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The laughing sheiks of Saudi Arabia

By Doug Patton
web posted November 19, 2001

"The American government…stands by its commitment to a just peace in the Middle East. We are working toward the day when two states – Israel and Palestine – live peacefully together within secure and recognized borders as called for by the Security Council resolutions."

George W. Bush addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Nov. 10, 2001

With those few words, President Bush ushered in a new era and a new American attitude toward Israel. No American president has ever used the term "Palestine" to refer to anything other than the area of the Middle East occupied by Great Britain until 1948, at which time that occupied territory became the sovereign state of Israel. Our official position has always been to speak in terms of a prospective "Palestinian state" or a "Palestinian homeland," but never of "Palestine."

Israel is the only democracy in the region. Despite the need to be on guard against the constant threat of annihilation from virtually all of its neighbors, its citizens live freer than any Arab could ever imagine.

Israel is a mere 260 miles long by 70 miles wide at its widest point. At approximately 8,000 square miles, it occupies less space than New Jersey. Yet out of this small area, the Arab world demands a homeland be carved for the Palestinians – a group of people who hate the Israelis and wish them all dead.

I have a better idea. Let's take a look at the Arab world for a Palestinian state. Bordering Israel are the nations of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Lebanon is out. At a mere 4,000 square miles, Lebanon is just a little more than half the size of Connecticut. Jordan, with over 35,000 square miles is nearly the size of Indiana. Syria, at 71,000 sq. miles, is a bit larger than North Dakota. Then there is Egypt. With its 384,000 square miles, it occupies an area roughly the size of three New Mexicos, with a little sliver of Arizona thrown in.

As we continue to the east, we come to Iraq, a country of 170,000 square miles or slightly more than twice the size of Idaho. If ever a nation cried out to be conquered, divided up and rebuilt, this is it. Perhaps we could relocate the Palestinians there.

There is Afghanistan. It is only slightly smaller than Texas, so it has plenty of room. On second thought, very little of that land is inhabitable, and will be even less so soon.

No, the solution seems to be obvious. The main point of contention between the Israelis and the Arabs is Jerusalem. Both groups consider the city to be a holy site, Israelis because of the Temple Mount and Arabs because it is the site of an ancient mosque. Israel has no other "most holy" site. Jerusalem is all they have.

The Arabs, on the other hand, have Mecca, which just happens to be located in the largest, richest country in the region. Sprawling across 755,000 square miles of the Middle East, Saudi Arabia occupies a landmass equal to more than one-fifth the size of the entire United States.

Instead of kowtowing to the wishes of the Saudis at the expense of our one true friend and ally in the Middle East – Israel – why not tell them to move the Palestinians and their mosque to Mecca?

Of course, we all know the answer to that question. Saudi oil. After fifty years of growing increasingly dependent on it, like a junky in need of another fix, we now cannot live without it.

Too bad. If we were energy independent, we could tell the Saudis what we think of the fact that 15 of the 19 terrorists on September 11 gained access to the United States through Saudi visas. Some of them learned to fly piloting for Saudi Airlines! We could be brutally honest about our national disgust of Saudi support for terrorism. And we could tell the Saudi potentates, whose way of life we salvaged a decade ago when Saddam Hussein was knocking at the door of their oil fields, just what they can do with their petroleum products.

Instead, a good and decent President of the United States is now placed in the position of appeasing the laughing sheiks of Saudi Arabia.

Doug Patton is a freelance columnist who has served as a speechwriter and policy advisor for federal, state and local candidates and elected officials. His work appears in various newspapers and on numerous web sites, including,,,, TikiTrash.commentary, and © 2001 by Doug Patton

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