Colin Powell’s speech to the Palestinians



In the spirit of trying to assist the State Department with its ‘Public Diplomacy’ efforts, we have written a speech for Colin Powell to deliver to the Palestinians and the people of the Middle East.

To all our Palestinian pals: Lend me your ear. Don’t worry I won’t pull it. Please understand, Americans are not Israelis. The United States of America wishes only a beautiful future for every mother’s child. Let me begin with a little historical review of our relationship, since it has become very clear that many Palestinians and Arabs have misconstrued the motives of the foreign policies of the United States.  We know all too well that many of you are all worked up about losing some real estate that used to be your country. Lets talk a little about the nature of that real estate and why you were removed from your ancestral towns and villages. Frankly, we and our allies in the international community were concerned that your land had been contaminated with lead poisoning.  Our policies were based on warnings issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.  Moreover, the reason Americans supported and financed the expropriation of native Arab lands for exclusive Jewish settlements was a genuine attempt to prevent the Arabs from having excess water.  Abundant water supplies might have resulted in the construction of swimming pools that would inevitably increase the potential for more Palestinian drowning victims. When we orchestrated the Partition plan in 1947, we gave all the coast to the Jews precisely to prevent Palestinians from dealing with the trauma of drowning casualties. We were also concerned that facilities like swimming pools and beaches would corrupt the morals of the younger generations and lead them astray from traditional ways.  Had it not been for American policies, young Palestinian people could very well be playing volleyball on a beach in Haifa, as I speak.  Does anyone seriously think that would have been a good thing for the Palestinian people? Every life is sacred. Imagine how many Palestinians have not drowned off the coast of Palestine since 1948.

All this talk about American policies being directed against the interest of Muslims ignores the fact that, as Americans, we also allowed for the severe repression of Palestinian Christians.  We insisted that the Israelis make no distinction between destroying Christian Palestinian and Muslim Palestinian villages. And the historical record clearly proves that the Israelis complied with our requirements. As far as we are concerned, a Palestinian was a Palestinian.  Any objective study would show that the Israelis have managed to basically eradicate the ancient Christian communities of the Holy Land.  The leadership of the Palestinian Christian community will testify in international court, with a compelling body of evidence, that they have suffered as much as their Muslim brothers from Israeli occupation. So, be assured that it had nothing to do with your Islamic heritage, which we make an effort to respect. We know many of you are good Christians just like Kissinger knew the people of Chile were good Christians when he overthrew Allende. You lost your lands not because you were Christians or Muslims; but because you were Palestinians who were in danger of drowning in too much water polluted with unbelievable amounts of lead poisoning materials. Your coastline was simply too long for a people of your size. So, enough already with the ‘crusader’ business. It is blatantly unfair to suggest that these United States of America would go after another people because of their religion.  We went after your people for entirely different reasons. Trust me, if your people did not have oil, I wouldn’t bother to give you this speech. If the Israeli Lobby wasn’t putting pressure on our administration, we would not even be paying attention to the pile of rocks you call a homeland.  Just recently, when the Israeli Army ran wild in the streets of Bethlehem, we did not make a fuss because they were Palestinian Christians. Rather, we completely ignored Sharon’s thugs just like we ignore them when they torment the Palestinian Muslims in Hebron.  That is our policy and we have been very even-handed in assuring a balanced implementation of these policies by American diplomats in the region.

We would like to assure every Palestinian that America never meant your people any harm by subsidizing the ruthless Israeli military occupation army.  We know they killed thousands of your young, used collective punishment techniques, torture and assassination.  We have carefully documented how they destroyed your homes, villages, mosques, churches and public infrastructure. For thirty plus years, we went to the trouble of recording when Israeli occupation goons humiliated your people and put them under a year long medieval curfew. Look at me. I am a Jamaican-American.  My wife is from Birmingham, Alabama. Trust me. I feel your pain.  If you have any doubts that we cared enough to know every detail of your miserable existence, take the time to review State Department human rights reports. We were also aware that your fragile economy was being pulverized.  But our intent was noble.  All we ever wanted was to give the psychotic Israelis a chance to indulge in role playing fantasies that would allow them to deal with the Holocaust and experience the role of tormentor.  Hell, they have aptly shown that any people can work themselves up into a violent racist frenzy against another.  This incredible noble endeavor has helped reconcile Germans and Jews. It has proven that certain common human traits are universal. Now, isn’t that a beautiful thing?  Why can’t Palestinians understand Israel’s therapeutic needs?  As for the Palestinians, we believed that being a soft Eastern Mediterranean people living ‘la dolce vita,’ a little hardship would toughen you up and make you great candidates to succeed in our globalization efforts.  We thought it would build your national character if you suffered more like that great Palestinian siant, Jesus of Nazareth.

Our CIA studies have consistently indicated that the Palestinian people would get great opportunities to pick up some useful trade skills while building exclusive Jewish settlements.  We figured that when you were eventually deported, a good trade would give you a competitive edge while in exile.  If that war criminal Ariel Sharon ever deports you, we will give you all the needed material to construct a twenty-first century refugee camps with durable state-of-the art materials.  With your five decades of refugee experience and your newly acquired building skills, we could end up with the most successful refugee assistance program the world has ever seen. We are always prepared for more Palestinian refugees. To demonstrate our sincerity we have already chosen a new name for the operation, ‘Refugees 2002: Operation Durable Tents’.

Any serious individual who bothered with the facts would realize that America does not hate the Palestinians.  That is just Bin Laden’s maniacal propaganda.  America was only trying to get away from our costly ‘nation building’ fiascoes by trying something new; like dismantling your nation.  It was never personal. Surly, you can understand, that as a super power, we must be allowed to do some social experimentation. If we don’t, who will take up the banner. So, every Palestinian must learn to live with his reality just like the 500,000 Iraqi children who have died from our sanctions must ‘live’ with their reality.  In our hearts, just like Madeline Albright, we always believed that your sufferings were ‘worth it.’  Not just for us, but for you. If it was not for American intervention, Palestinians would be just like the Tunisians or the Greeks.  You would never be on CNN.  How many Americans know who the President of Tunisia is? How many Chinese know who the Prime Minister of Greece is?  But, the whole world knows ‘Yes, sir’ Arafat. I want to take a moment here to thank the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority for his efforts to do what we tell him to do.

The Palestinian people now have a legacy of heroic struggle against the misfortunes inflicted by a wicked land-grabbing enemy.  If you think you are an occupied people, come and take a look at my State Department. Do you think I don’t know what a Yiddish invasion is like?  Do you think I don’t have to deal with the belligerent New York Times? But, I have learnt to turn adversity into fortitude. I suggest you take another look at your predicament, through rose colored glasses.  Don’t you feel stronger as a people today than you did fifty years ago? Isn’t that ‘toughness’ a wonderful thing to pass onto your kids?  You, as a people, are so unique in the annals of modern history.  Since World War II, no other nation has been forced to give up its patrimony to allow another people to take over their homeland. That is a fine rare distinction you can pass onto future Palestinian generations, wherever they may be. Remember, when the going gets tough, the tough get going to ‘new and improved’ refugee camp.

Besides, we should always remember and never forget that President Clinton tried to get you a decent enough deal. All you had to do was turn your backs on your brothers in the refugee camps in Lebanon, allow the settlements to stay and grow, accept Israeli troops to ‘protect’ your Palestinian borders, accept a country sliced and diced into cantons by ‘Jewish only’ highways and a few other things that even Clinton can’t get straight. Sure Jewish settlements doubled during the Clinton years. But you can’t get all worked up about numbers and details.  Even in America, we have a hard time controlling Jewish real estate developers. Clinton had no idea that the Israelis were building these additional settlements for keeps.  Being trailer trash, he assumed the settlements could be put on wheels and moved.  It was a problem of communication. Once he got to thinking with his little head, he was useless. You can’t blame the American government just because Dennis Ross, Holbrooke, Albright and Indyk were working for Israel.  As far as the American people were concerned, we were cutting them payroll checks with good American money and they didn’t sound particularly Yiddish. Honestly, they all sound like neutral New England WASPs and they were all Friends of Bill and Hill. Some of my best friends are Yiddish supremacists and I can tell you from personal experience, I made a personal fortune doing business with them.

As for those American troops in Saudi Arabia, we honestly forgot they were there. Besides, we didn’t know anymore about radical Wahabis than we do about the Amish.  Actually, we had reliable intelligence that the Wahabis and the Amish were co-conspirators.  Our troops were on a secret mission to prevent an Amish invasion of Saudi Arabia. It was not in our national interest to have the Amish transfer their anti-electricity ideologies to a place where air-conditioning is vital for the health of the native population. Do you know what Amish extremism could do to the price of oil. Besides, we were digging had for water, so the Saudis could have bigger swimming pools and loosen up a little.

The fact is America has always had only the finest intentions towards the people of the Middle East, especially those cute stone throwing kids from the West Bank and Gaza. The problem with those kids is that they learn too much history and don’t watch enough Yiddish Disney cartoons. By now it should be clear that teaching your kids too much Palestinian history will not help the situation. Is it healthy for a ten year old kid in the hovels of Gaza to dream about Haifa and get worked up about the unfairness of the Balfour declaration and the United Nations Partition plan?  We don’t think so.  As much as we love all your different kinds of turbans and find it difficult to resist Baba Ganoush and Hommos, we think it is time you started giving your kids Prozac and getting them accustomed to living under permanent Israeli military rules and regulations.

A word is in order about Ariel Sharon and Bin Laden. We understand that both men are war criminals. But we must be careful to make a distinction between the spilling of innocent Palestinian blood and the mass murder of Americans whose only crime was to show up to work on time. I understand that it is easy for some of you to try to draw some moral equivalence between a serial war criminal like Sharon and a ruthless terrorist like Bin Laden. My firm advice is don’t go down that road. The American people will not stand for it.  We can bomb the hell out of Afghanistan and we will. It is our sacred national obligation to avenge the lives of the 5000 innocent citizens who perished on September 11th.  But, Sharon will always be Dear Arik to me and that is just the way things are going to be. We can spend our precious energies dwelling on Qibya and Sabra and Shatilla.  But these crimes pale in comparison to the atrocities at the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon.  And let us not get so morally confused that we begin to value Palestinian lives as if they were the equivalent of American lives. Because, if we start going down that murky path, we could very well end up equating an Afghani life to a Palestinian life or even an Israeli life. Again, at the risk of repeating myself, the American people will not stand for that kind of moral equivalence.

Now, allow me leave you with these final thoughts. We know that our administration has done a poor job marketing our policies in the Middle East.  As Americans we would like nothing but good will between all the people of the world.  In the past we made some poor choices in deciding what to do with your people and you have not exactly been helpful in allowing us to carry out our programs. The Israelis are also always complaining about your reluctance to accommodate their visions. We, along with Israel,  have always had a vision for the Palestinian people. We fully understand that in implementing our visionary policies, some of your people got the worst of it. Indeed, we were always aware of your potential for suffering.  And let me add, that it was always our great hope that you would have the decency to suffer in silence.  But, you must also recognize that out of those sufferings you have become the people you are today.

Today, America is reaching out to our many friends in the Middle East.  But we also expect those friends to take some personal responsibilty for their own predicament. And let me say this. While, our friends in the Israeli lobby consistently pay the full fair market price for their influence in the State Department,  I do not recall ever seeing a competitive bid from your people or your leaders.  I know that many Palestinians tuned in to my speech hoping for some new American initiative to bring a lasting, comprehensive and just peace to your tormented region of the world.  But that task is not in my job description. I know Arik’s cold Likudnik heart. Peace is just not going to happen on his watch and I am not about about to tangle with that killer whale.  America has saved many Palestinians from drowning and it would serve no purpose to risk drowning the first ever African-American Secretary of State in waters infested with the sharks of the Israeli lobby.

However, while we cannot promise peace or justice, the United States is more than willing to start some kind of process that could concievably open a dialogue with the ultimate goal of considering new negotiations over the Tenent proposals and might, with time, patience and effort, lead to a positive re-evaluation of the Mitchel plan. Things are moving fast and we definitely are willing to expend some of our energies in this direction.  Buy, let me be perfectly clear, such efforts to restart the ‘peace process’ will ultimately be up to the parties, under dramatically different circumstances,  in another space, when everybody is in the same zone, after the Palestinians fully ingest the magnitude of the lead poisoning problem in their native soil.  Perhaps with a change of government in Israel and a more suitable Palestinian leadership; after we take care of the urgent business in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Colombia… when hell freezes over.  Just joking about hell freezing over part. It wasn’t a jab at your religion or anything like that.

I have always believed that all our policies in the Middle East needed was more communication on what American foriegn policy is all about. If you know a Palestinian who didn’t hear this speech or hasn’t bothered to learn the English language, please send a self-addressed envelope to the State Department and we will have a fully translated transcript in Palestinian, Yiddish and Samarian.  We will also be happy to enclose an American flag, if you promise not to use it as a rag.  On second thoughts, forget about sending us any envelopes.

We will post it on the internet and you can load it down if you have the right Palestinian fonts.

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