This first article caught my eye in the local paper. The headline: "Annan assails Israel for blocking peace, taking Arab lands
" from an AP reporter covering Annan's speech at the U of Maryland.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday denounced Israel as an expropriator of Arab land and said it must surrender nearly all of the territory for peace with the Arabs.
Annan, in a speech at the University of Maryland, also accused the Israeli government of imposing "condition upon condition" to block peace negotiations.
He said Palestinian farmers have been shot by extremist settlers intent on robbing them of their olive harvest and driving them off the land to which the Palestinians are entitled.
Annan, who met with President Bush at the White House after his speech, drew applause from students assembled in a university field house as he repeatedly criticized Israel and its policies.
The secretary-general's address came one week ahead of the 25th anniversary of the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's historic visit to Jerusalem. That trip led to a peace treaty in 1979 in which Egypt recovered all the land it lost in the 1967 Mideast war.
Annan said the United Nations never would permit the destruction of Israel, saying the world body was founded "to prevent such things from happening."
Right, and everyone knows how fair the UN is to Israel. Of course the unasked question is what form of Israel would he like to see.
This struck me as surprisingly strong rhetoric, so I went to the Washington Post article since it is so close to the event: "'Defeatism' Prevails in Mideast, Annan Says
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said yesterday that "an atmosphere of gloom and defeatism has descended" upon the Middle East, with little hope in sight for an early resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"On both sides -- Palestinian and Israeli -- only those who believe their enemy can be defeated by force and violence show a grim confidence in the ultimate success of their chosen path," Annan said. "Yet on both sides, that confidence is surely misplaced."
"Looking at the Middle East peace process now," Annan said, "I wish I could say those two sacrifices had brought a just, lasting and comprehensive peace to the Middle East, or that the leaders of today had shown a similar level of courage, vision and statesmanship. Sadly, I cannot."
The use of force would never persuade either side to give up its core desire for a safe and secure state, he said. The international community "stands ready to help. But we can only help those who are willing to be helped." In an indirect criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, Annan said "what is is needed on both sides is true leadership, such as Anwar Sadat provided in his time. Let us pray that they find it before it is too late."
So, why the whitewash? I don't go looking for bias, but the AP article and the WaPo articles portray totally differing views of the speech. If anyone who attended the speech can confirm one view or the other, I'd love to know.
UPDATE: I found an article on the Baltimore Sun site
, that confirms the AP version. What is up with the WaPo whitewash?
Annan was especially critical of Israel, singling out what he called its "draconian security measures," its "unacceptable policy of assassinations of militants," and instances when Palestinian farmers have "been shot dead by extremist settlers intent on robbing them of their olive harvest."
"Israel piles precondition on precondition for a return to the negotiating table, and destroys the governing institutions of the Palestinian Authority even while calling for their reform," he said.
"Confined by roadblocks to their towns and villages, and much of the time by curfews in their own homes, the Palestinians watch hilltop after hilltop covered by new Israeli buildings, and valley after valley crisscrossed by roads reserved for Israeli settlers."
The speech was in line with Annan's past statements on the Middle East conflict, but apparently meant to give a renewed boost to what he described as a silent majority among Israelis and Palestinians in favor of creating an independent Palestinian state that would exist with Israel. Often, he said, the only people with any confidence in a solution are those who "believe their enemy can be defeated by force and violence."
But these strategies will never work, he said: Palestinians will never renounce their claim to statehood. And "no matter what price they are forced to pay, Israelis will not abandon the state they have built" - something the United Nations would never allow, he said.
Sadly, for the "mainstream" press, the best coverage probably came from the U of Maryland paper
, which took Annan to task for avoiding discussion of the Iraq situation entirely to focus on Israel.
Annan managed to talk about Middle East peace for almost 25 minutes without once bringing up the looming war with Iraq.
Annan, head of the world's most influential international alliance, repeatedly called for Palestinian statehood and Israeli withdrawal from lands acquired in 1967 as keys to a settlement between the two warring parties.
The audience's reception to Annan's remarks was lukewarm, as the secretary-general never inspired the crowd to rise from their seats during his speech, and only garnered weak applause for his theories on peace.
Annan stressed the peace process is slowed by a lack of both hope and trust from both sides.
"On both sides - Palestinian and Israeli - only those who believe their enemy can be defeated by force and violence show a grim confidence in the ultimate success of their chosen path."
The timing of his speech seemingly begged for the international leader to address Iraq, as his organization was awaiting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's response to its resolution demanding immediate inspections and implying a threat of force.
It is also interesting to compare this article's view on the audience reaction to the AP and Baltimore Sun piece. The latter two mentioned strong, loud, pro-Palestinian contingents at the speech.
Odds and Ends
Sorry, this new role as primary caregiver to my little girl has taken a lot of my time, and by the time I get caught up on current events, sports and blogs, I'm too tired to bother writing. I will get part four up soon, I know the world is dying to read it. In the mean time, I killed some time with a useless quiz.
you have an ominosity quotient of
you are as ominous as the creators of this quiz. which terrifies us.
find out your ominosity quotient.
I'm not too surprised.