Well more than a week before his visit, Bush was creating waves in the Holy City. Main streets near my home have been sporting American flags alternating with Israeli and Jerusalem city flags. For the last two days, we’ve all been startled by huge transport helicopters flying very low over the city in formations of threes, making a racket and causing a bit of panic in the uninformed. (Word on the street is that they’re practicing for Bush’s arrival.) Two days ago I had to take a crazy jigsaw puzzle of a cab ride because there were a bunch of streets that were already closed. Fine, whatever, not a huge deal. Then I read this about Bush’s visit in today’s Ha’aretz:
The operation, dubbed “Clear Skies,” will cost Israel $25,000 for every hour Bush is in the country.
That feels unconscionable. This country kept its high school students out of school for two months because it balked at paying teachers a living wage, still refuses to pay its university teachers a decent wage, hasn’t yet fully made good on its financial and other promises to evacuees from Gaza, and continues to let its poor, its elderly, and its Holocaust survivors languish without proper financial and medical assistance. And somehow there’s enough money to spend $25,000 an hour on George Bush.
On the bright side, it seems that Bush’s visit may have at least temporarily delayed Israel’s moving its West Bank police headquarters into the currently empty and deeply controversial E1 area, a move that would effectively put an end to the possibility of territorial contiguity for the Palestinians.
Bush’s visit story here, and a video here. (Best line in the video comes from a chef at the King David hotel where Bush is staying: “You want to show up and do your best, but the man likes hambugers, what can you do?“)