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WHAT WE THINK
Don't be fooled by Bush's rhetoric about Middle East peace
Washington wants war

May 3, 2002 | Page 3

"A HOPEFUL day," thanks to Israel's "constructive and helpful" dedication to peace. That was George W. Bush's assessment of the Middle East last weekend. Bush was patting himself on the back for getting Israel to agree to something that wouldn't be tolerated from any other country on the planet, save the U.S.--release the elected leader of the Palestinian Authority from a month-old military siege in Ramallah.

But even as Bush stuttered about "peace" at his Crawford, Texas ranch, Israeli tanks were plowing into the West Bank city of Hebron to wreak more devastation in the name of "destroying the terrorist infrastructure." In a sick echo of the German Nazis' Kristallnacht attack on Jews in 1938, Israeli settlers scrawled graffiti on the windows of Arab shops in Hebron--a Star of David with the words "Arabs out" scrawled beneath, National Public Radio reported.

Meanwhile, according to the mainstream Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had extracted another concession from Bush in return for lifting the siege on Arafat--that the U.S. would defend Israel's efforts to block a United Nations (UN) investigation into the slaughter at the Jenin refugee camp.

Israeli officials have been trying to sabotage the fact-finding mission almost from the moment that Foreign Minister Shimon Peres declared Israel had "nothing to hide." By last weekend, they had stooped to claiming that Palestinians were stealing corpses from graveyards and burying them in the rubble of the devastated camp to increase the death toll. As if the undeniable horror of Jenin needed to be made worse.

And now the U.S. government--which claims that Iraq's refusal to allow UN weapons inspections is reason enough for an all-out invasion to topple Saddam Hussein--may throw its weight behind Israel's refusal to allow the UN investigation.

Sharon's onslaught in the West Bank has exposed the cruel reality--that Israel has used its massively greater military might and support from the world's most powerful governments to construct an apartheid state, based on organized violence against dispossessed Palestinians.

Even some moderate Israelis have begun to recognize the truth. Last month, Yaffa Yarkoni, an Israeli singer popular for her renditions of patriotic songs, shocked a radio audience with her infuriated criticism of the invasion. "When I saw the Palestinians with their hands tied behind their backs, young men, I said, 'It is like what they did to us in the Holocaust.'" Yarkoni said. "We are a people who have been through the Holocaust. How are we capable of doing these things?"

Yet you won't see this kind of questioning in official Washington--either by the politicians or the mainstream press. The U.S. establishment has always been fervently pro-Israel--because the rulers of this country don't care about peace or justice. They care about U.S. interests. And that means relying on Israel, which the U.S. has armed to the teeth for decades to protect access to the oil resources of the Middle East.

The various factions in Washington may differ on tactics--for example, whether to promote a fake Israel-Palestinian "peace" process to co-opt U.S. allies in right-wing Arab regimes, or let Israel loose and expect the oil monarchs to fall in line. But U.S. power--and Corporate America's profits--always come first.

That's why, even as George Bush was jabbering about the "personal bond" he developed with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah during their get-together at the ranch, White House officials were leaking plans for the coming U.S. assault on Iraq.

According to press reports, the administration has given up on the criminals of the Iraqi "opposition" to wage a war on Saddam Hussein's government. That means a full-scale U.S. invasion, involving hundreds of thousands of troops--and on a stepped-up timetable that could come as early as this summer, according to a Washington Post story.

So much for Bush's talk about "[welcoming] people from that part of the world to come and bare their soul and discuss their plans for peace."

Bush and his gang don't want peace. They want war--whether that means support for Israel turning the lives of Palestinians into a hell on earth, or the Pentagon doing the same in Iraq.

We can stand up against this horror. On April 20, more than 100,000 people marched against war in Washington, D.C., and cities around the country.

Demonstrators showed a new level of recognition of the connections between Bush's "war on terrorism" and Israel's reign of terror against Palestinians. This shows the potential for building a movement that can take a stand against the carnage that the U.S. government is responsible for--from the West Bank to Baghdad and around the globe.

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