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May 14, 2004 - Image 25

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-05-14

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Editorials are posted and archived
on JN Online:

Dry Bones

Standards Of Justice



he disclosure that American troops have
mistreated prisoners in Iraq has the Arab
world in a tizzy of denunciation. Arab lead-
ers, both secular and clerical, say they are appalled
by the photographs of naked Iraqi men piled atop
each other while the guards, uniformed men and
women, laugh and gesture contemptuously.
You can't help wondering where the Arab outrage
was when Saddam Hussein used the same Abu
Ghraib prison to torture and kill hundreds, perhaps
thousands, of people he considered enemies of his
regime. His atrocities were no secret; the families of
the victims spoke about.what was going on and
Hussein's indifference to slaughter — he gassed
10,000 of his own people — was well
known. Yet the Arab world didn't speak
out about human rights abuses until it
involved the American forces that had
come to release Iraqis from their tyrannical ruler.
Obviously, the photos and Red Cross reports from
Abu Ghraib show a callous disregard for the prison-
ers that should be totally unacceptable by our stan-
dards. It is very worrisome to think about what con-
ditions may prevail in Guantanamo Bay, where we
have been holding prisoners of war from -
Afghanistan for two years. The abuses in Iraq started
shortly after a senior commander from "Gitmo" was
transferred to Baghdad to try to improve the process
of getting information from prisoners about the
plans of insurgents. Defense Secretary Donald
Rumseld has suggested that even worse disclosures
are yet to come from Iraq.
The Pentagon and the senior field officers respon-
sible for letting the conditions persist at Abu Ghraib
deserve rebuke just as much as do the enlisted men
and women who actually inflicted the punishment
on the prisoners. In fact, the lower-level troops seem
to have been in some senses carrying out the orders

of higher-ups who wanted the pris-
oners "softened up" for interroga-
tion about the sources of the
increasingly violent uprising
against American invasion forces.
But when the court martial
begins in two weeks for the first
soldier charged in the prison scan-
dal, just as important as the verdict
is that it is a prompt and public
trial, something that almost never
happens in the Arab countries that
are screaming most loudly about
how America degrades and humili-
ates Arabs and Muslims.
Arab journalists will be
free to attend and report
on the court martial and,
presumably, on others that will fol-
low. That is not going to happen
in Cairo or Damascus or Riyadh or
the other countries that cling to
monarchic or autocratic govern-
ment in which popular wishes and
human rights are routinely
Two wrongs are simply two
wrongs. It - is tragic to see American
troops behaving as Saddam's thugs
did. It undermines our laudable -
push for a more democratic
Middle East, and we are going to
need to push vigorously far up the
military and civilian chain of corn-
mand to be sure that the world
knows we do not tolerate this conduct.
But it doesn't get the Arab world off the hook of
its own hypocrisy. We should not forget that, in that
world, those humiliated prisoners would not have

Perverting Reality

thousands of badly maimed Israelis whose lives
or his right-hand man, Mullah Omar. Did I
have been altered irreparably, and by the fami-
somehow miss that editorial? I don't see any
lies left bereft of loved ones due to the machi-
distinction between Arafat and Bin Laden —
nations of the terrorist you seek to protect
except perhaps that the latter is an "equal
from assassination on the grounds of "justice
opportunity" terrorist who kills enemies of
and morality."
Islam indiscriminately, while Arafat's sole aim
I was also stunned by your argument that
is the shedding of Jewish blood. I can only
"killing Arafat would be as disastrous in inter-
conclude that according to your way of think-
national relations as it would be for America
ing, the moral high-ground argument is
to kill Saddam Hussein." How can you possi-
reserved for those who specialize in the killing
bly compare the two of them? Hussein is sit-
of Jews. Or is it that Jewish blood is cheap.
Com munity
ting in chains in solitary confinement,
You go on to say that "ultimately, a cold-
Persp ective
stripped of all power and control, whereas
blooded slaying [of Arafat] would be immoral,
Arafat is plotting daily with his gang of murderers,
contravening what Israel should stand for as a model
unimpeded from doing what he does better than any-
to the rest of the world." You must be kidding! What
one since Stalin and Hitler: killing innocent Jewish
you are suggesting is a paradigm that has only brought
men, women and children. While you concern your-
scorn and mockery from the rest of the world. Think
self with high-minded ideals such as "ultimate justice,"
of it: a mighty nation with the most advanced arsenal
Arafat is dispatching his human killing machines to
of weapons sits helplessly, seemingly powerless to "take
seek out tomorrow's unfortunate victims.
out" a sworn enemy who is cornered because it is
I haven't seen the INtake a stance that it would be
LEAF on page 26
immoral for America to assassinate Osama Bin Laden




our editorial "Keep The Martyr Waiting"
(April 30, page 27) was predicated on twisted
and misguided thinking. •
Do you really believe, as emphasized in the editorial,
that killing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat "would be
wrong as a matter of justice and morality"? Stop ser-
monizing about morality when Jews are being slaugh-
tered in the streets by the operatives of this monster.
Just yesterday, we heard the horrible news of yet
another savage attack directed by the godfather of
modern terrorism. A pregnant Jewish mother and her
four daughters were executed gangland-style by Arafat's
minions. Here are the details: Once the car spun out of
control and stopped, the murders walked over to the
helpless woman and children and sprayed them with
machine gun fire. I wonder how your editorial would
be received by the grieving husband and father, by the

Avraham Leaf of Oak Park lived in Israel for nine
years and served in the Israel Defense Forces.




1% .

• •


been stripped and laughed at; they would haVe been
brutally tortured and callously killed. And the
prison guards would have gotten medals and pay
raises, not a court martial and a huge public cry for
reform. O





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