Sep 9, 2007

Is George Bush really a friend of Israel?

We have all been fed the line numerous times how George Bush is the best "friend of Israel" in a US President that Israel has ever had. He, supposedly, gives Israel pretty much a free hand in its security issues, allowing Israel to retaliate to certain situations when no other president was so tolerant.

Whenever people tell me how friendly Bush is to Israel I tell them it is all PR. Public Relations. Good marketing. He is no better than any other president and possibly even worse.

They always scoff at me when I say that and then they cite multiple incidents in which Israel struck at PA militants/terrorists without any objection, and therefore the tacit approval of the US.

I continue and use the Gaza pullout as an example of how Bush is no better than any other president. Only in the time of US President Bush did Israel ever evacuate territory, and so much of it, with nothing in return, all the while throwing a large segment of the population into great turmoil. Now in hindsight one can even add how that led, or at least helped build up to a Hamas takeover of Gaza and subsequently the abduction of soldiers and a two-front war with a resolution that, despite Olmert's statements, was not really all that good for Israel.

They then scoff some more and say, "Bush??!! What are you talking about! That was all Sharon. He did it to save his neck. He was guilty of all sorts of crimes and had to protect himself so he came up with this plan, blah blah blah. And if Israel offered it, how could Bush reject it!! You cannot blame Bush for that."

I always say to that that nothing big here happens without the prodding of the US government. So if the Gaza pullout happened at all, it somehow must have come from Bush. They did not publicize it, but it is in the background somehow.

They laugh and think I am some crazy Democrat.

A book was just published called "The Confidante" by Glen Kessler. It is about Condoleeza Rice and the Bush legacy. I have not read the book yet, but I did recently read a review and a description of the book. I might add that this is not normal the type of book I would read (being it is about George Bush's legacy), but now I find it worth reading just for the sections on the Bush dealings with the Middle East (read: Israel).

The review I read excerpted a small section of the book, just a couple of paragraphs really, on the leadup to the Gaza withdrawal.

I do not have it in front of me so I cannot print the quotes, but I will paraphrase and give over what was said.

The author related an incident in which Bush told Condi he would support efforts to create a Palestinian state. Rice created a channel between Bush and Sharon via Sharon's adviser Dov Weisglass.

The reviewer mentioned a number of incidents; regarding Arafat's muqata and the Israeli siege, the war with Iraq, etc.

The one I found interesting was the one on how Rice was involved in the creation of the Disengagement.

Rice, according to the author, told Weisglass that the Road Map is not good enough. She told Weisglass to go home and come up with a new plan; something that will let the world say, "Look at what Israel has done , and not the Palestinians need to do something."

Weisglass got back to her with a plant o disengage from 3 to 5 settlements. .

Rice said that the US would definitely support such a move but that is not good enough. She said that if Israel wants to change the dynamics and create a new reality, it would have to be the whole Gaza, and nothing less.

Weisglass went back to Sharon and they worked it out and gave Gaza to the Palestinians.

That is how the disengagement came about, at least according to this book, The Confidante.
I knew the US pushed the whole thing. Bush himself might not have been involved much in the details, but he was by proxy of his Sec State.

I think this book is a must read, just to get the details of that story clear.


  1. This is not surprising. All along i thought israel was doing it to make a large step and say: "look, its your turn now." I never believed that Sharon would really get away with something like this, just to keep himself out of court. But to hear, that US was only pushing them more, doesn't surprise me at all.
    Whenever i think back about Sharon, i see that he had one purpose. the disengagement. Now that he has completed it, he was umm... no longer president. How soon after the disengagement did he become sick? it just seems so clear to me. He had a mission. He did it. Now it's up to Gd to show us the next part of His plan...

  2. it was not surprising to me either. I "knew" the Bush administration had somehow pushed Sharon to doing it and pressured him somehow. But Bush supporters always defended him saying it was all Sharon and if Sharon wants to do it why should Bush not support him....

    interesting thought on Sharon....

  3. Bush is the President of the United States, not Israel. He has been supportive of nearly every Israeli move and that is WAY better than any other president, certainly not on par with them.


  4. Exactly, Rafi.

    Anon/Zevy- so you think the destruction of Jewish communities is a positive event? Is the expulsion of Jews from their homes in the Jewish State is a good thing? The strengthening of terrorists should be applauded?

  5. I had not been aware of this. (I'd like to make sure that Kessler is correct too. He is a reporter for the Washington Post and, well, I don't have a lot of confidence in the Post.)

    Still, as bad as this is, do you think that we would have reached this point if Clinton hadn't spent the better part of his presidency flacking for Arafat?

    The violence of 2000 - 2003 was largely the result of Clinton's winking at PA violations of Oslo. And I'd hate to think how much pressure would have been brought to bear against Israel to restrain itself during Defensive Shield had Gore won in 2000. (Yes there was pressure from the Bush administration too, but it was of a different - less severe - quality than the sort of pressure I saw from the previous two administrations.)

    And I can't think of a worse betrayal of Israel than what Clinton pulled in the wake of the Hebron Accord.

    Bush has not been perfect and on many issues he's been a disappointment, but I think he's been a lot better than any of the alternatives. Certainly better than any Democrat would have been over the same time.

  6. SD - this post is regardless of how good or bad other presidents were. I was not comparing him to others. I was simply saying, as I have always said, that while Bush is portrayed as the great friend of Israel who pretty much lets Israel do whatever it wants and feels necessary, it is not true.

    Bush pressures Israel and just keeps it behind the scenes. He has good PR and marketing and everybody thinks he is great.

    I have always said that Bush must have pressured Sharon to do the disengagement. Sure, Sharon is ultimately responsible for it, but Bush was there behind him, not just saying OK, as has been portrayed.

    SD and Zevy - I consider the disengagement among the darkest periods in modern Israelui history. You can debate whether it should or should not have been done at all. That is not my point. The way it was done, the internal strife, the conflict, everybody thought were *this* close to civil war, etc... Whether it was right or wrong to carry out the disengagement, the way it was done was completely wrong and I always thought Bush was responsible somehow for the disengagement. This book, if accurate, confirms it.

    I always say that no major diplomatic moves in Israel happen without the US pushing from behind.

  7. B"H I'm glad you posted this. I wish someone would do the same regarding the X-ian and so-called X-ian Zionist lobbies. At one time they were working "behind the scenes" to convince Pres. Bush to be more supportive of Israel and less supportive of the Arabs. Now the line is that they have to support Pres. Bush no matter what, as he's too unpopular as it is.

    And, another thing, what's with Rice anyway? What's her motivation for pushing Israel in this direction? I can't believe it's only her CFC membership. The State Dept. has been traditionally anti-Israel since the Truman admin., but still. Oh, yeah, and anyone who thinks Chenney is pro-Israel, think again.

  8. I'm not sure how I implied I supported the disengagement. I, like most of the people reading this blog, was very much against the disengagement. My point was simply that Bush IS a friend of Israel. Israel does not have to listen to him. He was very supportive of Israel's hawkish moves as well - the war and operation defensive shield. I don't blame him for the disengagement. We could/should have said no. But he supports Israel. Compare that to Clinton equating us with the PA and double crossing Bibi over Pollard & it's hard to say Bush is on par with him.



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