Sunday, January 13, 2008

Censoring Bush's call for Palestinian “right of return”

A Guest Posting by Lurker

In his speech upon arriving at Ben Gurion Airport, President Bush called upon Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians on all "core issues" -- including the "right of return" of Palestinian refugees to pre-1967 Israel.
"You just heard the man [Olmert] talk about their desire to deal with core issues, which I guess for the uneducated on the issue [sic], that means dealing with the issues like territory and right of return and Jerusalem... And they're going to sit down at the table and discuss those issues in seriousness."  [Source: Official White House transcript]
This is an enormous departure from existing U.S. policy: In the past, no American administration has ever expressed support for the supposed "right of return", or even used that loaded expression. In fact, even the Europeans have never used the term. The reason is obvious: The very use of that phrase (unless prefixed with "so-called" or "claimed") implies that such a right actually exists – a position never taken by the U.S. (The term that has always been used is "the Palestinian refugee problem".) It is universally understood that granting millions of Palestinians a “right of return” would result in the instant demise of the Jewish state.

In spite of the extreme precedence-setting significance of Bush's statement, nearly the entire Israeli media seems to have completely ignored it. There were a couple of exceptions: On Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet Thursday morning, between 7:00 and 8:00, Aryeh Golan mentioned the statement several times, and pointed out that it seems to indicate a radical change in American policy. He also played a tape of Bush making the statement.

As the day progressed, however, Israel Radio stopped making any further reference to Bush's talk of the "right of return".

I also saw this story on the Jerusalem Post website, on Wednesday night. The headline was "Says 'Palestinian right of return' must be discussed", and it contained the following paragraph:
At the same time Bush called for all issues to be addressed during negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians -- including the Palestinian 'right of return.'
This article was located here. However, the content of the article was altered significantly within a few hours after I read it. The headline was changed from "Says 'Palestinian right of return' must be discussed" to "Bush: An historic opportunity for peace". Most significantly, the key passage citing Bush's call for negotiations on the "right of return" was mysteriously deleted, and in its place was the following:
Upon his arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport, Bush said that the US's alliance with Israel helps "guarantee Israel's security as a Jewish state." This is widely considered code for a rejection of the Palestinian claim of the "right of return." Bush made no mention of this at the press conference.
In other words, not only did the Post expunge the fact that Bush spoke of the "right of return" and imply instead that he actually opposes it -- but they even went so far as to state that Bush "made no mention" of it! This is a complete, outright lie: Bush most certainly did make mention of it. It can be found in the transcript provided by the White House, cited above. I myself heard it on tape, played on Reshet Bet Thursday morning. And the Jerusalem Post itself reported it – before they deleted that report and flatly denied that the statement was ever made. Luckily, I didn’t have to start doubting my own sanity: The original version of the article was still open on my computer, and I saved a copy of it. Here’s a screen shot:

Is it conceivable that the entire media would conspire to black out a statement made by the President of the United States in a public speech? Apparently, it is. This is something that ought to scare the hell out of any person who values freedom and democracy.

Apart from the grave issue of the media's cover-up and lying to hide Bush's statement, we ought to ask how it is that Bush came to make this statement in the first place. It isn't exactly a secret that Bush isn't the brightest bulb in the chandelier. When he referred, in his statement at Ben Gurion, to "the uneducated on the issue", he probably was thinking first and foremost of himself. On his own, the President knows very little about foreign policy issues, and his close advisors carefully prepare all his public statements for him. So who, exactly, fed him the line about the "right of return"?

In 2006, President Bush appointed a commission dubbed the "Iraq Study Group" to re-examine U.S. Middle East policy, and to make recommendations for changes. The chairman of this group was none other than President Bush Sr.'s notorious Secretary of State, Mr. James "F*** the Jews" Baker. So nobody was especially surprised when Baker's group produced a report that criticized existing U.S. policy as too pro-Israel, recommending in its place a more pro-Arab stance. (See here for an excellent summary by Daniel Pipes.) But people were surprised when they saw that the report referred to the so-called Palestinian "right of return":  Recommendation #17 called for the following:
Sustainable negotiations leading to a final peace settlement along the lines of President Bush's two-state solution, which would address the key final status issues of borders, settlements, Jerusalem, the right of return, and the end of conflict.
At the time, this completely unprecedented reference to the "right of return" created a stir. One Middle East analyst who had participated in the Iraq Study Group discussions was very surprised to find this statement in the report. "'Right of return' is not in Oslo I or Oslo II, it's not in the Bush Rose Garden speech, it's not even in UN 181, the original partition resolution – it's part of the Palestinian discourse," said the analyst. So what was it doing in the report, then? The analyst speculated that it might have been "a deliberate attempt to fuse something to the Bush rhetoric which wasn't there before".

A year later, that attempt has borne fruit: It's impossible to notice the uncanny similarity between the statement in Baker's report, and Bush's statement on Wednesday. It seems that the antisemitic Baker has once again become a major factor in setting U.S. Middle East policy.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד


Anonymous said...

The article can be found here:

Anonymous said...

All the phrasing in public has been purposefully ambiguous. We must "Discuss the Right of Return", presumably for Palestinians.

I figured it will be a short discussion; "No". That about covers it.

Lurker said...

To Anonymous @ 10:53 AM:

You are very naïve, and unfortunately quite wrong. It has already begun: See here.

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Anonymous said...

As I see it, everyone else is late to the "party" here, because I fired off letters to the President and every other media outlet I know, when Bush said in Ramallah last Thursday that Israeli "occupation" must end:

There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967.

If there was any doubt that Bush is totally ignorant of Middle Eastern history as it relates to Israel and the "Palestinians," this bon mot should dispel all doubts:

The agreement must establish a Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people...Palestinians deserve more than a 'Swiss Cheese' state.

The Leader of the Free World sounded more like the Leader of Fatah.

Does Bush even know where the Jewish homeland was supposed to be created?

After Britain defeated the Ottomans in 1917, they subsequently divided the former Empire into independent Arab states, all except for the land east and west of the Jordan River. Both Britain and the League of Nations mandated this land to become the permanent "Jewish National Homeland." The US also supported this mandate. Were it not for WWII, and some British double-dealing, the Jewish National Homeland would have replaced all of “Mandated Palestine,” instead of only a tiny strip of it that Arabs still refuse to concede.

In 1922, the British disregarded their own Mandate for a Jewish Homeland by giving 75 percent of it (everything east of the Jordan River) to an Arab emirate, which today is known as Jordan. Jordan subsequently granted full citizenship to all Palestinian Arabs, while denying entry to all Jews. With over 70 percent of its population being Palestinian Arabs, Jordan became the de jure Palestinian state. (The current demands to create another Palestinian state is nothing more than a political straw man that Arabs started using after 1967 as a way to eliminate Israel.)

Between 1921 and 1948, the British restricted Jewish immigration into Western Palestine to a trickle while simultaneously allowing the unrestricted (and unreported) migration of hundreds of thousands of Arabs into and around existing Jewish settlements. What’s worse is the Arab’s so-called, “Right of Return” whereby any Arab claiming to have lived in Israel only two years before the 1948 War is considered "an indigenous resident of the land for generations." Furthermore, this “Right” is also extended to every member of their family regardless of where or when they were born!

Bush is blindly making policy decisions on the basis of false propaganda fed to him by his Arab “friends,” and is just as eager as they are to carve up what little is left of the original Jewish homeland, leaving Israel with totally indefensible borders.

Soccer Dad said...

Good catch!

Anonymous said...

the correct term is "Not the brightest candle on the Menorah" a.k.a. dimwit!

The back of the hill said...

I have no problem with the Palestinian right of return.

Syria, Circassia, and Albania will welcome them back.

-suitepotato- said...

Daniel Pipes referenced this blog.

So the word is spreading about this little retromodding of reality...

Search the Muqata


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