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Another Shot in the Foot

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 By Charley Reese 

  Mr. Reese's regular column in the Orlando sentinel has produced some of the best articles that shed the light on the Palestinian problem. The writer and the Orlando sentinel are under continuous pressure from the Jewish lobby.

This article was published APRIL 1, 2002  on King Features Syndicate

I've often thought that the United States does not really need any foreign foes, since our own politicians are so adept at shooting us in the foot when it comes to really looking out for national security.President Bush, out of deference to the Israeli lobby, happily ignored the conflict in the Middle East. A few people tried to warn him that the Arab world has changed significantly since the 1990s.Today, Arabs are served by Arab satellite television and watching the Israelis brutalizing the Palestinians was creating boiling anger not only against Israel but its accomplice, the United States. Oh, pooh on the Arab people, the administration said. Their opinions don't count even in their own countries.Wrong. Except for Iraq, there are dictatorships but no totalitarian governments in the Middle East. They might not follow the Anglo-Saxon form of democracy (sorry, but that's what it is, even if most Americans today are so poorly educated they don't know it). But they have various forms and means for consulting their people. All dictators know that there is always a line in the sand that they cannot cross without facing a rebellion. King Abdullah of Jordan, forexample, sometimes disguises himself and goes out alone to see how his government is treating the people. I don't see George Bush doing that.In Saudi Arabia, they have councils of representatives from different tribes.So when Mr. Bush decided to attack Iraq, he was surprised to find all the Arab leaders saying that they won't support an attack on Iraq as long as the United States continues to allow the Israelis to trample on the rights of the Palestinians. He sends the vice president overseas, and Dick Cheney gets the same message. To save face, Cheney comes back and slyly resurrects the old canard that Arab leaders say one thing in public and the opposite in private. Notice, however, that Cheney did not say that any Arab leader either said or implied that he would support an attack on Iraq in private. No, Cheney, a master of double talk - as all experienced politicians are - said that in private ``they expressed concern about Saddam Hussein.'' Hell, they've been expressing concern about him in public for years. But Cheney wanted to leave the impression that they secretly support the U.S.policy. They don't. Neither, for that matter, do most of the European countries.So Bush belatedly discovers the Palestinian conflict and rushes people over to end it by at least restarting the peace process. Now he's discovering, though not yet admitting it publicly, that Israel's idea of partnership is for the United States to do what it says while it refuses to adopt any suggestions we make. Look, here are the facts:Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the day he took office that he would not negotiate a final settlement with the Palestinians. And during his entire time in office, he has refused to meet with Yasser Arafat and has engaged in a campaign to discredit Arafat and to break the spirit of the Palestinians. When the Saudi peace plan was proposed, he rejected it immediately. Israel, he said and still says,will never withdraw to the 1967 boundaries. Well, no withdrawal, no peace; no peace, no Arab cooperation with the U.S. scheme to overthrow Saddam.We are in the beginning of payback time for our hypocritical policyof exempting Israel from every one of the ideals that we laboriously reach. Self-determination is a must for Albanians in Kosovo - not for Palestinians. Refugees have a right to return or receive compensation- but not Palestinian refugees. Countries must obey U.N. Security Council resolutions - but not Israel, which sits in defiance of more than 60. Countries that routinely violate human rights deserve sanctions - except Israel. Countries that assassinate political enemies are state sponsors of terrorism - but not Israel.Countries must not use American-donated weapons for offensive purposes - except for Israel. People who commit war crimes must be put on trial - unless they are Israelis.I could go on and on, for the sins against the Palestinians are practically endless. Americans are about to learn a basic truth enunciated by writer Ayn Rand: We can avoid reality, but we cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality. Bush is on dangerous ground. He'd better kick the Israel-first cabal out of his administration and replace it with people whose only interest is in America's welfare.

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