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November 02, 1990 - Image 38

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-11-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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38

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 1990

Still The One

Continued from preceding page

of the West Bank and Gaza
Strip to be an affront; it may
find Israel's handling of the
Palestinian issue to be un-
conscionable; it may find
Israel's refusal to relinquish
territory outrageous.
Yet while Israel's record is
by no means unblemished, it
is as a paragon when set
alongside that of Saudi
Arabia, which is spoken of in
almost reverential terms as
the very model of Arab
moderation and in whose
cause President Bush is now
preparing to risk thousands
of American lives.
It is a matter of record that
there has been a marked de-
terioration in Saudi human
rights abuses over the past
10 years when measured in
the numbers of floggings,
amputations and executions
by the sword or by stoning.
It is a matter of fact that
all political parties and
trade unions are banned in
Saudi Arabia, which has no
penal code and no constitu-
tion.
While President Bush is
leading the chorus of con-
demnation of Israel in the
Security Council, he is also
leading the defense of a
kingdom which is ruled by
royal decree and where
legislation is based on the
Sharia (Islamic law).
In practice, this means
that the death penalty,
which was widened in the
1980s, is mandatory for
"crimes" of apostasy, con-
spiracy, robbery with
violence, sabotage, adultery
and corruption.
With the exception of sex-
ual crimes, when guilty par-
ties are stoned to death, ex-
ecutions are carried out by
the sword, usually in a
public square on Fridays.
Last year, 65 executions
were reported, almost three
times more than in the
previous year.
No one is told why he is ar-
rested and it may be weeks
before families are informed
of arrests. Many are held
without charge or trial for
years and there is no appeal
against unlawful arrest or
redress for torture, which is
a common feature of Saudi
jails.
Last weekend, the United
States commander of forces
in the Gulf, General Norman
Schwarzkopf, spelled out the
consequences of defending
Saudi independence: a war
which, he said, could be
every bit as bloody as Viet-
nam.
"We have developed more
sophisticated ways to
destroy things," he said. "It
will certainly be a more
lethal battlefield. But to the

fundamental soldier on the
ground, it is going to be a
question of life and death."
It could, he added, "last a
long time and kill an awful
lot of people."
No one denies America the
right to protect its vital in-
terests, but offering Israel as
a sacrifice on the altar of
Arab appeasement is a cruel
and, ultimately, self-
defeating policy.
The fact is that in many
Arab eyes, the United States
is irredeemably decadent
and corrupt, the physical
embodiment of evil. And by
appearing to abandon its
friends, the perception of
duplicity will only be
strengthened.
If America appears to be
turning its back on its Jew-
ish ally with whom its has so
much in common, the Arabs
may indeed have cause to
doubt the durability of
America's commitment to
defending their interests,
too.
Even without the benefit
of a crystal ball, it is possible

While Israel's
record is by no
means
unblemished, it is
as a paragon when
set alongside that of
Saudi Arabia.

to predict that Israel will not
only be dragged into the
Gulf conflict, probably at an
early stage, but that it may
yet emerge from the crisis as
America's closest, perhaps
sole, ally in the region.

The aftermath of the con-
flict could produce profound-
ly far- reaching effects for
the Arab world which will be
beyond the ability of the
United States to contain.

The conflict may catalyze
both religious fundamen-
talism and political
radicalism, bring passions to
the boil and sweep away
many of the existing Arab
regimes — even the most
apparently durable of those
regimes — which aligned
themselves with the
U.S.-led, anti-Iraq military
coalition.

The consequence of all this
could be to once again focus
Islamic hostility on the old
common enemy — America,
the Great Satan — which
appears destined to main-
tain a military presence in
the Gulf as long as the West

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