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Meaning What They Say
by Aaron Goldstein
21 April 2004The Thinker

John Kerry seems to approach Israel as if it were a multiple choice question.


During President Bush’s press conference last week one statement stood out above all else.  At the very end of the conference, he said, “One thing for certain, though, about me – and the world has learned this – when I say something, I mean it.”

The following day, President Bush backed up these words when he met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the White House.    President Bush accepted Sharon’s unilateral withdrawal from and abandonment of settlements in the Gaza Strip.  In so doing he recognized the right of Jews to remain in the West Bank and rejected the Palestinian right of return.  To be precise, President Bush said it “is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.”  President Bush addressed the Palestinian right of return through the context of the Palestinian refugee crisis, “It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue…will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state and settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than Israel.”

For good measure, President Bush elaborated on his June 24, 2002 statement concerning the choice of Palestinians having their own state or terror but not both.  “The Palestinian people must insist on change and on a leadership that is committed to reform and progress and peace.  We will help.  But the most difficult work is theirs.”  President Bush also stated that the United States would work toward “strengthening Israel’s self-defense capability, including its right to defend itself against terror.”  President Bush added that Israel’s self-defense capability included the security barrier that is presently being constructed along the West Bank.

Predictably the Palestinian Authority and the New York Times were outraged by President Bush’s statements and his support for Israel.  Well, too bad.  President Bush’s support of Israel is unwavering and steadfast.  Love him or hate him, at least one knows where one stands in the grand scheme of things with President Bush.

There are other issues where I part company with President Bush, such as gay marriage.  But again -- I know where he stands.   I can agree to disagree.

One cannot say the same for Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry.   Kerry seems to approach Israel (and almost every other issue) as if it were a multiple choice question.  For instance, concerning the Israeli security barrier, Kerry condemned it in a speech before the Arab American Institute while visiting Michigan in October 2003.   “I know how disheartened Palestinians are by the Israeli government’s decision to build the barrier off the green line cutting deep into Palestinian areas.  We do not need another barrier to peace.”   Yet in February of this year while speaking to Jewish leaders in New York, Kerry was suddenly in favor of the security barrier.  Meanwhile, on his website, Kerry does not address the security barrier at all under the item “Working for Peace in the Middle East and Security for Israel.”   Kerry’s support of Israel seems to depend on who he is trying to pander to at any given moment.  John Kerry plays more positions than a utility infielder – and none of them very effectively.   

Aaron Goldstein, a former member of the socialist New Democratic Party, writes poetry and has a chapbook titled Oysters and the Newborn Child: Melancholy and Dead Musicians. His poetry can be viewed on www.poetsforthewar.org.

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