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  • james tan
    From: AIDI Rahim To: james tan , Yusri , Wilis , Sher
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 8, 2002
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      Subject: Robert Fisk:
      Date: Mon, 8 Apr 2002 15:08:30 +0800

      Robert Fisk: A speech laced with obsessions and little else
      05 April 2002
      Internal links

      Bush tells Israel: enough is enough

      George Bush: 'Leadership not terror is needed for peace'

      Troops accused of trying to storm Nativity church

      Hizbollah attack on UN observers

      Six major West Bank towns in Israeli hands

      EU persists with call for mediation

      Kurdish leader survives Saddam assassination bid

      Blair and Bush will hold a united front

      Leading article: What the Prime Minister should tell the President down at
      the ranch

      Adrian Hamilton: Europe does have influence over Israel and should use it

      Ariel Sharon could not have done better. The heaping of blame upon an
      occupied people, the obsessive use of the word terror � by my rough count
      there were 50 references in just 10 minutes � and the brief, frightened
      remarks about "occupation" and (one mention only) to Jewish settlements and
      the need for Israeli "compassion" at the end were proof enough that
      President Bush had totally failed to understand the tragedy he is supposedly
      trying to solve.

      The mugger became the victim and the victim became the mugger. What, I
      wonder, is the exact distance between the Rose Garden and Bethlehem? So the
      US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, is travelling to "the region'' next
      week. Next week? Why not now?

      But of course, the White House, which according to the Israeli press has
      repeatedly been asking Mr Sharon how long he intends to reoccupy the
      Palestinian cities of the West Bank, is to give the Israeli Prime Minister
      more time to finish his invasion, destroy the Palestinian infrastructure and
      dismantle the Palestinian Authority.

      The speech was laced with all the "war on terror'' obsessions: Iraq as a
      sponsor of terror for donating money to a family of Palestinian "martyrs'',
      and Syria for not making up its mind if it is "for or against terror''.

      The European Union, fearful of rising oil prices and their effect on the
      eurozone economy, had earlier dispatched a mission to Israel; with typical
      contempt, Mr Sharon told its members they could not visit Yasser Arafat in
      Ramallah. The delegation, which had earlier announced that the Americans had
      failed in their mission as peacemaker in the Middle East, simply packed up
      and left Tel Aviv within hours.

      But will Mr Powell do any better? The dollar has fallen against world
      currencies because of the Middle East crisis � as good a reason as any for
      Mr Bush to act � and the possible restrictions on Middle East oil
      production, though more damaging to Europe, must have helped to prompt the
      President's decision to dispatch Mr Powell.

      The Palestinian suicide bombings, however, were the core of Mr Bush's
      address. He talked of the 18-year-old Palestinian girl who blew herself up
      and killed a 17-year-old Israeli girl, the Jewish state's "dream'' of peace
      with its neighbours. "Terror must be stopped ... no nation can negotiate
      with terrorists ... leaderships not terror ... you're either with the
      civilised world or you're with the terrorists ... all in the Middle East ...
      must move in word and deed against terrorists ... I call on the Palestinian
      Authority to do everything in their power to stop terrorist activities.''
      Arafat had agreed to control "terrorism'' � "he failed'.' The reoccupation
      of the West Bank was a "temporary measure'', Mr Bush announced, trusting the
      word of the Israeli occupiers. "Suicide bombing missions could well blow up
      the only hope of a Palestinian state.''

      On it went, 11 September-speak applied to the Middle East. Israel's enemies
      must be eliminated � Al Aqsa, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizbollah, which
      yesterday beat up a UN observer on the Lebanese border in the most dangerous
      incident of its kind since the Israeli withdrawal in 2000. The whole Bush
      speech revolved around Israel's wellbeing, with scarcely three minutes
      devoted to the Palestinians and their 35 years under occupation. Israel
      should, Mr Bush decided, show a "respect'' for and "concern'' for the
      Palestinian people.

      There was some ritual mention of UN Security Council resolutions 242 and
      338, which calls for Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in the
      1967 war but which Mr Sharon has already said he cannot accept, and an
      appeal to halt settlement building. But Jewish settlements are still being
      built, at an ever-faster rate, on Palestinian land.

      Only a heart of stone could not respond to the suffering of those Israeli
      families whose loved ones have been so wickedly cut down by the Palestinian
      suicide bombers. But where was Mr Bush's compassion for the vastly greater
      number of Palestinians who have been killed by the Israelis over the past 19
      months, or his condemnation of Israel's death squads, house demolition and
      land theft? They simply didn't exist in the Bush speech.

      The money for "martyrs" does not, of course, only go to the kin of suicide
      bombers � it goes to families of all those killed by Israelis, most of whom
      have been struck down by American-made weapons. Certainly, America has never
      offered to make reparations for the innocents killed by the air-to-ground
      missiles and shells it has sold to Israel.

      Far more instructive than the Bush speech was the measured, fair way in
      which Terje Larson, the UN's special Middle East envoy, and Nigel Roberts,
      the local director of the World Bank, tried to describe the tragedy. In a
      short press conference they appealed to both sides to end violence and
      respect international law and cited Israel as well as the Palestinians for
      breaking it. The so-called Israeli "closed military areas" were, Mr Larson
      said, "illegitimate and in direct violation of the [Oslo] Agreements". Mr
      Roberts talked of the surge in violence as a threat that could "consign to
      history the unique opportunity for reconciliation''.

      But "closed military areas" achieved another Israeli victory over the
      Western television satellite stations. Yesterday, the BBC, Sky and CNN, with
      their own crews largely prevented from filming in the reoccupied Palestinian
      cities, all ran footage of the Bethlehem battle taken by Israeli soldiers.
      Rather than refuse to use the tape unless their own crews were permitted
      access to the carnage, the three channels all dutifully used the film taken
      by the army of occupation. Another milestone in the collapse of journalism
      in the Middle East. But not so serious as the collapse of America's

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