- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Modern slavery

The global market for human beings for cheap labor or sex slaves is one of the top money-making rackets for organized crime, Greece’s foreign minister told a congressional hearing yesterday.

“Few of us are aware of the shocking reality that human trafficking is the third largest source of revenue for organized crime after arms trade and drug trafficking,” Dora Bakoyannis said in a message read to the Congressional Human Trafficking Caucus.

“Indeed, human trafficking is a global problem growing at alarming rates. … Simply stated, it constitutes a threat to the basic principles and values of our society. … It is an egregious abuse of human life which cannot be tolerated by any person or government.”

Mrs. Bakoyannis, whose message was read by Greek Ambassador Alexandros P. Mallias, said her government has worked with other countries in efforts to protect the victims of human trafficking and provide them with assistance.

“We are proud to note that this has yielded noteworthy results,” she said. “Yet more remains to be done. We have a common duty to prevent those who view others as a commodity which can be easily sold to the highest bidder.”

The Greek Embassy and Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies co-sponsored the briefing, chaired by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, New York Democrat and co-chairman of the caucus.

The caucus also heard a report on Greece’s efforts to fight the black market in modern slavery from Panagiotis Panouris, secretary-general of the Greek Justice Ministry and chairman of the Hellenic Inter-Ministerial Committee on Trafficking in Persons.

In the State Department’s latest report on human trafficking, Greece is listed as a “Tier 2” country, a category that includes nations that are working to bring their laws into compliance with the U.S. Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000.

The worst offenders, the “Tier 3” nations, include: Burma, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

Lobby envy

As the Rev. Jesse Jackson says, they throw stones only at the trees with fruit in them. The powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) thinks it knows why it has been the focus of a slew of such attacks in recent days: jealousy.

Correspondent David R. Sands reports that, at the annual Washington policy conference this week, AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr told more than 6,000 delegates that critics of the pro-Israel lobby are reviving “old libels our ancestors heard in different lands, at different times” about the loyalties of America’s Jews.

A pair of top researchers from Harvard and the University of Chicago issued a scathing report on AIPAC’s malign influence on U.S. foreign policy, and former President Jimmy Carter was no less critical in his new Middle East book accusing Israel of pursuing a policy of “apartheid” against the Palestinians.

With turmoil in Iraq and Iran, a summer war with Lebanon and continuing problems with the Palestinians, Mr. Kohr conceded it was a “dangerous moment” for Israel and her supporters. But he said the new criticisms of AIPAC’s influence are, in fact, the “voice of frustration.”

“Frustration — because we are winning the war of ideas,” he said. “Frustration — because American friends of Israel have the will, resolve and strength to be heard. Frustration — because the relationship between America and Israel is strong and growing stronger.”

He added, “Our detractors are frustrated by our success, and the only response to them must be continued success.”

The slings and arrows aimed at AIPAC did not discourage Washington’s power elite from turning out once again for the group’s annual get-together. Vice President Dick Cheney, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni all addressed the gathering.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.

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