Bush in Israel: the intersection of a man, whose only possible defence against indictment as a war criminal could be that of diminished responsibility (as Washington's resident Village Idiot), with a political entity, whose only possible psychiatric diagnosis could be that of narcissistic personality disorder, an affliction characterised by high risk-taking, didain of others, general obliviousness to the consequences of one's own actions, and feelings of victimhood, despite the fact that it is the sufferer's own behaviour that causes the events that upset him.
The Prez stayed in a $2900-a-night hotel in Jerusalem's most expensive hotel in occupied East Jerusalem. "The Jerusalem City Council decided to enhance Mr Bush's vista by turning off the perimeter lights, allowing the Old City to be bathed in natural moonlight." [The Australian 10/1/08] Outside the official Jerusalem residence of Israeli President Shimon Peres, he was greeted by "a line of children waving US and Israeli flags" who sang "what sounded like a club remix version of the celebratory folk song 'Hava Nagilah'," while inside, as a choir crooned in the background, "a young girl appeared and sang 'Over the Rainbow' in Hebrew and English," before handing the Prez (and Peres) "a red rose." This was followed by a dance troupe. [Bush blushes on Mideast arrival 9/1/08, worldblog.msnbc.com]
Later, the Prez was to receive from his "personal friend and confidant," Israeli PM Ehud Olmert (described by Bush as "a man of strength") the following gift: "a global positioning system for the handlebars [of his bike], loaded with the trails on his Texas ranch and riding paths in Israel." When it's turned on, "the American and Israeli flags appear, and the sentence: 'To my friend George Bush, from one athlete to another, happy trails'. " [Bush begins peace effort bonded with Olmert, The New York Times 10/1/08]
And that was the substance.
In Ramallah, where "hundreds of US flags to welcome Mr Bush were strung to street lamps only in the hours before his visit here, for fear that they would be pulled down or burned by locals," and "residents within vantage point of the motorcade, or presidential compound, were placed under virtual curfew for the duration of the visit and none was allowed near their balcony [The Australian 11/1/08]," the Prez mouthed platitudes about a "viable, contiguous, sovereign, and independent" Palestine, despite Olmert's prior refusal "to commit Israel to stop building new Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem or expanding Jewish 'population centres' in the West Bank." [SMH 11/1/08]
In the spirit of 'keeping it real', and as an antidote to what you've just read, here's a little poem by Arab-American poet, Gihad Ali, as relevant today as it was in 2004 when it was written. It's called Eye to Eye:
Look into my eyes/And tell me what you see./You don't see a damn thing,/'cause you can't possibly relate to me.
You're blinded by our differences./My life makes no sense to you./I'm the persecuted Palestinian. You're the American, red, white and blue.
Each day you wake in tranquility,/No fears to cross your eyes./Each day I wake in gratitude,/Thanking God he let me rise.
You worry about your education/And the bills you have to pay./I worry about my vulnerable life/And if I'll survive another day.
Your biggest fear is getting ticketed/As you cruise your cadillac./My fear is that the tank that just left/Will turn around and come back.
American, do you realise,/That the taxes that you pay/Feed the forces that traumatize/My every living day?
The bulldozers and the tanks,/The gases and the guns,/The bombs that fall outside my door,/All due to American funds.
Yet do you know the truth/Of where your money goes?/Do you let your media deceive your mind?/Is this a truth that no one knows?
You blame me for defending myself/Against the ways of Zionists./I'm terrorized in my own land/And I'm the terrorist?
You think you know all about terrorism/But you don't know it the way I do,/So let me define the term for you,/And teach you what you thought you knew.
I've known terrorism for quite some time,/ 55 years and more./It's the fruitless garden uprooted in my yard./It's the bulldozer in front of my door.
Terrorism breathes the air I breathe./It's the checkpoint on my way to school./It's the curfew that jails me in my own home./And the penalties of breaking that curfew rule.
Terrorism is the theft of my land,/And the torture of my mother,/The imprisonment of my innocent father,/The bullet in my baby brother.
So American, don't tell me you know about/The things I feel and see./I'm terrorized in my own land/And the blame is put on me.
But I will not rest, I shall never settle/For the injustice my people endure./Palestine is our land and there we'll remain/Until the day our homeland is secure.
And if that time shall never come,/Then we will never see a day of peace./I will not be thrown from my own home,/Nor will my fight for justice cease.
And if I am killed, it will be in Falasteen./It's written on my every breath./So in your own patriotic words,/Give me liberty or give me death.