Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Oprah says I've got to put more in my journal. On yesterday's show, she had a guest who claimed that journaling has helped him fight Alzheimer's. I can't remember why it helped, but it did. So here's my entry to help remember yesterday:

Getting home from work yesterday and turning on the television I felt a strange mixture of disappointment and relief at having missed Dubya's big speech on the Israeli-Palestinian situation. Disappointment, because I would like to be an informed citizen. Relief because listening to - no, even just looking at - Dubya, and trying to believe that he's our President, makes me rather ill.

From the clips on the evening news, however, I got some idea of what he said. Beyond pronouncing the location as "Palesteen," where the "Palestitnian" people live, he basically said nothing new for all the hooplah around this "major address," and did nothing but offer himself political protection. It was nothing more than a "safe" speech, barely more substantive than coming out in favor of bunny rabbits or ice cream.

Offering the Palestinians less than, or barely equal to, what has already been on the table over the last decade is not a break-through. Coming out in favor of a Palestinian state alongside Israel didn't shock or surprise anyone, or introduce any new incentives. Calling for the Palestinian's to elect a new leader? Umh, haven't they already scheduled elections? They're working on it, dude.

For further political commentary on the futility of a speech like this doing anything to halt terrorism, I defer to Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine. The following excerpt is from an email update I subscribe to (subscription instructions follow):

Bush Offers Nothing Real to the Palestinians--but Plenty for the Terrorists
-- a response to Bush's Mid East speech June 24th, 2002.

by Rabbi Michael Lerner
-- Editor, Tikkun

George Bush might be a nice guy, but he sure knows how to miss an opportunity. For the first time since 1948, Arab states have offered to give Israel full recognition and peace if Israel withdraws to its pre-67 borders. The leadership of the Palestinian Authority has just announced that it would accept the terms of an agreement as defined by President Clinton in 2000 in the months after Camp David.

But there are two substantial obstacles to all this: First, the Israeli political Right, which currently runs the Government of Israel, has no interest in withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza. ...

Second, Islamic fundamentalists have no interest in the creation of a secular Palestinian state living in peace with Israel. They would much prefer to see an Israeli occupation which will be worn down over the course of the next thirty to forty years of guerilla struggle against Islamic forces than to see a secular state that would restore hope for Palestinians and lessen the appeal of the fundamentalists.

So both have entered into a de facto alliance to prevent any such development. Ariel Sharon says that he will not reward terror by allowing any substantial steps toward withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza as long as Israelis face terror. Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad understand the covert invitation, and respond by acts of terror against Israel, particularly at moments when the Palestinian Authority seems to be moving toward accommodation with whatever is the lastest American or Israeli demand.

Instead of responding by attacking Hamas, Hezbollah or Islamic Jihad, Sharon responds by repressive measures against the Palestinian Authority and the entire Palestinian people. Those measures increase despair, generate new recruits for the terrorists, and demonstrate the ineffectiveness of the Palestinian Authority. A perfect reward for the terrorists - exactly what they are seeking.

Now George Bush has joined Sharon in endorsing the notion that any small bunch of fundamentalist extremists can veto a peace process. .... And since the Palestinian terrorists do not seek peace with Israel, but the destruction of Israel, George Bush has given them massive incentive to keep going with acts of terror.

... Find the full text, and subscribe to emails from Rabbi Lerner, at www.tikkun.org.

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