- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 2, 2003

Liberia merits U.S. noncombat support

Your Tuesday editorial “The case for Liberia?” asks whether U.S. intervention in that small, violence-racked state would be in the interest of the United States. You quote Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s wise distinction between a “vital strategic interest” and a humanitarian concern rooted in our historic ties to a state founded by former American slaves.

It is clear to me, after visiting Liberia and other West African states on several occasions, that it is not in America’s vital strategic interest to send combat troops to Liberia. Small, poorly governed and ravaged by turmoil, civil war, poverty and disease, Liberia is not a big-stakes player in world politics.

However, the people of Liberia cry out for help. Nigeria and other West African states have offered to send a modest peacekeeping force if the United States provides the necessary command. President Bush already has sent two naval vessels to the waters off Monrovia, Liberia’s capital.

Without playing a combat role, the Marines aboard can provide command for the peacekeepers and at the same time reinforce security for the substantial U.S. Embassy complex. Competent observers report that the Marines would be welcomed by virtually all Liberians, including the “rebels” and even members of President Charles Taylor’s discredited regime.

Surprisingly perhaps, France, Britain and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan have urged Washington to send noncombat troops.

Such a peacekeeping-humanitarian mission probably could be carried out with fewer than 500 Marines and without engaging in combat. The chances of escalation would be slight. In their preoccupation with Iraq, many Americans have lost their sense of perspective.

Liberia is not Iraq. In terms of manpower and money, the Liberian operation may cost as little as 1 percent of what we are devoting to Iraq.

Mr. Powell is right. Such a humanitarian mission is in America’s interest, properly defined.

ERNEST W. LEFEVER

Senior fellow

Ethics and Public Policy Center

Washington

Dispelling deception

I feel compelled to answer the multitude of misrepresentations and outright fabrication of facts found in the letter by Peter Boyle on Monday (“Assessing the road map to peace”). Because it is so rife with fiction, I will focus only on the most glaring attempts at deception.

1. “The creation of Israel in 1948 involved removing Palestinians from their land by force and placing them in refugee camps in Jordan and Egypt.”

As every contemporary account and history book written about the U.N. partition and the rebirth of Israel states, the Arab population of Palestine was not forcibly removed. They fled at the urging of their own leaders and the leaders of surrounding Arab states, who promised them that they could return as soon as the combined might of eight Arab armies destroyed the fledgling Jewish state. When it became clear that Israel was not going to disappear, the mufti of Jerusalem and other leaders fled in anticipation of retribution by the victorious Israelis (which never materialized). Israel, by contrast, begged the Arabs to stay, distributing leaflets and making radio announcements that they would not be harmed. The leaders of the surrounding Arab countries told the Arab population of Israel to ignore the Zionist promises. Arabs, not Israelis, removed Palestinians from their land.

2. “Israel was created in 1948 on land that was occupied or claimed by Palestinians.”

Jews have occupied and claimed the land of Israel for more than 3,300 years. No matter how many times the kingdoms of Judah and Israel were invaded and occupied by the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Romans, the Persians, the Greeks, the Arabs, the Crusaders, the Mameluks, the Turks and the British, Jews never relinquished their claim to the land of Israel. Throughout this time, there always have been Jews who remained in the land of Israel and Jews who, despite the horrific hardships, insisted on returning.

Muslims have built a myth around Jerusalem, claiming that Muhammad ascended to heaven from the Temple Mount, the holiest of holy sites for Jews. There was no contemporary evidence that Muhammad ever set foot in Jerusalem, let alone that he would have chosen such an unlikely spot for his final departure. The Omar Mosque was built on the site of Solomon’s and Herod’s temples by Caliph Omar of Baghdad, in keeping with the Muslim practice of deliberately replacing or converting non-Muslim houses of worship with mosques, to assert the superiority of the Muslim religion over other religions. Another well-known example is the St. Sofia Church in Istanbul, which is now the Hagia Sofia mosque, which was destroyed by invading Muslims and replaced with a mosque.

3. “The Palestinians who left their homes and land in 1948 have been in refugee camps or the occupied territories ever since the creation of Israel.”

True. They have deliberately been kept in refugee camps by the Arab states in order to foment hatred against Israel. Saudi Arabia imports thousands of non-Arab foreign workers because it is underpopulated and spends billions of dollars on showy construction projects, but won’t absorb its fellow Arabs. Before and after 1948, millions of refugees have been created by war, famine and civil unrest. Refugee camps are created to house them for a few years, and then they are disbanded. Israel, a tiny country with no natural resources, has absorbed millions of Jewish refugees, including those who were evicted from their homes in Arab countries and forcibly expelled after 1948.

The United Nations has a stated policy of not creating permanent refugee camps — except when it comes to the Palestinians. With the cooperation of the United Nations, the Arabs have conducted a live laboratory experiment designed to create generations of Frankenstein’s monsters — human beings reared on a diet of hate propaganda. The result has been the Palestinians’ unique contribution to the human lexicon: “suicide bombers.”

4.“While violence by Palestinians must cease, it must be noted that militants represent a very small percentage of the population. … More attacks by a small minority of militant Palestinians, if they occur, should not end the chance for peace.”

That’s like saying the number of Saudi hijackers on the planes that destroyed the World Trade Center towers were a tiny percentage of the population of Saudi Arabia. They still managed to kill 3,000 people and were the reason the United States went into Afghanistan to root out and destroy al Qaeda. Israel has as much right to refuse to negotiate with Mahmoud Abbas under the threat of violence as President Bush had for refusing to negotiate with al Qaeda after September 11.

If the “militants” (“terrorists” better describes murderers of little children in a pizza parlor) are such a small number, the Palestinian leadership should have been able to root out the militants a long time ago. It hasn’t done so because they are part and parcel of the Palestinian leadership. Mr. Abbas was and is a 30-year associate of Yasser Arafat. He was selected by Mr. Arafat. Why should anyone believe Mr. Abbas has suddenly changed his views on terrorism?

The fact that a majority of Palestinians would not demand a “right of return” doesn’t mean a majority wants to live in peace with Israel. Another recent survey of Arabs showed that the vast majority, including Palestinians, does not believe in a two-state solution — they still want the destruction of Israel, even after a Palestinian state has been created.

5. “The nonviolent Palestinian majority deserves a state where economic opportunity, education and freedom of movement are readily available.”

The creation of a Palestinian state is highly unlikely to make any of these available because it will be yet another quasi-feudal Arab state, without civil liberties, dominated by a single person (or, more likely, a single man).

Numerous investigations of the finances of the Palestinian Authority have shown corruption and cronyism to be endemic and deeply rooted. The hundreds of millions of dollars funneled into Palestinian Authority coffers by Europeans and American taxpayers have been used to purchase weapons or siphoned off into the personal bank accounts of Mr. Arafat and his entourage. They were not used to build schools or hospitals or roads. “The Palestinian Regime,” by Palestinian As’ad Ghanem, documented Mr. Arafat’s vicelike grip on all Palestinian institutions and finances and his utter disregard for any democratic processes. Anyone who disagrees with or dares to criticize Mr. Arafat is strung up as a “Zionist sympathizer.” Christian Palestinians have been driven from towns and villages that once were majority Christian to the point where Manger Square in Bethlehem is now dominated by a mosque.

No, Mr. Boyle, life for Palestinians will not improve under an independent state run by Mr. Arafat.

JULIA WELLER

Bethesda

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