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Home > English > Website archives > Rainbow of Crisis > Indentured Slaves: Israelis and the Visit of President Bush


Indentured Slaves: Israelis and the Visit of President Bush

Sunday 13 January 2008, by Michael Warschawski

Tag it: Israeli soldiers out in force during an anti-Bush demonstration in West Jerusalem in front of the US Consulate On the surface, there is no apparent political reason for the arrival of the US President to Israel and his extended stay in the country. Apart from photo opportunities with Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas, the President did not and could not contribute to any real political process. No one takes George Bush seriously, including the citizens of his own country or the majority within his own political party, where those ‘close’ to him are anxiously counting the days they must yet suffer him in power.

Perhaps this is the sole reason for his visit to Israel: only in Israel is George Bush treated with dignity and respect. Only here are people willing to crawl before him. Not only government officials, such as Olmert, Livni or Netanyahu, but also the average citizen. Apart from taxi drivers who complained bitterly—and justifiably—about the partial closure imposed on the city, Jerusalemites accepted with love the numerous harassments caused by our visitor. Bursting with pride that the leader of the free world honored them with his presence, the people of Israel closely followed every step and declaration of the US President, excited by every bit of nonsense he uttered.

For once I agree totally with the rightwing commentator of the Haaretz newspaper, Israel Harel, who writes “Bush is a naive statesman, and not only in our arena. He is an old-style American idealist; when he feels a sense of justice and mission, he can behave in a not particularly gentle way even toward friends. But he is not behaving toward us like a feudal lord and it is not his fault that some of us behave like the Jews in the shtetl when the lord comes for a visit. Dozens of broadcasts emanating meaningless verbiage, embarrassing quarrels over invitations to events attended by the guest, the shutting down of Jerusalem…”(Haaretz, 10 January).

Embarrassing indeed. To what is this similar? To a boy completely dependent on his rich uncle from America. In the meantime, the boy grew up, became wealthy and strong, but has difficulties in cutting off his dependence on the uncle: it is only in the uncle’s company that he feels secure. He is incapable of weaning himself of this emotional dependency, even when his neighbors express a willingness to begin relations of friendship and normalization.

The biblical Book of Exodus mentions the story of the indentured slave, the same slave meant to be freed from his owners but who refuses to leave, saying “I loved my Master.” The Bible refers negatively to one who chooses slavery over freedom, subjugation over redemption. However, it appears that despite the aspirations of the original Zionism, the “new Jew” is unable to overcome his need to cling to the lord. And concerning the lord, the majority of his subjects and supporters have long abandoned him, and he clings to the indentured slave as a final testament to a past glory.

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