Gratitude? Yeah, Right

So which is it, Bill, moderate or radical? Does it depend on which day of the week? On Monday he's a moderate, on Thursday he's a radical. Is that how it works, or has someone gone soft in the head?

Jack Engelhard

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First of all, why does this thug get two names? Clint Eastwood, on the other hand, became famous, in all those westerns, as "The Man With No Name".

Not so for the candidate who's been "elected" as the next dictator for the Palestinian Authority.

This, for example, from William Safire in the New York Times:

"Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, has embraced the radical Arabs who want not peace but conquest."

See? Always that double entendre for the Palestinian Arab leader whose agenda is the same as Yasser Arafat's, though even Arafat never (publicly, in the last decade) referred to Israel as "the Zionist enemy" as did Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen. This "also known as" business does get under your skin.

As does Safire, who used to be a friend. A few days earlier, Safire, suddenly also known as Tom Friedman, referred to Mahmoud Abbas as a moderate. So which is it, Bill, moderate or radical? Does it depend on which day of the week? On Monday he's a moderate, on Thursday he's a radical. Is that how it works, or has someone gone soft in the head?

What a shame. Safire used to be the only voice of reason over there at the Times. He's retiring, and not a minute too soon. He used to be good, but the Times does that to people. Or maybe he's just tired. Now, in writing about Israeli soldiers who are being urged to refrain from expelling Israelis from Gaza, Safire turns from the hawk he used to be and says, "Civil disobedience... is legitimate... [but] military disobedience to legal orders is beyond the pale."

What's "legal" about these orders from a Sharon administration that has played bait and switch with its own people? And "pale"? What pale? You want pale? Jayson Blair, that's pale. "On Civil Disobedience", one of us should start brushing up on his Thoreau. Maybe it's me, or maybe it's Safire. (According to my Thoreau, "A Higher Law than civil law demands the obedience of the individual.")

Or maybe it's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, also known as Ehud Olmert, also known as Shimon Peres, who told Safire: "In the past, I have shaken hands with Abu Mazen, and with him I can talk." Got that? With him, the new tyrant who wants to swamp Israel with 10 million Arab "refugees", with him, he can talk. Though with which one, Mahmoud Abbas or Abu Mazen?

To make sure that this new and improved Arafat got in, the United States tossed out $24 million. That money was more likely to buy guns than ballots, if it didn't end up with Suha along the Champs Elysees. It's Monday and he's Mahmoud Abbas, the moderate, that's why we like him, the man with two names. Thursday, when he's Abu Mazen, the terrorist, we may want the money back.

Fortunately, Colin Powell has but one name - see how much easier this is? But there's another problem. Here's the quote that's made the rounds: "But I think it does give the Muslim world and the rest of the world an opportunity to see American generosity." Etceteras.

In other words, Powell expects gratitude for all that we're doing to help the victims of that tsunami, who are mostly Muslim, as in Indonesia.

Gratitude? Please, don't make me laugh. We're getting enough "gratitude" in Iraq; every day, 20 more car bombings and a beheading a week.

Yeah, right, Mr. Powell. From the minarets we will hear Hatikvah and The Star Spangled Banner, and instead of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, those kids will be taught Locke, Jefferson, Herzl and Jabotinsky. Osama bin Laden will switch sides and replace Dan Rather as anchorman at CBS. Hanan Ashrawi, also known as Vanessa Redgrave, will dance the Hora with Richard Gere, also known as Richard Dreyfuss, also known as Michael Moore, also known as Yossi Beilin.

Menachem Begin also expected gratitude from "the Muslim world and the rest of the world" after he gave away the Sinai, and after he told Anwar Sadat, "On your way back to Egypt, take a slice of kugel and a chunk of Israel." (Who needs the Sinai?) Begin thought the nations would be so grateful they'd come around and say, "How wonderful is this man! With him, we can talk. Oh come let us adore him."

This did not happen.

Ehud (who needs Israel?) Barak, also known as Neville Chamberlain, offered Arafat everything, including the kitchen sink, and what was the gratitude? An Intifada.

We're still getting "gratitude" from France after saving the French from speaking German.

Saudi Arabia was ten minutes away from being engulfed by Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Who came to the rescue, so that 20,000 "royal" members of the House of Sand and Saud could retain their sovereignty and continue to stone women for alleged adultery? The United States, that's who came to the rescue. The gratitude? That came September 11, 2001. Fifteen of those 19 hijackers were Saudis.

For more gratitude, we go to Sri Lanka. The Israelis, who know a thing or two about disaster, offered to help, and the answer was yes, no, maybe. Bring your world-class Jewish doctors, but without the Stars of David. Something got lost in translation when an e-mail message went around saying that the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, blasted Israel for not coming through, when in fact it had, big time. A corrected e-mail announced that the same Vatican newspaper had actually reproached Sri Lanka, not Israel, for being so touchy and particular at a time like the tsunami.

That's straightened out, but will Sri Lanka and the other nations who benefit from Israel's generosity in technology and science, tsunami or no tsunami - will they give thanks?

Will Indonesia and the rest of the Muslim world remember America for America's sacrifice and generosity during these days of calamity?

Don't hold your breath, also known as, you must be kidding.