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Mouth Wide Shut

“U.S. media coverage of the conflict has been intense in recent weeks, as the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) mounted a large-scale invasion of the West Bank and Palestinian militants carried out several major suicide bombings. Amnesty International (4/3/02) has condemned the targeting of civilians by both sides, voicing concern over ‘flagrant human rights abuses’ by the IDF, including looting, mass detentions, the targeting of medical personnel and possible extrajudicial executions. Israel has tried to exclude the press from the entire area where the abuses are occurring; the Committee to Protect Journalists has expressed alarm (4/2/02) over the apparent targeting of reporters in ‘ongoing incidents in which IDF forces have opened fire on, or in the direction of, journalists attempting to cover events in the West Bank.'” (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting)

George W. Bush’s recent pronouncements virtually begging Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and for Yasser Arafat to curb Palestinian “terrorist” activities come after a round of withering attacks on the White House from both domestic and overseas critics for its detached, silent Sam role, despite the continuing US bankrolling of Israel to the tune of three billion dollars a year. (For more on this hellish music, see Israeli Gears.)

QUOTE-UNQUOTE 1 – “In these circumstances, America cannot ignore world public opinion. There is a nearly unanimous global consensus that United States policy has become one-sided and morally hypocritical, with clear displays of sympathy for Israeli victims of terrorist violence and relative indifference to the (much more numerous) Palestinian civilian casualties. At risk is America’s ability to maintain international support for the war on terrorism, and especially for plans to deal with Saddam Hussein.” Zbigniew Brzezinski (The New York Times, 04/07/02)

The announcement despatching Colin Powell to the Middle East comes with a built-in 5-to-8-day delay, giving the Israeli military time to further destroy most of the West Bank in pursuit of Palestinian “terrorists”.

Perhaps it is time to suspend all US aid to Israel and divert that largesse to the Palestinians such that they might rebuild their provisional “territories” – not quite a patchwork of bits and pieces unwanted by Israel for settlements, “national parks”, or military outposts.

Perhaps, too, it is time to launch a concerted, serious real effort to lobby for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in Hebron. Henry Kissinger can act as go-between for the IOC and the Palestinians, as he did for China and the 2008 Summer Games. Kissinger can with one stroke reverse his international reputation as War Criminal and unrepentant Cold Warrior by supporting the PLOlympiad 2012.

Cutting off aid to Israel would be a superb “humanitarian” gesture – albeit a high-handed coup de theatre that is perfectly consistent with current American foreign policy – i.e., imposing economic sanctions on states that violate human rights and murder innocent civilians. It can be qualified on all sorts of grounds. Diverting the money to the Palestinian “homeland” Bush has recently paid lip service to would be a case of putting our money where the President’s mouth is. Bush would have to live up to his rhetoric and US taxpayers might feel a sense of “finite justice”. The huge flow of cash and credits to the Middle East in the form of military and “civilian” aid would be put to much better use rebuilding the lands destroyed by the very forces of repression we have underwritten for decades on end versus shoring up the Israeli military and funding new rear-guard Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine.

QUOTE-UNQUOTE 2 – “The foreign minister of Spain – which currently holds the European Union presidency – said the EU would discuss imposing sanctions on Israel if it continued its incursions on Palestinian territory.” (BBC World Service, 04/07/02)

The spiritually bankrupt Bush League could then claim the low-to-middle moral ground of a “kinder, gentler, and compassionate” realpolitik, a volte face contravening the overwhelming tsunami of venality and unilateral opportunism passing for foreign policy in the 1 1/2 years since the Supreme Court anointed the Texas dimwit Court Jester for the Free World.

Lastly, perhaps it is time for Bush and the Congress to bite the bullet and ratify a treaty signed during the Clinton Administration – i.e., the Rome Statute to establish an International Criminal Court.

QUOTE-UNQUOTE 3 – “Today [Thursday, March 28] in New York, Ambassador for War Crimes Issues Pierre Prosper stated in a press conference that ‘unsigning’ is one of the options considered by the Bush Administration to the soon-to-be-launched ICC.” (Coalition for the ICC, 03/28/02)

These three radical ventures would be the ultimate hat trick for an Administration well on the slippery slope to historical ignominy. US participation in the ICC (which will be established with or without US support) would signal to the world that the US supports an international system of justice versus its own selective version of punishing its enemies and exempting its home-grown war criminals. This last gesture would save the Bush League from the ultimate indignity of disappearing into the muck and mire of its own petty myopia.

QUOTE-UNQUOTE 4 – “I have a kind of firm, semifirm signature as it moves across the page. It will probably take about … you know, about three seconds to get to the W, I may hesitate on the period, and then rip through the Bush.” (Harper’s Weekly Review, 03/26/02)

QUOTE-UNQUOTE 5 – “When a renowned and respected retired politician like Zbigniew Brzezinski says explicitly on national television that Israel has been behaving like the white supremacist regime of apartheid South Africa, one can be certain that he is not alone in this view, and that an increasing number of Americans and others are slowly growing not only disenchanted but also disgusted with Israel as a hugely expensive and draining ward of the United States, costing far too much, increasing American isolation, and seriously damaging the country’s reputation with its allies and its citizens.” Edward Said (ZNet, 04/07/02)

Projection of West Bank Final Status Map (2000) (Passia)
The Circling of East Jerusalem – Roads 45 and 5 (ARIJ)
The Invasion of Bethlehem and Our Tax Dollars at Work (CounterPunch, 04/05/02)
Israeli Media Ban Brings Protests (BBC World Service, 04/05/02)
Extracts >From Bush’s Speech (BBC World Service, 04/04/02)
Justice for Chile: Will Kissinger Finally Pay? (CounterPunch, 04/04/02)
Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (United Nations)
International Justice (Human Rights Watch)
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (LCHR)

Edward Said – Palestine Has Not Disappeared (Le Monde Diplomatique, 04/02/98)

Anthony Lewis – Is There a Solution? (The New York Review of Books, 04/25/02)

Landscape w/ Bullets – Postcards from Hell – Raffaele Ciriello, an Italian photo-journalist, was recently killed in Ramallah (West Bank, Occupied Palestine)

BADIOU: TRUTH & LIES – Manifesto for Philosophy (SUNY, 1999) – Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil (Verso, 2001)

Gavin Keeney is a landscape architect in New York. He edits the web “anti journal” Serious Real. He can be reached at: ateliermp@netscape.net

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