I know it’s considered bad form to make fun of the infirm, but how can I help myself in the face of this N.Y. Times report:
For three days in Jerusalem…Mr. Bush was lauded as a “great friend” of the Jewish state…
But on his last day…Mr. Bush received something else: a little lesson in cultural awareness.
…When the president lamented that he has been asked why he dislikes Muslims — not true, he said, it’s just what they say on television — 16-year-old Henriette Charcar, who identified herself as a Palestinian Christian, took Mr. Bush gently to task.
“I think it comes out that you don’t like Muslims,” Ms. Charcar told the president, “because in most of your speeches you do tend to relate extremism to Muslims.”
Mr. Bush looked slightly taken aback. He started to defend himself but then, in a moment rare for a president who often seems convinced of his own correctness, he switched course.
“Actually, what I say is you’re not a religious person if you’re a murderer,” he told Ms. Charcar. “But you’re right. I’ve got to do a better job of making it clear when I talk about Islam, I talk about a peaceful religion.”
It takes a 16-year old Palestinian Christian to tell Bush he’s a stark naked emperor when it comes to his understanding of Islam. And keep in mind that this was a hand-picked audience vetted by the U.S. embassy. You’ve got to give Henriette Charcar credit for speaking truth to power.
Later, the talk turned to socializing. Mr. Bush asked if Arabs and Jews dated one another, or went to dances.
“No dances?” he asked, sounding surprised.
There was a slight pause in the discussion, until the American ambassador, Richard H. Jones, stepped in, politely telling the president that society was more conservative here.
“A slight pause in the discussion??” I should say so. Perhaps an unbelievably awkward pause in which the listeners’ jaws dropped almost to the pavement?
Ah, yes. If only Jews and Arabs could share high school socials, then everything would turn out all right. I could understand if George Bush was an ordinary American citizen and held these hopelessly simplistic views of the Israeli-Arab conflict. But to think that an American president does is beyond heartbreaking and goes a long way to explaining the past seven barren years of Bush Administration policy.
Another pathetic note: the only reference in Bush’s Knesset speech to the Palestinians was one in which he predicted a Palestinian state…sometime in the next 60 years! How telling. Need we wonder why the Palestinians (and just about everyone else) have given up on this Administration? And need we wonder why Bush’s popularity rating among Israelis is at 66%??
What’s really sad is that if the newpapers in Dallas, Kansas City, and Minneapolis all picked up this story, 90% of their readership wouldn’t give a 2nd thought to either the extent to which Bush demonstrated his ignorance, or to the extent to which this demonstrated ignorance highlights why America ought to avoid meddling in the Middle East. Cultural backwardness posturing itself as cultural supremacy is strictly the state of affairs in America these days.
Maybe I’m missing something, but while I see the Israeli Lobby as evil, duplicitious and very much culturally aware, their Christian Zionist helpers have been so thoroughly dumbed down that I can’t see them as anything more than simpleton dupes being led to slaughter.
jeanne capozzoli says
That Bush is so ignorant of Middle East culture is horrifying. Arabs and Jews dating and dancing just won’t solve the problem.
Lisa Orlando says
The really cool response to this would have been, “Well, they do sometimes sing duets.”
I am not at all sure that social contact among young people isn’t a force for social change (even though it kills me to seem to be approving of anything said by Shrub). I think Khaled and Noa would agree with me. I am always heartened by watching videos of young Arabs–male and female together–dancing to Khaled, and would be even more heartened to know that these audiences included Israeli kids. Peace through music! Dance!