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Published: Saturday, 8/5/2006

Image reflects deep hatred

BY ROSE RUSSELL

IT LOOKED as though the Palestinian newspaper tried to cover as many stereotypes as possible when it published an image of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pregnant with a monkey in what appears to be a yarmulke and with what looks like a weapon.

A black person's first thought about the primate is that it's a racist reference to African-Americans. While that could be, the opining had more to do with Palestinian discontent with the Bush Administration and Israel than African-Americans.

The cartoon clearly communicated Palestinian displeasure with the United States' role in the Middle East affairs; its disregard for the U.S.'s top diplomat, and radical Arabs' despicable view of Jews as monkeys.

Certainly, the cartoon in Al Quds, a newspaper run by Fatah, the party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, was disturbing. Its caption takes issue with Ms. Rice's references to events in Lebanon and Israel as "birth pangs." The caption states: "Rice speaks about the birth of a new Middle East," suggesting that her diplomacy will give birth to a new Middle East controlled by Israel with American aid.

Last week Secretary Rice said other Arab nations were critical of Hezbollah's "provocation." She added, "What we're seeing here, in a sense, is the growing - the birth pangs of a new Middle East. And whatever we do, we have to be certain that we are pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old one."

The derogatory reference to Jews as monkeys is not new. Steven Emerson, author of "The Terrorists Living Among Us," said such a reference was made by the former University of South Florida engineering professor accused of helping to lead a terrorist group that carried out suicide bombings in Israel. In a book review, New York Times editor Ethan Bonner said Emerson cites a videotape in which Sami al-Arian, who in December was acquitted of some of the charges, "refers to Jews as 'monkeys and pigs.'•"

Of course, that was four years ago. In a report in Toronto's Globe and Mail in February, a suicide bomber sitting in front of a Hamas banner said, in part, that, "This operation is revenge against the sons of monkeys and pigs ..."

The name calling isn't only for Jews, though. Other Fatah newspapers labeled Secretary Rice as a "black spinster," "raven," and "the Black Lady." One paper said, "Beware of this black spinster. We don't want to say 'the black widow' out of respect for her femininity and intelligence."

Really, now, since when did radicals respect women and their intelligence?

That's why none of this is shocking: it comes from extremists. The deep-seated, over-the-edge views are centuries, indeed, millennia, old. Short of a miracle, one secretary of state from this nation that's deemed evil by extremists won't likely change very much.

Experienced diplomats respond to this propaganda and name calling in the proper way: by ignoring it. Former secretary of state in the Clinton administration, Madeleine Albright, was quoted saying as much in Thursday's Washington Times.

"This is truly ugly. It's unfortunate and not reflective of the Palestinian people, and they should be upset about it. But you have to ignore these things, you can't respond to them," she said.

There were other unpleasant remarks about Ms. Rice drinking the blood of dead children, and so on, that will make people on all sides of the issue angrier.

Clearly, though, while the name-calling and cartoon are way over the edge, the radicals' angry expressions are still less about blacks than they are about the Bush Administration and Israel. The fact that Condoleezza Rice is a black woman only provided another avenue for them to lash out and spread hate.

We trust that Secretary Rice will remain as cool as we've come to expect, continue to do her job, and not get caught up in a name-calling match.



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