"Let me begin by saying that Israel has no greater friend and no stronger supporter than the United States of America. (Applause.) For over half a century, AIPAC has strengthened the religious, cultural and political bonds that unite our two great nations, and I thank you for that. (Applause.)"
And America is touted as an honest broker in the Israel/Palestine conflict?
Rice: "The United States and Israel share much in common. We both affirm the innate freedom and dignity of every human life, not as prizes that people confer to one another, but as divine gifts of the Almighty."
The sheer hypocrisy of such a statement is breathtaking. Indeed, many in the Arab world recognise this. Israel's treatment of Palestinians and American forces abuse of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo, along with so-called "rendition" of "terror" suspects to dictatorships for torture, shows the world the real face of Bush's much touted freedom and democracy. Rice continues:
"Some in the Arab media have even asked why the only real democracies in the Middle East are found in the "occupied lands" of Iraq and the Palestinian territories. What an incredible thought. Today, citizens in the region are demanding that their governments respond to this simple, audacious question."
Freedom of speech is indeed missing from most of the Middle East but to legitimise two illegal occupations, and suggest that only through occupation can truly open expression occur, is classic imperial thinking: only "we" can bring what "they" want.
I spent some time today with cultural critic and political thinker, Tariq Ali, in Sydney for the Writer's Festival. His eloquence on the Israel/Palestine question reminded me of the lack of real debate on this matter in Australia. In the West, he told me, many official organs are only capable of seeing issues as what serves Western interests. In the Middle East, for example, Islamist parties could well win government in many countries if true democracy would be allowed to flower. This, of course, would be totally against American interests and is therefore unacceptable. Take the Bush rhetoric on democracy with this in mind.
Scribe Publishing recently released a collection of Ali's talks called "Speaking on Empire and Resistance." Many issues are discussed, but on Israel and America's role towards the Middle East's Jewish "democracy", he has this to say:
"In the US, they [Israel] don't need to worry, because the House and the Senate essentially passed a blank cheque of support for Israel. It's unheard of - they don't give that sort of support to their own government, but they're prepared to give that support to Israel. There is an Israeli offensive against dissent, abroad and at home...the Palestinians have become the indirect victims of the Judeocide of the Second World War."