When I was an Insurance person, one of the things I learned was that when you have a big shindig coming up, you plan it out with plenty of time. All these many weeks I have been waiting to get information about when the Annapolis Conference on Israel and Palestine would be held. Not that I am a prospective invitee, of course, but just so I could KNOW.
Finally, today, I read a piece in Reuters that says that the conference will be held on the 27th of November (next Tuesday) with meetings the days before and after. If anyone I know in business had decided to call a conference of that magnitude a week before the conference, they would have been lucky if one of the principle invitees showed up. How long has this been going on? Since Bush made a speech back on July 16, 2007. This is the responsibility of the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, and she has “funked it.” Badly. In business, she'd get fired or be put on probation.
But note how Reuters reports it: the US said on Tuesday it “has told other nations it will soon send out invitations to the Middle East peace conference it plans to hold in Annapolis, Maryland, but none have gone out yet.” When are they going to send them? Wednesday? Thanksgiving? (Maybe some undocumented alien in the State Department can work all day Thanksgiving to prepare the FedEx packages so the invitations get there by Saturday. After all, she or he is not a real Amurcan and really doesn't need to celebrate Thanksgiving, right?)
In a larger context, of course, the conference has long been seen as a Kabuki Dance, with no real intention on the part of Israel to make any concessions and to stop their illegal expansion of the settlements in the Occupied Territories. Take the report of a prior planning meeting that appeared in the Los Angeles Times on October 19, 2007. Rice left the Mideast after a meeting in Jerusalem after having “shot down the primary Palestinian demands after several days of back-and-forth meetings with Israeli and Palestinian Authority leaders.” (p. A4) Her visit was so bland that it barely received coverage, and an editorial in Ma'ariv quoted by the LAT said “she made it clear that she in fact agrees with most of Jerusalem's demands.” (ibid.)
“During Rice's visit, Palestinian officials took every opportunity to publicly list the issues they wanted addressed before the conference: Palestinian prisoners, the borders of a future Palestinian state, the West Bank barrier being constructed by the Israelis, as well as refugees and Jerusalem.” (ibid, loc.cit.) I'm not Palestinian, but I could add to that a time line for withdrawal and the dismantling of the settlements. No, Rice and her entourage “rarely, if ever” referred to those items, preferring to speak of “core issues”(ibid.) So you can see, the fix is probably in, and the Palestinians will get a ride on the merry go round to nowhere once again.
Rice and Tony Blair, now the international envoy to Israel and Palestine, passed through the separation wall and visited Bethlehem. Sam Bahour, the Palestinian-American businessman and developer, who runs an email service giving news about the Palestinian side of the struggle once or twice a week, was quoted in the Financial Times as saying after the visit: “These moves are not unimportant but I don't want us just to become a university for people to learn how bad things are in Palestine. Palestinians are beyond statements. The Palestinian reality is overwhelming any real hope.”
Syria may or may not come. They have been marginalized, of course, and they know they have a target on their back and are in the rifle sights of the neo-cons. I saw a travel ad in the Los Angeles Times monthly magazine this past Sunday (actually a slick hundred plus pages of advertisements for the West side beautiful people—party hosts, snazzy law firms to hire, slinky models and French fashions. And, oh yes, the crossword puzzle, which everyone use to look forward to doing every week). The ad was of a cowboy in Israel. Yep, the cowboy and his family work a cattle ranch—and the grassy plains and hills in the background make you wonder—where is this? Not out in the desert. Not near the Jordan River. Nope, on the Golan Heights, don't you know, which obviously Israel has now settled. I wonder what the cowboy and his family will do if Israel ever negotiates with Syria to give the Golan Heights back? What's that you say, annexation of territory gained during war is illegal? Well, who cares, pardner, this is Israel!
So there is something to watch the week after Thanksgiving, the Kabuki dance in Annapolis. It will make the news and take your eyes off what going on down in Venezuela.
Venezuela? Yes, according to the press, Chavez is about to take over the country as a real dictator, and there is a popular uprising, a lot of opposition. It's all bullshit. More on that later. There's a real chance that another coup is in the offing. Just a hunch.