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Homes Destroyed, Death Toll Mounts: Where's Kerry?
by Josh Frank
May 20, 2004

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Even if he turns out to be the second worst president in US history, John F. Kerry will still be better than our sitting president. At least many liberal and progressive Americans are stating as much in order to justify their support for the leading Democrat. However, such rationale does not dilute the fact that most people in the world will not be able to sense any tangible variation between either Bush or Kerry.

Just ask the Palestinians who, as the Washington Post reported, suffered 19 (other estimates range between 25-30) deaths in the last nine days (prior to the May 19 attack by the Israeli military on a Palestinian demonstration in Rafah that killed at least 10 people) due to hostile Israeli military aggression in Rafah, a Palestinian refugee camp located in the Gaza Strip.

"Israel has every right to defend itself from terror," Bush proclaimed on May 18 to members and supporters of the pro-Zionist lobbying force known as AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) who are hunkered down in Washington D.C. this week.

"The United States is strongly committed, and I am strongly committed, to the security of Israel as a vibrant Jewish state," he said to the group's 4,500 loyalists. "Israel is a democracy and a friend and has every right to defend itself from terror."

Democratic Senator John Kerry has been virtually silent regarding the rising violence in the West Bank, where the United Nations Relief and Works Agency has estimated over 1,100 Palestinians have been left homeless due to Israel's latest military rampage. Coincidentally, both Kerry and Bush have made no mention of the UN's tally in any of their recent speeches.

So if Kerry hasn't denounced Israeli policy, where does he stand? Well, as he proclaimed in the Brown University Student's for Israel publication earlier this year, "As the only true democracy in the Middle East, Israel has both the burden and the glory of a vigorous public square. We as Americans must be the truest and best kind of ally -- forthright enough to say what we think -- and steadfast enough to stay the course in hard passages as well as easy days -- the cause of Israel is the cause of America," Kerry wrote.

Looks like Palestinians won't be seeing any real change in U.S. policy, despite who wins next November.

And as many befuddled liberals fall in line behind Kerry, they are privately asking; where's that darn Howard Dean when you need him? Sorry to say it wouldn't have made a dime's worth of difference for the plight of Palestinians, regardless if the old doctor were still in the hunt.

"If Israel has to defend itself by striking terrorists elsewhere, it's going to have to do that," governor Dean told Judy Woodruff in a CNN interview in 2002. "Terrorism has no place in bringing peace in the Middle East -- nations have the right to defend themselves just as we defended ourselves by going into Afghanistan to get rid of al Qaeda."

Sounds frighteningly familiar, doesn't it? Perhaps Bush watches CNN after all.

Josh Frank is a writer living in New York. He is the co-author of an upcoming book on the rise and fall of Howard Dean to be out this summer, as well as author of the forthcoming book Left Out: How Liberals Helped the Bush Administration, to be published by Common Courage Press in December. He can be reached at

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