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memri
January 4, 2001 No.
172

The Arabs Bid Farewell to Albright

US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, has become one of the most hated figures in the Arab world. American policy towards Iraq, as well as the retaliatory bombings in Sudan and Afghanistan following the terrorist attacks on the American embassies in Africa, inspired this hatred towards Albright. Even the NATO bombings in Kosovo aroused opposition among many Arabs, who saw them as an expression of the American "double standard," which attacks Iraq and Serbia but does not take a tough stance against Israel. Many Arab writers, who as a rule oppose globalization, spoke out against the Clinton administration's international intervention policy despite the fact that in Kosovo it was aimed at saving Muslim refugees.

As Albright's term draws to an end, several columnists have written her "farewell" articles Attacks against Albright have not only focused on policy. Arab commentators have unleashed vicious personal misogynistic attacks on Albright's background, personality, and physical features.

"Cowgirl" Foreign Policy

Subhi Hadidi, a Syrian journalist and researcher living in Paris, wrote: "Madeleine K. Albright has entered history as the first woman to fill the position of American Secretary of State, and it will soon be proved that she was the worst minister in history as well. Feminists cannot take comfort in the fact that she was the only female Secretary of State after 63 men. Her departure will cause no regret for the people of Iraq, Palestine, Yugoslavia, Sudan--"

"Will the world be a better place after the departure of Mrs. Albright? Almost certainly, especially considering the fact that 90 percent of Albright's 'legacy'... was not a policy as it is defined in the dictionary of international relations; at best, it was a work schedule from one crisis to the next."

"Despite reservations about Colin Powell's personality, philosophy and the schools of political thought to which he belongs, he is bound to quickly erase this 'legacy,' leaving no trace of Mrs. Albright, except for her picture which will hang, in the lobby of the State Department!"

"--Albright behaved, throughout her terms as Secretary of State and US representative to the UN, like a cowgirl trying to rope the world market with a lasso and a gun. --global matters require more than cowboy techniques; they require more than repeating the same broken record whenever an alarm sounds somewhere in the world: a warning against harming vital American interests -- 'The Indispensable Nation' -- in Albright's words."

Hadidi discusses Albright's article in Foreign Affairs[1] in which she divides the world into four catagories: "the original members of the international community; those in transition toward becoming members; those who do not belong because they are weak, poor or entangled in ethnic or civil conflicts; and countries that do not belong to this community because they are rebels, infidels and wicked devils..."

Hadidi focuses on the fourth group, which includes several Arab states: "In discussing this group, Albright exposes her wolf's fangs, puts on her cowgirl hat and threatens great calamities-- she bemoans the withdrawal of American institutions established during the Cold War that were essentially intelligence apparatuses under economic, cultural or academic guises."

"Albright's policy can be summed up as a stick, after all the carrots have been put aside: first, economic sanctions; second, siege; third, military operations--"[2]

Ethnic & Gender Attacks

Albright is also attacked, both as a women and because of her Jewish heritage. The editor of the PA daily once called Albright "an immoral woman in the popular sense of the term."[3] The Gaza-based Hamas weekly called the American Secretary of State a "scurvy-ridden Jewish scorpioness."[4]

In the government-sponsored Egyptian press, expressions of hatred toward Albright have also increased, as her departure approaches. A cartoon in the government sponsored Al-Ahram shows a young girl on whom '2001' is written, throwing a stone and hitting the head of Albright, who is wearing Star of David earrings.[5]

A Personal Attack

Columnist Abd Al-Rahman Al-Abnudi wrote the following satirical farewell article, entitled "Saint Madeleine" in the Egyptian daily Al-Akhbar:

"I search deep within myself for a feeling of great sorrow that will allow me to write a farewell poem to my beloved, the beloved of all Arabs, and the beloved of the whole human race, Madeleine Albright."

"With the disappearance of Madeleine Albright -- that honest, righteous and pure woman -- from the international political stage, the spring will lose its bloom, and the dawn, its virginity; the world will long for her childishness and the sweetness of her smile."

"Madeleine Albright -- what beautiful music her name has -- she is the world's beauty queen, the nymph of all humanity. Her tender heart, pure and merciful, is always open for humanity to enter and leave it. This heart overflows with battalions of the world's poor. She is a wondrous mother who floods the earth with her nobility and humanity. Her small body shivers in the face of the oppressor. Milk comes forth from her small breasts out of mercy for the oppressed and the orphans. She is unique in the [community] of mothers. She is Saint Madeleine, whose heavenly light radiates all over..."

"In her pure eyes the children of the world play and rejoice: the children of Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Cuba, Vietnam and Angola. Russian children blossom in her green heart like blooming flowers and turn their leaves toward the sun--"

"Some love this woman for her great beauty, but these are superficial matters: I always look to the inside. I look into her depths and discover a blinding light. Whoever wants can look at her marvelous legs and write a poem about God's ability to create the unbelievable, praise Allah. The most talented artists cannot compete with God in his deeds, for he created this pair of legs, unmatched among all the women of the world. Likewise [Allah created] the lovely folds of her belly, which do not let you know whether the stomach is found in the upper or the lower part. I am timid by nature, and my shyness grows each time my eyes fall upon the extraordinary pair of legs of this extraordinary maiden, or when my gaze rises to the curves of her stomach. In these moments, my eyes jump as if bitten by a snake in order to maintain my adherence to the [religious] commandments and to be protected from the devil who plays with my thoughts. For Allah's sake, I am fasting!--"

"Madeleine Albright is a wandering and confused Jewess whose family emigrated from country to country, fleeing persecution... Therefore she will not allow anyone to be persecuted in our world, except for the children of Iraq, Sudan, Libya and -- all the nations not protected under America's wings."

"Our eyes will flood with tears and thorns will pierce our hearts when we awake one morning and discover a world without Saint Madeleine. At that very moment, mercy will disappear from the face of the world, mercy that was manifest in that same Jewish angel, Madeleine -- cursed be your family!!"[6]


[1] "The Testing of American Foreign Policy," in Foreign Affairs, November/December 1998 issue.

[2] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), December 29, 2000.

[3] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), October 3, 1997.

[4] Al-Risala (Palestinian), December 31, 1998.

[5] Al-Ahram (Egypt), December 27, 2000.

[6] Al-Akhbar (Egypt), December 25, 2000.