Eugene Bird

President Bush : AWOL (Again) in Gaza

The Bush Administration has been A.W.O.L. when it comes to being an effective peacemaker between 4 million Palestinians and 6 million Israelis. Having locked itself into the untenable position of rejecting the results of the Hamas election six months ago in Palestine, the administration and Israel now find themselves facing a full-scale insurgency. Both countries have only a military solution. Several times in the past five years spokespersons for the administration have said that there is no military solution to the confrontation between Israel and Palestine. 

Collective Punishment Will Not Work

“As usual, most of the American press docily followed the official line from Israel and Washington that the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier a week ago was unprovoked. The fact is that the assassination of a Hamas government official was the proximate cause of the kidnapping. The assassinated official, Jamal Abu Samhadana, was the head of the Popular Resistance Committees, an organization on the terrorist list of the United States and Israel. He was apparently brought into the Hamas-led Interior Ministry to head the police forces in Gaza.” Eugene H. Bird served with the United States Foreign Service for 23 years and is President of the Council for the National Interest. 

Ehud Olmert, Unreasonably Reasonable?

The Palestinian ambassador Afif Safieh, since his arrival in Washington several months ago, has often used the line “We Palestinians have been unreasonably reasonable” in the approach to retrieving their land for achieving peace. Was Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in his appearance before a joint session of Congress unreasonably reasonable in suggesting that negotiations could go forward because he was willing to give up some of his dream of having all of the Holy Land? Well, maybe. Yesterday’s speech by Olmert was the sixth time that an Israeli head of government has been given the honor of appearing before a joint session of Congress in the last thirty years. 

AIPAC Defense Attorneys Strike Back

The presiding judge in the AIPAC espionage case has ruled in a hearing on pre-trial motions that the prosecution can withold certain evidence from defense attorneys because it is in the national interest to do so. The evidence is reported to include hundreds of hours of wiretaps taken over the course of the six year investigation of the Israel lobby. U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis said that he will decide which prosecution evidence the defense should be given access to, and since that is likely to be a lengthy process, he has delayed the trial’s start date from January 2nd to April 25th. U.S. foreign policy on the Middle East has become a revolving door between the lobby and the three major policymakers, the Pentagon, the Department of State, and the national security council. 

Withdrawal from Reality?

President Bush rolled out the red carpet for his Palestinian protege, Mahmoud Abbas. The meeting in the Rose Garden, in terms of staging, equaled anything that President Clinton had done with his friend, Yasser Arafat, in the heyday of the Oslo agreements. Pessimists, on the one hand, believe that nothing will happen until after the Israeli elections, probably set for November 2006. And that means continued rolling violence between now and then.