George Bush was all smiles when he addressed an AIPAC conference on May 18, 2004. The assembled crowd interrupted every other sentence in his speech with applause. At the end of his delivery they broke out in a chant of ‘four more years’.
As he spoke, Sharon’s goons were assaulting Rafah’s refugee camps claiming they were searching for tunnels. They found none but managed to kill over forty Palestinians and destroy dozens of homes.
Sharon had already given advance warning to the United States of his intentions to demolish three hundred homes. That would add to the inventory of three thousand Palestinian homes that had already been converted to rubble by American financed Caterpillar bulldozers. No one doubted that Sharon would also take the opportunity to murder a few dozen Palestinians.
Before the slaughter got under way, Colin Powell and Condi Rice issued tepid remarks about how such mayhem would be ‘unhelpful’. Tony Blair also took the opportunity to say nothing. It is certain that Sharon took their remarks as a green light to assault the 140,000 Palestinians huddled in one of the most densely populated areas on the planet. Three out of four Rafah residents are refugees from the 1948 disaster that dispossessed them from their homes in what is now Israel. Sharon chose the 56th anniversary of their collective misfortune to assault them yet again.
Bush didn’t let the carnage in Gaza stop him from taking a public oath of loyalty to the Israeli Lobby. While Rafah burned, Bush was regaling the AIPAC crowd with his usual song and dance routine about how “Israel is a democracy and a friend and has every right to defend itself from terror”. No such rights of self-defense are ever accorded to the Palestinians.
The speech to AIPAC was the work of an accomplished cheerleader, a varsity sport that George excelled in during four wasted years at Yale. Bush praised Sharon as ‘bold’ and ‘courageous’ and went on to assure his audience that "Our nation and the nation of Israel have much in common. We’re both relatively young nations born of struggle and sacrifice. We’re both founded by immigrants escaping religious persecution in other lands.”
Allow me to translate George’s mantra. “Sharon and his kin are only performing pilgrims’ work in Gaza. Sharon is avenging Custer. Rafah is Wounded Knee. The Palestinians are terrorists just like the hostile Indians we had to clear from the Great Plains. Palestinians don’t understand manifest destiny any more than the native Americans ever did. Like Israelis, we immigrated to America to avoid religious persecution and quickly moved on to persecuting the accursed primitive illegitimate squatters who got in the way of our destiny. Both of our nations went about the grim task of ethnic cleansing only after taking a vote to assure that our people stood behind their ‘bold’ and ‘courageous’ elected leaders before commencing with the slaughter. We struggled and sacrificed a whole bunch of native people on the altar of our natural right to make room for the white people of the planet. My people are like your people and other people don’t count for squat. Wink. Wink. Nod. Nod. White people rule. Judeo-Christian ethnic supremacy today. Judeo-Christian ethnic supremacy forever.”
If George Bush had a dime’s worth of intellectual integrity, he would probe his limited mental faculties for the answers to a few simple questions. Who exactly is being terrorized in this conflict? Can a Palestinian squad freely march into an Israeli community or an illegal settlement and spend a few days sniping at the residents and demolishing their homes? Do Palestinian soldiers use the brains of a three-year old girl for target practice? Does an Israeli child have to endure even a fraction of the fear and repression that is the daily diet of every Palestinian mother and child? Can the Palestinians grab and permanently confiscate Israeli land and water resources at will? If the Palestinians decided to build a wall around Tel Aviv, would the American government finance it? Do Palestinians have the ability to starve and otherwise administer collective punishment against Israelis? Do Palestinian jails hold thousands of Israeli prisoners? Do they subject them to “Abu Ghraib” style torture? How many Palestinian Bulldozers are deployed to smash Israeli homes?
Here is a simple thought for a simple George. Just because Israeli soldiers don’t commit suicide after snuffing out their daily quota of Palestinian victims does not make Sharon’s war crimes legitimate. Just because Israelis voted for a serial mass murderer like Sharon doesn’t make his brand of random violence kosher.
In the current Palestinian uprising for independence, the Israelis have killed over three thousand Palestinians. Thousands more have been wounded. It is a rare Palestinian family that does not suffer a scar inflicted by Israel. A significant percentage of Palestinian casualties are innocent civilians, including hundreds of women, children and male noncombatants.
The Palestinians have resorted to asymmetrical resistance as a deterrent against a ruthless earth scorching occupation army that operates at the leisure of one Ariel Sharon. The Israeli Prime Minister is a compulsive war criminal with a rap sheet that should qualify him for a bunk next to Milosovich. Over the course of the last three years, Sharon has converted elements of the IDF into a giant replica of unit 101. That was the name of the terrorist squad that Sharon commanded when he annihilated the village of Qibya in 1953. Rafah is but his latest war crime. This, after all, is the same Sharon of Sabra and Shatila infamy. It is the same Sharon who conducted the slaughter in Jenin and Nablus and Bethlehem and Gaza. Israelis elected him to commit war crimes and make the Palestinians ‘quiet’.
The Israelis definitely took timing into consideration before launching the assault of Rafah. It is no coincidence that the operation coincided with Bush’s appearance at AIPAC. The United States had every opportunity to prevent the carnage in the Palestinian refugee camps. But George craved the applause of the Sharon worshiping AIPAC crowd. The scent of their purse strings make him go wild. For the pleasure of massaging his ears with the sweet chant of ‘four more years’, Bush sacrificed over forty Palestinian lives to gratify the blood lust of Ariel Sharon and his AIPAC brethren.
It might be worth George’s time to reflect on how one Israeli member of Sharon’s cabinet reacted to the slaughter in Rafah. Yosef Lapid, Israel’s Justice minister said “This makes me sick. We look like monsters in the eyes of the world. I am talking about an old woman on all fours looking for her medicine in the rubble of her home and I thought about my grandmother." His grandmother died at Auschwitz. Lapid went on to warn other members of the Israeli cabinet that “if we carry on like this, we will be expelled from the United Nations and those responsible will stand trial at The Hague."
But don’t count on George to do anything but prostrate himself before the radical Likudniks who cheered him at the AIPAC conference. Roel Yolen, the spokesman for the Israeli Yahad center-left party hit the nail on the head. He told Al-Ahram that “Sharon couldn’t have done what he is doing in Rafah without a green light from the Bush administration”.
Blame George for Rafah. Send him to The Hague along with Sharon.