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October 04, 1974 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1974-10-04

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Purely Commentary

Israel Not Alone as Menaced Nation in Middle
East . . . Jordan Endangered . . . Lebanon Status
Always Precarious Amidst Two-Nation Struggle

By Philip


Threat to Israel a Menace to Moderate Arabs and the Civilized World

Israel, her kinsmen throughout the world
and the compassionate friends who are con-
cerned with her security, are due for many
agonizing experiences anticipated in the
hatreds that are usually expressed in the
debates at the General Assembly of the
United Nations.
Even more agonizing are the emerging
threats to Israel and to the peace of the
Middle East from the threatening evolve-
ment of another menacing force: the recog-
nition that is being given to the ill-named
Palestinian Liberation Organization, whose
avowed threat is the destruction of Israel.
The term "destruction" now is fre-
quently avoided, but it is implied never-
theless. Those who are portrayed as "mod-
erates" do not use that term: they speak
of rulership of liberated areas by their fol-
lowers. In all instances, however, the in-
tention is clear: domination over the entire
area under consideration; especially when
the assertion is deliberate, namely: that
only Jews who lived in pre-Israel Palestine
before 1917 should be permitted to remain
in the land.
Nothing could possibly suggest a more
genocidal approach to the status of an
established state whose rebirth was under
the aegis of the United Nations, whose UN
membership predates more than 80 other
present members of the international or-
ganization, whose historic role is ineras-
able from the prophetic symbolism, de-
noted in a fulfillment of an undeniable
historic continuity.
Contrary to the hopes that were inspired
for peace for mankind through interna-
tional adherence to declarations of human
rights, Israel's dependence on the United
Nations, whence, security was expected, is
futile. If Israel were to depend upon the
UN, she could well sign her own death
warrant. Except for fairly consistent de-
fensive declarations by representatives of
the United States, with occasional support
from some Latin American countries, the
Big Powers, the blocs. of nations from
African, Asian and Communist countries,
are brandishing weapons of destruction at
At stake is Israel's right to live; the
Israeli weapon is the will to live; the inter-
national aspect is the fate of an entire
people, who seem to - stand alone in the face
of impending calamities.
In truth, as the dangers are mounting,
as the threats are escalating, an ancient
accusation emerges from Israel and her
friends that a new anti-Semitic brutality is
being hatched: Christianity and I s 1-a m
ganging up in search for Israel's destruc-
In reality, all Israel asks is the right to
survive. If mankind is uncooperative, it
subscribes to the policy of destruction; and
that policy can be defined by a single
word: genocide!
William V. Shannon, in an important
essay in the New York Times on the subject
"World-Interest or Self-Interest?", did not
directly deal with Israel's right to live. But
its implication was specific ‘vh ..ni he stated:
If we agree that North America,
Western Europe and Japan form the
heart of America's interests in the world
and if, for reasons of space. we leave
aside the complex question of America's
relations with the so-called Third World,
we still have to take into account anoma-
lous situations, specifically the city of
West Berlin and the state of Israel.
By any normal ways of reckoning na-
tional interest — strategic location, prof-
itable trade, intrinsic power — neither
Berlin nor Israel qualifies as one of
America's vital national interests. On the
contrary, it makes no geopolitical sense
for the United States to mortgage its
power and prestige to half a city isolated
in hostile territory. Similarly, if Israel
did not exist, our relations with the Arab
countries would presumably go much
more smoothly.
But nations, any more than individ-
uals, cannot make all their decisions on
cooly calculated appraisals of self-inter-
est. Americans, like all Western people,
feel some degree of guilt because we

2—Friday, October 4, 1974

did not stop Hitler in time to prevent the
Holocaust that destroyed most of Europe's
Jews. When World War II ended, this
country did not open its doors quickly
or widely to the surviving Jews and there-
by provide an alternative to the Zionist
answer. From a religious viewpoint,
many Americans are concerned because
no believing Christian could be indifferent
to the fate of God's Old Testament people.
History, too, imposes responsibilities.
Neither Israel nor West Berlin could
have survived this long without Ameri-
can military and economic aid. Each suc-
ceeding President since Harry Truman
in 1948 has strongly reaffirmed America's
Are these two vulnerable positions
vital interests in the sense that the U.S.
would fight for them? One can answer
that with another question. Would the
Russians have fought if we had tried to
help the Hungarians or the Czechs during
their unsuccessful struggles for freedom.
The U.S. did not know the answer but
decided not to take the risk of finding
out. As long as the United States remains
strong, the Russians are likely to be
equally prudent.
In thinking about America's sense of
obligation to West Berlin and Israel, these
two poignant, perpetually endangered or-
phans from the storm of World War II,
one is reminded of Robert Frost's poem
in. which the husband and wife gently
argue whether they have a duty to help
their former hired man.
He says, "Home is the place where,
when you have to go there, they have to
take you in."
His wife replies, "I should have called
it something you somehow haven't to
If the people of West Berlin or Israel
cry out to us, we cannot pretend to be
Briefly summarized, the Shannon senti-
ment is clear: it reaffirms a people's, like
an individual's right to live.

Facing the issue realistically, it is nec-
essary to admit that the problem is not
Israel's alone. The hundreds of billions of
dollars in oil revenue which makes the
Arabs the most formidable force in the
world has transformed the agonies involv-
ing the Middle East into a_ globalissue.
Suddenly, the Arab world seeks arms.
While their oil reserves dominate the uni-
verse, they also seek weapons of war. Here
are a few figures to contend with:
Little Kuwait has increased arms pur-
chases three-hundred fold; Jordan has ,
quadrupled requests for military hardware;
Saudi Arabia has increased orders for arm-
aments from $60,000,000 to $587,000,000.
How long can this continue? And if this
goes on why is Israel begrudged the mere
right to have sufficient weapons for self-
In the long run, if Israel's existence is to
he endangered the role of some Moslem
states will be at stake. Lebanon is an ex-
ample. Her population is divided between
the Islamic and the Maronite Catholics.
Each claims a majority, yet it is often
conceded that the non-Christians predom-
inate. The Maronites, under the leadership
of the president of Lebanon, Suleiman
Fran,jieh, would end the terrorism of the
so-called refugee Palestinians who have
caused havoc in that land and have com-
pelled Israeli invasions in efforts to end
the threats to Israel from the terrorists.
But the dangers to the Maronite Catholics
are never-ending and a threat to Israel
could also mean damage to the Christians
in Lebanon.
An important analysis of the existing
Lebanese conditions by Jonathan C. Randal
in the Washington Post, under the title
"Lebanon: Rot, Impending Disaster," pre-
sents these challenging facts:
And while Lebanese newspapers roast
the government for its jobbery, unending
scandals and inability to deal with the
country's more obvious problems, some
cynics suggest that its very refusal to
come to grips with reality may yet prove
Lebanon':, salvation.


"Every one of the groups in the Leb-
anese human mosaic are represented in
the government," a diplomat observed,
"even if they are obviously second string-
ers because the real zaims, or local war-
lords, refuse to sit in the same cabinet
with each other."
"At least there's a forum and no group
can accuse any other of not having their
hand either in the till or at the tiller,"
he added.
Such governmental paralysis is all the
more surprising under the reign of Presi-
dent Suleiman Franjieh, a tough Maronite
Catholic mountaineer from northern Leb-
anon who was elected in 1970 for a six-
year term on a no-nonsense law-and-order
But Franjieh, sometimes described as
the Lebanese godfather for his role in
overseeing the assassination of several
rivals in a church in his fief of Zegharta,
has been forced to adopt a soft line de-
spite his personal inclinations. For if the
Palestinians are now so weak in Leb-
anon that they realize that Lebanese
stability is necessary for their own sur-
vival, Franjieh seems to have understood
— however reluctantly — that he cannot
afford a major showdown either.
Inclining Franjieh to such moderation
has been the emerging demands of the
two big Moslem groups in Lebanon —
the Sunnis and Shiites — who long have
been dominated culturally, economically
and politically by the better educated and
more Westernized Christian minority.
Both Moslem groups are challenging
the essential order laid down in the 1920s
by the French, who ran the country be-
tween the two world wars under a League
of Nations mandate. Unchanged has been
the hierarchy under which the powerful
presidency goes to a Maronite Catholic,
the premiership to a Sunni and the Shiites
make do with speaker of parliament.
Hanging on to an eroding power base,
mindful that their relative edge would
be swallowed up in the surrounding Mos-
lem sea without Lebanon's borders, the
Christians are showing increasing signs
of schizophrenia.
Their hostility to the Palestinians has
led many Christian leaders into arrogant
self-confidence. At times they worry,
especially since the Cyprus crisis. There
they see Turkey, a Moslem power, invad-
ing the island and the rest of the world
sitting back and doing nothing for the
Christian majority — the Greek Cypriots.
The Christian Lebanese are all too
aware that they are a minority in their
own country. Yet there is an unreasoning
belief that, as always in the past, a
Western protector will appear to save
them in the nick of time. Such was the
French role in the 19th Century. And the
United States intervened with the Ma-
rines in 1958, so why not again? Perhaps
only in Lebanon do people believe post-
Vietnam Washington would seriously con-
sider such a possibility.
In the face of eroding, but still feisty,
Christian leadership, "Moslem power"
has on occasions sought — unsuccessfully
so far — to enlist the Palestinians to
their cause. Although the Palestinians do
not want to water down their revolution-
ary zeal by indulging in Lebanese politics,
the very thought has done little to allay
Christian fears.
But the latest Moslem cry is for "par-
ticipation." For the Sunnis that means a
bigger share of political power. For the
Shia sect the demands are for a bigger
economic stake for the country's tradi-
tional hewers of wood and drawers of
water who suddenly have realized they
have become the biggest single Lebanese
community and who want satisfaction
Under the intelligent and effective
leadership of their religious chief, Imam
Moussa Sadre, the Shia community, per-
haps unconsciously, is asking the real
questions which the Palestinian presence
has masked for so long.
If the Shia community goes through
with announced plans to stage a march
on Beirut by some 200,000 to 300,000

of its members next month, even the
most ill-informed citizen is going to get
the message.
And the message is meaningful
equality. Of the top civil servants, only
14 of 85 are Shiites and of the next
highest category only 28 of 331, scarcely
an even shake for a community repre-
senting at least a quarter of the total'
Forced' by the vicissitudes of history
into the poor, mountainous regions of
the south, east and north, the Shia are
demanding the government carry out
development projects such as irrigation,
which have been promised for years but
never carried out.
Many thoughtful Lebanese won
the Palestinian presence may not
both an accelerating effect on potential
upheaval and a decelerating effect be-
cause the Palestinians have become Topic
A to the exclusion of the country's indi-
genous problems.
"Our real problems may start when
the Palestinians end up having a home-
land," one Lebanese politician said,
"when we have to face up to the lack of
institutions and infrastructure and the
truly revolutionary dangers that repre-
The situation is grave for the world, for
all who are dependent on Arab oil supplies;
it is sad for the rational among the Mos-
lems; it threatens tragedy for Israel. Inter-
national determination to prevent dangers
for Israel could well obviate menacing situ-
ations for the rest of the world. Will the
democratic forces act in unison to assure
decency for mankind by asserting adher-
ence to the principle of a nation's—Israel's
right to live?
No such rationalism is presently expect-
ed from the United Nations. Will there be
another civilized force to solve the menacing
Typically exemplary of threats to the
existence of Arab states from the terror-
ists who label themselves Palestinian Lib-
eration Organization is the status of Jordan.
Apparently there are pressures on An-
war el Sadat to force his recognition of the
PLO. This has already been attained at the
United Nations. But such recognition could
spell the undermining of King Hussein's
rulership in Jordan. It is no wonder that
Hussein repels such domination.
Palestinians are Jordanians, and in ac-
cordance with the UN Partition Resolution
of 1947 Jordanians are Palestinians. Two
states were set up by the UN—Israel and
the portion that was then absorbed by Jor-
dan. That made the Palestinians Jorda-
This apparently is both unconvincing
and, unacceptable to the terrorists who seek
Hussein's destruction as well as Israel's.
Recognition of the terrorists represents the
chief obstacle to peace in the entire area.

The entire discussion of the current state
of affairs in that embattled area is mean-
ingless without consideration of the Krem-
lin's role. Soviet Russia keeps disrupting
the peace, continually arming the Arabs, en-
couraging the terrorists, enflaming the Afro-
Asian blocs at the UN. The USSR he
chief troublemaker in that area.
The entire world is endangered by the
energy crisis created by Arab pressures
and obstinacies. The West might well me
to terms with the oil-rich magnate, ut
Russia stands in the way. Any unified ef-
fort to counteract the Arab domination in
the energy supplies so vitally needed for
mankind's existence could well be disrupt-
ed by Russian intercession and Kremlin
demands that the Arabs keep strangulating
helpless nations.
Andrei Gromyko's speech at the UN last
week offered some relief. Time will tell
whether it was a mark of justice or another
time-gambling device against Israel.
That's where our trouble comes from
chiefly: from the USSR. And the demo-
cratic nations have bent their knees to the
oppressors. That is why Israel's miseries
remain almost shadow-veSted' and gnaiing.


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