- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 1, 2007

An Israeli in Arabia

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon attended the Arab League summit last week, a gathering of 21 leaders who rarely agree on anything except the need to denounce as often as possible Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands.

They have a point, of course, but not at the expense of all those other matters they could be addressing: Sudan and Somalia; Iraq and Iran; Lebanon, human rights, economic development, democracy-building — to name a few.

Mr. Ban, four months at the United Nations and still brimming with energy and optimism, urged the leaders to use their clout to address crises in their own back yards.

“Throughout the region, in addition to the grievous toll of lost lives and destroyed property resulting from armed violence, there is the quiet despair, felt most keenly among young people, of unemployment and the lack of economic opportunity and political participation,” Mr. Ban told his elite audience. “It is in such conditions that radicalism and militancy find it easier to take hold.”

But it was Israel, of course, that everyone had gathered to discuss, especially in light of the reanimated Saudi proposal to trade land for diplomatic recognition.

The secretary-general appeared to endorse the four-year-old plan, while skirting the difficult bits.

To mend Israeli-Arab relations, Mr. Ban said: “The basis for a solution is clear: an end to the occupation that began in 1967, creation of an independent and viable Palestinian state alongside a secure and fully recognized state of Israel, and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the region, as called for in the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council.”

In a novel show of action over U.N. rhetoric, Mr. Ban included in his entourage an Israeli journalist, and then challenged the leaders whose countries exclude Orly Azoulay on principle.

Mrs. Azoulay, Washington bureau chief for Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, eventually was welcomed to Riyadh after Mr. Ban appealed to Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal.

According to Mrs. Azoulay’s blog of the trip, Mr. Ban conveyed “a placating message” that a delegation of Arab journalists and an Israeli could partially break the ice. A French-Israeli dual national traveling on her French passport, Mrs. Azoulay left for the region without a Saudi visa.

Mr. Ban was delighted when news of her delayed invitation reached him.

“This is my only diplomatic achievement during the three months I have been in office,” he told Mrs. Azoulay, according to her blog. “There are many things I am handling that have yet to mature. In this case, I succeeded and I am happy.”

But the celebration was short-lived when Lebanon refused Mr. Ban’s entreaties on the reporter’s behalf. Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora even offered to buy her a first-class ticket home from Riyadh, Mrs. Azoulay wrote, to avoid the embarrassment of her arrival. She said she left the U.N. delegation on her own.

The secretary-general deserves credit for the symbolic gesture, and respect for interceding on behalf of a reporter’s right to cover a compelling story.

Kidneys, $20,000-plus

It turns out that kidneys are the most popular organ on the black market for body parts, and transplants can be had for as little as $20,000 — an Internet deal if ever there was one.

EBay got into trouble for listing a liver a few years ago, but plenty of organs are available through “transplant tourism” Web sites, many of which originate in Pakistan, Egypt and the Philippines.

The World Health Organization last week attempted to introduce guidelines for organ transplants, a murky world of emerging science, commerce and equally desperate donors and recipients.

The system, such as it is, offers no quality controls, regulation, traceability or accountability.

“Human organs are not spare parts,” said Dr. Howard Zucker, WHO assistant director-general of health technology and pharmaceuticals. “No one can put a price on an organ that is going to save someone’s life.”

Betsy Pisik can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]washingtontimes.com.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide