web analytics
August 3, 2015 / 18 Av, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Monitor »

When Bush Recast U.S. Mideast Policy


George W. Bush has been getting some positive media coverage lately, with recent polls showing him at least as popular as his successor, Barack Obama, and a big new book about the Bush presidency by New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker (Days of Fire, Doubleday) portraying Bush as a much more hands-on chief executive than his detractors ever imagined.

Baker writes of Bush’s determination from the moment he took office to, in Bush’s words, “tilt [U.S. policy] back toward Israel” after years of Bill Clinton’s even-handed approach to Mideast peacemaking.

That’s not exactly a scoop, of course, to those familiar with former Bush speechwriter David Frum’s 2003 memoir The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush.

Frum acknowledged Clinton’s extraordinary popularity with American Jews and contrasted their support for Clinton with the low regard in which they held Bush, who “entered office with fewer Jewish friends and supporters than any president since perhaps Dwight Eisenhower.”

All of which, according to Frum, made it “really quite a stunning turnabout of history that George W. Bush should have emerged as one of the staunchest friends of Israel ever to occupy the Oval Office.”

Frum noted that Bush, during his first meeting with his National Security Council, stated that “a top foreign-policy priority of my administration is the safety and security of Israel.” And he recalled that Bush, seeking to allay the fears and suspicions of the liberals at the American Jewish Committee, addressed an AJC dinner and said, “I am a Christian. But I believe with the Psalmist that the Lord God of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.”

An amusing if somewhat depressing sidebar to the AJC story is that the climactic line of Bush’s speech, the one about the God of Israel, was met with something less than approval from the secular Jews in attendance: “There was nothing,” wrote Frum. “Not a clap, not a cheer. Silence. Maybe even a rather disapproving silence.”

Frum believes – and who will argue the point? – that “the American Jewish community is so terrified of non-Jewish religiosity that any reference to God by a non-Jew, no matter how friendly its intent, unnerved them. They do not trust people who talk too much about the ‘Lord God,’ and they do not like it any better when such people remind them that the Lord God in question is their Lord God, too.”

His personal support of Israel notwithstanding, Bush in the early months of his administration ceded control of Middle East policy to Colin Powell and his State Department pencil pushers. Even in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 it was apparent that, in Frum’s words, “those foreign-policy bureaucrats most eager to appease the Arab oil states” were still articulating the U.S. position.

And in October 2001 Bush voiced his support for a Palestinian state “so long as the right to an Israeli state is respected” – becoming the first U.S. president to speak of Palestinian statehood in unambiguous terms.

But something was happening, at first almost imperceptibly, to the very warp and woof of U.S.-Israel relations: Bush was developing an unusually warm relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the same time that he was being confronted with numerous examples of Yasir Arafat’s duplicity.

Arafat, Frum wrote, “sorely misunderstood” the president: “Bush does not lie to you. You had better not lie to him.”

By the time Bush gave his much-anticipated June 24, 2002 Rose Garden speech on the Middle East, he had decided that “the United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure.”

Still, the U.S.-Israel relationship in the remaining years of the Bush presidency was far from conflict-free. Bush was just as adamant in his criticism of Israeli settlements as Obama has been, and Bush disastrously pushed Israel to allow elections in Gaza, which Hamas handily won.

But with that 2002 speech Bush had dramatically recast American Middle East policy and turned his back on decades of government-sanctioned moral equivalence – at least on paper if not, as it turned out, always in practice.

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at jmaoz@jewishpress.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “When Bush Recast U.S. Mideast Policy”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Ali Akbar Velayati, Security Adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader.
Iran Openly Refuses UN IAEA Inspectors Access to Military Sites
Latest Indepth Stories
DemographGraphic2.jpg

In 2015, Israel’s fertility rate (3+ births per woman) is higher than all Arab countries except 3

New Israel Fund and the UN

The New Israel Fund, as usual, condemns the State of Israel rather than condemning a horrible act.

lahore

I sought a Muslim group that claims to preach a peaceful and accepting posture of Islam, Ahmadiyya

Eishet Chayil

While Orthodox men are encouraged to achieve and celebrated for it, Orthodox women too often are not

Jonathan remember, as long as you’re denied your right to come home to Israel you’re still in prison

Reports of a dead baby, a devastated family, and indications of a gloating attacker.

“Yesha” and Binyamin Regional Council leaders said the attack “is not the path of Jews in Judea and Samaria.”

The occasion? The rarely performed mitzvah of pidyon peter chamor: Redemption of a firstborn donkey.

American leftists have a pathological self-inflicted blindness to the dangers of political Islam

Hillary should THANK Trump; By dominating the news he’s overshadowed the implosion of her campaign

Hard to remember when Jewish youth were so hostile to their heritage as they are on campuses today.

Names of the enablers of Iran’s Nuclear weapons will be added next to Hitler’s on the list of infamy

By most accounts, the one person with the political muscle to swing enough Democratic votes to override a veto is Sen. Schumer.

The next day, in a speech in New York to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry substantially upped the ante.

More Articles from Jason Maoz
Assemblymember Bichotte speaking in the New York State Assembly.

The bills I’m proud to have sponsored are less controversial, more responsive to yeshiva and parochial school parents, and were gaining traction in the Assembly until the negative campaign began…

Zechariah Schwarzberg, z”l

Though intimately acquainted with mankind’s darkest side, he never lost his faith&love in God or man

Some of the president’s defenders took to arguing that the overwhelming majority of German military personnel interred in Bitburg were regular Wehrmacht soldiers who died on the battlefield and likely were not involved in atrocities against civilians.

Note also the response to the speech by the top Democrats in the House and Senate, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, both of whom have been outspoken in their criticism of Netanyahu’s upcoming visit.

The New York State comptroller manages the state’s $180.7 billion pension fund, audits the spending practices of all state agencies and local governments, oversees the New York State and Local Retirement System, reviews the New York State and City budgets, and approves billions in State contracts and spending.

While not all criticism of Israel stemmed from anti-Semitism, Podhoretz contends the level of animosity towards Israel rises exponentially the farther left one moved along the spectrum.

When you grow up in a home where your parents went through what my parents went through, you realize that life has to be meaningful. You have to be there for other people.

“It’s a lousy column and a dishonest one,” Halberstam wrote. “So close it. Or you will end up just as shabby as Safire.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/when-bush-recast-u-s-mideast-policy/2013/10/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: