By Alex Lantier
15 May 2008
President George W. Bush arrived in Israel yesterday for the first leg of his five-day tour of the Middle East, which will also take him to Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Bush strove to limit himself to pleasantries in public statements, but even they took on a clumsily ominous character in the face of a region increasingly destabilized by the US occupation of Iraq and Washington’s overall foreign policy.
Bush arrived in Tel Aviv amid the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel, a date that is known among Palestinians as “the catastrophe.” For the two days of Israeli festivities, the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sealed the borders between Israel and the Palestinian territories, and Israeli forces on Wednesday attacked Palestinian protesters at several border checkpoints with tear gas.
After reiterating US support for Israel, Bush praised “60 years of democracy in Israel” and concluded, “What happened here is possible everywhere.” To millions of people around the world, watching the ongoing repression of the Palestinians and the bloody US-led occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush’s comment doubtless sounded more like a threat than a promise.
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