Before You Go, Madeleine Albright, et cetera


Before you go, Madeleine, I want Americans to know that many people around the world see you as an advocate of repression. They see that you have conducted the affairs of state with a level of indifference to Israeli repression and brutality that demonstrates contempt for the value of Palestinian lives. You, more than most Americans know the heinous attacks and abuse of human rights inflicted on the Palestinians on a daily basis. You know what it is doing to America’s reputation in the streets of the Middle East, at the United Nations and beyond.

A notable Cairo matron, an ex-diplomat’s wife, had this to say in a recent telephone interview: “If this was America. If the Palestinians were convicted criminals, the Israelis were their prison guards, and they had killed 300 inmates in a prison riot, the Americans would have said something. But the Americans care nothing about Palestinian or Arab lives.” I had called to interview her husband, but she had answered the telephone.

When the ex-diplomat picked up the other line, he had this to add “Israel is bound by international law to safeguard Palestinian civilian life and property. The Palestinians are an occupied people revolting for their independence, not convicted criminals. The Israelis are bombing crowded refugee camps with tanks. Moreover, the Americans are preventing any legitimate international inquiry or any kind of international sanction of Israel or any protection for these people. If Senator Mitchell’s paper commission is there to pick up reports, it would have been just as easy to fax them to Washington.”

I was in Seattle. They were in Cairo. They spoke with such anguish. The interview lasted an hour. While most Americans do not share their deep concerns for the Palestinians, they should care about American business interests in the Middle East. According to these two very astute Cairo observers, little children are refusing to buy American products as protest against Israeli repression. Madeleine, How exactly did America become associated with the killing fields in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem?

Madeleine, do not think for a minute that it is only Palestinians who are reacting to these daily scenes of carnage. I do not possess the eyes and ears of the State department or the CIA. If a cyber magazine operating out of Seattle can gather this information, so can you. Either you have ignored the daily reports from the American Embassy in Cairo or they have not been sent. Either you are not doing your job or the American ambassador in Cairo, Daniel Kurtzer, is not doing his.

The slaughter of so many Palestinians has already sparked a grass-roots boycott of American products. That cannot be good. Nevertheless, you have not said a word about it. You know that America has no interest in the continued repression of the Palestinians. And you have not spoken on that subject, either.

You have had many opportunities to speak out and yet you have remained silent. You and Clinton will leave a legacy, all right. You will leave a huge foreign policy liability for your successor because you have given Israeli ambitions primacy over American interests. Granted your predecessor Warren Christopher was even more spineless as evidenced by his 1000 days of waffling while Serbs were slaughtering Bosnians. But you were supposed to have a spine. Now, quickly borrow a spine and clean up some of your mess before you go. Do it for the sake of America’s moral standing in the world.

You have been neutral while defenseless unarmed civilians have been murdered with American weaponry. You have been neutral while Israel proceeded with expanding the illegal Jewish settlements. That kind of neutrality translates into advocacy. Advocacy for everything Israeli, including repression. So, before you leave, let me remind you about words that every American should not forget. The words of Madeleine Albright. This is from an official State Department transcript and it is certainly for the history books:

The following is from a press conference held by Albright.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, in your estimation, has the Israelis used excessive force in their response to Palestinian attacks since Monday?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We think that it is very important é the Palestinians know what they need to do, and we are concerned about the way that force is being used.

QUESTION: Israeli force?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Israeli force, as well as the shootings, et cetera, by the Palestinians. Thank you. I would like to say Lars-Erik Nelson was a very good friend of mine, and I was very sorry to read about his death this morning. He clearly was part of all our families, and so I wanted to express my condolences to all of you. I did want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you.

Madeleine, I need to ask why you ended the conference so quickly. And what is the meaning of ‘et cetera’? Does it not translate into ‘blah, blah, blah”? I have other questions you would not care to answer. But perhaps you could answer just this one. During the course of the whole press conference, you did not once express sympathy to the hundreds of Palestinians that have been murdered or to their families. But, you had times to give a word of condolence to Lars-Erik Nelson. Some deaths, like lives, are apparently more important than others.

This brings me to Chechnya. Andrew Glass, in a recent syndicated column wrote a little paragraph that you need to explain. Madeleine, what do you suppose Andrew Glass was talking about when he attributed the following to the Clinton Administration

” More broadly, officials here question Putin’s commitment to Russian-brand democracy, let alone anything approaching Western models. They complain that they haven’t been paid for having looked the other way as Russian troops put down the rebellious Chechens.”

Tell me, Madeleine, what currency did the Russians promise to repay you in? I doubt you would have accepted Rubles. And how did you intend to exchange that particular kind currency? At the blood bank? For immediate assistance, Madeleine, refer to the Andrew Glass syndicated article (Moscow may top foreign policy, Cox Newspapers 12/12/2000).

Madeleine, before you go, have the decency to answer at least a few of these questions.

People need to know. People like Palestinians, Egyptians, Bosnians, Chechens, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Mr. Ahmed Amr is Editor of in Seattle and a regular contributor to Media Monitors Network (MMN)

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