Regional endorsements

Micah Sifry tells us of a Bush campaign "Jewish outreach" message that "really made his blood boil." It reported that John Kerry had received endorsements from the PLO. Here's an excerpt:

Last spring, John Kerry boasted that a number of foreign leaders supported his campaign, but refused to name them. This week he received his first foreign-leader endorsement -- from the Palestinian Authority. Congratulations, Mr. Kerry. An organization known the world over as the linchpin of terrorism has now awarded you its support. When Kerry was talking about his popularity in foreign capitals, he said "you can go to New York City and you can be in a restaurant and you can meet a foreign leader" that supports him. Well, it's unlikely that he met the leaders bestowing this week's endorsement at Katz's Deli.


This was supposed to be based on something Nabil Shaath, the Palestinian Authority's foreign minister, had said -- according to the Jerusalem Post, which doesn't actually quote him saying he supports Kerry, but rather lamenting the fact that the US elections were taking place at the Palestinians' expense:

"I keep saying that we have many times to pay for these American elections unfairly," Shaath told a news conference. "During an American election and the three months after, allies of the United States should do more work than they would do otherwise."


This is what, for instance, Al Jazeera reported.

Other news sources that have reported on this also give the impression that the Palestinians would prefer Kerry, but despite bold headlines never really back up their claims. And in general, the real story with Shaath's statement is that he was unhappy with how much attention the Bush administration is giving the roadmap -- which is to say, none. Realistically speaking, no foreign leader is going to express a preference for one candidate or the other -- it's bad politics, and especially so if you're the Palestinian Authority.

In fact, guess which Middle Eastern country has officially endorsed Bush in the region?

The answer: Iran.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.