian behavior: "When the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new security arrangements with their neighbors," he said, "the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state."

Three months later, the State Department furtively unveiled a contrary initiative, something it called the "concrete, three-phase implementation road map." This road map can plan on a Palestinian state by 2005 by dispensing with Bush's requirements of the PA and instead requesting only token assurances from it.

This duality leads to heartburn on all sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict, as no one can quite figure out U.S. policy. One thesis is that the White House and the State Department have separate plans. That appears to be what Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon thinks and explains why he has ignored the road map and focused on the president's June speech.

As though in reply to this, in a major address to the American Enterprise Institute last week, Bush signaled his endorsement of the road map: "It is the commitment of our government - and my personal commitment - to implement the road map," he said.

And yet, doubts persist.

When a politician acts inconsistently, it usually signals an attempt to please opposed constituencies. In this case, President Bush feels pressure from the Republican voters who put him in office to help Israel protect itself. A Gallup poll last month showed 80 percent of Republicans holding a favorable opinion of Israel, and no politician ignores a number like that.

But the pressure for a Palestinian state is no less impressive, coming from a wide range of influential forces, ranging from Secretary of State Colin Powell to the Democrats in Congress and beyond them to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Arab leaders.

Observing these contradictions through two years of the Bush administration leads me to one main conclusion: In key ways - sympathy for Israel's plight, diplomatic support, providing arms - Bush tends to ignore his own Palestinian-state rhetoric and stand solidly with Israel. His statements demanding this from Israel and promising that to the Palestinians appear to be a sop to outside pressure, not operational policy.

In short, look at what President Bush does, not what he says, and you'll find his usual consistency, this time hiding under a veneer of apparent indecision.

If this is accurate, then the road map is for show, not true policy, and U.S. endorsement of a Palestinian state remains remote.

TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Israel

1 posted on 06/04/2007 11:07:53 AM PDT by SJackson
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To: dennisw; Cachelot; Nix 2; veronica; Catspaw; knighthawk; Alouette; Optimist; weikel; Lent; GregB; ..
If you'd like to be on this middle east/political ping list, please FR mail me.

High Volume. Articles on Israel can also be found by clicking on the Topic or Keyword Israel. or WOT [War on Terror]


2 posted on 06/04/2007 11:10:42 AM PDT by SJackson (Be careful -- with quotations, you can damn anything, Andre Malra ux)
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To: SJackson
But the pressure for a Palestinian state is no less impressive

I thought there was one already: Jordan.
3 posted on 06/04/2007 11:29:31 AM PDT by caveat emptor
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To: SJackson
The biggest loser in Bush's determination to alienate Joe Sixpack will be Israel.

1) Evangelicals will splinter. Years of being treated as the red-headed stepchild by the GOP will finally bear fruit as the "Rick Warren" Christians start moving toward the Dems. Funny how the Dems don't act ashamed of evangelicals--and conservative Christians are about the only support Israel has in the US.

2) Joe Sixpack will rethink Iraq, now that he has lost trust in the GOP.

4 posted on 06/04/2007 11:42:13 AM PDT by Mamzelle ("Mr. Elite Pro-Amnesty Republican--Has your family ever employed illegal labor?")
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To: SJackson
We shouldn't let Bush or Rice travel to or speak about Israel again. Their failures are so abject there is no reason to pay any attention to either of them on Israel's security and internal or foreign policy.

Israel needs to do what it must to secure its own security and ignore world and American opinion. And ignore any threats about the American aid that has debilitated their economy and turned it toward a socialist client model.
5 posted on 06/04/2007 11:47:07 AM PDT by George W. Bush
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To: Salem


6 posted on 06/04/2007 12:38:19 PM PDT by Convert from ECUSA (Jimmuh Carter can kiss my cold instant grits.)
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To: SJackson
I don't know why anyone is stumped - not at this late date. Oh, initially, Bush sounded very pro-Israel. However, in the end he proved to be no different than his father, except that he was better at hiding his true intentions. And what are those intentions? In my view, making Israel as small and dependent on US aid and protection as possible, making Israel an offshore R&D center for our high-tech industries and nothing more - so as to please big donors and not piss off the Arabs friends of his family and his associates.

Yeah, this is a highly jaundiced view of Bush & Co., but what else is one to think? Every single time there's been a terrorist incident or act of war against Israel and its citizens, we get the nonsense that Israel needs to restrain itself, that the "poor Palesinians" need more time or that Israel has to have more patience, blah, blah, blah. THEY'RE FREAKIN' TERRORISTS!!!! What would the US do if a bunch of ungoverned bandits invaded our territory and murdered our citizens...oh, wait, no need to actually ask the question, since IT HAPPENED ALREADY!! Pancho Villa and his murderous thugs invaded the US and killed a bunch of our citizens - and even limpwrist Woodrow Wilson sent Blackjack Pershing and literally half of the army into Mexico for nearly a year trying to track him down and kill him.

What would the US do if the Mexicans or Canadians started lobbing missiles over our border and killing people? We'd flatten the entire launch site with B-52s, then follow up with a ground invasion to make certain we got all of the bastards.

But Israel is different. There's no clearer case of a nation and people that are "with us," and no clearer case of an enemy that is "against us," yet Bush can't seem to really bring Israel in as our ally nor condemn and take actual, effective action against the Palestinians. The latest is that he wants to cajole Israel into giving $700 million to Hamas!!!! Is Bush INSANE?? Seriously, if that's a good idea, maybe we should give Al Quaida a few billion bucks.

I literally can think of no more suicidal policy for the leader of Western Civilization to take than to handcuff, verbally abuse and otherwise restrain an avowed ally of decades, which has been on the front lines against terrorists of the sort WE are now, finally fighting, which has irreplaceable intelligence and knowledge of how to effectively guard civilians and fight these animals - while simultaneously coddling and even subsidizing the "other" terrorists (i.e. the non-Al Quaida ones) at the behest of nations that gave birth and support to the Al Quaida terrorists. To quote Charleton Heston in "Planet of the Apes," ITS A MADHOUSE!!! A MADHOUSE!!!

7 posted on 06/04/2007 1:26:21 PM PDT by Ancesthntr
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To: SJackson

Our government should stop funding terrorism, but they are too proud to listen to riff-raff like myself. They assume that they’ll get votes from us again in a little over eight years, after the Democrats have their gang’s turn in office.

8 posted on 06/04/2007 1:53:03 PM PDT by familyop (Don't pay any attention. I didn't contribute much money and am only a voter.)
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