Friday, April 16, 2004

The changes in US Middle East policy announced by Bush yesterday are very very significant. To be sure, US policy has been solidly pro-Israeli since Harry Truman gave recognition to Israel. But Bush has now endorsed the right of Israel to undertake unilateral steps, although American policy has been based on the rejection of unilateral steps by any side. Maybe by "any" they meant Palestinians. He also supported Israel's right to retain whatever it wants from the West Bank and Gaza, as if this land is his land to dispense with. Bush also came out categorically against the right of return although UN resolutions (to which he strictly adheres in the case of Iraq) give Palestinians the right of return or compensation (I support the Palestinian right of return AND compensation). Finally, Bush--for the second time--comes out in support of the preservation of Israel as a Jewish state. What does that mean? He basically is supporting the right of Israel to maintain its Jewish majority status. But what if the Palestinian percentage of the population (which now stands around 18 %) continues to increase? What will Bush do? What if the Palestinians naturally due to their high birth rate become a majority? Will this Bush support the right of Israel to expel or exterminate any Palestinian who would exceed the set limit, say, of 40 % of the population? How can a state be supported to preserve a certain demographic characteristic? This is like saying we support the right of the US to preserve its white majority status. On another note, I commented on the last Bin Laden tape to SF's Channel 4 (I did that because you asked me, Yun). I believe that this indeed is Bin Laden, although I was rather surprised that his manner of speech sounded different. He sounded weak and fatigued compared to previous tapes. Reports that he may be ill could very well be true. Yet, and despite the reports of a US manhunt for him, the release indicates that he may not be in a state of panic, which only reinforces my suspicion that Bin Laden may be neither in Afghanistan nor in Pakistan. He presumably is very proud of his command of the Arabic language, and I can see that this speech had his distinctive speech markings. He is, like Saddam, very long-winded. It takes him to say in 5 sentences what can be said in one. Bin Laden, I believe, is more kooky than ever. I strongly believe now that he views himself as the Prophet of Islam (although Muslims believe that Muhammad was the seal of all prophets). It bugs my mother that Bin Laden takes it upon himself to speak on behalf of all Muslims. Now I know that he can speak on behalf of his fellow kooks (all of whom can be fit in one cave or two). But to speak on behalf of world Muslims where most Muslims have not been moved by his words, and have ignored his repeated calls for Jihad? I also believe that this truce idea was uncharacteristic of Bin Laden, but it fits into my theory that he views himself as a Prophet for Muslims. And just as Muhammad signed the Hudaybiyyah Peace Treaty with Pagans, Bin Laden is trying his hand at diplomacy. I do believe that Al-Qa`idah remains stronger than we are led to believe, and I do not buy the claim (by Bush officials) that 2/3rd of all its leadership have been either killed or captured. And I believe that Al-Qa`idah now operates on the assumption that smaller cultish outgrowths of the mother/father organization will undertake its message of Jihad.