20 November, 2005
Remarks at the Saban Forum Closing Session - Deconstructing Condi
Jerusalem November 13, 2005
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Well, first of all, thank you, Haim, for that generous introduction and thank you to you and to Cheryl for what you do through this organization and through this forum to support and promote Israeli-American dialogue. I'd like to recognize Ambassador Indyk for his role in this. And to all of you who have participated in this dialogue, I only wish that I could have been to hear the fine panels that have taken place. But it is this kind of vision and leadership and generosity that are helping to make the Saban Center and this annual forum such a critical contribution to peace and understanding. The United States and Israel, of course, share history and share interests but most of all we share values and because we share values, our friendship will always be strong and deep and broad. (Applause.)
---They share history? Hmm. I would say that every nation that has had anything to do with Israel shares its history. What is this special historical role? They share interest$, yes, no argument there. Share values, agreed, and that is why neither of them value true democracy and are racist to the core. It takes no effort at all to see the ways the minority groups live in these countries to be the first barometer of the value (expressed in Dollars).
As I look out tonight at this audience, I see many businessmen and academics and statesmen and even a few journalists who are -- somehow made it on to the guest list -- (laughter) -- and I see that there's a depth of historic partnership that really does bridge -- as Prime Minister Sharon said, not just our governments but our people and that is what is represented here.
I am honored, too, by the many distinguished members of the Israeli Government who are here, including former Prime Minister Barak, Vice Premier Peres -- thank you very much for being here -- and of course, Prime Minister Sharon. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for your wonderful address but also for your leadership of this great country and for your friendship for America.
---Ok, Condi. You are enthusiastic about Arik, why not just immediately state that he is the candidate that the United States is endorsing and get it over with.
I would like to thank former Secretary of State James Baker who on behalf of President Bush -- 43, not President Bush 41 -- is leading our delegation here and it's a delegation to the events attending the 10th Anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin's assassination. It's a delegation that reflects every branch of the government. There are members of our Congress here, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is here. And I want to thank all of you and the many private citizens from the United States who have come as well.
I want to recognize one person, however, and his wife and that's Jim Wolfensohn and Elaine. Jim was planning was on a very nice retirement in Jackson Hole after his work at the World Bank and we said, well, we have another small task for you and he has been thoroughly and completely involved since then. Thank you very much, Jim. (Applause.)
When I first came to Israel, I said that it was like coming home to a place I had never been. And, indeed, I am always happy to return here to Jerusalem, which is an especially powerful place to be for someone like me who holds deep religious beliefs.
---Boy, coming home to a place you had never been. Just think how it must feel for the Palestinians, who HAD been to their homes and aren’t permitted to come back. Can you relate to that? Or is it just a religious thing?
This visit, of course, to Jerusalem is also marked by the memory of sorrow because tomorrow, along with many of you, I will attend the memorial service honoring Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was tragically assassinated a decade ago.
Yitzhak Rabin represented the pioneer spirit of the Israeli heartland -- the impatient optimism and rugged determination that helped Israel to turn its barren soil green and to build a new home in its native land and indeed to take up arms when it was necessary against all who denied this nation’s right to exist.
---A propaganda speech straight from the Zionist myth. Barren soil, native land, take up arms against all who deny its right to exist (and the right to exist of the Palestinians doesn’t seem to phase her).
And when Israel needed to secure its independence and repel attackers along many fronts, Yitzhak Rabin distinguished himself on the field of battle.
---A war criminal, the mind behind Operation Dani, where 500,000 civilians were deported from Lydda and Ramleh. 5,000 more were expelled from three other villages during the Six Day War. Is this distinguishing oneself on the battlefield? If I were him I would be ashamed to look at my children in the eye.
And when Israel needed leadership, they summoned him to serve democracy and he distinguished himself in the halls of government. And when Israel needed a vision of peace, Yitzhak Rabin distinguished himself at the negotiating table.
He was a man who was a pioneer and a warrior and a statesman and a peacemaker. And he approached all of his callings, especially that of peace, with tenacity, and aplomb and a gritty realism -- but also with hope and trust and an abiding idealism.
---Warrior, yes. Leading Israel into the aggression against Lebanon. Any repentance he ever felt was not for “peace”, but for something else.
After risking death so many times in war, it was for the cause of peace that he ultimately gave his life. And despite the heroic efforts of many individuals since that time, the past decade has seen much pain and disappointment. Terrorists have claimed the lives of over one thousand innocent Israelis and injured thousands of others -- men and women and children who simply wanted to enjoy a pizza or catch a bus or celebrate Passover.
---Isn’t that a picturesque image? These nice families just wanting to be normal, and all those nasty terrorists coming around.
And the Palestinian people have suffered, too. They too have mourned the loss of innocent life. They too have been deprived of days that are normal, filled with peace and opportunity. And now, and for many years to come, they must work to overcome a legacy of corruption and violence and misrule by leaders who promised to fulfill their people’s dreams, but instead preferred arbitrary power over democratic progress.
---Condi doesn’t stop for a moment to reflect upon WHY they have suffered. She lists corruption, violence and misrule by their leaders who denied them democracy. She had better come down from her cloud soon, the air up there is very thin. As you will see in the rest of this discourse, NONE of the Palestinian suffering is due to anything the Israelis have done! It is self inflicted suffering, and if America starts to invest, now that there is a new president, all will turn nice for them. But, I jump too far ahead, those readers who are courageous enough to still follow me.
In the face of so much suffering, it is at times difficult to remain hopeful. But, ladies and gentlemen, I believe deeply when future observers are in a position to know the full history of this conflict, they may point back to this present moment as a time when peace became more likely, not less likely; when peace began to seem inevitable, not impossible -- for the last several years have seen deep changes in this region, changes conducive to real progress.
---Does Condi know the full history of this conflict? It doesn’t sound like it. And, as a matter of fact, peace seems to be less possible than before. The Wall, which is NEVER mentioned in this paper is disrupting Palestinian life like nothing before, the Jews Only Roads are being built, the checkpoints are being mechanised and if possible, even further militarised and Jerusalem and large areas of the West Bank are being taken away from Palestinians day after day in an irreversible way. Israel has picked off most of the leaders of Palestinian society, and there have been more killings of Palestinian civilians in the past few years than in recent memory. The Third Intifada seems to be far from a remote possibility.
Today, we have hope for peace because the international community is united in its historic struggle against terrorism. People in the Middle East are also speaking more clearly against terrorism. And they are rejecting the bankrupt belief that national struggles or religious teachings legitimize the intentional killing of innocents.
---Why blame national struggles only now? When Israel did it, you seem to hail it as nation building. Why equate religious teaching with terrorism, when Israel engages in State Terrorism under the name of a Jewish State by dropping bombs into crowded streets to assassinate a Palestinian leader.
As we have seen in the aftermath of the vicious attacks in Jordan -- and let me join the Prime Minister in extending our condolences to the people of Jordan -- an attack in which dozens of people were killed and wounded and many more harmed because their personal lives were turned upside down by this attack. Fortunately, now, leaders and clerics and private citizens are stepping forward and taking to the streets and calling this evil by its name. This is a profound change and there are others.
We have hope for peace today because people no longer accept that despotism is the eternal political condition of the Middle East. More and more individuals are demanding their freedom and their dignity. Mothers and fathers are saying that they want their children to be engineers, not suicide bombers; that they want their children, daughters as well as sons, to be voting citizens, not docile subjects. There is now growing agreement that democracy is the only path to stability, to real legitimacy and to lasting peace.
---Individuals have wanted the best for their children since time began. Why do you think that American style democracy is something that they want? They have values that predate this, and are more profound and relevant to them. Why not learn to respect that? Why call it despotism if many times, that is not what it is?
Of course, many skeptics still question whether freedom will truly lead to more peace in this region. I believe that it will. We have seen that when authoritarian governments cannot ensure justice and security and prosperity for their people, they look for false legitimacy and they blame their failures on modernity or on America or on the Jews.
---America and the Jews of Israel and those who support Israel have brought no end of suffering to the Arabs of the Middle East and to any area of the world that does not accept this brand of Western hegemony. Did America or Israel bring prosperity, justice or security to the Palestinians, to the Afghanis, to the Iraqis? Is it a question then, of just not being as GOOD as America or Israel, to whom they must model themselves? I would say, being an invaded and militarily occupied nation does kind of put a damper on progress and prosperity.
We have also seen that when people are denied freedom to express themselves, when they cannot advance their interests and redress their grievances through an open political process, they retreat into shadows of alienation to be preyed upon by fanatical men with violent designs. We are not naïve about the pace or the difficulty of democratic change. But we know that the longing for democratic change is deep and urgently felt.
---She sees the solution as a purple finger vote? When Palestinians and their supporters demonstrate non-violently in Bi’lin, they are shot at or arrested. What else are they supposed to do? How can people have the freedom to express themselves if it is expressing against the violent and racist regime that is Israel?
And when we look at a nation like Iran, we see an educated and sophisticated people who are the bearers of a great civilization. And we also see that as Iran's Government has grown more divorced from the will of its citizens, it has become more threatening, not less threatening. No civilized nation should have a leader who wishes, or hopes, or desires, or considers it a matter of policy to express that another country should be pushed into the sea. It is simply unacceptable in the international system. (Applause.)
---That America constantly destroys and creates countries at will, this comment is almost more than vulgar. America has overthrown, arrested or assassinated more than one foreign leader and invaded more than one country, never achieving victory. There might be something to reflect upon behind this. Sometimes the people do know better than the invaders. Sometimes the will of the citizens isn’t what Condi thinks it is. And, the question begs, how does she know what the Iranian people think? I believe that the majority is absolutely against Zionism, as was expressed by their president. I shall not comment on the non-application of Resolution 181, where Israel unilaterally declared itself a State, without recognising the Palestinian one. This is making Palestine fall off into the sea, and so far, no nation, or no international body had lifted a finger in seeing that this Resolution is applied either in spirit or in deed.
Now, it's given real freedom to hold their government accountable. It is doubtful that the majority of Iranian people would choose to deepen their country's international isolation through these incendiary statements and threatening policies. But more than anything, ladies and gentlemen, we have hope for peace because these moral and philosophical changes in the Middle East are leading to democratic progress in the region itself. Men and women are standing up for their fundamental freedoms. They are pressuring states with long habits of authoritarian rule to open their political systems.
One decade after Yitzhak Rabin’s murder, it is clear that the strategic context of the Middle East has changed dramatically and this is a hopeful development that can make Israel more secure, peace more possible, and America more secure.
---How does it make America more secure? By assuring that the leaders “elected” are those who are America-friendly regardless of any other issues they may have? Whether or not they are democracies, theocratic monarchies, or puppet regimes? It doesn’t matter, as long as they march to the tune you whistle.
During this time, really only in the last two years -- the blink of an eyelash in history -- the Government of Libya has made a fundamental choice to give up its weapons of mass destruction and to rejoin the community of nations.
---When will America and Israel give up their weapons of mass destruction and join the community of nations. In my eyes, any nation that has ever dropped an atomic bomb or two on any cities or groups of human beings should be excluded from the community of nations and should be making reparations from here to judgment day. Get off your high moral horse, because you don’t belong there. Look at what you are doing to the people of Iraq with your WMD’s. How do you sleep at night?
Egypt has had a presidential election and parliamentary elections under new constitutional rules. Saudi Arabia has taken initial steps toward political openness. And Kuwait has granted its women citizens the right to vote. The people of Lebanon have reclaimed their country after three decades of Syrian military occupation. They have held free elections. They are pursuing democratic reforms. And the international community is united in our defense of Lebanon’s rights as an independent, sovereign nation.
----Not a word about Israeli occupation of the Golan. Lebanon, actually, enjoyed defence against Israel by the so-called Syrian occupation, which was basically a military presence, and not a rule from the outside, which is what an occupation really is. This is pure propaganda that Condi utters. Not to mention, her thrill at Kuwait and Saudi Arabia starting to become modern, like Iraq was before the invasion.
The Government of Syria has increasingly isolated itself from the international community through its support for terrorism, its interference in the affairs of its neighbors, its destabilizing behavior in the region, and its possible role in the murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. And the recent speech by President Asad only reflects and reinforces the Syrian Government’s current isolation. And the United Nations is now holding Syria to account for its disturbing behavior.
----Blaming Syria for what precisely? If there is a destabilising force, it is the United States, which has brought around war to the region and destroyed a country in the process, without rebuilding it in any way, except to establish the pipeline routes and secure the oilwells.
And we have hope for peace because Saddam Hussein is no longer terrorizing his people, threatening his region and paying the families of suicide bombers. (Applause.)
----There were no suicide bombers before this war. The Iraqi insurgency, resistance and civil war was an American contribution to peace and love in the region.
Instead, Saddam Hussein is sitting in an Iraqi prison, awaiting trial for his many crimes.
---Why isn’t he being tried in an international court of law? When will the US be tried for its many war crimes?
The Iraqi people, after decades of tyranny, are now attempting to govern themselves through compromise, not conflict. They have freely voted twice. They have written and ratified a constitution. And the vast majority of Iraqis are now working through the democratic process to avert the very civil war that terrorists like Zarqawi wish to ignite.
----In case you haven’t noticed, the civil war is in full swing. Things have never been worse in Iraq than they currently are. Condi, you can find all of this stuff on Internet. No need to leave your office.
But perhaps the most extraordinary and hopeful change of recent years has been the growing consensus, led by the United States, that we must support the chorus of reform now resounding throughout the Middle East.
On Saturday, I was in Bahrain for the second meeting of the Forum for the Future, a partnership for political, economic, and social reform between the G-8 nations and members of government and civil society in the broader Middle East.
We had a conversation about political participation and women’s rights and the rule of law -- a conversation unthinkable just a few years ago -- and a conversation that must soon include Israel.
----It is clear that the United States and Israel are seen as negative forces in that they persist in engaging in a sort of “clash of cultures” and disregard the lives and values of Arabs. There is no lack of evidence that they do not support in any way real Arab independence, freedom or progress. If Israel wants to be accepted by their neighbours, they must first respect them, and this means, liberating them from the oppression that they are imposing on them.
The changes of the past decade are quite remarkable, then, in the strategic context of the Middle East. And those changes are also transforming the debate about the Israeli-Palestinian issue. In 2002, President Bush recognized that the Palestinian leadership at the time was an obstacle to peace, not a force for peace; and he encouraged the Palestinian people to begin opening their political system.
-----Arafat was elected by his people. Democratically. Isn’t this what you have been asking for? Why then, does the American president decide who is the appropriate leader and who can obtain peace? Why did he not have anything to say about the Israeli leader, who has more blood on his hands and is the immediate responsible for the occupation of an entire people and the restrictions placed upon their freedoms?
The President laid out an historic vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security and he made it the policy of the United States.
Now, the Palestinian people are finally undertaking the democratic and economic reforms that have long been denied to them. They have elected a president, Mahmoud Abbas, who openly calls for peace with Israel.
---Arafat also called for peace and had recognised Israel. What more could he do? The only choice left was to surrender, and that hadn’t been done. Any attempts made to establish dialogue were thwarted by Israel. At Aqaba, ceasefire was not enough, the Palestinian side had to disarm its groups as well, without being able to receive any guarantees from Israel. A demand of the sort is reminiscent of the prelude to the Iraq war. Iraq was completely stripped of its defences, and then invaded. Why should any group accept to be disarmed if there is no one preventing further disaster to come to them, including military invasion?
And for our part, we are helping them, providing $350 million to help them build the institutions of a democratic future. This movement toward democracy in the Palestinian territories and across the Middle East has also changed the debate here, in Israel, about the sources of security.
Because this nation no longer lives in fear of enemy tanks attacking from the east, we now hear it said, among most Israelis, that a peaceful and democratic Palestinian state is essential to Israel’s security.
---Ah, so that was what the Iraq war and the pressure on Syria and Iran are all about. And, she speaks as if the Palestinian State already exists. Why is this so common? Israel has done nothing to make any viable State exist, as it has been concentrating all of its efforts at getting as much as it can into the Jewish State.
And this new thinking led to new action in August when Israel chose to disengage from Gaza and the northern West Bank. Prime Minister Sharon: President Bush and I admire your personal courage, your leadership and the crucial contribution to peace that you are making. (Applause.)
Disengagement was a testament to the character and the strength of Israeli society, especially to the men and women of the Israeli Defense Forces and the police service, whose noble conduct during this painful event set a standard to which all democratic nations should aspire. And the effective cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians was both impressive and inspiring.
Disengagement can be a great step forward on the path to a different Middle East. It creates an opportunity for the Palestinians to secure their liberty and build a democratic state. At the same time, the changing nature of the Middle East can reinforce the democratic aspirations of the Palestinian people and deny the enemies of reform their favorite excuse for coercive rule and unconscionable violence. These positive developments will not jeopardize Israel’s security; they will enhance it. After all, true peace is that which exists between peoples, not just between leaders.
---She talks about disengagement, and will not utter the word OCCUPATION. Nor does she talk about the Wall. For her, it is so simple, it almost would be charming if it weren’t so naïve. Just what is the “favorite excuse” of the Palestinian people? To them, the occupation is real. The refugee camps are real. The lack of freedom of movement and political status are real.
Now, if Palestinians fight terrorism and lawless violence and advance democratic reforms -- and if Israel takes no actions that prejudge a final settlement and works to improve the daily lives of the Palestinian people -- the possibility of peace is both hopeful and realistic. Greater freedom of movement is a key for Palestinians, from shopkeepers to farmers to restaurant owners and for all seeking early easier access to their economic livelihood.
---Say it, Ms Rice. The Palestinians are being treated like dirt, and not only those who are trying to get to their workplaces, although the checkpoints are a terrible violation of their rights. Why do you refuse to criticise Israel, if you are such good friends, they should be able to accept this advice.
And let us be very clear about one other matter: Dismantling the infrastructure of terrorism is essential for peace because in the final analysis, no democratic government can tolerate armed parties with one foot in the realm of politics and one foot in the camp of terrorism. (Applause.)
---Yes, pull out the magical word and applause rains down. It is the easy catchall for anything too ugly to call by its real name. I would classify it as one of your “favorite excuses”.
This is the vision before us in the roadmap. And I look forward to our engagement to move it forward. But there are other responsibilities, too. Israel’s neighbors must demonstrate their concern for peace not only with rhetoric but with action. We encourage them -- Egypt to enhance its cooperation with Israel on basic security issues. And we call on all Arab states to end incitement in their media, cut off all funding for terrorism, stop their support for extremist education, and establish normal relations with Israel. (Applause.)
---In other words, capitulate without receiving anything in exchange. And, never, ever ask for Israel to reform its behaviour or be more forthcoming towards the Arab nations in any way.
We look to Arab states also to help revitalize the Palestinian economy because the Palestinians are a talented and well-educated people with great potential for prosperity. They cite greater economic opportunity as their most urgent desire. They deserve a chance to have it.
And so the responsibilities of peace, like the benefits of peace, will be shared among all parties. And peace must be more than a mere process if it is to summon our strength and demand our sacrifice. Peace must be a calling that stirs our very souls, a vision that is not only local but regional as well; a vision in which the sons and daughters of Israel are secure in their homeland and at peace with their neighbors.
---Can the Palestinians be secure in their homeland? This question will always be avoided, because it means recognition of the Right of Return.
The world saw a passing glimpse of this vision ten years ago when unprecedented numbers of Arab leaders journeyed here to see Yitzhak Rabin laid to rest in the land of the prophets. And today, we want to continue advancing that vision.
It should be a Middle East where democracy flourishes and the non-negotiable demands of human dignity form the foundations of citizenship. We envision a Middle East where all men and women are secure in their persons and in their property, with equal opportunities for prosperity and justice. And we will continue to envision and work toward a future when all the people of the Middle East may gather in this great ancient city, not to mourn a fallen hero, but to build a common future.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
---and in real words, blah blah blah….