By MUMIA ABU-JAMAL
When an American president speaks, people listen. They listen because (to borrow a term from the French intelligentsia) the United States is a “hyperpower,” a superstate in a world with no serious state rival for global military or economic hegemony.
They listen, but they don’t necessarily agree.
This is especially so when that American president is George W. Bush (known to some as H.I.M. George III), who has not the gift to read the writings of others and make the words sound his own, whose marble-mouthed syntax and malapropisms make his handlers cringe when he’s in range of an open microphone.
And it is even more so, when Bush speaks, and it appears as if his speech was written for him by wags for the Israeli lobby. For his early summer speech on the U.S. preconditions for support of an “interim” Palestinian state must have caused gleaming smiles in Tel Aviv and the settlements, while sparking grunts of stunted outrage in the besieged occupied territories, Gaza and the West Bank:
“Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born” (G.W. Bush, June 24).
With these words, the Americans plunged the daggers into Yasser Arafat, offering a people under siege “help,” if they but betray their own.
It is not lost on the Palestinians that the offer comes just as Israel has launched its second, mass military occupation of their lands, as a kind of iron fist to accompany U.S. words of honeyed diplomacy.
This is a macabre kind of “Son of Oslo,” a new diplomatic initiative that amounts to a betrayal on the heels of a betrayal. For millions of Arabs, Oslo was not the glorious achievement that the corporate, pro-Western media portrayed it as. As Arab political science scholar As’ad Abu-Khalil notes:
“[I]t is important to realize that the Oslo process, which was hailed as a victory by the U.S., was met with skepticism and hostility in much of the Middle East. … Arab public opinion, and even some Arab governments, considered the Oslo deal unfair to the Palestinians and faulted Yasser Arafat for squandering decades of Palestinian struggle to save his own political career” (Abu-Khalil, A., “Bin Laden, Islam and America’s New ‘War on Terrorism,'” Seven Stories/Open Media, 2002, p. 36).
Bush, using words of “peace” and promises of support, gives a bright, green light to Israeli intransigence and military belligerence in the region. When an army kills, or represses a people, this is not seen as violence. The Palestinians have no right to security, and apparently no right to statehood, unless they betray their leaders.
As for the American insistence on the establishment of a state that doesn’t have roots in terrorism, Americans are insisting on a purity that it did not possess at its inception.
The ruthless and monstrous genocide waged against indigenous “Indian” nations, from Wounded Knee to Sand Creek, is a history of terrorism that has few parallels in the world. The same could be said for the racist exploitation of millions of Africans for centuries.
Nor could Israel claim such a distinction at its inception slightly over 50 years ago, when Jewish armed militias drove the war-weary British from Palestine, as well as countless Arabs from their ancestral lands, by bombings of hotels, and massacres as in Deir Yassin. Terrorism apparently worked so well that at least two of the men whose faces graced British wanted posters, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin, later became prime ministers of Israel.
Is Israel, to quote George III, “compromised by terror”?
Neither the U.S., nor Israel, wants “peace.” They want the silence and acquiescence of the oppressed and the occupied. They want a Palestine that is but a state in name, a client state of the Americans, and a satrap of Israel.
This is Bush’s “vision” of imperial democracy. Will the people of Palestine accept it?
© COPYRIGHT MAJ 2002