Did the president really say what I think he said? Speaking in the White House Rose Garden this past Friday, a clearly delighted Colin Powell at his side, George W. Bush went ahead and used the O word, as in "occupied," when describing Israel's heartland of Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
In laying out his vision for the establishment of a Palestinian state, Bush said that, "as progress is made toward peace, settlement activity in the occupied territories must end," the implication being that Jewish housing construction somehow inhibits Middle Eastern harmony.
With the United States poised to liberate Baghdad, the president's use of the O word might seem a matter of secondary importance, as the entire region will soon undergo a fundamental transformation of historic proportions. America is about to reshuffle the Arab deck, with far-reaching consequences for nearly every country involved.
But with all the uncertainty regarding precisely what will emerge in the post-Saddam era, there is one issue about which there should be little doubt. Once the Iraqis get walloped, Russia, Europe and the Arab world will intensify their criticism, seeking to force Bush to "balance" his liberation of Iraq with independence for the Palestinians.
In fact, such pressure is already starting to mount. As the New York Times reported over the weekend, Bush's Friday statement came as "a result of pressure from British Prime Minister Tony Blair." Blair, the Times noted, has been demanding that the White House adopt the road map leading to a Palestinian state so as "to quell the anger throughout the Arab world over the Bush administration's perceived focus on Iraq."
Hence, the president's reference to the "occupied territories" and his call for the establishment of a Palestinian state should not be written off lightly. Rather, it is just a small taste of what is yet to come.
To be fair, the White House's stance on Judea, Samaria and Gaza is hardly new. American presidents have long been vocally opposed to the expansion of Jewish communities in the territories, even as they remained inexplicably silent about the illegal growth of neighboring Arab villages.
But Bush is not just any American president. Unlike his predecessors, he has pushed Yasser Arafat into a corner, courageously stood up to Saddam Hussein, underlined the need for democratization of the Arab world and launched a far-reaching global war on terror.
It may sound cliched, but he is by far "the best friend Israel has had in the White House" in a good long time.
AND THAT is what makes his latest remarks so puzzling.
For as a number of recent stories in the US press have made amply clear, Bush is a religious man who takes his Christian faith seriously. And yet, if Jesus were alive today, the US State Department would likely criticize him for being a Jewish settler and an obstacle to peace.
After all, according to the New Testament, Jesus was a Jew born in Bethlehem, which is south of Jerusalem, in what Colin Powell considers the "occupied territory" of Judea. His parents were Jews who undoubtedly prayed at a local Bethlehem synagogue, learned Torah at a local study hall, and bought food at the local kosher marketplace.
Thus they were Jewish settlers in every respect.
Needless to say, the New Testament itself contains no mention of the word "Palestine" or "Palestinians," for the simple reason that they did not exist. All told, in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, the terms "Judah" or "Judea" appear 877 times, and "Samaria" is used on 123 occasions. There is no reference to phrases such as the "West Bank" or "occupied territories," as Islam had not yet even come into being.
It is therefore hard to understand why the president would consent to pressure Israel to turn over Judea, Samaria and Gaza to the Palestinians, for he would appear to be acting contrary to what his own hallowed text seems to demonstrate, namely, that these areas belong to the Jewish people and no one else.
The same goes for Israel's capital, where many of the events in the Christian bible, such as the last supper on Mount Zion, the denunciation in the Garden of Gethsemane and the crucifixion on Golgotha are all described as having taken place in Jerusalem in Roman-occupied Jewish Jerusalem, that is.
Hence, Christians who accept Palestinian demands to Jerusalem are essentially denying the validity of their own traditions.
It is imperative, then, that American Christian supporters of Israel launch an all-out effort to remind Bush of these facts and counter the pressure he is coming under from the likes of Tony Blair and Colin Powell.
Bush is an honest and decent man, true to himself and his belief system. But he is facing enormous pressure to mollify the Arabs at the expense of the Jewish state, and he will therefore need a great deal of public backing if he is to stand up to it.
Since Bush is a man of faith, Christian supporters of Israel should appeal to him using a faith-based approach, pointing out that the New Testament he professes to believe in provides ample evidence that places such as Bethlehem and Hebron have nothing to do with the Palestinians, and everything to do with Israel.
Of course I, as a Jew, personally look to the Torah for validation of my people's unbreakable connection to the Land of Israel and exclusive rights to it. As far as I am concerned the views of the Prophets take precedence over those of Colin Powell any day.
Once the war in Iraq is over, though, Bush will likely have to make a choice between the two.
Now is the time for American Christians to speak out and remind him that when it comes to politics versus prophecy, the man of faith must ultimately follow his heart.
The writer served as deputy director of communications & policy planning in the Prime Minister's Office from 1996 to 1999.
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By Reuven Koret - March 21, 2003
Israelis went about their business Friday, with Patriot anti-missile batteries guarding their cities and cardboard gas mask kits at their side. Schools remained open, and attendance was reported at about 80% of usual although rates dipped to around 50% in the Tel Aviv area believed to be relatively vulnerable. But amid the cautious calm, some Israeli officials have expressed concern about ominous signs on the diplomatic front.
The continuing reminders of the "road map" by the British and other Europeans continue to cause annoyance here, if not surprise. Israeli officials say that repeated references to the need for the creation of a "viable Palestinian state" are to be expected as lip service paid by the United States to ensure that the Arab and European partners have something to tell their constituencies and cover their diplomatic flanks.
Israelis are counting on a swift American victory, followed by a protracted effort to stabilize and reconstruct a vanquished Iraq. Israeli officials are hopeful that the nation's diplomatic, military and logistical support for the American-led effort to stage its offensive against the regime of Saddam Hussein -- in stark contrast to Turkey, let alone unwilling NATO states like France and Germany -- will earn post-war "brownie points."
The decision of the United States to extend to Israel $9 billion in special loan guarantees, announced on the eve of the outbreak of war, earned the thanks of newly appointed Finance Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, a billion more than requested as a token of appreciation for Bibi proposed draconian budgetary cuts. But behind the scenes, unnamed Israeli officials expressed disappointment that $1 billion in military grants was offered rather than the requested. The sum, they note, will not come close to covering the expenses and losses caused in the Israeli economy by the conflict. In the aftermath of the conflict, even if Israel suffers no direct damage from Iraqi attacks, the nation will be more economically vulnerable than ever.
The diplomatic vulnerability promises to be heightened as well. Officials in Jerusalem have expressed concern with the conflict interpretations being offered concerning the US-EU-UN-Russian Quartet's Roadmap for Israel-Palestinian peace. In the Rose Garden statement on the subject by George Bush last week, there was an insistence that the publication of the Roadmap would be dependent on the confirmation of a Palestinian Prime Minister with "real authority."
It has since become clear that, in matters of security of foreign affairs and security, the newly appointed PM Abu Mazen will be beholden to Yasser Arafat, who will remain the real decision-maker on these key issues. Still, it is not yet clear whether this fact will in fact defer the release of the Roadmap. The United States has welcomed the appointment of Abu Mazen as a positive step, but has not yet authorized the Roadmap's publication.
Also disturbing to Israeli officials has been ambiguity in the ability to modify the current form of the Roadmap. While President Bush said that he would welcome "contributions" to the current Roadmap, and "encourage" Israelis and Palestinians to discuss the issues directly, U.S. Administration officials hastened to say that the Roadmap was not open for renegotiation.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said on March 19: "The document will be released as the road map; that is the road map, and that will be the road map" and the Washington Post quoted a State Department official as saying that "We don't want to leave the impression that Israel has veto power and can renegotiate the road map on their own terms.'"
Secretary of State Colin Powell said that the draft to be published was the December 20 edition. A State Department official said that the U.S. was prepared to discuss the implementation of the Roadmap but not its language.
When Israeli officials protested that this seemed to preclude consideration of Israel's extensive list of comments to the current draft, American officials reportedly dismissed this concern and said that implementation was the key and that improvement in the security situation would in any case be a precondition for diplomatic progress.
This vagueness has raised fears in the Sharon government that completion of the Iraq campaign will be followed by an imposed solution on Israel, with the Roadmap treated as an ultimatum subject to the strict interpretation of the Quartet with little opportunity for Israeli input or consideration of Israeli security concerns.
© 2001-2003 Koret Communications Ltd. All rights reserved.
By Charles Krauthammer - March 21, 2003
Don't go back, Mr. President. You walked away from the United Nations at great cost and with great courage. Don't go back.
No one knows when this war will end. But when it does, you'll have to decide the terms. Yet in the last few days both you and Tony Blair have said you will seek a new U.N. resolution, postwar, providing for the governance of Iraq.
Why in God's name would we want to re-empower the French in deciding the postwar settlement? Why would we want to grant them influence over the terms, the powers, the duration of an occupation bought at the price of American and British blood? France, Germany and Russia did everything they could to sabotage your policy before the war. Will they want to see it succeed after the war?
The Frankfurt Allgemeine reports that on Feb. 21, Germany's U.N. ambassador, Gunter Pleuger, wrote his Foreign Ministry that the United States, blocked on a U.N. war resolution and fighting alone, would later ``remorsefully return to the council'' to seek help in rebuilding Iraq.
That is their game. Why should we play into it? And why return the issue to Kofi Annan, who had the audacity to declare the war illegitimate because it is supported by only 17 U.N. resolutions and not 18?
Mr. President, we lost at the U.N. Badly. But that signal defeat had one significant side benefit. For the first time, Americans got to see what the U.N. truly is. The experience has been bracing. The result has been an enormous and salutary shift in American public opinion.
You've seen the polls: 75 percent of Americans disapprove of how the U.N. handled the situation with Iraq. In December, polls showed a majority of Americans opposed to a war without U.N. backing. Today, after the U.N. debacle, 71 percent support the war regardless.
What happened? Americans finally had a look inside the sausage factory. Their image of the ``U.N.'' as a legitimating institution had always been deeply sentimental, based on the U.N. of their youth--UNICEF, refugee help, earthquake assistance. A global Mother Teresa. That's what they thought of the U.N., and that's why they held it in esteem and cared about what it said. Now they know that the ``U.N.'' is not UNICEF collection boxes, but a committee of cynical, resentful, ex-imperial powers like France and Russia serving their own national interests--and delighting in frustrating America's--without the slightest reference to the moral issues at stake. The American public understands that this is not a body in which to entrust American values or American security.
On Sept. 12, 2002, you gave the U.N. a fair test: Act like a real instrument for collective security--or die like the League of Nations. The U.N. failed spectacularly. The American people saw it. And the American people are now with you in leaving the U.N. behind.
Why resurrect it after the war? When not destructive, as on Iraq, it is useless, as on North Korea. China has blocked the Security Council from even meeting to deal with North Korea's brazen nuclear breakout. On this one, the Security Council wants the United States to unilaterally engage North Korea--this amid daily excoriations of the U.S. for ``unilateralism."
The hypocrisy is stunning. But the deeper issue is that the principal purpose of the Security Council is not to restrain tyrants, but to restrain the United States.
The Security Council is nothing more than the victory coalition of 1945. That was six decades ago. Let a new structure be born out of the Iraq coalition. Maybe it will acquire a name, maybe it won't. But it is this coalition of freedom--led by the United States and Britain and about 30 other nations, including such moderate Arab states as Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar--that should set and institutionalize the terms for postwar Iraq. Not the Security Council.
If we're going to negotiate terms, it should be with allies who helped us, who share our vision and our purposes. Not with France, Germany, Russia and China, who see us--you--as the threat and whose singular purpose will be to subvert any victory.
There were wars and truces and treaties before the U.N. was created--as there will be after its demise. No need to formally leave the U.N., Mr. President. Just ignore it. Without us, it will wither away.
Fighting a war and rebuilding Iraq are tasks enough, I know. But serendipity--and France--has given you the opportunity to build new international structures without the albatross of this hopeless anachronism.
No act of commission is required. Just omission. Don't return, Mr. President. Don't give Ambassador Pleuger the satisfaction of seeing you crawl back.
©2003 Washington Post Writers Group
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"A View of the Absurd" Op Ed Column
By Jack Engelhard
Forty eight hours to get out of town. I like that. Pure Texas rawhide. For a
while there, he had us worried. Even though Tough Guys Don't Dance, he was
doing the European tango. Guess he had to. After all, he's not just the
President of the United States. He's really the President of the World.
No "two-state solution" for Saddam. No "road map" for Saddam. No Oslo, no
Quartet, and no "painful" territorial concessions for Saddam.
Saddam gets no part of the West, he won't be sharing Washington, D.C., and
he doesn't get trusteeship over our historic landmarks.
Actually, there is a road map for Saddam. Follow these directions: straight
out of town!
"The tyrant will soon be gone," said Our Guy, back in the saddle again.
Might be a lesson here for Sharon, even for Bush himself when he returns his
attention to Israel...and...what the heck was that all about? A few days
back, in the middle of nothing, suddenly...We interrupt Iraq to bring you
That's what it amounted to last week when President Bush took to the air
from the Rose Garden to reaffirm his commitment for an Israel and
"Palestine" that "will live side by side in peace and security." As quick as
you could say, yeah, right, here's Tony Blair reading from the same script.
Nothing from Blair or Bush about living side by side "in peace and security"
with Saddam or Osama.
How is Israel's war different from America's war...and how is Yasser
different from other tyrants? One difference, perhaps: Yasser and his thugs
kill "only" Jews. But that's not true, either. The record shows that since
"Arafat renounced violence in the Oslo Peace Accords, September 13, 1993, at
least 38 Americans have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists."
That was some set-up, that made-for-TV production between Blair and Bush.
The fix was in, obviously to gladden the Chirac/Shroeder "Axis of Israel
Or rather, "You give us Israel. We'll give you Iraq."
President Bush was big when he spoke his own words on Saddam. He was small
when, earlier, in that Rose Garden Israel "infomercial," he spoke like a
puppet, mouthing words on Israel and "Palestine" that could have been
written by French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, who seems never to
have a bad hair day.
The "Axis of Israel Next" really consists of France, Germany, and England.
Mostly England, at the moment, whose Jack Straw repeatedly talks about his
wonderful conversations with Chairman, or President, Arafat. Is there
something wrong with this picture? Here's some typical language from Blair,
Straw and Company...
We are so pleased that PRESIDENT Yasser Arafat is appointing a PRIME
MINISTER who is to be approved by the Palestinian LEGISLATURE.
You mean all this time there's been ANOTHER government operating inside
Israel? Doing business passing laws, drafting "constitutions," meeting
foreign heads of state...
Guess so, especially when even the President of the World expects "peace and
security" from Murder, Inc. and its Mobster in Chief, Yasser Arafat.
Even the Prime Minister supports that two-state solution.
I mean the one named Ariel, not Abu.
Jack Engelhard is the author of the international bestseller "Indecent
Proposal" and is a former radio and newspaper editor covering the Mideast
and former American volunteer in the Israeli Defense Forces. His columns
can be read online at http://www.comteqcom.com/jackcolumn.php and he can be
reached at JackEngelhard@ComteQcom.com.
“Nestled under the American defensive umbrella for 50-odd years, European and Canadian public opinion eventually forgot that it existed. Without need to provide for their own defense, they came round to the view that no one did, that defense itself was unnecessary…Canada has lived in the pretense that, while the Americans were allied with us, we need not be allied with them… We could enjoy a moral free ride, as well as an economic one. This is the patriotism of fools: multilateralism, über alles. The United Nations, right or wrong.”—Political columnist Andrew Coyne, on Canada’s decision not to join with America in an attack on Iraq. (Nat’l. Post, March 19)
- Human Rights and the New Anti-Jewishness: Sounding the Alarm What we are witnessing today which has been developing incrementally, almost imperceptibly, and sometimes indulgently, for some thirty years now is a new, virulent, globalizing and even lethal anti-Jewishness reminiscent of the atmospherics of the 1930s, and without parallel or precedent since the end of the Second World War.
- Laundering Abu Mazen Merely the fact that he has been selected by arch-terrorist Arafat to take on the mantle of authority should already give pause to those committed to fighting terrorism. In fact, anyone involved with the corrupt, duplicitous terrorist organization called the PLO — Abu Mazen is the head of its executive committee — should by now be considered unfit to lead anything but a prison-work detail. Beyond his senior position in the PLO, however, Abu Mazen is also a Holocaust revisionist, a conspiracy theorist, and a promoter of terrorism.
- The Ugly Truth Critics of Israel swallow the notion that the terrorists are fringe elements in their society and that the Palestinian Authority has done its utmost to rein them in and that it condemns their activities. But they seem to have missed the disconcerting truth about the PA
- Fight the Canard
The thrust of the article was that even though the myth of a Jewish conspiracy directing American foreign policy is preposterous, it nevertheless exists, persists and is believed by hundreds of millions throughout the world - and by millions in the United States itself.
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