The Two Faces of Saudi Arabia
by Editorial Board
In a bizarre op-ed essay in The Washington Post, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia's longtime ambassador to the United States, asserted, "While Islamic countries should continue to focus on fighting international terrorism, confronting Israeli violence against Palestinians should be a priority." Given its history as a major bankroller of terrorism, Saudi Arabia would have other priorities if it were really interested in "fighting international terrorism."
Reading through Prince Bandar's essay, we would never know, for example, that he represents the nation called home by 15 of the 19 terrorists responsible for massacring thousands of Americans and hundreds of foreign nationals on September 11. Nor would we know from the prince's essay that Saudi Arabia is the home of Wahhabism, the fanatical brand of violence-obsessed Islam that the Saudi royal family not only embraces on the Arabian peninsula but exports throughout the world as well. Nor would we know from the prince's essay that for years Saudi petrodollars have financed thousands of madrassahs, the "schools" that have radicalized Islamic students by relentlessly preaching "jihad" - holy war - against Christian and Jewish "infidels." Saudi money has spread the hateful message of Wahhabism throughout Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. In fact, the vitriol that pollutes the Saudi landscape has even found its way to Saudi-sponsored Islamic schools in Virginia.
Nor would we know from the prince's essay that adherents of Wahhabism have been responsible for most of the major terrorist assaults against the West in recent years. As Stephen Schwartz, who is writing a book about Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia, observed in an article in the Spectator of London: "Bin Laden is a Wahhabi. So are the suicide bombers in Israel. So are [bin Laden's] Egyptian allies, who exulted as they stabbed foreign tourists to death at Luxor. . . . So are the Algerian terrorists." And so are the Taliban-styled guerrillas in Kashmir who attacked the Indian parliament last year.
The prince takes the notion of moral equivalence to its outrageous extreme. Nowhere in the essay did the Saudi ambassador even once mention the proliferation of Palestinian suicide bombers. He characterizes Israel's major - though much belated - military response to unremitting terrorist attacks upon its civilian population by Palestinian suicide bombers as "a terrorist Israeli operation" and "terrorist Israeli aggression." Ignoring altogether the recent Passover massacre in which a suicide bomber murdered nearly 30 Israeli civilians - the hideous act that led to Israel's military assault - Prince Bandar, whose corrupt royal family rewards the families of suicide bombers, audaciously asks, "So what is the real [Palestinian] crime?"
Prince Bandar argues that "Palestinians are the victims of the Israeli occupation" of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. He conveniently neglects the fact that Jordan occupied the West Bank and Egypt occupied Gaza for nearly two decades after the Arabs failed to drive Israel into the sea during the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948. He also fails to mention that Israel occupied these territories only after it emerged victorious from its second war for national survival in 1967, which Arab military forces, including Saudi Arabia's, precipitated. Nor did Prince Bandar mention the deplorable role the Saudi regime played in torpedoing the land-for- peace offer Israel made at Camp David in 2000. Yasser Arafat responded not with a counter-proposal but with the deadly intifada, which 57 Muslim nations attending the recent Organization of the Islamic Conference officially consecrated as "blessed."
No more lectures on terrorism, please, from the representative of the corrupt Saudi royal family or from other morally bankrupt Arab dictatorships, whose foreign ministers, meeting in Cairo last week, responded to President Bush's plea to "stop inciting violence by glorifying terror" with a statement that "welcomed . . . continuation of the resistance."
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