- The pro-Sharon faction is headed by the extremist Secretary
of Defense, Rumsfeld, and his even more extreme deputy, Wolfowitz. They
have Vice President Cheney on their side.
- When he was elected, almost by accident, George Bush
was a local politician without any international experience. He would have
been hard put to locate half the world's states on the map.Since then he
has been sleepwalking around the world, pushed hither and thither, sometimes
listening to one of his handlers, sometimes to the other. He moves in circles,
zigzags, forwards and backwards.
- He tells Sharon to withdraw immediately - "I repeat,
immediately!" - and when Sharon laughs in his face he declares that
Sharon is a Man of Peace. He calls for an international conference and
kills it before it is born. He fantasizes about the "vision"
of a Palestinian state and humiliates the leader of the Palestinians every
day. He brings himself and his office into disrepute. So, what's happening
- Well, Bush is torn between two mighty forces that are
pulling him in opposite directions. On the one side, there is domestic
political pressure. The Jewish lobby is, of course, one of the strongest
in the United States. The Jewish community is highly organized on rigid,
authoritarian lines. Its electoral and financial power casts a long shadow
over both houses of the Congress. Hundreds of Senators and Congressmen
were elected with the help of Jewish contributions. Resistance to the directives
of the Jewish lobby is political suicide. If AIPAC (America Israel Public
Affairs Committee) were to table a resolution abolishing the Ten Commandments,
80 Senators and 300 Congressmen would sign it at once. This lobby frightens
the media, too, and assures their adherence to Israel.
- But nowadays, even the power of this mighty lobby does
not match the influence of the Christian fundamentalist lobby, dominated
by the evangelist preachers. It puts the fear of God into the leaders of
the Republican Party. George Bush Jr. remembers well that his father was
forsaken by this lobby when he failed to obey it.
- This fanatical religious lobby appears to be extremely
pro-Zionist. "Appears", because there is a darker side to it.
According to its theological beliefs, the Jews must congregate in Palestine
and establish a Jewish state on all its territory, so as to make the Second
Coming of Jesus Christ possible. The evangelists don't like to dwell openly
on what comes next: before the Coming, the Jews must convert to Christianity.
Those who don't will perish in a gigantic holocaust in the battle of Armageddon.
This is basically an anti-Semitic teaching, but who cares, as long as they
- The combined might of the two lobbies is being brought
to bear on Bush every time he tends in the direction of the Arabs. There
other powerful factors are at work: the Arab governments and the Arab oil.
The kings, presidents, Emirs and Sheikhs are subservient to the United
States, but they are afraid that the suffering of the Palestinians will
push their people into rebellion. They infect the Bush family with their
fears. The Bushs, of course, are heavily involved with oil.
- In Washington, as in Jerusalem, all problems are translated
into personal struggles. The pro-Sharon faction is headed by the extremist
Secretary of Defense, Rumsfeld, and his even more extreme deputy, Wolfowitz.
They have Vice President Cheney on their side, and also, so it seems, the
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, whose legs aroused the vocal
admiration of Sharon. Opposing them, almost alone, is the Secretary of
State, Powell, supported by the experts of his department. Every time Rumsfeld
and Co. convince Bush that he has to satisfy the Jewish-Christian lobby
in order to win elections, along comes Powell and convinces him at the
last moment that the national interests of the United States demand the
- This week Bush received Mubarak. Sharon at once invited
himself to the Oval Office, obviously believing that Bush is so weak-minded
that he is always influenced by the last person he has listened to. That
is the struggle that meets the eye. Underneath, perhaps, a more profound
struggle lies hidden. My friend Afif Safieh, the PLO delegate in London,
believes that two souls have dwelt in the American nation from birth.
- The one is that of the original settlers, the destroyers
of the Native Americans, the slavers, a soul that adores brute force and
cherishes the myth of the Wild West, that supports tyrants around the world.
This soul identifies itself automatically with the Zionist settlers and
the expulsion of the Arabs. Sharon is their man.
- The other one is the soul of Thomas Jefferson (in spite
of the fact that he was a slave-owner, too, of course) and the framers
of the constitution; of Lincoln, the emancipator of the slaves; of Wilson,
whose 14 Points proclaimed the right of self-determination; of Roosevelt,
who helped to save the world from Hitler; an idealist, liberal and freedom-loving
soul. This one tends nowadays towards the Palestinians.
- The first soul occupies Bush's heart, the other one knocks
on the doors of his mind. It will be interesting to see which one wins.
- Uri Avnery is a leading Israeli writer and peace activist