- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 21, 2002

Beating extremists

Shafeeq Ghabra took on the Islamic extremists in his country and won.

The director of the Kuwait Information Office in Washington offered his resignation last month and then began a public campaign to defend himself against extremists who denounced him for appearing on a forum with Israeli representatives.

Mr. Ghabra had intended to return to Kuwait and resume his teaching position at Kuwait University. This week, however, his superiors in the Kuwaiti Ministry of Information refused to accept his resignation.

"It is the first time I know of, or have heard of, where an Arab intellectual has confronted hard-liners and won," Mr. Ghabra said in an e-mail. "I owe this victory to Kuwait's political structure and to Kuwait's free press."

His fight against the People's Congress for Resisting Normalization Between the Zionist Entity and the Gulf became a symbolic struggle that pitted the extremists against a Kuwaiti society that sees itself as a moderate Arab nation.

Mr. Ghabra drew support from the press, leading members of parliament and nongovernmental organizations. More than 50 articles in Kuwaiti and other Arab newspapers supported his decision to debate a former Israeli foreign minister and former Israeli ambassador during the World Economic Forum in New York last month.

The People's Congress called his participation on the panel an "abominable deed" that was the equivalent to recognizing Israel's right to exist. Kuwait has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

"My case became a pivotal and controversial issue in Kuwait," Mr. Ghabra said. "These issues revolved around international politics, debates with Israelis, politics and society.

"In some ways, the debate took on a life of its own and went far beyond me. It became an examination of Kuwait and its future."

Mr. Ghabra said he will continue serving in Washington until his term ends in the summer.

"This incident has strengthened my faith in Kuwait, in Kuwait's democratic development and in our civil society," he said.

Threats against Israel

Iran and Iraq are responsible for sponsoring terrorism against Israel and pose a nuclear threat to the Jewish state, the Israeli ambassador said yesterday.

Ambassador David Ivry, speaking to American Legionnaires at the Fort Myer Officers Club, said there is no question of the two countries' involvement.

The Palestinian cargo ship Karine-A, which Israel intercepted in the Red Sea on Jan. 3, "demonstrates an interest in strategic escalation of violence in the Middle East," Mr. Ivry told our reporter John Sheridan. The ship was carrying 50 tons of Iranian weapons.

Its well-trained crew captained by a Palestinian and equipped with waterproof containers for underwater delivery show the level of state-sponsored terrorism in the region, Mr. Ivry said. Israel says its evidence shows the weapons were destined for the Palestinian Authority.

There is also a nuclear threat from Iran and Iraq, the ambassador said, noting that following September 11, a high-ranking Iranian official made comments supporting the use of nuclear weapons in Israel.

Mr. Ivry blamed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for the terrorist attacks against Israel for the past year and a half.

"There is no question he is responsible for the latest wave of violence," Mr. Ivry said.

The ambassador defended Israel's offensive during the past month, the country's biggest military campaign in decades.

"You cannot deter suicide bombers with the death penalty," he said, adding there must be a "preemption of terrorism."

The ambassador also was critical of Europe's weak response to the terrorist attacks against Israel.

"It is typical of democratic societies," he said. "They don't act until it comes home."

Einhorn joins SAIS

Jessica P. Einhorn, a former managing director of the World Bank, has been appointed dean of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University.

A 1970 graduate of the school, she is the first alumna to return as dean.

"Jessica has both a strong academic perspective on public policy and a profound grasp of international finance," said university President William R. Brody.

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