WASHINGTON, July 2 (UPI) -- The Culture Vulture obtained an exclusive look at a letter that was drafted by Yasser Arafat, leader of the Palestinian Authority, in reply to President George W. Bush's latest Middle East peace initiative that requested new elections and an end to corruption.
(Arafat's letter was never mailed because he could not make it past Israeli checkpoints to reach the post office in Ramallah.)
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Dear President Bush:
We, the collective leadership of the Palestinian Authority, unequivocally applaud your new peace initiative and request for new elections, and demands for an end to corruption before the Middle East process can move forward.
Let me state outright that we could not agree more.
It remains understandable that, without change in leadership and tightened control on unprecedented rampaging greed, no peaceful settlement can be ever be attained.
Which is why, we, in the Palestinian Authority will offer our full support in helping the United States conduct free and unbiased elections prior to sitting down to the negotiating table.
We understand that your last election was not as smooth as it should have been, and reflected poorly in the rest of the world. Even countries like Italy, where votes are commonly sold at corner trattorias along with cappuccinos, were laughing at the outcome. We would therefore like to offer two suggestions in order to correct the wrongs.
I have spoken with my old friend Jimmy Carter, and he said he would be delighted to help you out, as he did here in the Palestinian territories, when he came to oversee our elections. That was when I won the elections with 86 percent of the vote. For the record, Mr. President, we are the only ones in the area who conducted real and fair elections. (Notice, unlike Presidents Assad of Syria and your friend Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, I did NOT obtain 99.99 percent of the vote.)
I would like to point out, Mr. President, and with all due respect, that our election had in fact gone far more smoothly than yours did. (It also took less time to count the votes). We had a clear-cut winner, (myself) with no hanging chads, pregnant chads or bulging chads, and did not need to invoke our Supreme Court to make a final ruling on who would be president. There were no reports of minorities being prevented from reaching voting stations in Palestine, Mr. President, during our election.
Additionally to President Carter, we could also dispatch Hanan Ashrawi, or our chief negotiator Saeb Erakat, to help you out.
On the corruption front, I am afraid that our companies and corporations, as well as our leaders in both the private and public sectors as well as our government (myself included) are pure amateurs, mere beginners, when compared to scams and levels of corruption that have been taking place in your country recently.
Sure, we have corruption in the PA -- many of my people skim off the top a few thousands here and there -- but nothing on the scale of what's been making the news on your side of the world.
Let me see, ah yes, there was Enron -- that giant corporation from your very own state of Texas, that went bust faster than the falafel stand down the road from my office when Israeli Merkava tanks came rolling in last March. It seemed Enron tried to sell everything under the sun, including the sun.
Arthur Andersen, another mega-corporation that was supposed to act as a guard rail against corruption. Well, they could not resist the temptation either, and how do you say, they cooked the books.
Now we hear about another great U.S. company -- WorldCom -- that was also cooking its books in a way that is beyond belief, even in the land of miracles. They just laid off 17,000 people! Seventeen thousand people -- you believe that Mr. President? That is more people than I have in my entire military forces. And you think I am a threat to peace? What will happen when these 17,000 irate people, now unemployed, descend on Washington, demanding explanations and jobs?
I heard the other night a report on a foreign radio station (all Palestinian stations have been forced off the air by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's military forces), as I was saying, I heard on the radio the other day, of yet another scandal brewing at Xerox, the famous photocopying company. Seems they copied too closely some of the other companies. Sorry, I did not mean to make light of the matter, nor portray this issue in a NEGATIVE manner.
I urge you, Mr. President, to establish "full transparency" to ensure that billions more are not siphoned off in crime and corruption. I have great concern that until this happens, the U.S. government cannot enjoy international trust, support and credibility. Until proper democratic institutions are established to prevent such rampant corruption, how can you expect international investors to support an economy that runs to a vastly greater degree on borrowed money than the PA?
Anyway, as I was saying, we have a lot to learn from you. Could you send Ken Lay over sometime, I hear he is not very busy these days?