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The Image of the United States in the Israeli-Palestinian relationships from 1988 to 1992

An Interventionist Super Power Loved and Decried
Emmanuelle Meson
p. 194-215

Texte intégral

1USA’s image throughout the world usually symbolizes force, security, power of a great country but most of all the power of the dollar. America appears as the world’s leading economy far ahead of all others. She exerts an imperial economy and her military power is apparent on a world level. However, the United States also evoke, for some, vice, dirty money and decadence. Sometimes loved, sometimes decried, the United States still fascinated.

2During our research in Jerusalem1 for our doctorate in history thesis concerning the Israeli-Palestinian relations throughout political caricatures, we discovered a French, Israeli and Palestinian vision close and far out on the American politics on the Middle East. What is interesting is that this vision still exists today.

3The public’s interest in caricatures throughout the media is lesser than that of the leading classes and business men, as well as all the intellectuals involved in the areas of politics, economy and finances, who can and do act up upon them. For this study, we worked on political caricatures found in the biggest newspapers: Le Monde, French newspaper, The Jerusalem Post, Israeli newspaper edited in English, Al-Fajr, Palestinian newspaper edited in English and Palestine Times, Palestinian magazine edited in English.

4Le Monde, despite their columns lacking pictures then, appears, as its name indicates, as « the biggest French paper on an international level2. » Its editorial line gives a great place to international news. Its speciality remains foreign politics thanks to journalists scattered around the world.

5Seen as a serious paper, with reliable and investigated news reports, it serves as a reference throughout the medias across the world and it remains one of the most influential communication organs. Independent of French political parties, it affects more than a million and a half readers.

6In France, Le Monde remains the most read paper by the major political, economic and cultural parties as well as by the superior socio-professional categories. Since its creation the paper has always taken great interest in the Middle East.

7The Jerusalem Post, edited in English, second most spoken language in Israel, is one of the major Israeli papers. Its aspect equals that of Le Monde despite that it also edits pictures and caricatures in black and white.

8The newspaper handles economic, social and cultural issues and a big part is given to foreign politics. The Israeli-Arab relationships, but especially Israeli-American relationships take up a considerable amount of space. With a world-wide reputation, it is often quoted in the world.

9This paper favours free expression; it reflects a variety of opinions where everyone is invited to express himself. The readers of this paper are mostly superior socio-professional categories: business and political classes.

10Al-Fajr Palestinian Weekly is published in English in the occupied territories, at Jerusalem East. It is a supplement of the « Al-Fajr Arabic Daily. » This local edition of 16 pages was published for the first time in 1980. In average, 10 caricatures are published every month. Most of the drawings come from Al-Quds.3 Its subjects concern Israeli politics in the occupied territories; the American vision and politics; and the UNO.

11Palestine Times is published in English in London. Starting as a 4 pages bulletin in 1991, it grew as an 8 pages one in 1994 and 14 pages in 1996, with one to two drawing per month. This paper prints articles concerning culture, history, opinion and Palestinian affairs. He is relatively close to the Hamas. Only 1992 is complete, the other years are almost sparse for half of the issues.

12We have chosen to present, for each newspaper, the principal caricatures,4 about five, that give a view of their position and of their representation of the United States in the Israeli-Palestinian relations. However, their comments take in consideration all of the drawings and the general image given by these newspapers.

13The Holy Land in the millennium history has been the object of many conquests and wars. It stayed until the end of the 20th century, the center of political, religious and human conflicts. Many actual conflicts originated through these events that took place seventy years ago. Europe, especially England and France, rapidly understood the interest of this region as early as the 19th century. The end of World War I and the protectorates enabled them to penetrate in these areas, through Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. The United States, then under the influence of the Monroe doctrine,5 were only interested in the American continent as a whole6 even if they lent money to Europe since World War I. The Pearl Harbor attack in 1941 by the Japanese brought them into the Second World War and therefore brought them into European affairs and therefore into the Middle East.

14After 1945 the world is divided between the United States and the URSS. Each with their hegemonic desires, they want to impose their system throughout the world using their powerful military as well as their economic, financial and media abilities. In the 60’s, the United States seem to be the only power capable of going against the Soviets. The Middle East represents then an economic and financial stake for both these countries. Their strategic position in the world and the oil issue stayed in the middle of the conflict because the Soviets were already implanted in that region. For the URSS, the Middle East is near their country, just at 3000 kilometres. On the contrary, the 11000 kilometres that separate the Unites States from this area incite the latter to find strategic bases on location.

15The Americans refused any idea concerning the partition of Palestine between Jews and Arabs because they didn’t want to indispose the Arab countries producer of oil. However they are the first country who recognized the Israel State in 1948. Feeling threatened by the Middle East, URSS changed her politics and withdrew her support to the Zionist. She decided to support the Arab countries on a military and logistic level.

16In the 70’s, Israel became a strategic asset for it is an advanced base in the region against the Soviets. However, the Israeli-Arab conflict is a problem for the United States in their relations with the Arab countries. But the Americans do not have a political will to oblige Israel to make concessions.

17The Camp David agreements in September 1978 represented an historical event. They opened the road to further negotiations. One Arab country, Egypt, recognizes the State of Israel. These agreements acknowledge the Palestinian problem. However, they omit to consider the questions of Jerusalem, the Golan, the Settlements and Palestinian rights.

18In 1982, Reagan’s initiative finally took the Palestinian question into account. He proposed a confederation between Jordanians and Palestinians. However there is no visible change as far as 1988.

19From 1988 to 1992, and principally in the George Bush senior mandate, how did the French, Israeli and Palestinian media approach the question of the American politics in the Middle East, especially in the Israeli-Palestinian relationships? How do they represent the United States?

20After having discovered the image of the United States and the new world order, we will lean on the USA and the peace process.

I. The United States and the new world order

21The international political situation change at the end of the eighty’s. It’s the end of the bipolar world with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the end of Communism. New political alliances are created and the USA’s role changes. The personality of the new American President G. Bush foreshadows the future events.

G. Bush’s personality in the newspapers

22R. Reagan was succeeded by G. Bush when there is an easing of tension between United States and URSS and a ceasefire between Iran and Iraq since July 1988. Le Monde shows the new President G. Bush as a kind simple-minded and as a person lacking authority. Tall and slim, with an elongated head, George Bush seems to lack power at times. And this is not a good image for an American President who as to be efficient. We can see a gesture of feebleness.

23However, its image evolves with the crisis and the Gulf War in 1990-1991. During this period the paper shows a strong America, sure of herself and powerful. The French paper summarized the Gulf War as a dual between Saddam Hussein and George Bush, the USA are the policeman of the World. Most of the drawings show these two men face to face. August 29th 19907, George Bush dressed as a cowboy and Saddam Hussein as a true ogre with his military uniform confront themselves in a one-on-one. The sheriff’s star on his chest, the American President represents the good, the nice cowboy, the image of deep Mid-West America that will keep the country clean against the evil dictator. The Iraqi’s President hostage is used as a human shield. G. Bush prefers using force against the Iraqi President. He poses himself as a rampart against Saddam Hussein.

24The Jerusalem Post describes G. Bush as a tall and thin man, wearing glasses that give him a serious look, a normal looking political figure in a costume. His elongated face, as his chin, is striking. Contrary to other politics, George Bush in his caricatures does not lower his head into his shoulders. An impression of power and control rises from him. Seen as a weak man in the United States, he perfectly faces Saddam Hussein during the crisis and the Gulf War in 1990-1991. The sensation of power is also visible in his relations with Israel. The Israeli paper systematically represents him as two to three times taller than Mr. Shamir. The United States, thanks to their power, are seen in Israel as the guarantor of the survival of the country.8 And all the American Presidents, from every political party, support this country.

25On the contrary of the French and Israeli papers, Mr. Bush doesn’t have a good image in Al-Fajr. The caricatures show an inefficient and nonchalant man. This paper accused him of being ignorant of the Palestinian problem. Al-Fajr holds G. Bush up to ridicule.

The Gulf War and its consequences

26The Gulf’s events in 1990-91 arrived after a regional context of tension owing to a freeze in the peace process, Iraq’s rearmament and its rapprochement with PLO. The United States want to dissociate their Israeli ally from the coalition against Irak in an effort to bring arab countries together. The USA’s desire to counter Iraki’s position, who bind the American threats with Israeli threats. Then in an effort to not offend its Arab allies, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria, Washington asked Israel to not intervene in this war, even if their country was touched by Iraq’s missiles. Contradicting 40 years of military doctrine, and for the first time in its history, Israel did not counterattack to Iraqi scuds. In a caricature of Le Monde in January 1991,9 the American President sitting at his desk is explaining to a man in front of him that they should « not panic! Try to see things differently! » The man is wearing a kippa and a David’s star on his shirt. He had three little missiles planted in his back. George Bush relaxed despite the events asking an Israeli full of missiles to see things differently. It’s unusual to see an American President so calm and relaxed when a new war exploded in the Middle-East. However, since the fall of the first Iraqi rocket in Israel, the United States take directly Israel’s defence and send Patriot missiles and soldiers.

27Thanks to its caricatures, Le Monde tries to counterpoise the influence and especially the view of the USA. France participates in the coalition against Iraq in order to not give up the Middle East to the American influence. Because the USA are present around the world thanks to CNN which broadcast images in live.

28The American military’s demonstration during the Gulf War creates their new image around the world. In addition to commercial competition in this area, Europe but especially France get a different conception of the peace in the Middle-East and of ways to achieve it.

29At the beginning of the Gulf War, a drawing10 of The Jerusalem Post published on the 19th of January 1991, resumes perfectly the vision of the Israelis on the United States. A man is sitting in a chair on which we can read « Middle-East. » His clothing reminds the American flag: cowboy hat, a star covered shirt, white lines on his pants and on his boots. In one hand he is holding three missiles; in the other he has a child waving an Israeli flag. A barrel of gas is at his feet. This man represents the strong and sure of herself America in 1991. For the Israelis, America is a super power that has imposed herself in the region and disposes of a military force (missiles) to supervise the oil, supervise the young State of Israel (still a child - it’s only forty years) and face Iraq since the beginning of the Gulf War.

301991 represents a turn in the Israeli-American relationships. The Arab countries, who have until then been united against Israel, are evolving. Syria, seen as quarrelsome becomes an American ally. The USA manage to enter the weapon market and lay their influence throughout these countries. The Israelis must not counterattack Iraqi scuds but they must also accept an alliance with the Americans and the Syrians. With the end of this war, Israelis must engage their country in the peace process to manage a regional stability important for the USA.

31Because after their overwhelming victory, the United States are at last decided to solve the Middle-East problems: the Palestinian issue, the Israeli-Lebanese conflict and the Israeli-Syrian conflict. To do that, they have to obtain an Israeli-Arab agreement. The URSS, having to face enormous internal difficulties, do not play a role, neither Europe does.

32Strong with their unequalled power in the world, the USA decided to stabilize the Middle-East in order to avoid another conflict and preserve their influence.

33The new world order : the United States take the place of the UN

34American can impose their ideas on UNO. With their unconditional diplomatic, military and financial support to Israel, the United States also use their power of veto in the UNO to save the Israelis from a condemnation and protect the country of the UNO resolutions who « condemn… deplore… denounce… require… affirm… and advise » Israel to obey the worldwide institution. However the Americans adapt their politics in circumstance and vote sometimes for some resolutions.

35Between 1988 and 1992, the USA put nine vetoes11on condemnations of Israeli incursions on Lebanon, of Israeli’s violation of civil rights on occupied territories, on seizure of Palestinian property and on call to the Israelis authority to conform to the fourth Convention of Geneva on the protection of the civil population during a war. The UN has been publishing since forty years, in addition of numerous resolutions, reports of different commissions, in particular the Commission of Human Rights.

36One of the most important consequences of the end of the bipolar world and the new world order is that the USA now play the role of referee. Until then, the UNO played this role. During the Madrid Conference in October 1991, the United States and Israel exclude the UNO from the Israeli-Arab agreement. The decision taken during this conference omits the UNO resolutions and the international laws. Now with the imperialist victory on communism, unilateralism appears, and the UNO’s conciliation is not obligatory.

37Le Monde, The Jerusalem Post and Al-Fajr all agree throughout their caricatures to show the UN’s new position of second. Le Monde defends the French position and denounces vigorously the Israeli politics in the occupied territories and refers to the UNO resolutions. The paper shows on October 199012, Mr. Bush dressed as a judge condemning Mr. Shamir. Georges Bush addresses Mr. Shamir: « This time, I too, condemn you! » Mr. Shamir, a bit vexed, answers « my own lawyer. » Unique fact for the UNO, the United States joined the international condemnation of Israel which, for once, took place after the murders in Jerusalem of twenty Palestinians afters riots with Israeli army. What justifies, for the USA, this approval vote is that they don’t desire to indispose their Arab allies (Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia) in the Gulf crisis, at a moment where Saddam Hussein has just invaded Kuwait. UNO asks Israel, by resolutions 672 and 673 to receive the investigators on his territory and condemns the acts of violence made by the Israeli forces. For the paper, the sentence from the UNO on Israel depends not of the UNO but just of one of his permanent members: the USA.

38The Jerusalem Post laughs at the influence of the United States on the UNO. America can exert financial and diplomatic pressure on other members of the UNO, especially on the Third World countries. Usually, except in a special case, the USA use their right of veto in the UNO to save Israel from a sanction. However this paper also denounces USA’s influence on this organisation: George Bush playing with a yoyo on which appears the UNO name:13 we can see the earth surrounded by two olive branch. Happy, the American President is wearing festive clothing. This caricature is published during the Gulf crisis. America has an influence on the UNO decisions. She privileges the use of force. Ten resolutions have been voted by the UNO, who support the American politic. After the Golf War, the UNO General Assembly abandoned, at the USA request notably, resolution 3379 dated from November 10th 1975 that compared Zionism to a « certain form of racism and social discrimination », and this before the opening of the Peace Conference in Madrid on October 30th 1991 sponsored and organized by the USA.

39Palestinians through Al-Fajr associate the UNO to a life size toy for the Americans. The UNO theme as well as their incapability of finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because of the Americans reoccurs often. The UNO is always represented as a man whose head is a globe. The paper shows14 an American (a US coloured hat) and an Israeli (soldier’s cap) that are pulling vigorously at a rope attached to a man to prevent him to go on. He is stretching his arms out to a Palestinian, who is wearing a keffieh15, as if to help him. We are in November 1988, nearly one year after the beginning of the Intifada and violence against Israeli occupation. Palestinians see no solution in the future. Americans and Israelis don’t want the UNO to step into the Israelis business.

40UNO reproaches to the Israelis the use of violence by the army against civil population. But independently of the possibility to oppose, condemn or criticize, UNO can’t put the resolutions16 into operation. The resolutions concerning Israel and the Palestinians voted by the UNO were never put into application by the Israelis. We can note the most important of them: 242 and 338. The Americans are protecting the Israelis and they regularly prevent the vote of resolutions condemning Israel’s policies in the Occupied Territories. Israel, a young country as it is only forty years old, is seen as a young mischievous child protected by his American grandfather.

Palestinian polemic on the America’s new world order

41Palestines Times denounces vigorously G. Bush policy after the Gulf War in 1991 and the new world command that Bush’s government wants to put in place at the moment when thousands of Bosnia’s Muslims died and when America have to face deadly insults. The paper summons blood and situations of violence to transmit its reproaches. The paper looks with attention at the events in Bosnia-Herzegovia that revives the Palestinian’s anger.

42The Israeli-Arab discussions are born from the Madrid Peace Conference in October 1991. Few month later the Peace Conference, the Israeli-Palestinian negotiation talks are taking place in Washington at the beginning of January 1992 without results. One month later, in February 1992, is published a drawing17where the Statue of Liberty is holding a seven lamps chandelier18 in one hand, in reference to the USA support of Israel, while crushing a man in its other hand who seems to be a Palestinian. The Statue seems proud and strong, as the Americans after their victory on Iraq.

43However, this new world command,19 under the appearance of a world map, in June 1992, melts in front of the dumbfounded face of the American President who is thinking of « Los Angeles » and « Bosnia ». One month earlier, Los Angeles knew deadly insults. 55 persons died. The national Guards has to interfere. In Europe, Serbian refused Bosnia’s independence. They launch the Bosnian War in April 1992 and kill thousands of Muslims. For Palestine Times, the USA are not a good model for others countries, they have to face deadly insults and their new world order sways. The paper condemns the death of thousands of Muslims in Bosnia.

44Moreover one of the most virulent arguments comes from a caricature20 dated from August 4th 1992. A tall man wearing a red, white and blue costume, like the American flag: a tail coat, a striped pair of pants and a striped hat with stars. His stomach is swollen by pride, he is watching through the loop hole of a machine gun pointed towards « Iraq. » His feet are in a big pool of blood. The gun is put on three television sets where we can read from top to bottom « Palestine », « Bosnia » and « Herzegovina. » Blood is leaking from all three TVs. In 1992, although the Gulf War seems over, the United States are still as interested as before in Iraq, while tensions can be heard of throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina where the Serbs are killing Muslims. Blood is also flowing in Palestine that is still under Israeli control. Serbia and Israel, in spite of UNO resolutions concerning them, continue their policy. On the other hand, in a short period of a couple months, a coalition against Iraq led by the United States is seeing the day. Planes are thrown and Iraq is forced to leave Kuwait. And the Palestinians don’t understand this event.

45The USA seem to be the only country with a large influence on the world event because they can put pressure on different countries. The two last caricatures are published when Israeli-Palestinian negotiation talks are taking place in Washington. The discussions seem to be leading nowhere, avoiding the right for the Palestinian refugees to come home. The Palestinians don’t like the alliance between the USA and Syrians in 1990-91, but also between the United States and Egypt. They felt that the world forget them. The Israeli colonisation continues on the Occupied Territories and the historic concessions of 1988 bring nothing.

46After having approached the image of the United States and the new world order in a first part; we will now discover the question of the peace process.

II. The USA and the peace process:

The intervention of America for Le Monde

47Le Monde shows the French vision and counterpoises the USA’s policy. America is a mediator in the Israeli-Arab relation, thanks to the Secretaries of the State, G. Shultz and J. Baker from 1988 to 1992, and the diplomatic and financial pressure.

48The Shultz plan in 1988 inspired itself from the Reagan plan in 1982. It favoured the Jordanian option in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rejected by the two parts, this plan is however rapidly forgotten for the PLO and the Israeli Government reject it. Mister Shultz’s image however Secretary of State, is not at his advantage. Pancho represents him like a little man, thick-set with broad shoulders, a big face but especially an imposing nose. With this negative image, maybe they ask if this man can really bring the peace between Israelis and Palestinians. However, in 1988, M. Schultz, very active, travels between Jerusalem, Damas, Amman and Cairo trying to convince all parts to accept the peace plan. On the contrary, James Baker new Secretary of State in 1989 seems more serious in these representations. Of normal size, the features of his face are not exaggerated. He seems surer of himself than Mr. Shultz, he has character. We can see a serious man, with a certain coldness. His grey hair tell think he is an old man. He rarely smiles in his appearances. We can guess a hard worker. Like G. Bush, he’s not considered as person who supports unconditionally Israel. So appears a certain coldness in his encounter with Mr. Shamir.

49Mr. Baker is not an easy and warm man. J. Baker decides to do everything to support peace in the Middle East. In April 1991 after the end of the Gulf War he starts a round in the Middle East. Le Monde gives him more credibility. His tour in 1991 in the Middle East in the Arab countries, in Israel and in the Occupied Territories is represented with more energy. He carries out shuttles between Palestinian and Israelis to regulate the last details of the regional peace conference. He plays two roles at the same time:21 that of the nice one which makes it possible to open a dialogue between several parts who were enemies up to then, and that of a malicious one when a participant leaves the row. J. Baker makes pretence not be involved in the conflict. Without revealing his plan it founds a minimum of confidence between people. To arrive from there, he made many promises on both sides. During 1991, J. Baker is one of the characters who appears the most in Le Monde.

50Thanks to his diplomatic talents, to his promises and his sense of the contact, Mr. Baker achieves the impossible, to join together around the same table Syrians, Jordanians, Palestinians, Lebanese, Egyptians and Israelis. One reproaches him for intervening only in the preparations without taking part in the negotiations themselves. If he manages to join together several parts, his role stops there.

51By their diplomatic pressure, United States obtained that PLO finally recognized in December 1988 the resolutions 181, 242 and 338 adopted by the Security Council of the UNO. PLO evolves with the support of its base, of Arab countries and the support of the international community and recognizes implicitly the Israel State.

52This historic gesture from the Palestinian structure was a sign thrown to the United States in order for them to accept a dialog with her and recognize the PLO as the only official Palestinian representative. Yasser Arafat also declared his abandon of terrorist activities, in a press conference. Americans were waiting for that before opening any dialog with the PLO.

53However, for the French paper, this dialog between the PLO and the United States seems difficult and heading nowhere. The two partners are not equal. Yasser Arafat is then represented22sitting at the same table as a man wearing an American hat. Yet, being that the form of the table, the latter is back to him. For the United States, this dialog does not mean that they support the PLO but they have understood the necessity to pass by this organization in order to bring peace and to calm the Occupied Territories who are actually in total rebellion against Israel since December 1987 and the beginning of the Intifada.

54The arrival of thousands of Jewish Soviets since 1989 and the fall of the Soviet regime boosted the creation of new colonies in the Occupied Territories. Israel needs the USA’s guaranty for a loan of ten billion dollars to finance jobs and lodging for Soviet Jews. As for the USA use their financial pressure according to the interests of their policy. They exert financial pressures on one side and follow a generous policy of donation on the other. According to their interior policy, the USA can use pressure to impose something to the Israeli government by conditioning, for example, the guarantee of a loan to stop the colonization in the Occupied Territories. However this loan will grant to Mr. Rabin a few months later when G. Bush is trying to gain Jewish electorate for his re-election when the polls are not in his favour for the White House. In march 1992, one caricature illustrates this event by an every day scene:23 a man asks a loan to a bank. The man, Mr. Shamir, seems a bit shy, his shoulders bent and apparently in low spirits. He turns around to ask the two following clients « And you, do you know of a bank that would be willing to lend me 10 billion dollars with no mortgage »? Behind the counter, Mr. Bush, as a cashier, head low, does not reply. Above him are two American flags surrounding a sign « Bank loans ».

55Le Monde criticized also the American politic of donations. As early as 1990, the caricaturist Pancho is ironical:24 the United States generous as donators do not even know where to invest their dollars. A fine looking man is thinking in front of four slot machines. His hat reminds us of the American flag. He is wondering in which one he will insert the coin he is holding. Each machine bears a different name: Central America, East Europe, Israel and Egypt. Four regions where America desired to maintain their influence and where their help remains precious.

56The American politics of holding back communism was to make military or financial agreements with some Arabs countries like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Turkey and Iran, as well as with Jordan and Egypt. Despite the fall of the Soviet regime, Americans don’t annul these agreements. Egypt is the single Arab country who has in 1990 signed a peace treaty with Israel. The country intervenes in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Camp David agreements of 1978 insulate Egypt within the Arab world. The American aid remains necessary for the country. Jordan also profits of the American dollars. But in March 1991, the USA stop their economic and military aid because of their neutralily in the conflict with Iraq.25

The Israelis are disturbed by certain American position ins the peace process

57The Jerusalem Post emits criticisms towards the USA in their relations with Israel.

58If the USA give their unconditional support to Israel, the Americans sometime fail them, concerning their relations with the PLO, the colonization of the Occupied Territories and of the concessions they wait from the Israeli government.

59With the beginning of a dialog between the PLO and the USA in December 1988, a new era begins. For the first time, the Americans are recognizing the Palestinian organization while the Israelis refuse any contact with them. For the Israelis, PLO evokes fear, terrorism and blood. The newspaper relays this vision by caricaturing26 Yasser Arafat on top of a tank. The chief of the PLO throws his gun ( « Terror » is written on the gun). The letters US are written largely on the tank. The PLO has just rejected terrorism and therefore has recognized, implicitly, Israel by adopting the UNO resolutions 181, 242 and 338. The newspaper worries about this bringing together and its consequence for Israel. In reality this dialog remains distant and cold. If the Bush administration must honour the policy of its predecessor, Mr. Regan, it remains however rather pragmatic on the relations with the PLO and continues the strategic co-operation with Israel.

60In addition, Mr. Bush is hostile to the colonization in the Occupied Territories and therefore goes against Mr. Shamir’s politics in the ninety’s. With the end of the Cold War and the new alliances in the region with the Arab countries, the United States no longer bring their systematic support to Israel. Just before the opening of the Madrid Peace Conference in October 1991, Mr. Bush appears27 then as giving a little friendly tap on the shoulder of Mr. Shamir while shaking his hand. Two inscriptions figure on his sleeves: « Settlements no » and « Zionism yes. » The American President, impressive by his height, must bend down to be at same level as the Israeli Prime Minister. The paper denounces a double American policy: their support to Israel and therefore to the Zionists, but their rejection of colonization, which is the fundamental line of conduct of the Zionists.28 Mr. Shamir seems, on the drawing, ready to fall in front of Mr. Bush.

61A few months later, Mr. Bush requires the stop of this colonization. The USA don’t recognize the East of Jerusalem as an Israeli territory and condemn colonization in the Occupied Territories in accordance with the UNO resolutions. However Mr. Shamir, on his side, refuses the Bush’s conditions. Israel is thus seen refusing a guarantee discounted for a loan of several million dollars. This important loan is necessary to finance jobs and lodging for Soviet Jews who arrived recently.

62American aid leads to Israelis concessions in the peace process. The United States brought since 1948 a financial aid to the Israelis. In the 90’s their aid added up to a little more than 3 million dollars per year.29.Despite the United States impose their conditions for their financial aid. In 1991, the relationships between America and Israel freeze over. In September, in a caricature,30 George Bush is holding a bag on which we can read « Aid » and wasting coins between an ill dove, symbol of peace, and a cage. We can see the dollar acronym on the coins. The dove has a David’s star on her back. Tired, she bends down her wings, a drop of water falls of her forehead. The birdcage is empty. The mention « Peace in the Middle-East » is inscribed on the door. The dollar giant crush the ill looking bird (Israel). Mr. Bush is trying to bring the bird to him and at the regional conference of Peace, planned at the end of October in Madrid (symbolised by the birdcage) with dollars. This conference is seen as a prison (a cage) because the Israelis must make concessions to the Palestinians and Arabs countries.

63The Jerusalem Post in its caricatures shows the politic of the principal Israeli ally who use its financial power to force Israel to accept politic concession. The Israeli government doesn’t accept all the American’s requirement looking too hard. That’s this position the paper spray.

The Palestinians critic the USA in the peace process

64For Al-Fajr, the USA are leading a very active policy but an inefficient one especially concerning the Israeli-Arab relations. The two caricaturists of the paper critic also their policy of donation and their submission to Israel.

65Georges Schultz’s tour in 1988 must therefore boost the peace process. However, this correspondent is ridiculed during his tour by Suleiman Mansour who gives him little credit in his intention to obtain true peace. We see him31 running by Mr. Shamir’s side, with a bat in one hand ready to hit on the peace dove who seems terrified at the sight of both men. In another drawing, a young Palestinian child offers him a pair of glasses to see better.32 Mr. Schultz, eyes closed, seems to be having some problems for reading the paper that he is holding in his hands on which we can read « Middle East Peace ».

66This negative vision can be explained by the fact that the United States are leading a very active policy in that region but, on the other hand, they constantly oppose their veto against any condemnation the UNO considers against Israel. The economic and political situation is a disaster in these territories, occupied by Israel since 1967. Subject to a military regime under curfew, the economy is paralyzed, the territories are off limits. On a political level, the mayors of all cities no longer have any power; they cannot undertake anything without the authority’s agreement. The Americans know of this but do nothing about it. With the beginning of the Intifada in December 1987, the world opens its eyes and discovers the lives and history of the Palestinians. The Shultz’s plan in 1988 followed by the Baker plan in 1989-1990 encountered no success. The USA truthfully implicate themselves in the peace process with the end of the Gulf War in 1991. The Peace Conference in Madrid in October 1991 has opened the dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. The bilateral talks which result from Madrid unroll in Washington under the American auspices during the year 1992 and 1993. But Israeli and Palestinian ridge on certain questions about Jerusalem, the return of the refugees and Palestinian autonomy. The USA, up to that point very involved, remained simple observers.

67Al-Fajr also denounces the influence of the American dollars on the Arab countries and notably on Jordan.

68The country suffers from the presence of meadows of two million Palestinians over his territory, consequence of the wars of 1948 and 1967. That posed problems of integration and balance with the remainder of the population. In September 1970, the Jordanian forces are opposed even to the Palestinian organizations, which form a State in the State. Today the half of the population is Palestinian. Theirs relations were always problematic also the paper criticizes the Jordanian monarchy on the American assistance which it receives. A man walked on a road filled33 with dollars’ bills. His face smells of greed. The sign indicates the direction to Amman.

69King Hussein with his double culture, Arab and Anglo-Saxon, has turned his country towards Occident. The country who benefited of British protection then of American protection since the 50’s, to prevent the creation of a country hostile to Israel on the Jordan river’s east side. Despite its independence, this country still largely depends on the United States on a financial and military level at the cost of millions of dollars per year.

70For Al-Fajr, the Arabs countries don’t go to the good direction. In a drawing34 from Naji Al Ali35 in 1988, three men (who represent the Arab countries) are walking towards the left where arrow signs are indicating the United States’ direction. A child is trying to stop them and trying to pull them the other way around, towards Palestine which is indicated on another sign and by the Palestinian flag. The legend indicates « Liberation of Palestine. »

71The Arab countries, notably Egypt, Syria and Jordan, too busy with their own preoccupations, always privileged a solution that did not offer a true independence for the Palestinians but that offered a kind of trusteeship, according to this author, in order to gain their territories. They have always followed the American policy in the name of peace, but unofficially it’s for the dollars support. They are incapable of determining the real Arab interests.

72Palestinians condemn American’s power and accuse the USA to be submitted to Israel. In Al-Fajr, both American presidents, Mr. Reagan and M. Bush, are shown as stupid men who do not understand the Palestinians. M. Reagan is playing double bass in an orchestra under Mr. Shamir’s orders;36 one month later the American’s President is making bubbles with a toy.37 Mr. Bush is thinking and wondering naively of the Palestinian condition. Both merry, they are completely off track. The two seem subject to the Israelis’ orders and totally submitted to them.

73The caricatures concerning the relations between Israelis and Americans tend to an Israel leadership imposing its conceptions and its policy to the USA. Mr. Shamir,38 all smiles, is petting a big and strong dog. The animal is holding a United States’ flag on his hat. He seems very dangerous and subject to the Prime Minister’s orders, ready to bite anyone that comes too close. On the Prime Minister’s shoe we can see the inscription « international opinion », as if the Israelis were walking and mocking the international community. This caricature of the 21th of February 1988 was already published the 18th of February in Al-Quds, in a context of violence since December 1987 and the beginning of the Intifada.39

74A few months later, in September 1988, in a drawing40by Suleiman Mansour, Mr. Dukakis and Mr. Bush are at the foot of an enormous tower where is written « Israel. » Both men are imploring the man who is sitting at the foot of the tower. They are at his feet. From simple demonstrations, the anger becomes a rebellion against the Israeli occupation. 30.000 Israeli soldiers maintain order in the Occupied Territories. The soldiers’ repression is visible on world television. However the Americans don’t move. They don’t participate either on the international condemnation of Israel, nor on the vote of the most important resolutions in the UNO, and this is what Palestinians paper condemn: American power’s inaction and inefficiency.

The result of the American policy in the peace process

75The persistence of J. Baker and the will of G. Bush to quickly regulate the Israeli-Arab conflict after the end of the Gulf War leads to the peace conference of Madrid at the end of October 1991. To reach that point and so that Mr. Shamir Israeli Prime Minister, a serious opponent to any negotiation in which the UNO would participate, would cooperates, the Bush administration gave him guarantees: the conference relies on Shamir’s May 1989 plan concerning Palestinian autonomy, the USA continue their strategic cooperation with Israel, they reduce the dialogue with the PLO to a strict minimum, and close immigration to the Russian Jews to direct them towards Israel. In Madrid a dialogue between Arab countries and Israelis starts. Palestinians of the PLO, of outside and of Jerusalem are not allowed around the table of negotiations. Those which answer to the criteria must be integrated in a common delegation with Jordan. The Bush administration succeeded in imposing the Israeli requirements as a starting point of the discussions.

76After the conference, the bilateral negotiations between Israelis and Palestinian continued in Washington.

77The USA count on a dynamics which would bring the Israelis and Palestinian to accept concessions. However the negotiations hardly advance. Al-Fajr denounces USA’s opposition to progress as they, after Madrid, adopt a less firm policy towards the Israelis. Since the concessions of December 1988, when the PLO called to the coexistence of the two States, the situation has well changed. Weakened by their bringing together with Iraq during the Gulf War and their insulation on the international level, Palestinian are not in a position to require a State.


78The interest of these various newspapers lies in their caricatures which assist their editorial line. The common themes found in French, Israeli and Palestinian papers are: a strong America, proud with her military and financial power thanks to the dollar, an America controller of the UNO. However, they are presented very differently. America, who represents herself as good and fair and as the saviour of the weak, comes out with a tarnished image.

79Le Monde, a foreign view of the region shows the French vision in the world. The paper always takes the defence of « great humanitarian ideals. » He « leans always on justice and liberty’s side ».41 15% of its circulation is foreign, mainly in Europe, Africa, North America and the Middle East.

80However, the paper stays courteous in its vision, on the contrary of its illustrations on the Israelis and their policy in the Occupied Territories. Europe, but especially France, is little present in the caricatures concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

81The United States’ image, indeed attacked, stays positive, it even makes us smile. Plantu and Pancho, the two caricaturists of the paper, remain in the comic of the situation, their drawings do not inspire fear, and there are no bloody references.

82Le Monde criticized this omnipresence and the quasi dictatorship used by the USA throughout these two caricaturists who benefited from a large liberty in their drawings.

83The critics of The Jerusalem Post towards the United States exceed those of foreign newspapers. Meir Ronnen, the main caricaturist has a total freedom for his drawings which, mostly, interested in politics. His drawings though very engaged don’t show terror.

84 The Jerusalem Post does not shy away from criticizing its own government, Israeli politics and their foreign and interior politics. This independent paper allows a more severe critique towards the Americans. Certainly because of the Israeli-American relations which are close. As we will see in the caricatures presented, The Jerusalem Post defends this politic as well as mildly attacking it. He is an important, yet controversial, ally for the United States. Published in English, the newspaper finds his place in America where million Jews lives. 70% of the circulation of the paper is bought in America, so the place of the relations with them is thus dominating.

85Financially and militarily, the United States had a good setting in the region for years. They were interested in the Middle East for strategic and political reasons (Israel is located in the heart of the Arab world, it can therefore be used as a central base,) as well as economic reasons through oil (represented by a barrel of gas in their caricatures,) Oil represents a political weapon in the hands of the producers who own 50% of the world resources. Without financial, military and political aids (in the UNO too,) Israel would have serious problems.

86The Jerusalem Post brings to light this double American policy considering the Israelis. The paper evokes a little bit the Arab-American relationships at that time.

87The Palestinian papers evoke a not very flattering image of the United States. On the opposite, French and Israeli papers, Al-Fajr and the Palestine Times, show us an America too sure of herself, full of pride, and who displays her power for Israel and for their interests. Drowning the Arab countries with their dollars, the United States continued their hegemonic policy. They intervene in Israeli-Palestinian relations because there are strategic and economic interests at stake. The Arab countries are potential markets. This is the end of the nice caricatures with comical situations, here the authors use sadness and blood.

88Al-Fajr, is published in the territories occupied by Israel, in East Jerusalem. The journalistic interest of this paper lies in the echo which it gives at foreigners and Israelis of the Palestinian opinion. The paper must face military control that regularly censure articles. It is published essentially in Israel, Europe and the Unites States. Most of the articles and its illustrations evoke the Israeli occupation and its consequences: the presence of soldiers, the wounded, the guarding of the territories, the demolitions of houses, the expulsion of Palestinians. It publishes mainly caricatures drawn by Suleiman Mansour’s,42,who resides in the Occupied Territories, as well as those of Naji Al Ali,43 exiled in England until his death in 1987. After 1987, Palestinian papers continued to publish his work.

89For Al-Fajr, Israelis manipulate Americans. Thanks to their dollars, the Americans are buying the Arab countries and their silence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinian paper shows us an America completely self involved.

90The second Palestinian paper, Palestine Times, shows the consequences of the American policy: blood and tears. In order to complete our vision concerning the Palestinian image, we cared to take in consideration the point of view of this paper which is a magazine published on the outside of the Occupied Territories since 1991. Close to the Hamas, and therefore hostile to a peace process with Israel, this magazine gives out a very bad image of the United States. Blood and power to the detriment of the little (Palestinians notably,) pride of the Americans are as many elements that come out of the different caricatures in this magazine, especially in those that we have chosen to examine. Palestine Times emits no bad opinions concerning the Arab countries.

91For the Americans, with a good opinion campaign, have managed to mobilize a coalition against Iraq in 1991. Iraq is now seen as friendish while it is the United States that gave them their weapons. The problem with Kuwait is becoming a civil rights question, as Palestinians have been waiting for more than forty years for an arrangement in the conflict with Israel. With the end of Bush’s mandate in 1992, and despite the peace process, their political situation and living conditions have hardly changed.

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1 Within the framework of a "purse enquiring month" granted by the French Research Center of Jerusalem in August 2005.
2 A. Finkeldei, Histoire et idéologie du journal Le Monde, Ed. Verlag Shaker, p. 1.
3 Palestinian newspaper published in Arabic in Jerusalem.
4 However, in order to respect reproduction law, we cannot publish the caricatures.
5 President Monroe’s doctrine dates from 1823. It remained the conducting thread of the American international policy : no European military interventions in America, therefore no US military interventions in Europe.
6 Except their intervention in World War I in 1917. President Wilson therefore breaks apart from the traditional policy. But the return of the Republicans to government in 1921 replace America into isolation.
7 Le Monde, August 29th 1990, p. 4, Plantu
8 “For the majority of the observers intensity of the exchanges between Israel and the United States of America, the extent and intimacy of their cooperation and Washington’s diverse support to Tel-Aviv (economic, military, politic, diplomatic) show the existence of a specific bond, solid and maybe untouchable.” C. Mansour, Israël et les États-Unis ou les fondements d’une doctrine stratégique, Paris, Armand Colin.
9 Le Monde, January 20-21st 1991, p. 1, Plantu.
10 The Jerusalem Post, January19th 1991, p. 9
11 1988: January 18th, February 1st, April 15th, May 10th, December 14th- 1989 : February 17th, June 9th, November 7th- 1990 : May 31st.
12 Le Monde, October 14-15th 1991, p. 5, Pancho.
13 The Jerusalem Post, March 30th 1991, p. 5, M. Ronnen.
14 Al-Fajr, November 28th 1988, p. 1, S. Mansour.
15 A Palestinian scarf, around his neck.
16 181: on the partition of Palestine in two states- 242 and 338: on the Israeli withdrawal of the Occupied Territories.
17 Palestine Times, February 6th 1992, p. 4.
18 One of the main object of worship in King Salomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, the Menorah, becomes the symbol of the jew’s cultural heritage.
19 Palestine Times, June 1992, p. 4.
20 Palestine Times, August 1992, p. 4.
21 Y. Mens, « Les États-Unis et le Moyen-Orient », La documentation française, n°spécial, n°680.
22 Le Monde, December 16th 1988, p. 1, Plantu.
23 Le Monde, March 18th 1992, p. 1, Plantu.
24 Le Monde, April 1-2 nd 1990, p. 5, Pancho.
25The United States restored their economic aid of 35 millions of dollars on August 2nd 1991, then their military aid of 22 millions of dollars. P. Fenaux, Moyen-Orient : les dossiers de la paix, Les dossiers du GRIP, n°175-176, novembre-décembre 1992, p. 57.
26 The Jerusalem Post, December 24th 1988, p. 5, M. Ronnen.
27 The Jerusalem Post, September 25th 1991, p. 24, M. Ronnen.
28 This doctrine leads to the restoration of an independent Jewish state in Palestine.
29 C. Mansour, Israël et les États-Unis ou les fondements d’une doctrine stratégique, Paris, Armand Colin, p. 163.
30 The Jerusalem Post, September 21st 1991, p. 3.
31 Al-Fajr, April 10th 1988, p. 3, S. Mansour.
32 Al-Fajr, March 13 th 1988, p.12, Al-Quds.
33 Al-Fajr, October 11th 1988, p. 5.
34 Al-Fajr, September 4th 1988, p. 11, Naji Al-Ali.
35 N. Al Ali was assassinated in London in July 1987. Al-Fajr like others newspapers used his caricatures to illustrate artciles.
36 From Al-Fajr, February 14th 1988, p.12, from Al-Quds.
37 Al-Fajr, March 13 th 1988, p. 9.
38 Al-Fajr, February 21st 1988, p. 12.
39 Palestinian’s rebellion against the Israeli occupation in Gaza Strip and West Bank.
40 Al-Fajr, September 11th 1988, p. 6, S. Mansour.
41 A. Finkeldei, Histoire et idéologie du journal Le Monde, Ed. Verlag Shaker, p. 233.
42 His work evokes the struggles and the suffering of the Palestinian people faced with oppression. His drawings depict the every day lives of the Palestinians.
43 His drawings evoked the voice of the Palestinian people, against the Zionist, the imperialist and the Arab countries who make profit off the Palestinian suffering and align themselves with the United States. He is touching and simple in his work.
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Référence papier

Emmanuelle Meson, « The Image of the United States in the Israeli-Palestinian relationships from 1988 to 1992 »Bulletin du Centre de recherche français à Jérusalem, 17 | 2006, 194-215.

Référence électronique

Emmanuelle Meson, « The Image of the United States in the Israeli-Palestinian relationships from 1988 to 1992 »Bulletin du Centre de recherche français à Jérusalem [En ligne], 17 | 2006, mis en ligne le 08 octobre 2007, consulté le 29 novembre 2023. URL :

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Emmanuelle Meson

After having worked on the Israeli-Palestinian relations through the articles of French and Israeli newspapers, Emmanuelle Meson chose to study the political caricatures for her thesis of doctorate, under the direction of Professor Carol Iancu (University Paul Valéry, Montpellier). Her subject studies the Israeli-Palestinian relations through the political caricatures of the French, Israeli and Palestinian press.

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