Monday, May 19, 2008

Our apologies, Palestine!

Picture by Rina Castelnuovo for the NYTimes

On Arabdemocracy we had planned to mark the Nakba with a post dedicated to the 60th Anniversary. Unfortunately the turn of events in Lebanon over the past week derailed our plans. Things are far from settled in Beirut but life (and death) continues in other parts of the Middle East.

The President of the United States sought to mark the day by renewing his vows towards the 'only democracy in the Middle East'. In his unequivocal manner he stated his country's past, present and future policy in relation to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The speech is long but a delight to read to everyone who has ever doubted the US position.

I found the concluding paragraphs fascinating for their crystal clarity.

"Sixty years ago, on the eve of Israel's independence, the last British soldiers departing Jerusalem stopped at a building in the Jewish quarter of the Old City. An officer knocked on the door and met a senior rabbi. The officer presented him with a short iron bar -- the key to the Zion Gate -- and said it was the first time in 18 centuries that a key to the gates of Jerusalem had belonged to a Jew. His hands trembling, the rabbi offered a prayer of thanksgiving to God, "Who had granted us life and permitted us to reach this day." Then he turned to the officer, and uttered the words Jews had awaited for so long: "I accept this key in the name of my people."

Over the past six decades, the Jewish people have established a state that would make that humble rabbi proud. You have raised a modern society in the Promised Land, a light unto the nations that preserves the legacy of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. And you have built a mighty democracy that will endure forever and can always count on the United States of America to be at your side. God bless".

Thank you President Bush, we will miss your straight-talking.

The editorial Team at Arabdemocracy

The official version of the speech can be found on

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