Arab attempts to undermine and trash the Bush Roadmap and end any hopes of a negotiated peace between Israel and the PLO were flagged with some remarkable comments made by James Zogby in his article published this week headlined "Putting the Blame on "Palestine's Democratic Deficit"
James Zogby's opinions need to be taken seriously - because what he says has clout - given the powerful position he holds.
Dr. Zogby is founder and president of the Arab American Institute (AAI), a Washington, D.C.-based organization which serves as the political and policy research arm of the Arab American community
In his article Dr Zogby makes this amazing claim:
The rather bizarre notion that the Palestinians must first build a "practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty" before they can have a state was first articulated by George W. Bush in June of 2002. Back then, with Israeli-Palestinian tensions at a high point, the world waited for two months while Bush was framing his approach to restoring peace-making efforts. A speech had been written by State Department Middle East experts, but at the last minute the White House inserted its "democracy first" demand which, instead of restarting the peace process, proved to be the "nail in its coffin."
Dr Zogby then discloses who managed to get the "democratic demand" slipped into the President's speech at the last moment - effectively guaranteeing that the peace process would eventually be scuttled - as has now become so apparent in 2013.
State Department officials who had worked on the initial drafts of the speech were floored by the Bush insertions, which we later learned had come directly from the President after he had read a treatise on democracy by Natan Sharansky. Sharansky, the famed Soviet refusenik, had left the Soviet Union for Israel in 1986.
A Jewish Zionist - Natan Sharansky - had been able to influence an American President to take a decision that had floored the experts at the State Department.
How accurate are Dr Zogby's revelations and the inferences he wants readers to draw?
Firstly Sharansky had not merely "left the Soviet Union for Israel in 1986"
Wikipedia tells his story in more detail:
Sharansky was denied an exit visa to Israel in 1973. The reason given for denial of the visa was that he had been given access, at some point in his career, to information vital to Soviet national security and could not now be allowed to leave. After that Sharansky became a human rights activist and spokesperson for the Moscow Helsinki Group. Sharansky was one of the founders of the Refusenik movement in Moscow.
In 1977 Sharansky was arrested on charges of spying for the United States and treason and sentenced to 13 years of forced labor in Perm 35, a Siberian labor camp (Gulag).
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