I am writing in response to Ray Fleming's article in your paper of 2nd February, which because of the vagaries of the post, only reached me here in London yesterday, (24th Feb.). On a number of occasions Mr Fleming has made it quite clear to his readers that he is wildly pro-Arab and ludicrously anti-Israel, and even possibly anti-Jewish. He says that President Bush should not trust Ariel Sharon, the Isaeli Prime Minister. He then goes on to give a version of what took place in Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps, as a basis for this. (Which coincidentally, parallels the PLO version exactly). I know that prejudiced people do not like the harsh light of factual truths to be brought to bear on their jaundiced views. Well too bad Mr Fleming: you are going to get them any way.
After King Hussein of Jordan - who knew how to handle terrorists -- bombed and blasted Arafat and his rabble of followers out of Jordan, they fled to northern Lebanon. This section of Lebanon was almost entirely populated by people of the Coptic religion, which is an Eastern version of Christianity. Almost immediately after his arrival, Arafat embarked on a programme of ethnic cleansing with the object of turning this Christian area Muslim. Within a few months, his Black September movement had slaughtered all 1'500 Coptic-Christian priests in the most bestial fashion. They gouged out their eyes and hacked off their genitals and stuffed them into their mouths, and whilst still alive and in violent pain, they were then hung up on gibbets erected over the pulpits in their church to slowly die from loss of blood. Three thousand Carmelite nuns who also lived in the area were brutally mass raped before having their throats cut a la Daniel Pearl in Pakistan. Only three nuns managed to escape these horrors. They got to Israel, where they were hospitalised before being flown back to their homes in Germany. At least one has since died from post-traumatic shock.
As to the local residents, they were subjected to a reign of terror beyond imagination. The city of Tyre was to Lebanon what Andratx is to Majorca: a charming little town with beautiful houses overlooking the Mediterranean, and fine restaurants and shops. Members of the Black September and the newly formed PLO took it as their right to smash in the front doors of these houses, kill the occupants, which they would throw out onto the street, and take over the house for themselves. I was there when the Israeli Defence Force invaded Northern Lebanon, (because over 1'400 rockets had been indiscriminately fired from Lebanon into Israeli towns and villages). I saw the happiness with which the local Christian residents received the Jewish soldiers. I watched them as they joyfully and thankfully put garlands of flowers around the necks of the Israeli tank crews. And I saw the long tables of food laid out in the streets for the Israeli soldiers in gratitude for their bringing to an end the nightmare of Arafat and his bands of mad murderers.
Revenge is sweet: and the depth of hatred of the Coptic Lebanese towards Arafat and his torturers was so strong that General Sharon knew he might have to shoot some local residents (especially those whose loved ones had been slain by Arafat's men) in order to stop them from venting their anger upon those Palestinians left behind by Arafat as his PLO scuttled southwards. Such an act would have undoubtably affected the smooth running of Israel's supply lines, which by this time, stretched all the way to Beirut. That, Mr Fleming is why the massacre of Sabra and Chatilla took place. Remember: in order to become brutes you have to be brutalised. And Arafat did just that to what were hitherto, decent, hard-working, middle class Coptic Christians.
Arafat lauded and applauded the torture, slaughter and rape of this Christian population of northern Lebanon. But it was only the beginning. Suffice it to say that the USA has suffered six terrorist attacks over the past five years. Britain has endured about double that number largely due to the IRA. In the same period Israel has had to live with over 5'450 separate acts of terrorism, over 2'000 of which were perpetrated in the last year alone. As to what Mr Fleming sees as the USA's over-reaction to Arafat's attempt to smuggle a ship load of arms into Palestine, one is bound to ask: has he ever heard of the Oslo Accords?
Arafat was screaming land for peace, a rather disturbing echo of Hitler's Lebensraum cry. The USA and the West, in order to try and get some sort of peace, put immense pressure upon the Israelis to give up land for peace. But Israel pushed a very hard bargain in return for the cession of land. Among the conditions, (accords), which Arafat agreed and put his signature to were:
(a) All arms held by anyone other than his force, to be confiscated and destroyed. Arafat ignored this.
(b) His police force must not exceed 10'000 in number and the names and adddresses of everyone of them be given to the Israelis in order to ensure terrorists were not using the police force as a cover for obtaining arms. Arafat ignored this as if it never existed. He now has over 60'000 police, many of whom are terrorists.
(c) Hamas, the PFLP and all the other private armies must be disbanded and those terrorists named by Israel be arrested and imprisoned. Not only did Arafat not carry out this accord: the moment Israel had ceded the agreed parcels of land over to him, Arafat actually let out of prison sixty previously held killers. In short, to all intents and purposes he flouted almost all of the Accords he put his signature to.
On Iraq TV he said shortly after his arrival back from Oslo, and I paraphrase him, I will not rest until all Palestine is Arab, and Jerusalem -- all of Jerusalem is its eternal capital. With reference to the Accords he had just signed he said, We are going to take Palestine back, even if it has to be done a kilometre at a time. By so doing, he confirmed everything Israel was saying before and after Oslo. Namely, Arafat is an irredeemable terrorist and a pathological liar. The attempted smuggling of a shipload of arms in direct contradiction not only of the Oslo Accords, but against what he was assuring the USA and the West at the same time: that he wants to see the end of violence. This lie was the final nail in the coffin.
Israel does not want or need trouble with the Palestinians. It values the lives of its citizens dearly. It is also suffering financially from the lack of visitors. But before there can be peace talks the Arabs must stop this futile carnage. And they must sooner or later accept the fact that the land of Israel is literally the God-given right of the Jewish people. To deny it is to deny the written Word of the Lord. Jerusalem is mentioned over 500 times in the Hebrew Torah. It is not even mentioned in the Koran. Nor is there any mention in the Koran of Allah ever visiting Jerusalem, whose Jewish population has always outnumbered any other ethnic grouping, since the days of the Old Testament. Ray Fleming is a good columnist. But maybe it would be better for us all if he would keep his prejudices to himself and concentrate on less controversial matters.