Sunday, July 16, 2017

Bill Clinton's Handshake Charade

However appalling, Trump is really only the tip of the iceberg of American ignorance and narcissism. Take our latest US visitor, for example, Clinton/Obama diplomat Dennis Ross, currently wowing them at Murdoch's Australian:

"Ross grew up in a non-religious Californian household, the son of a Catholic father and Jewish mother. At 19, inspired by the Six-Day War, he became religiously Jewish." (Long road to Israeli-Palestinian peace littered with broken deals and lost will, Brad Norington, 15/7/17)

Note that Ross was radicalised at 19. It seems that, in the US, such radicalisation, from all American boy to Zionist fanatic, is the perfect qualification and starting point for a career in US-style Middle East diplomacy. Sort of puts Jared Kushner in perspective, doesn't it?

And here's the pinnacle of that career, according to Norington:

"During an impressive career, Ross... helped facilitate the historic White House handshake between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israel's Yitzhak Rabin."

Leaving aside discussion of the endless peace-process charade, and the preposterous, childish idea of Clinton's that this then (1993) 76-year-old colonial running sore could be solved by a cheap theatrical handshake, rather than by the hard yards of a decolonisation process and the rendering of justice to Palestine's dispossessed and occupied, let's just look at the minutiae of this supposedly "impressive" achievement, as described elsewhere by Ross himself.  Here he is interviewed by Jason M. Breslow of PBS's Frontline program (6/1/16):

Were you in the Rose Garden when [President Clinton] forged the handshake between [Yasser] Arafat and Rabin?


Tell me about that.

-There is an interesting back story to this... So we [Ross and Secretary of State Warren Christopher] get a call from Rabin... and he says, 'Look there's been a breakthrough with the PLO'... still... he's skeptical. He wants to know what our reaction to this is going to be. Well, our reaction is, this is a historic breakthrough between Israel and the PLO, two national movements competing for the same space, and for the first time they're prepared to recognize each other."

[Note here the false framing. The reality is otherwise. These are not two, long-resident communities living in one patch, in some kind of parity, but struggling to get along. This is the old story of a foreign, usurping settler-colonial movement vs an indigenous resistance movement trying to hold on to or reclaim its ancestral homeland.]

- Now [Israeli foreign minister Shimon] Peres tells us... that there should be a meeting at the White House to sign a Declaration of Principles, but it's too much for the Israeli public to see Arafat there. It's just too much to take.

[Yes, it's simply too much for the colons to stomach their PM meeting with the leader of the people they've been slicing and dicing for the past 76 years - eeeuw! What to do?]

- So it should be Peres and Abu Mazen [Arafat adviser, Mahmoud Abbas] who would come. We actually don't question this...

[Of course you don't, you've been a card-carrying Zionist since 1967 for Christ's sake! Those sniffy colons are your volk! Notice how, even in 1993, the Israelis had their eye on Abbas as a stooge?]

- ... but when we raise it with Clinton... he simply dismisses what we've told him, and immediately leaves the impression that if Arafat wants to come, he's welcome. And he's right... because his instinct is, the only way to bind the two leaders to this is to have this colossal event where they're kind of obligated before the world... We're telling him how uneasy Rabin is, first to even be there and secondly the idea that he's going to shake hands with this guy who, in Rabin's mind, is responsible for  all sorts of acts of terror that, for him, are just very hard to swallow. It's difficult for Rabin to overcome this.

[Notice the fact that Rabin's hands are covered in 76 years of Palestinian blood nowhere occurs to Ross as a possible difficulty for Arafat or the Palestinians? This is America's idea of honest brokerage.]

- Now Clinton kind of raises this in private with the two of them before they go out.

[Bill doesn't want anyone spoiling his show!]

So they both agree to kind of come, and they're hanging around the Oval Office?

- Well, you come in advance, before we go out.


- To the last minute, Rabin is insisting that Arafat can't come in anything that looks like a uniform.

[And of course Ross cannot help but oblige. His Master's Voice after all:]

- We're telling Arafat, 'You can't come with a -- you don't bring a weapon.' You know, he always had a pistol. 'You don't bring a weapon to the White House.' So they come in, and the president talks to both leaders. He is already encouraging them...

[We wouldn't dare tell Rabin...]

Have they met before?

- No.

How are they with each other?

- Rabin is very uneasy. The idea of personally shaking hands with with this guy is physically difficult for him.

[With this guy...?!]

- He couldn't hide his feelings... So here is Clinton, who sees this guy give this remarkable speech on the one hand, and physically, it's hard for him to shake hands with this guy. So the iconic photograph - he literally envelops them with his arms. But he knows he has to create that image... to make peace, and how can you do that if you're not prepared to shake hands? (

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