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So special is Condoleezza Rice, so essential to Bush’s revamped, de-Powell-ized and now neocon-ized State Department, that she was sworn in twice after her whirlwind Senate confirmation, according to the Associated Press. "You have given us our mission and we are ready to serve our great country and the cause of freedom for which it stands," Rice told Bush. "Condi’s appointment and confirmation as secretary of state marks a remarkable transition in what is already a career of outstanding service and accomplishment," Bush remarked.
Profuse accolades aside, Condi Rice is likely the least qualified Secretary of State in recent history, especially considering her field of expertise is the Soviet Union, a political non-entity. However, since Washington is all about who you know–or suck up to–Rice is an appropriate selection for the Bushcons, considering she was a tenured professor of political science at Stanford, stomping grounds for the Hoover Institution, a neocon "public policy research center," on occasion referred to as Bush’s "brain trust." Between 1985 and 1986, Condi was a national fellow at the Hoover Institution.
Bush wasted little time dispatching Rice, who he said will fill Collin Powell’s "big shoes," to points eastward, most notably the Middle East where she plans to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as she promised the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during her confirmation hearings, an absurd declaration considering her obvious preference for Ariel Sharon and the Likudites in Israel.
It should be remembered that Rice, as a Christian Zionist, disclosed a "deep bond to Israel" back in 2003. "I first visited Israel in 2000," Rice told the Jewish Press on May 13, 2003. "I already then felt that I am returning home despite the fact that this was a place I never visited. I have a deep affinity with Israel. I have always admired the history of the State of Israel and the hardness and determination of the people that founded it," apparently as well admiring the "hardness" of the Israeli settler movement, the crown jewel of all things Likudite. "I think that we, Israel and the U.S., share common values. Israel is the only democracy in the region," a democracy that has locked 2,896,000 Palestinians (as of 1997) into the world’s largest open-air prison and has strived unhindered to further turn their shrinking geography into Bantustans.
As for "common values," indeed, if Israel and the United States share anything, it is the determination to kill Arabs, although the United States makes Israel look like an amateur by way of comparison, directly and indirectly killing an astounding 100,000 or more Iraqis since Bush’s invasion. Israel, on the other hand, according to B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, has killed 3,399 Palestinians since the beginning of the first Intifada in late 1987 until the end of May, 2003. "At least 181 of the Palestinians killed were extrajudicially executed by Israel, 120 of them in assassinations carried out by the Israel Air Force and 61 of them in assassinations carried out by ground forces," notes B’Tselem. "In the course of these assassinations 106 additional Palestinians were killed, 29 of them minors." Obviously, Israel has a long way to go to match Bush’s record in Iraq, but if recent Israeli actions in Gaza are any indication, they are working overtime on it.
As the Associated Press would have us believe, Condi’s little foray is designed to "measure the likelihood of generating momentum to drive Israel and the Palestinians to the peace table," an impossible dream so long as Israel occupies Palestinian land, assassinates its political leaders, and continues to emphatically declare any political process between Israel and the Palestinians is submerged in "formaldehyde," as Dov Weissglas, Sharon’s senior adviser, told Haaretz last October. Formaldehyde, of course, is used as embalming fluid.
Embalming fluid notwithstanding, Ahmed Qurie, the Palestinian prime minister–it remains unexplained how the Palestinians can have a prime minister without a state, but never mind–has issued a "law and order" decree banning civilians from carrying weapons in the Occupied Territories. As well, the Palestinian "leadership" has indicated it will "appoint a new interior minister, Nasser Yousef, known for his tough stance against militants," according to the Scotsman. Yousef has long wanted to "crack down" on Palestinian nationalists and may now get his chance with Arafat dead and buried. As well, the interior minister in waiting has long believed "the resolution of the conflict will be a one-state solution, with Jews, Christians and Muslims living together in an Arab state," as Larry Yudelson explains, a highly unlikely scenario that must have Sharon and the Likudites rolling on the floor of the Knesset in fits of laughter.
In the meantime, the Israeli government will use Mahmoud Abbas, Ahmed Qurie, Nasser Yousef, and the refashioned Palestinian Authority to disarm Palestinian nationalists, although Abbas has said his intention is to disarm "criminals" only while "militants would be advised to keep their weapons out of sight." Apparently undeterred, "militants" in the West Bank and Gaza "often openly brandish[ed] their automatic weapons, highlighting the lack of law and order and control by Palestinian security forces," as CBS News put it. In other words, after decades of Israeli duplicity–often exploiting so-called ceasefire arrangements to assassinate Palestinian nationalists—the "militants" are having nothing to do with Abbas and the latest round of Israeli finagling. As exit polls revealed in 10 towns in Gaza, a whole lot of Palestinians trust Hamas and Islamic Jihad over Abbas’ revamped Fatah.
Condi Rice will do nothing to remedy this situation, especially considering the intransigence on the part of many Israelis who are steadfastly opposed to withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, as supposedly promised by Sharon. "To destroy the land and give Gaza to terrorists is against the Bible, Rabbi Dor Lior" told CBS. Lior is the chief rabbi of the Yesha settler council. "He endorsed a new settler slogan that death is better than disengagement. The statement underscores warnings by Israeli officials that some radical settlers could take up arms to resist the Gaza pullout." It should be remembered that it was an ultranationalist with a similar ideology who assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in protest over Rabin’s interim peace accords with the Palestinians in 1995.
Even so, it is said most Israelis favor "disengagement" (that is, no longer stealing Palestinian land) in the Gaza Strip. However, other polls indicate nearly half of all Israelis want to get rid of the Palestinians altogether. For instance, in 2002, according to a survey conducted by the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, "46 percent of Israel’s Jewish citizens favor transferring [i.e., ethnically cleansing] Palestinians out of the territories, while 31 percent favor transferring Israeli Arabs out of the country," as Haaretz reported at the time. "Israeli-Arabs pose a threat to Israel’s security, according to 61 percent of the Jewish population, while around 80 percent are opposed to Israeli-Arabs being involved in important decisions, such as delineating the country’s borders, up from 75 percent last year and 67 percent in 2000." Imagine if white Americans held this opinion about African-Americans or, more relevantly, Arab-Americans. Apparently, Condi Rice, an African-American, did not see the results of this particular poll, since she believes "Israel is the only democracy in the region."
Of course, as a neocon acolyte, Condi Rice is not interested in peace in the Middle East, least of all between the Palestinians and Israelis, and even less so then her predecessor, who was often at odds with the Bushcon "crazies," as he so famously called them. Rice’s Hoover Institution is closely aligned with other neocon foundations, including the Project for a New American Century and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, the latter particularly rabid in its opposition to any meaningful resolution of the conflict–that is to say, Israel’s theft and occupation of Palestinian land–and continually cranks out propaganda designed to demonize not only the Palestinians, but Arabs and Muslims in general.
As should be obvious to all who pay attention, the Bush administration, in regard to the Middle East, is a mirror reflection of the Likudites in Israel, who are fanatically opposed to the establishment of a Palestinian state and will "adopt immediate stringent measures in the event of such a declaration," as their political platform states. As well, the colonization of the West Bank and Gaza "are the realization of Zionist values" and the theft of Palestinian land "is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel. The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities [illegal settlements] and will prevent their uprooting."
In other words, Dov Weissglas’ "formaldehyde," asphyxiating the Palestinian people, is not open for discussion.
Condi will likely insist, at the behest of the Bushcons, that the Palestinians make more concessions, that is to say work ever more fervently toward emasculating Palestinian nationalism, as a refashioned Fatah, with Arafat’s demise, is attempting to do in feeble hope the Israelis will arrive at some form of accommodation in the distant future. Unfortunately, Fatah’s sellout and the rising frustration of the Palestinian people, as evidenced by the reaction of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, will continue and intensify the cycle of violence and despair which is, after all, the goal of the Bushcon-Likudite plan, not simply in Palestine but throughout all of the Arab and Muslim world.
KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent no holds barred blog at www.kurtnimmo.com/ . Nimmo is a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. A collection of his essays for CounterPunch, Another Day in the Empire, is now available from Dandelion Books.
He can be reached at: email@example.com