- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Few, other than Middle East experts, recall that the Syrian Army, which, in the '80s, had killed about 20,000 of their own people crushing a revolt in their town of Homa, also took advantage of the media saturation with the Gulf war, to murder, quietly, up to 700 Lebanese Christians. Syria detests Lebanese Christians because they tend to resist Syrian domination of the nation of Lebanon. Now, long after the last vestige of Israeli Army troops have left Lebanon, Syrian troops remain in Lebanon. If a war with Iraq erupts, there is a very real danger for another bloodbath of Lebanese Christians by the Syrian Army.

The Syrian Army illegally in Lebanon also openly supplies and protects at least two fanatic terrorist groups, Hezbollah and Hamas, transshipping weapons from Iran for these gangs. Hezbollah, especially, was directly involved with the awful suicide bombing that murdered 241 United States Marines in their barracks in Lebanon about 17 years ago, as well as many other evil terrorist acts against Americans, such as the merciless, slow torture and killing of our CIA station chief in Beirut. Surely now it is payback time.

Arab regimes and gangs are not impressed with threats, but are impressed with force used against them, such as our speedy success in dismantling the al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist network in Afghanistan. It is wholly proper for President Bush to demand that Syria immediately withdraw all its troops from Lebanese soil. Then, a short interval after that demand, the United States should start heavy bombing of the scattered Hezbollah and Hamas bases in Lebanon, together with planes from NATO allies, and also, if they are willing, from the Russian Air Force. The terrorist bases in Lebanon are much easier to reach from NATO bases in Europe, Cyprus, and from U.S. Navy aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean Sea, than is Afghanistan.

There are several advantages to attacks on the terrorist bases in Lebanon beyond "payback." First, it will send a very powerful message to those Arab regimes that support terrorism and are seeking to develop weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, such as Iraq and Iran. Also it is, as well, as a sobering message to Syria (If Syrian Army troops in Lebanon are injured during our bombing, we will say we are sorry, but they should not be there in Lebanon).

Second, it will profoundly shock the corrupt Arafat regime that has welcomed these terrorist gangs and supported their despicable, murderous suicide bombings of Israeli civilians, including women, teen-agers and children, as well as Israeli Arabs. In fact, it might just force Yasser Arafat's own terrorist gangs such as Tanzim, Jihad, etc., to accept and enforce a real cease-fire, which could be a prelude to serious peace negotiations.

Third, it will bolster the morale of our beleaguered ally, Israel. All of these contemptible Arab gangs of bombers, no matter what the name they assume, are related and support one another. It is important to recall that Palestinian Arabs cheered and danced in joy when America was attacked on September 11, and that Mr. Arafat strongly supported Saddam Hussein and Iraq during the Gulf war. Thus, probably, if a new Arab entity is carved out of Judea and Samaria ("West Bank") from the mostly one-century-old Arab settlements (now termed towns) there now, it will be an enemy to us and to the West.

It is important to remember that Jerusalem is of primary importance to Christians and Jews, but only of tertiary importance to Islam, which has the more important sites of Mecca and Medina.

Arab nations know their history very well. Thus, when there was Arab control of the "West Bank" from 1948 to 1967, they deliberately did not create a "Palestinian nation" because they know full well that in all history there has never been such a separate Arab group. The Holy Land, for more than a millenia was ruled by distant empires. The latest of these was the Ottoman Turkish Empire which ruled vast areas of what is now Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and the Holy Land from 1518 to 1918, when the British Mandate took the Holy Land for 30 years. As Turks will emphatically tell anyone, Turks are not Arabs.

The fact is that when Mark Twain's expedition ("The Innocents Abroad") visited the Holy Land in 1869, they found it almost an empty land. Jerusalem was a dirty little town of about 14,000 souls, the large majority being non-Arab. Only in the next decades did most Jews immigrate into their biblical homeland, and Arabs immigrate in from surrounding countries, and each create their own settlements. Winston Churchill, in 1939, wrote, "Sofar from being persecuted, the Arabs have crowded into the country and multiplied until their population has increased more than all world Jewry could lift up the Jewish population."

This "next step" is of course only a prelude to the eventual decision to remove the fanatic, dangerous dictator, Saddam Hussein, from power in Iraq before he acquires and uses weapons of mass destruction on his neighbors, and those he hates.

Howard Greyber, an astrophysicist, writes on national and international affairs.

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