Tuesday, April 09, 2002

"YOU'RE FULL OF IT": That's Richard Cohen's rebuke to the Saudi ambassador for his feculent essay in the Washington Post. The ambassador's rant was unremarkable. He wrote that the Israelis are committing "terrorist Israeli aggression" while the Palestinians are "resisting occupation." (Tyrants must love the way "aggression" rolls off the tongue: North Koreans decried "capitalist running dog aggression"; Serbs whined about "NATO's criminal" -- "CREE-mee-null" -- "aggression"; Arabs are ranting about "terrorist Israeli" -- "ter-ror-REEST is-RYE-lee" -- "aggression.") Here's a big snippet, so that you can get the flavor:
I am sympathetic to the suffering of the American people and the anger of the American leadership over terrorist attacks on the United States. However, I now feel great sympathy with the suffering of the Palestinian people and the anger of the Palestinian leadership because of the terrorist Israeli aggression against them. I am saddened and feel pain for what happened to thousands of innocent people in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. But I feel the pain and suffering of 3 million innocent Palestinians from a terrorist Israeli operation. I understand and respect the priorities of the United States, but I also respect and understand the priorities of 3 million unarmed Palestinians. I acknowledge that the Palestinians' greatest crime is their insistence on resisting the military occupation of their country. This strange principle of resistance to military occupation of one's country seems to be difficult for many American political, intellectual and media elite to comprehend -- even though it has been practiced by others in the past, such as Nelson Mandela in South Africa under apartheid and Gen. George Washington during British colonial rule, and even Menachem Begin during the British Mandate of Palestine. These leaders from different countries and different continents share one thing in common. They were all labeled as terrorists by the occupying military force at the time. So what is the real crime, when the Palestinians resist the Israeli military occupation of their country?
Like I said, unremarkable, just the sort of vitriol and double-speak you'd expect from the mouthpiece of a Jew-hating despotism. But that's not what I thought when I first read bin Sultan's screed last week. I couldn't understand why the Post had soiled its op-ed pages with such crude propaganda. I mean, "terrorist Israeli aggression"? What did he do, crib from some leaflet floating around Ramallah? Now I get it. This war has already killed off several lies, e.g., Americans are too lazy, fat, and soft to defeat a ruthless enemy; the Arab street will go nuts if we retaliate; Afghanistan will become a quagmire. But to win this war, we need to kill off several more lies. Two prime targets should be (a) the lie that we can't move against Iraq unless we placate the Arabs and (b) the lie that there are "moderate" Arab states and that these state are our "friends." Rants like the Saudi ambassador's have the salutary effect of killing two birds with one stone. States like Saudi Arabia have maintained the absurd pretence of their "moderation" by saying one thing in English and another in Arabic. In English, they propose peace plans; in Arabic, they talk about Jews making pastries with Gentile blood; American reporters print "PEACE PLAN" on page one above the fold; if they bother translating the blood libel story, it goes somewhere in the back with a small headline. And, "Hey, presto!" you've got yourself a "moderate" regime. But this magic trick doesn't work if the Saudis start screaming and foaming at the mouth in English in an American newspaper. When an ambassador spews such inarguably stupid, dishonest, and intemperate vitriol -- when an ambassador threatens "grave and imminent" danger if we don't appease Palestinian terrorists -- it's obvious that that regime is anything but "moderate" and anything but our "friend." And once it's clear that there are no "moderate" Arab states -- just oil-soaked despotisms funding the terrorists we're fighting and obstructing the war at every turn -- then it's clear that we don't have to appease them in Palestine before we can deal with Iraq. We just have to apply the Bush Doctrine: "Are ya fer us, or agin us? Invite us in, or get out of the way and hope we don't come back after we're done with Saddam." Once we know we have no friends in the Arab world, only potential enemies, then we know that the road to Iraq does not lead through Palestine. It leads through Arabia. UPDATE: I just read my blog this morning and realized that it was peppered with an absurd number of typos and a bad link. Yes, I wrote it late at night (later than the initial post date), but I'm embarassed and sorry for having done such a lousy job editing my own writing.

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