In mid-May, President Bush travelled to the Middle East to establish his legacy more firmly in the part of the world that has been the prime focus of his presidency.
The trip had two principal destinations, each chosen to celebrate a major anniversary: Israel, the 60th anniversary of its founding and recognition by the United States, and Saudi Arabia, the 75th anniversary of US recognition of the newly founded kingdom. The choices made good sense in the light of history and the enduring character of US Middle East policy: control of oil, and support of the proxies who help maintain it.
An omission, however, was not lost on the people of the region. Though Bush celebrated the founding of Israel, he did not recognise (let alone commemorate) the paired event from 60 years ago: the destruction of Palestine, the Nakba, as Palestinians refer to the events that expelled them from their lands.
During his three days in Jerusalem, the president was an enthusiastic participant in lavish events and made sure to go to Masada, a near-sacred site of Jewish nationalism.
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