- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 2, 2006

D.C. Council pay raise a mistake

No sooner than the elections are over, the D.C. Council announces its intention to give itself a walloping pay raise (“D.C. Council eyes 24 percent pay raise,” Page 1, Wednesday). This is classic bait-and-switch. But, you may ask, don’t they deserve it?

What do we citizens get in return for the “hard work” of the these uninterested philanthropists? A long-festering, corrupt school system riddled with waste, fraud and abuse.

But wait, there’s more. To everyone’s surprise, we now discover tens of millions of dollars of waste, fraud and abuse in D.C.’s management of its Medicaid program (“Probing D.C. Medicaid costs,” Editorial, Wednesday). Is this the “hard work” our council members keep talking about?



Ellison and the Koran

In the flap over the oath of office being taken by Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, an avowed Muslim, I think it not only understandable but preferable for him to take his oath on the Koran (“Lawmaker to take oath on Koran, faces flak,” Nation, Friday). I am a Christian, and an oath sworn or affirmed with my hand on the Bible carries weight. That is the sole purpose of using the Bible as such, because to a Christian the Bible is filled with Holy Writ.

The Islamic faith holds the Koran in the same esteem as Christians do the Bible, and if a Muslim swears to uphold, defend and protect the U.S. Constitution while holding his hand on the Bible, I would not think it would have nearly the spiritual binding power that it would if he were allowed to use the Koran instead, or nothing at all. In my opinion, it is more likely Mr. Ellison will take his oath seriously if he is given it with the Koran than with either the Bible or nothing at all.



Arab rejectionism

Once again, Israel is holding out the olive branch of peace to its Arab neighbors.Once again, expect the Palestinians to reject it (“Cease-fire calms Gaza,” Page 1, Monday).

It bears recalling that in the aftermath of World War I, many prominent Arabs supported the Zionist movement, seeing it as a sister movement to their own nationalist aspirations. One Arab leader uniquely qualified toexpress such a view was Feisal Ibn al-Hussein al-Hashemi, the emir of the Arabian kingdom of Hedjaz (now part of Saudi Arabia). Mr. Feisal, a descendant of the prophet Muhammad (and the great-great-uncle of King Abdullah II of Jordan), wasthe most prominent voice of Arab nationalism in his generation. On March 5, 1919, Mr. Feisal wrote to future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, inviting Jews to return to the land of Israeland re-establish their state.

The Middle East might wellhave become a land of peace and prosperity, butthe Palestinian mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, turned the Arab masses against the emir’s view of Semitic brotherhood. A hate-mongering extremist, the mufti incited wholesale massacres of Jewish communities by Arab mobs in 1921, 1929 and 1936 and intimidated the emir and other Arab moderates into recantingtheir previously expressedsupport for a Jewish state.

During World War II, Husseini explicitly advocated annihilating the entire Jewish population of the Palestinian Mandate. He was a close ally and personal guest of Adolf Hitler’s. Hitler received him warmly and praised him lavishly.

Husseini’s influence continues to this day. His protege was his Egyptian-born great-nephewMohammed Abder Rauf Arafat al-Kudwa al-Husseini — better known to the world asYasser Arafat. Mr. Arafat’s view of “peace,” as he once explained to the late Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, was: “We don’t want peace. We want war, victory. Peace for us means the destruction of Israel and nothing else.”

Even in 1996, at the very height of the so-called Oslo peace process, when dovish Shimon Peres was Israel’s prime minister and a Palestinian state born in peace was Mr. Arafat’s for the asking, Mr. Arafat assured an Arab summit in Stockholm: “We plan to eliminate the state of Israel and establish a purely Palestinian state.” Today, similar calls for the annihilation of Israel are the mantra of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and even President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.

In the Middle East, hopes for peace spring eternal.Experience, however, cautions against expecting real peacemaking from the Palestinians.


Walnut Creek, Calif.

Sri Lanka’s nightmare

The Tamil Tigers unquestionably are the deadly elements of Sri Lankan society. However, the birth of the Tamil Tigers has roots in Sri Lanka’s history. They are the byproduct of decades-old failed politics and policies of the Sinhalese political class. There was not an overnight decision among the ordinary Tamils to approve the agendas of the Tamil Tigers. The failure of the Sri Lankan polity to meet the demands of the Tamil moderates was a key foundation for the origin of Tamil extremism in Sri Lanka.

One needs to realize that successive governments since 1956, controlled by the Sinhalese, failed to engage the Tamil moderates such as the Federal Party, which sought a comprehensive solution without jeopardizing the unity of Sri Lanka. However, Sinhalese collective, competitive chauvinism turned a blind eye to the Tamil moderates. Sadly, the choice of the Sinhala political class to use violence effectively damaged the Tamil trust in the political system and encouraged some Tamils to adopt violence.

Ranil Wickramasinghe, a former premier of Sri Lanka, echoed this truth during his visit to the United States. He rightly pointed out that “the Tamils tried peaceful protest, which soon degenerated into violence. With the underlying grievances being unattended, the stage was set for terrorist groups to emerge” (“Our Approach for a Better Tomorrow Free From Terrorism,” Daily News, July 25, 2002).

Separation may not be a desirable solution for the ethnic civil war that killed more than 75,000 people out of the island’s 19 million. It may trigger further instability. However, when a particular community is continuously denied its rights, there must be a solution to arrest an unhealthy political situation and give justice to the marginalized. The desire for partition could be challenged if the ruling elites show real willingness to act beyond the ethnic emotions and a commitment to sharing power with the minorities. This likely would undermine the agendas of the separatist movements, provided there is domestic and international political willingness to implement the agreement.

The demand of separation becomes strong when a power-sharing arrangement is not possible. The world recognizes that if the people do not want to cohabit in the same polity, partition should not be neglected automatically as a solution. This might be one way to manage the Tamils’ demands for political space since 1977. However, partition would not win the blessings of the global community. New Delhi and Washington, particularly, would refuse to go along with it for reasons best known to them.

If the global community thinks partition is not desirable, it needs to exert tough leverage on the Sri Lankan ruling elites to improve the human rights of the minorities by giving political space for a power-sharing democracy. Sri Lanka will continue to be home to deadly but motivated Tamil suicide bombers if there are no outside pressures.


Department of Political Science

Temple University


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