March 16, 2005
Friend of FLAME:
One columnist has called these times the "Arab spring"---the
beginning of a democratic domino effect in the Middle East. Indeed,
in the last few months, we've seen unprecedented democratic activity
among the Arabs: Palestinians voting in Mahmoud Abbas; millions of
Iraqis casting ballots for a constitutional assembly; Saudi Arabia
holding municipal elections for the first time; Egypt's Hosni Mubarek
announcing contested presidential elections; and independence-minded
demonstrators in Beirut at least temporarily ousting Lebanon's pro-Syrian
president. All of this, according to some pundits, proves that President
Bush had it right after all.
While we certainly applaud these nascent gestures toward democracy,
history shows us that there's many a slip 'twixt cup and lip when
it comes to the overthrow of tyranny, especially in the Middle East.
Let's not forget that when the Shah of Iran was deposed, we got an
Islamic dictatorship. Radical Islamists were elected in Turkey and
Bangladesh in 2002. Surely there's a good chance that if elections
were held tomorrow in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, theocratic Islamists
would win. And it's unclear in the Palestinian territories who will
prevail in upcoming local elections and whether Mahmoud Abbas in general
can hold the middle ground against Islamic jihadists like Hamas, who
openly advocate the destruction of Israel (and the U.S., for that
In order to ensure that the "democratic revolution" precipitated
by President Bush's policies continues---and turns out favorably to
the United States and Israel---the process needs to be firmly managed
going forward. So argues Middle East observer Caroline Glick in her
excellent article below. Above all, she asserts, democratization must
not be allowed to be hijacked by the European Union and other nations
that favor a policy of appeasement toward terrorist groups like Hamas
and Lebanon's Hizbullah.
It clearly behooves us to support and fortify Bush in his dealings
with the Europeans. It's critical that the American government continue
to take the lead in guiding the Middle East to the promised land of
freedom and democracy.
FLAME has just published a new hasbarah (clarifying message) that
I believe you'll find moving and useful. It's called "The
Holocaust: Sixty Years Later---Has the spirit of Auschwitz been
revived?" In it, FLAME president Gerardo Joffe, who himself
escaped the German Holocaust in 1938, warns of the rising danger
of Arab anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism---now accompanied by nuclear
weapons, such as those being developed by Iran. Please take a
minute to review this incisive piece at http://www.factsandlogic.org/ad_90.html.
If you see the importance of this message and would like contribute
to its publication in scores of publications throughout the U.S.
and worldwide, please go to our online donations page at http://www.factsandlogic.org/donation_form.html.
wobble, Mr. President
by Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, March
Common wisdom has it that until Hizbullah chief Hassan
Nasrallah launched Tuesday's pro-Syrian demonstration in Beirut, his
terror organization had been more or less on the fence regarding its
position on Syria's occupation of Lebanon. This view is belied, however,
by a speech Nasrallah broadcast on Hizbullah's Al-Manar television
on February 17.
In the speech, which was documented by the Israeli Intelligence and
Terrorism Information Center, Nasrallah warned against the pro-democracy,
anti-Syrian opposition. Nasrallah claimed that the opposition, like
UN Security Council Resolution 1559 calling for a withdrawal of foreign
forces from Lebanon and the disarming of Hizbullah, had been launched
as part of an Israeli-American political war against Hizbullah.
He argued that the political war was "more important and dangerous"
than a shooting war, because if it were successful the international
community would label Hizbullah as a terrorist organization. If this
were to happen, Nasrallah continued, it "would necessarily mean
a world war against the resistance [i.e., Hizbullah], which they will
call a war against international terrorism. [That will mean] the sources
of [our] funding will dry up and the sources of moral, political and
material support will be destroyed by exerting pressure on the countries
defending the resistance one way or another, and exerting pressure
on Lebanon, Iran and Syria, but mainly on Lebanon, to classify it
as a country supporting terrorism "
So, far from sitting on the fence, Hizbullah had perceived the danger
inherent in the pro-democracy movement in Lebanon, and had broadcast
its opposition to it, from the start. Tuesday's rally, where Nasrallah
led hundreds of thousands of Lebanese in chanting "Death to Israel"
and "Death to America" while applauding Syria for its domination
of their country, was the result of this perceived threat.
The mass demonstration told us a great deal about Hizbullah, as well
as about what must be done if Lebanon is to have a chance of ever
being free of foreign domination. Firstly, the demonstration should
put to rest the notion that Hizbullah is at heart a local Lebanese
political force. If Hizbullah were interested in simply dominating
Lebanese politics, then its best bet would have been to hop onto the
anti-Syrian bandwagon. Under no danger of being viewed as an American
or Israeli stooge, Hizbullah could have easily won the hearts and
minds of Lebanese. The fact that Hizbullah is willing to endanger
its local popularity in order to protect Lebanon's unpopular overlord
in Damascus shows that while it may have local political attributes
and aspirations, Hizbullah's position as a key member of the Iran-Syria
alliance is central to its identity. At least as presently constituted
under Nasrallah's charismatic leadership, Hizbullah has no chance
of being transformed into a local movement.
Secondly, the fact that Hizbullah was able to mass so many protesters
to rally in support of continuing Syria's tyranny is very much a consequence
of the fact that Hizbullah is the only political faction in Lebanon
that has its own army and controls its own territory. That Hizbullah
has unique means of persuasion which its political opponents lack
means that it will be impossible to have free or fair elections in
Lebanon for as long as Hizbullah remains armed.
Thirdly, if the calls for jihad in Beirut on Tuesday were jarring
to Western ears, they should at least have made clear one thing about
Lebanon's current status in the war on terror. Today, under Syrian
occupation, with Iranian Revolutionary Guard units operating openly
in the Bekaa Valley and along the border with Israel, and with Hizbullah
occupying the south, Lebanon is a firmly entrenched member of the
terror camp. It will be physically impossible to move Lebanon into
the antiterror camp for as long as Hizbullah remains armed and Syrian
and Iranian forces retain their presence in the country.
Finally, Hizbullah on Tuesday effectively put Bashar Assad into its
debt. In holding the rally, particularly given opposition reports
that Hizbullah ordered its members to show up with their families
and that Syria brought in hundreds of busloads of Syrians to participate
in the rally, Nasrallah stuck his neck out for Bashar, and Bashar
Until now, Syria acted as a brake on Hizbullah, preventing it from
attacking northern Israel or launching its arsenal of 14,000 rockets
and missiles at Israel. Today, Damascus will no doubt be much less
disposed to pushing its weight around with Nasrallah. The fact that
young Assad now owes Nasrallah, coupled with the fact that Syria,
Iran and Hizbullah are deeply enmeshed both together and separately
in fueling the Palestinian terror war against Israel, means that Israel
today faces a different situation on its northern border than it faced
a month ago.
Sadly, while Hizbullah's true colors were unfurled on Tuesday,
the initial reaction of both Lebanon and the international community
to this terror rally suggested that it is possible to prosper from
such actions. Thursday, Syrian-backed Lebanese President Emil Lahoud
reinstated Syrian-supported Prime Minister Omar Karameh to office
just a week and a half after the opposition forced him to resign.
And UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said Wednesday that the UN should
recognize Hizbullah. In his words, "Even Hizbullah [is] talking
about non-interference by outsiders... which is not entirely at odds
with the Security Council resolution, that there should be withdrawal
of Syrian troops."
For its part, after dropping a proposal to have Hizbullah placed on
the EU's list of terror organizations, the European Parliament on
Thursday slapped the organization with a wet noodle meekly
resolving that "if clear evidence exists of terrorist activities
by Hizbullah, the [European] Council should take all necessary steps
to curtail them."
Most disturbingly, Thursday's New York Times reported that the Bush
administration is about to follow both the UN and France's lead in
accepting Hizbullah as a legitimate political force in Lebanon. According
to the report, which sources in Washington claim was leaked by the
State Department, "the Bush administration is grudgingly going
along with efforts by France and the United Nations to steer the party
into the Lebanese political mainstream."
If this report is true, it would indicate that the White House is
allowing its Lebanon policy to be taken over by the UN, Europe and
the State Department in much the same fashion as its policy toward
the Palestinians was hijacked two years ago.
In June 2002, US President George W. Bush bucked conventional wisdom
and called for the Palestinian Authority to be transformed from a
terror-engendering, corrupt tyranny into a terror-combating, economically
transparent democracy. He stated that American support for Palestinian
statehood was conditioned on the Palestinians first reforming.
Less than six months later, however, Bush enabled his policy
to be turned on its head by the EU, the UN, the State Department,
Jordan and Egypt (with the full support of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
and then-foreign minister Shimon Peres), and mutated into the Quartet's
road map. Rather than making statehood contingent on reforms, under
the road map Palestinian statehood became the centerpiece of American
policy and Palestinian antiterror and democratic reform was held hostage
to Israeli concessions.
And so today, rather than force PA leader Mahmoud Abbas to destroy
terror groups, the road map regime legitimizes him as he demands that
Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah's Aksa Martyrs Brigades be accepted
as political parties and recruits them into his security services.
Rather than forcing the PA to open Palestinian society to market forces
that would enable an independent middle class to flourish and grow,
the road map regime has showered the PA with hundreds of millions
of dollars in international aid and has promised it over a billion
more as the corrupt Palestinian leadership is given international
legitimacy to retain and expand its control over all aspects of the
And rather than force the PA to stop using its militias to terrorize
and intimidate all democratic yet unarmed forces
into silence, the road map regime has ignored such voices in Palestinian
society and has said nothing as Mahmoud Abbas has signed the execution
orders of dozens of Palestinians accused of working with Israel against
As it has joined the accomodationist camp in its treatment of the
PA, the Bush administration has ignored the fact that Hizbullah, like
Syria and Iran, sees all areas transferred to the PA's security control
as bases of operation for the forces of global jihad. Rather than
accept that Israel's presence in Judea, Samaria and Gaza both
military and civilian is the only obstacle preventing these
areas from becoming terror bases, the Bush administration, under the
influence of the same voices calling for acceptance of Hizbullah in
Lebanon, has accepted as truth the red herring that Israeli communities
in Judea and Samaria are somehow antithetical to peace and security.
This week saw Pakistan admit that the father of its nuclear program,
A.Q. Khan, sold nuclear centrifuges to Iran. It saw thousands of Pakistani
women demonstrating against tribal rapes. It saw thousands of Kuwaiti
women demonstrating for the right to vote. And it saw Bush nominate
John Bolton, one of the strongest voices for moral clarity and firm
action against terrorists and their state sponsors in the world, as
US ambassador to the UN. All of these events are indicators of the
power of presidential resolve to change the world for the better while
successfully routing terrorists and the regimes that sponsor them.
Yet all of this will mean little if, when tested on the frontlines
of the battle between the forces of terror and the forces of democracy
in the PA and Lebanon, the Bush administration allows the European
obstructionists and their terror allies to take the lead.