Canada-Israel Committee Calls Bush "Idiot," Baker "Pompous Jackass"
Disregarding the most elementary of diplomatic civilities, the principal pro-Israel lobbying group in Canada called US President George Bush a "country club idiot" and Secretary of State James Baker a "pompous jackass" for their roles in pressuring Israel to attend the Middle East peace conference at Madrid.
In a speech to a group of Jewish students at McGill University in Montreal, a Canada-Israel Committee spokesman accused the US of "committing a crime" by building up expectations that may never be fulfilled. Canada-Israel Committee Associate Director Simon Kahn expressed pessimism over the outcome of the conference because of what he characterized as Arab intransigence. "The Palestinians have absolutely nothing to do with this conflict," said Kahn. "The key is Syria and Syria doesn't want peace."
Kahn lashed out at the Bush administration for "publicly humiliating an ally" by its decision to delay $10 billion in loan guarantees. He suggested, however, that hostility toward the Jewish state should come as no surprise.
Kahn's lecture was part of a seminar on how to combat anti-Israel sentiment on university campuses. "We happen to be right," he told his audience of young activists. "No matter how many times they tell you you're wrong, the fact is that we're right."
Ottawa Panel Has Mixed Reaction To Madrid Conference
While the Canadian media hailed the peace conference at Madrid as an historic breakthrough, four participants in a panel discussion in Ottawa offered widely contrasting views, ranging from starkly cynical to guardedly optimistic.
At the pessimistic end of the spectrum was Brooklyn College Professor Norman Finkelstein's grim assessment that the conference was a step on a road that would "erase Palestine from the map." He argued that the "territorial compromise" espoused by President Bush at Madrid is the position of the Israeli Labor party which, "at best," envisages the return of only a small part of the West Bank to Jordanian jurisdiction. [Editor's note: At Madrid both Bush and Baker clearly endorsed" land for peace" but took no position on future borders. President Nixon's first secretary of state, William Rogers, stated in 1970, however, that in negotiating Israeli withdrawal from "territories seized" in 1967, as specified in UN Security Council Resolution 242, any deviations from the pre-1967 borders should be "inconsequential." No subsequent US administration has rescinded this statement of US policy, despite repeated attempts by Israel's US lobby to pressure succeeding administrations to do so.]
"This position does not mean a Palestinian state nor even meaningful autonomy. It means continued Israeli military presence," said Finkelstein, who added that the terms "land-for-peace" and "territorial compromise" were" fraudulent phrases used to disguise reality."
Finkelstein called the conference "catastrophic" because it not only excluded the principle of Palestinian statehood, but reopened debates where there was already agreement in the world community. "For the past 20 years the US has blocked the international consensus behind a two-state solution," said Finkelstein. "Following the Gulf war, the US believes it can now go one step further by embodying all the reductionist assumptions of the Israeli government."
The Brooklyn College professor maintained that Israel's claim to all of Jerusalem as well as its unique interpretation of UN Security Council Resolution 242 (which it says it already has fulfilled by returning the Sinai to Egypt) "have now become legitimate negotiating positions in the course of the conference. …