The Bush Administration's Media Campaign to Pressure Arafat

On 7 March 2002, following a week of the most brutal occupation of Palestinian camps and towns that claimed around 90 Palestinian and 40 Israeli lives, the United States, under growing world pressure, decided to send its envoy, Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, back to Jerusalem to secure a cease-fire. Shortly thereafter, Pres. George W. Bush issued what the New York Times (15 March) called a "slap," "an unusually stern reprimand to Israel, saying its recent operations were 'not helpful' in creating conditions for peace."
    Prior to this rebuke, however, and starting from the spiraling violence that followed Israel's assassination of Hamas military leader Mahmud Abu Hanud on 23 November 2001, the United States was single-minded in its attribution of blame for the deteriorating situation to Palestinian Authority leader Yasir Arafat. Some samples follow, excerpted from daily State Department and White House press briefings. The full texts are available on the State Department Web site at