Monday, April 11, 2005

On the Significance of Land

Usually, the opening lines for President Bush's everyday speeches are pretty boilerplate: "Thanks for having me come here and speak with you all ... Laura says hello ... I married up ..." etc. Today's address, however, seemed to have an introduction more hefty than usual, given that Isreal's Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, was standing next to him:
Mr. Prime Minister, welcome to my home. Appreciate you coming. I appreciate our meeting. I'm looking forward to serving you some good food for lunch. Most importantly, I'm looking forward to driving you around the ranch - I want you to see my place. I know you love the land. The Prime Minister was telling me he's really a farmer at heart, and I look forward to sharing with my friend what life is like here in Central Texas. So, welcome. He invited me to his place one day, in Israel, and it's something that I look forward to doing, as well.
If much of Jewish history can be interpreted as the Jewish people's search for a homeland, then President's Bush's emphasis on land and home is not as trite or vaguely braggartly as it first seemed. Instead, it might serve to underscore the importance of place--of having your own home.

Reading more of the text, I was struck by how very much physical, land-based, language was used:
Prime Minister Sharon is showing strong visionary leadership by taking difficult steps to improve the lives of people across the Middle East -- and I want to thank you for your leadership.

By working together, Israelis and Palestinians can lay the groundwork for a peaceful transition.

The United States will continue working with the international community to help Palestinians develop democratic political institutions, build security institutions dedicated to maintaining law and order, and dismantling terrorist organizations, reconstruct civic institutions, and promote a free and prosperous economy.

I remain strongly committed to the vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. The Prime Minister and I reaffirmed our commitment to that vision and to the road map as the only way forward to realize it.

The United States is working with Palestinians and Israelis to improve security on the ground.
How fitting that much of the president's language lines up with the central concern of the Middle Eastern situation: land. Of course, it might be that the problem exists because he and everyone else talks about it that way! I wonder how the Palestinian leaders--the unlanded ones--talk. Do they use even more land-language, or less, because they got so little of it?


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