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Poor George, he can't help it...Dr. James M. Wall Salem-News.com
It is a superb Texas sweet-talking barbed description, dripping with sarcasm and righteous anger.
(CHICAGO) - “Poor George, he can’t help it — he was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”
This memorable line from future Texas Governor Ann Richards was aimed at soon-to-be President George H. W. Bush. It was included in Richards’ keynote address to the 1988 Democratic National Convention, which nominated Michael Dukakis as its candidate to oppose Bush.
It is a superb Texas sweet-talking barbed description, dripping with sarcasm and righteous anger. It came to me that this is a term that fits all sizes of U.S. politicians who “can’t help it” when it comes to Israel. They were born into political life with the silver foot of the Israeli narrative dictating their every political move.
The video of Richards’ famous line is at the end of this posting.
I recalled the impact of that 1988 “Poor George” line when I read what former President Bill Clinton said at an event honoring Israeli President Shimon Peres on the occasion of Peres’ 90th birthday:
Poor Bill, he can’t help it. He talks about Palestine and Israel as though Palestine is not in the room. He can’t help it. Demographics is the problem? Please.
Clinton’s speech was delivered on the opening night of the fifth annual Israeli Presidential Conference, held in Jerusalem. It was an upbeat look to the future by the famous guests. According to Ha’aretz, the opening night included a celebration of President Shimon Peres’ 90th birthday. In addition to Clinton’s speech, Barbara Streisand (right) was on hand for a concert honoring Peres.
There were at least 24 Emmy, Grammy, Nobel and Oscar winners at Jerusalem’s Internation al Conventions Center for the gala event. David Alexrod, former Obama advisor, showed up to engage movie actress Sharon Stone in a closing night discussion on leadership.
During Streisand’s concert, Ha’aretz reported that:
Stephen Hawking was nowhere to be seen. As I wrote for Wall Writings on May 14:
After the Streisand concert, USA Today wrote:
USA Today gave more details later in the story about the “pro-Palestinian activists”.
Clinton, of course, has shown no signs that he has heard from the BDS movement. He is, after all, a highly successful American politician who was brought up on the political doctrine that he must believe the Israeli narrative with all the fervor with which he believes the earth is round.
Bill Clinton loves Israel. He said as much in his speech for Peres, “I love this country more than I have words to say.”
Pause for a moment and think about the way these other Clinton sentences sound to Palestinians:”No matter how many settlers you put out there, the Palestinians are having more babies than the Israelis as a whole”.
For Clinton, as he speaks to an Israeli crowd, the “existential question” facing Israelis is not one of human rights. It is not a matter of justice. It is a matter of demographics.
Yousef Munayyer, Executive Director of The Jerusalem Fund and its educational program, The Palestine Center, has been quick to inform the former president that his statement about what Munayyer rightfully calls, “paranoid baby counting,” is a racist comment.
Munayyer (at right) put it this way:
Aaron David Miller, who has worked for Clinton and several other presidents, has added his diplomatic pro-Israeli spin on what his old boss sees as a “demographic challenge”. Miller, now a a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, wrote in a recent essay for The New York Times:
Miller believes the demographics “look bad” for Israel because there are too many “others” being born there.
To live under the control of the Israeli narrative is to ignore all other perspectives when facing issues affecting Israel. Clinton concluded his speech honoring Peres, according to The Times of Israel, by praising Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
Spoken, of course, like a true believer in the Israeli narrative, a believer who was twice elected U.S. president, and was in the White House when the Palestinians refused to accept that “gift” of “more of the West Bank than they have today”. This is, of course, an Israeli narrative version of the “talks” to which Clinton refers.
The framing of the situation between Israel and Palestine today was repeated by President Barack Obama recently in a speech to the Israeli public. In the speech, Yousef Munayyer reports, Obama said:
Munayyer adds that while “Some believe that making this argument to the Israeli public advances the interests of peace. In reality, the opposite is true, it just makes things worse”.
It is worst, because by encouraging the Israelis to see Palestinian freedom “not as the legitimate and urgent right of Palestinians but as a choice Israelis can or cannot make when and if they get around to it”, Obama speaks entirely from the Israeli perspective of what is best for Israel.
Perspective is all. Look at Palestinian freedom from the Israeli perspective and what do you see? You see a challenge that must be met in Israel’s best interests.
But look at Palestinian freedom from the Palestinian perspective and you see not a challenge for Israel, but a responsibility placed upon an Israeli government that continues to rely on the occupation as its way of ”controlling” the neighborhood.
To describe Israel’s “problem” as one of demographics, is to turn Israel’s moral wrong into an accepted right. There is an historic reason why the demographics of a moral wrong has become an accepted right. It was planned that way from the beginning. In a recent posting entitled, “How many is too many?’, Munayyer explains:
At the conclusion of Yousef Munayyer‘s posting on Clinton’s speech, he offered a few words of advice to Israel, to former President Clinton and to current President Barack Obama:
The picture above of Barbara Streisand was taken by the AP’s Dan Balilty.
Please visit James Wall's Website, Wall Writings
Journalism was Jim Wall’s undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. An ordained United Methodist clergy person; he and his wife, Mary Eleanor, are the parents of three sons, and the grandparents of four grandchildren. They live in Elmhurst, Illinois.
Jim served for two years on active duty in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF (inactive) reserve. While serving with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years, starting in 1972. Time magazine wrote about the new editor, who arrived at the Christian Century determined to turn the magazine into a hard-hitting news publication. The inspiration for Wall Writings comes from that mindset and from many other sources that have influenced Jim’s writings over the years, including politics, cinema, media, American culture, and the political struggles in the Middle East. Jim has made more than 20 trips to that region as a journalist, during which he covered such events as Anwar Sadat’s 1977 trip to Jerusalem, and the 2006 Palestinian legislative election. He has interviewed, and written about, journalists, religious leaders, political leaders and private citizens in the region. You can write to Jim Wall at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Jim's Website: Wall Writings
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