Mr. President: The Palestinian Struggle Shall Live On

"Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born. I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror." George W. Bush, June 24, the White House.

Mr. President George W. Bush:

I eagerly awaited your "landmark speech" on the Middle East, until you spoke, and I was left dumfounded, mostly blaming myself for my irrational eagerness. I was expecting fairness, I found bias. I hoped for courage, and found spinelessness. I prayed for change, I found the old broken record: blaming the victim, the Palestinians, over and over again.

No sir, I am not naive; I am well aware of what governs your policies in the Middle East, what forces, in fact, controls every word you utter, every gesture and comment you make. No, it's not the interest of the American people as many reply, but its Israel, Washington's powerful lobbies, the pressure of a media greatly influenced by Israel's friends in the US, and the ever false perception that the Israeli murder campaign of Palestinians is part of a loosely defined "war on terror."

I like to think of myself as a positive person. So when you came to speak, I tried to overlook your past bias, your blind support of Israel, your justification for their killing of my people, your financial and military support that has left an entire nation in mourning, thousands of people dead, tens of thousands wounded and entire towns, villages and refugee camps wrecked or obliterated.

I tried to pretend that you were truly an outsider trying to help, not a financier of the Israeli killing machine, and that every bullet that killed an innocent man, woman and a child in my land was "Made in the USA".

When I heard you talk, I visualized an "honest broker", and forced myself to forget how you boasted at the Israeli massacre in Jenin calling it part of Israel's right to defend itself.

I foolishly thought that maybe for once, an American president would take his country from the category of the co-conspirators in Israeli crimes, into a defender of human rights, from being part of the problem, to becoming the solution.

But you disappointed me, all of us, and millions here in American and worldwide who genuinely pray for peace in the Middle East, peace based on their hope that the holy land would one day reclaim its holiness and finally pass through this phase of bloodshed. But Israeli pressure, sir, appeared more valuable to you than the prayers of millions.

Instead, you chose to narrow down a conflict that was sparked by the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands decades ago, to the problem of Palestinian elections and new leadership.

And although I strongly agree Mr. President that corruption is a problem that Palestinians must confront, let me remind you that Arafat was elected democratically, and you sir, were not; that your call for a new Palestinian leadership defied the simplest rules of democracy; for you preached authoritarian democracy where you impose your own terms of whom Palestinians should or should not elect.

May I remind you Mr. President that your time in office was a time that Americans lost the greatest number of victims and got engaged in a clearly endless war against a ghost-like enemy; a time when your economy is tumbling, and your people's taxes are being spent on developing futile missile shield systems and support apartheid and dictatorships around the world, from which Israel is only one.

Would you still be pleased if an "honest broker" somewhere in the world suggested that the way to end your strife with Al-Qaeda, and your bad governance is imposing a new leadership on your people?

And why won't you ask the Israelis to elect a new leadership? Wasn't it the murderous policies of Sharon that landed Israel in such a bloody conflict? Wasn't it his failure to acknowledge the rights of Palestinians that worsened their fate?

Instead sir, you came down on Palestinians, as hard as always. You see, they have no money for your campaigns, no lobbyists working full time to influence your policies and your country's media perception. They only have rusty keys and old deeds to homes and land they were expelled from at gunpoint when Israel was established over 50 years ago.

Old deeds and rusty keys are, of course of no value to you.

So blame them, blame them over and over again. They are the least costly party to blame. For no one will stand in your face to ask you to be fair: the Palestinian leadership rushed and quickly accepted your speech, and Arab regimes are most likely to follow and applaud your wisdom as well.

You certainly left millions of Palestinians heartbroken, but who cares, they are only Palestinians, and you are the President of the "greatest democracy in the world," siding with Israel, "the only democracy in the Middle East."

But beyond this meaningless rhetoric of self-claimed democracies, you failed to remember sir that the struggle of nations has little to do with you or that little speech of yours.

You failed to remember that the hope of a five million refugees to return to their homes is little hampered by your intentional overlooking of their right to go home.

You failed to remember that justice is not dictated by politically manipulated words but by the will and courage of a nation that vowed not to die, to fight for its freedom and humanity.

You thought that we really believed that your call for a new leadership was truly meant to help us achieve betters lives, not a call that was meant to create a leadership that even more compromising than the current one, one that would sell the little that we have left, and sign to what Sharon dictates, no questions asked.

But once again, you failed to remember that the spirit that brought the people of Jenin to fight until the last man, is the same spirit that runs in the streets of Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, and in the blood of all refugees far away from home.

You left the podium, with a head held high, very proud of what you just said, calling for an oppressed nation to "end its terrorism" against the oppressor, the same oppressor who maintained its existence using terrorism, ethnic cleansing and genocide.

But many Presidents before you sir, made similar speeches and left the podiums with the same confident looks, thinking that they've really imposed their will over the will of Palestinians.

But they all failed. Palestinians never crawled back to their refugee camps and died because of unfair speeches made by a passing President. History shall not remember your accusations of Palestinians, they are of little relevancy to virtuous fight for justice.

The piece of paper, where you wrote your speech, will be folded and perhaps saved in some forsaken drawer in the White House. Let's hope that one day it would be recycled and used by an American protester who would stand before the White House with a sign that reads: "Justice for Palestine." Meanwhile, the Palestinian struggle, Mr. President, shall live on.

Ramzy Baroud is the Editor-in-Chief of

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