[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA
If U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were a private citizen, her
half-baked and seriously distorted idea that the Arab-Israeli conflict is
equivalent to the struggle of Black for equality in the Jim Crow America of
her childhood would only serve as evidence of a serious lack of analytical
skills (or just plain intellectual laziness).
But she isn't.
Again: It is not only ludicrous but also dangerous for policy making to
compare the Palestinian leadership and their goals to Reverend Martin Luther
King's peaceful struggle for equality as if Gaza and Nablus are no different
than Selma Alabama.
Rice's continuous fixation on this false equivalence dangerously distorts
the reality of the situation: the Blacks of America did not try to destroy
the U.S. in 1776, nor were Blacks part of a great pan-Black nation
stretching from Canada down to Argentina that considered the U.S. to be a
temporary foreign entity to be ultimately ejected from the America's
When policy making is driven by this false equivalent it is hardly
surprising that it takes a cavalier attitude towards Israel's genuine and
It is imperative that the Israeli officials interacting with Secretary
Rice - and for that matter, those in the U.S. with a genuine interest in
regional stability - to make a point to correct her.]
Rice's visit / In the shadow of MLK
By Aluf Benn Haaretz 16 October 2007
When Condoleezza Rice talks about the establishment of a Palestinian state
next to Israel, she sees in her mind's eye the struggle of African Americans
for equal rights, which culminated in the period of her Alabama childhood.
Rice is very aware of political sensitivity, and avoids making such
comparisons in public speeches and interviews, where she keeps to the
official list of talking points. But in private, she talks about the
segregated buses of her childhood. Advertisement
One can guess that the settlements, the checkpoints and the separation
fences created by Israel on the West Bank bring back unpleasant memories of
Jim Crow racial separation in the South. Her empathy for the suffering of
the Palestinians under occupation goes beyond the strict interests of the
administration in promoting the status of the United States in the Middle
East and has the touch of her personal experience.
Rice was one year old when Rosa Parks, a heroine of the struggle for equal
rights in the U.S., refused to yield her seat on a city bus to a white
passenger. This was in Montgomery, Alabama, a 90-minute ride from
Titusville, the Birmingham suburb where the future secretary of state was
raised. Rosa Parks' "No" catalyzed the struggle against Jim Crow and brought
to greatness a young minister who had recently become co-pastor of
Birmingham's Ebenezer Baptist Church, Martin Luther King, Jr. For Rice,
King's greatness lay in his insistence on nonviolent public protest, even
when the mood in America was on fire. King's life was ended by an assassin's
bullet, but the mass movement that he led earned impressive achievements.
Rice's impressive career expressed the new opportunities that were opened to
young African Americans in the wake of the struggle of their parents'
generation in the 1950s and 1960s.
Now, Rice is comparing Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his
prime minister, Salam Fayad, to Martin Luther King. Abbas is committed to
the struggle for Palestinian independence, and like Abbas he is opposed to
terror and violence. Just as Tony Blair, the Quartet envoy and former
British prime minister, compares the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the
conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, so does Rice
recall the struggle for civil rights in the United States when she speaks
about the Palestinian boy who needs new hope instead of aspiring to commit a
Rice's current visit to the Middle East is one of the most important in her
term as secretary of state, perhaps the most important. She wants to leave
Jerusalem in two days with an understanding of the nature of the joint
Israeli-Palestinian declaration that will be presented in the run-up to the
Annapolis summit next month. Even before she left Washington she knew the
parties were cooking up a crisis for her: the Palestinians with rigid
demands, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with a demonstration of political
But Rice cannot back out: She persuaded President George W. Bush to announce
the summit on July 16, and now she has to produce results. Critics say the
summit is premature and has created unrealistic expectations that are sure
to be dashed. If she fails, Hamas could bring down Abbas and take control of
the West Bank. The blame would be laid at Rice's door.
The Americans want the summit to start on November 26, two weeks later than
originally planned because of the difficulty in formulating the joint
declaration. The latest acceptable period is the first week of December.
Invitations will not be sent out until Abbas and Olmert can agree on the
The potential guest list includes the members of the G-8, the Quartet, the
Arab League Monitoring Committee (including Syria), other Arab states and
Muslim states such as Turkey. Washington currently does not believe that
Saudi Arabia will come because the declaration of principles shaping up will
not meet its minimum demands. But the door is still open because their
attendance is very important to Olmert. Rice is maintaining a high profile
on this visit, meeting with important cabinet ministers and giving an
interview to Channel 1 Television. Tonight she will play hostess for about
20 respected Israeli figures at a rare dinner. There is no doubt that she
wants to draw her own impressions of the political situation in Israel, or
at least to appear interested and ready to listen.