President George Bush gave the Arab world a stern lecture which urged its leaders to adhere to principles of democracy. He told them “in recent years, we have seen hopeful beginnings toward this vision. Turkey– a nation with a majority Muslim population– is a prosperous modern demcoracy. Afghanstan, under the leadership of President Karzai is overcoming the Taliban and building a free society. Iraq under the leadership of Prime Minister Maliki is establishng a multi-ethnic democracy. The light of liberty is beginning to shine.” It is doubtful if many Muslim women in Afghanistan or Iraq would be aware they inhabit a nation with a shining record of freedom for women.
Bush’s speech came after his address to the Kenesset in which he showered Israel with acolades about praised it for defending itself and being able to “make the hard choices necessary” although there was no mention of any specific steps he wanted Israel to make in pursuance for regional peace. He never mentioned the Palestinian situation in Israel and merely reinforced in the minds of many in the Muslim world the belief, as stated by the Turkish Zaman, “that Washington doesn’t push the country(Israel) hard enough to give way on issues that anger Palestinians and stymie a deal.”
Bush met with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas aho told him of his disappointment with the Knesset speech. According to Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekt, “we said that it was disappointing, and it missed an opportunity, because you(Bush) could have said that the Palestinian people shoould have their freedom and independence in order to achieve peace in the entire area.” Bush reponded that he was the first American president to recognize the concept of an independent Palestinian state.
Of course, President Clinton negotiated with Arafat and came close to reaching an agreement which would have created an independent Palestinian state, but he was, of course, a Democrat. The president apparently did not wish to make clear the intent of his speech to the Kenesset which was designed as a propaganda effort to support the candidacy of Senator McClain and accuse Senator Obama of not being a friend to Israel.