Editor-in-chief of The New Republic (www.tnr . com) Martin Peretz writes on June 30 about the animus for Israel on the part of Christian churches:
"The Episcopal Church in the United States has long been threatening to disinvest from U.S. companies that 'support the occupation of Palestinian lands'- such as Caterpillar, whose tractors are used by settlers in the West Bank. (To be sure, it would disinvest from companies that promote violence against innocent Israelis. But which U.S. corporation makes suicide bombs?)
"The Episcopalians are not the first of the Protestant churches to go down the disinvestment route against Israel. The Presbyterians have that distinction. But last week, in England, the Anglican Consultative Council, including the present Archbishop of Canterbury, voted unanimously to do the same.
"The Anglicans have an analysis backing up their position: 'It is the Israeli occupation in its many facets that foments the violence and fuels the conflict.'
"This ignores so many facts that it boggles the mind. Neither the Arabs of Palestine nor the established Arab states were willing to accept an Israel within very crimped borders; the occupation began in 1967 after the Arabs provoked - but lost - a war to eradicate precisely such a precarious Israel; and the Palestinians rejected out of hand the near-total withdrawals that Israel offered at Camp David in 2000 and Taba in 2001.
"These peace-mongering Anglican bishops are playing the role of 'useful idiots,' this time for Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other irredentist and murderous factions of the Palestinian polity that will be remembered for adventures like sending a troubled young woman to blow herself up at a hospital in Beersheva, where she had been treated conscientiously and competently for her maladies.
"The Anglican luminaries are either ignorant or mendacious. A church spokesman, James Rosenthal, stated that the resolution expressed the Anglican concern for the situation of Palestinian Christians living in the territories. Now, it is true that Christians are in deep despair in emerging Palestine - but not because they are endangered by Israel. They are tormented and threatened by Muslim extremists inside and outside the Palestinian Authority.
"Which takes us back to the church deleriants for Palestine. What kindles the fire in their hearts for Palestine?
"The clerics and the lay leaders on this indefensible crusade are so fixated on Palestine because their obsession, which can be buttressed by various Christian sources and traditions, is really with the Jews. A close look at this morbid passion makes one realize that its roots include an ancient hostility for the House of Israel, an ugly survival of a hoary intolerance into some of the allegedly enlightened precincts of modern Christendom."
Lebanon's Under the Gun, So Get Rid of the Trigger-Happy
Scholar Arnold Beichman writes in the Washington Times (www.washingtontimes.com ) on June 27 about which dictator America should depose next:
"The Middle East is rid of one tyrant, Saddam Hussein. Now it is time to get rid of another Middle East despot, Bashar Assad, president of Syria since June 2000.
"What are we waiting for? His assassins kill his Beirut opponents in adjoining Lebanon with impunity, and his guerrillas kill Americans in adjoining Iraq with similar impunity.
"Bashar Assad, 40, is as much an enemy of freedom as the suicide bombers he sends into Baghdad. He is conducting a two-front war against democratic Lebanon and against Iraq whose citizens have begun democratizing.
"Assad must not be allowed to halt that process. What are we waiting for? Mr. Bush knows Syria has a hit list of Lebanese officials. Peace in the Middle East means putting Mr. Assad on our hit list, notifying him that the Lebanese people are mad as hell and won't take it anymore.
"It's wonderful that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pushes for democracy in Egypt. Even more to the point, she has made it clear that an hour's drive away, an existing democracy, Lebanon, is threatened by a Syrian aggressor who is helping kill American soldiers in Iraq. What are we waiting for? How long is this supposed to go on?
"Said Miss Rice in her June 20 speech at the American University in Cairo: 'For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East - and we achieved neither. Now we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people.' "
"President Bush has made it clear he wants a world of democracies in order to ensure world peace. Lebanon is under the gun - a Syrian gun. With Bashar Assad as a neighbor, Lebanese democracy will always be threatened."
Get Ready for a Rough Ride; Iran's Got a New Driver
Columnist and author Richard Z. Chesnoff writes in the New York Daily News (www.nydailynews . com) June 29 of concern over Iran's new president:
"Hold on, it may be a rough ride.
"While there had been a lot of wishful thinking about change in Iran, under new President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the country will be what it has been since Ayatollah Khomeini took over a vicious theocratic dictatorship.
"It is a nation that threatens world peace with its unwavering support of terrorism and its refusal to bend in its race to attain nuclear weapons.
"The Iranians may deny that that's what they have in mind. But experts say that if the Soviet-built nuclear reactor at Bushehr and other locations continue unhindered, the ayatollahs could have their own atomic bomb within less than a year.
"With the election of Ahmadinejad, things have gone from bad to worse.
"Outgoing President Mohammad Khatami was a phony reformer. 'So-called' experts assured us his successor would be 'pragmatist' Hashemi Rafsanjani. He might not open Iran to democracy or allow women to go without head scarves, but limited reform and improved U.S. ties were possible, as they told it.
"Yet some 60 percent of the population proved that our Iran mavens don't really have their fingers on the Iranian pulse. The people chose the darling of the hard-core unelected religious leaders who remain the true heart and soul of power. A former mayor of Tehran, Ahmadinejad got his start in 1979 helping hold American diplomats hostage for more than a year in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. (Remember that one?)
"The Europeans have been engaged in talks with the Iranians aimed at controlling their nuclear ambitions, but Ahmadinejad gives no indication that he's enthusiastic about that and certainly doesn't seem to be interested in improving ties with the United States.
"Whatever the experts say, one thing is certain: The road ahead is a minefield."