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Bible-Belt Forces Middle-East Dilemma On Bush

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US Bible-Belt Forces Middle-East Dilemma On Bush

First published on…

By Selwyn Manning.

US Fundamentalist
and extreme rightwing preacher, Jerry Falwell.The United States’ fundamentalist Bible-belt considers Israel as "God's Own People" as holding the “promised land” handle and as such believes any nation that damns Israel or even its actions will be doomed. This is what the Bush Administration is confronted by - a highly organised middle-America centred lobby headed by the likes of Jerry Falwell and his extreme rightwing gang of pro-Israeli bashers and a powerful United Nations backed humanitarian solution. Decisive leadership is vital.

A 100-page document allegedly containing proof that Yasser Arafat is linked to terrorists is being delivered to the Whitehouse – Is this a cleverly worded red-herring or an Israeli justification blueprint for human rights abuses in the West Bank?

US President George W Bush is about to receive the document. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is delivering it in person on Tuesday.

At this meeting, those subscribing to United Nations proposals where a multinational force be deployed to the Middle East to settle tensions between the two sides, want Bush to dictate such solutions to Sharon. The measures gleaned from meetings with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah and point-by-point plans accepted and agreed to by the United States at United Nations security council meetings will not be welcomely received by Israel.

Early this morning [New Zealand time] the United States said it was committed to a Palestinian state with Yasser Arafat as its likely leader. That’s a start. Much more will be required.

The statement countered the pro-Israeli New York Times Sunday report that Sharon would try to discredit Arafat based on documents Israel has seized in raids on the West Bank. Sharon said the documents prove the Palestinian Authority presides over a terrorist network that finances and plans attacks.

Sharon arrived in Washington this morning and is scheduled to meet with Bush Tuesday [US EST]. Palestinians say Sharon has nothing new, just the same old garbage on Yasser Arafat and a right-leaning Israeli bias, promoting Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and justifying forced Palestinian confinement in settlements and camps. Sharon insists he will deliver a vision of peace that cannot be accomplished while Arafat leads the Palestinian Authority. He wants him removed – a line Congress advanced in its politico-dabble into mid-east affairs late last week.

But US Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, was interviewed on CBS's "Face the Nation" this weekend. He insisted Sharon must deal with Arafat around the peace-table but should prepare "for other contingencies" should Arafat be unable to stop suicide bombings and terrorist strikes against Israel.

Clearly, US diplomacy has created itself an ironic twist: The Whitehouse is caught between Arab nations, the majority of nations in the international community, the United Nations, and its own pro-Israeli Congress. The US media is predominantly pro-Israel, except for independent media. Its population appears anti-Arab so therefore perceived pro-Israeli – especially so while Israel peddles the ‘let’s get those terrorists’ rhetoric line.

Domestically Bush needs to say ‘go get em Sharon’. Clearly this is Bush’s natural position. The international community however insists Bush use his relationship with Israel to bring the rogue Middle East state into line with accepted human rights laws and internationally determined and accepted self defence strategies. Israel views such demands as ‘restrictive’ and indeed the United Nations as anti-semetic. The US’s fundamentalist Bible-belt too considers Israel as holding the “promised land” handle and as such believes any nation that damns Israel or even its actions will be doomed. This is what Bush is up against - a highly organised middle-America centred lobby headed by the likes of Jerry Falwell and his extreme rightwing gang of pro-Israeli bashers.

Falwell, made famous in New Zealand for losing an Oxford Debate in the UK against former New Zealand Prime Minister David Lange on the pros and cons of Nuclear deterrence [Falwell of course is pro-nuclear]– said in a petition to the mayor of Jerusalem: “As a concerned Christian in America I hereby issue this Petition of Support to let you, Mayor Ehud Olmert, know that I support your efforts to KEEP JERUSALEM FREE. I believe that the Palestinian terror MUST stop and that Arafat and his militant Palestinian groups must never be allowed to claim Jerusalem as their own. I recognize, as Jew and Gentile alike have done for 6,000 years that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and should remain so for generations to come. I will do my part by pledging to pray for an end to the senseless violence and bloodshed that claims the lives of innocent men, women and children everyday and I will do whatever I can, as a God-fearing America to KEEP JERUSALEM FREE. “

Amazing it is how a faith supposedly promoting peace on earth and goodwill to all men can disregard the slaughter that has occurred at West Bank and Gaza territories, whatever the provocation.

Opposing Falwell’s [and the Bible-Belt’s] believe-generated-opinion are humanitarian organisations, the United Nations, European Union and Arab states.

The Saudi Crown Prince last week delivered Bush a stern warning that Arab nations expect and demand that the US take a more reconciliatory role, a less pro-Israeli role in Middle East diplomacy. Countering the Bush Administration’s moves to appease the Saudis – a country crucial to the United States should it embark a military offensive against Iraq - US Congress moved swiftly to destabilise this. Congress delivered a strong endorsement in favour of Israel and the storm-trooper-styled military offensive through the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

It was clearly an embarrassment for the Whitehouse.

What’s the way out? As Republican McCain said on CBS: "The fact is that Mr Arafat has got to take some very strong steps to prove that he is interested in a peaceful resolution.” And last night Whitehouse officials said, Bush planned to assure Sharon the Palestinian Authority would have to take significant steps to stay at the peace table.

It appears the Whitehouse will attempt to use friendly Arab nations to force the Palestinian Authority to the peace-table, and then to accept measures that accommodate the Israeli-line. These nations include Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

The European Union is also being called upon to increase pressure on Arafat, possibly through cuts to economic aid, to consider terms deemed unacceptable during the Arafat/Barak peace negotiations brokered by former US President Bill Clinton in the dying moments of his presidency.

These issues include the contentious question of Israeli settlements in Palestinian areas. Should such measures be accommodated the territories would likely flare again into violent pandemonium, this time against Arafat from Hamas and Hezbollah.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell, also on television, said officials would “listen” to Sharon's proposals but stressed that "something has to be done" about the settlements. Powell, sceptical of a "security fence" between Israeli and Palestinian areas, said: "I don't know if you're going to solve the problem with a fence unless you're solving the underlying problems of the Palestinians feeling disenfranchised," he said.

Meanwhile the killing continues. Israel launched its March 29 sweep for militants in the West Bank and Gaza areas after Palestinian suicide attacks killed dozens of Israelis. Israel forces have withdrawn from most West Bank cities and towns, but a cloak of terror remains. At least 1,340 Palestinians and 459 Israelis have been killed since the Palestinian uprising began in September 2000 after peace talks stalled.

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© Spectator News Agency, Multimedia Investments Limited, 2002.

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