- The Washington Times - Friday, August 2, 2002

Depth of depravity

The terrorists who killed five Americans in the bombing at Hebrew University reached a "new depth of depravity," the U.S. ambassador to Israel said yesterday.

Expressing official and personal anger over Wednesday's explosion, Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer demanded that "Palestinians and other Arabs" do more than just issue verbal condemnation of terrorist attacks.

In addition to the Americans, two Israelis were killed in the bombing of the university's Frank Sinatra International Student Center. More than 80 others were injured.

"The terrorist murderers, those who sent them and those whose action and inaction contributed to this despicable act have descended to a new depth of depravity," Mr. Kurtzer said, after laying a wreath at the university.

"It is not enough that Palestinians and other Arabs have condemned this act of terrorism," he added. "It is absolutely imperative that they work actively together to stop terrorism immediately."

Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority condemned the bombing, while the Hamas terrorist group claimed responsibility.

The ambassador, a graduate of Hebrew University, said the terrorists "violated the sanctuary" of an institution "in which Israelis, Arabs, Jews, Muslims and Christians" studied together.

Lebanon coming back

On her working vacation in Washington, Amal Mudallali had one major message for friends and officials. Lebanon, she said, is "coming back."

Miss Mudallali, press secretary to Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, said the country is recovering from its 15-year civil war between Christian and Muslim militias that ended in 1990.

Beirut, once considered the Paris of the Mediterranean, is full of life again.

"You can hardly find a table in downtown Beirut restaurants," she told Embassy Row. "That's the hidden story Lebanon is coming back."

More than 1 million tourists are expected to visit Lebanon's beaches and cities this summer, she said. Most visitors come from the Arab countries along the Persian Gulf, but some Americans and Europeans are among the tourists, she said.

"This is all Mr. Hariri's inspiration to rebuild Beirut as a cultural center. It is becoming the jewel of the Middle East," she said.

Two weeks ago, construction crews demolished the shell-pocked Hilton Hotel to make room for a new five-star hotel.

That hotel was the last symbol of the civil war, she said.

"Christian and Muslim is not even an issue," Miss Mudallali said. "People don't even talk about that."

No one even refers to East and West Beirut, the old dividing line between the Christian and Muslim warlords.

"They laugh at you if you talk about that. They think you've been living in a cave," she said.

Even the Muslim gunman who on Wednesday killed eight persons, seven of whom were Christian, sparked no sectarian reaction. Miss Mudallali called the shooting an "isolated" tragedy.

Lebanese authorities, who arrested the gunman, said he was a disgruntled employee of the Education Ministry who was shooting randomly at his co-workers in an act of revenge, after his superiors demanded he repay a loan from the employees' compensation fund.

Miss Mudallali lived here until 1998 and worked as a Washington reporter for the British Broadcasting Corp. and Middle East Television.

New ambassador

Pakistan yesterday appointed veteran diplomat Ashraf Jehangir Qazi as its ambassador to the United States, replacing Maleeha Lodhi, a familiar face in Washington media circuits.

Mr. Qazi, 60, was Pakistan's ambassador to India for five years until May, when he was expelled amid rising tensions between the two nuclear-armed countries, the Associated Press reported from Islamabad.

Mr. Qazi visited Washington in June as an envoy to explain Pakistan's position in the standoff with India over the disputed region of Kashmir.

During his 37-year career, Mr. Qazi also has served as ambassador to Russia, China, the former East Germany and Syria, the Pakistani government said in a statement.

Miss Lodhi, a former newspaper editor, will be leaving Washington after a second stint as ambassador. She plans to return to Pakistan but has not decided on her future, she told Embassy Row recently.

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