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Giuliani Plays the Islamic Terror Card

by FRANKLIN LAMB

Beirut.

Maybe Rudy Giuliani could be forgiven for trying out various stump speeches on his Republican audiences now that his campaign for President is up and running. But the message he is delivering as he tours New Hampshire needs to be rejected, indeed repudiated, because as Barak Obama noted Giuliani’s stump speech reached a new low in American political discourse. Reports just in from New Hampshire (4.24.07) suggest that Giuliani thinks the issue he has been pushing may be pure electoral gold: the fear which he believes American voters have of Islamic Terrorism.

The former New York City mayor, currently leading in all national polls for the Republican nomination for president, told his audience at the annual Rockingham County Lincoln Day Dinner in Manchester last night that America will be subject to a new 9/11 attack if the Democrats take over the White House. Rudy added that if a Republican is elected, especially if it is him, terrorist attacks can be anticipated and stopped.

“They (Democrats) will wave the white flag on Iraq. We will cut back on the Patriot Act, electronic surveillance, interrogation and we will be back to our pre-Sept. 11 attitude of defense rather than offense” he asserted with a straight face. Having got the attention of his audience with that raw meat, Rudy went to work carefully honing and testing his crisp new sure fire stump speech.

Giuliani attacked Arabs and Muslims in a manner that might even have given Alan Dershowitz pause. As we watch Rudy run, and if the Manchester speech is a harbinger, we will likely observe Giuliani exploit this tactic all the way to the Republican nomination, and if his advisors are correct, to the White House.

Nervous about losing Israel lobby cash, given his inclination to take the Bush administration assault on civil liberties even further than attorney generals Ashcroft and Gonzales have done, Giuliani is touring the Granite State vilifying Hezbollah, Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims and Islam itself.

Claiming that “The Democrats do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us.”, Rudy told his two audiences (the one in front of him, and much more importantly, the one at the AIPAC HQ in Washington, the latter supplying Rudy and virtually all the Presidential candidate with reams of position papers on Hezbollah, Iran, Hamas, terrorism etc. and busy raising what they claim will be the most money every distributed in the history of the United States by the Israel lobby for a Presidential election) that,

“This war of terror ends when they stop coming here to kill us! Never, ever again (it would have appeared too obsequious even for Rudy if he used the Holocaust era phrase, Never Again!–hence the clever modification) will this country ever be on defense waiting for [terrorists] to attack us if I have anything to say about it

“Giuliani said terrorists (read Arabs and Muslims generally) “hate us and not because of anything bad we have done; it has nothing to do with Israel and Palestine. They hate us for the freedoms we have and the freedoms we want to share with the world.”

Friendly Campaign Volunteer fact check:

Well, does Rudy mean with the above statement that there are no hard feelings from the nearly 680,000 deaths the Bush administration has needlessly caused with its war in Iraq Afghanistan and supporting Israel’s fifth aggression against Lebanon? Does the candidate expect American voters not to be concerned about the projected two trillion dollars of US taxpayer money wasted? Money that every one of our 435 Congressional Districts needs for education, medical care, repairs to our deteriorating infrastructure and myriad other urgent needs.

The fact that the US has become a pariah nation, ridiculed across the world not just in the Middle East and never held is lower esteem in its entire history, has everything Rudy, not nothing, to do with Israel and Palestine, and the US funded occupation now entering its 40th year!

Rudy, they (read Muslims and Arabs. and the rest of the World) don’t hate us as you are telling the good voters of New Hampshire “for the freedoms we have and the freedoms we want to share with the World”. Actually they don’t hate us at all. Americans, amazingly perhaps, given our governments record in this region, are still warmly received. Civility is general in Lebanon despite the fact that 83% of the weapons Israel used to turn much of this beautiful country into rubble are US supplied. Weapons that killed more than 1,300, of Lebanon’s citizens and injured more than 4,000, while littering the South with American cluster bombs, which continue to kill and maim. Americans living in the Middle East realize that the regions hospitality is a wonderful commentary on Arab and Islamic culture. Values shared by most Americans.
Delivering our values and freedoms

No Rudy, it is how we are delivering ‘our freedoms” to the Middle East that may be a problem. Our Mk-84 2,000-lb bombs, our F-16s’ and our facilitation of Israel’s 33-day carpet bombing of many of the 801 villages of South Lebanon this past summer. Rudy, it was the delivery of US supplied M-26 MLRS cluster bombs which Israel fired in volleys of 12, each one holding 644 M-77 high explosive bomblets for a total of 7,728 cluster bombs per volley, delivered to the people of Lebanon, up to 35 miles into Lebanon, in less than a minute after firing.

As Bush and Rice appeared to encourage the continuing destruction of Lebanon while claiming to seek a sustainable ceasefire, the delay allowed delivery of nearly 4.8 million cluster bombs to the people of Lebanon. Approximately 200,000 remain, hidden in brush and under debris to kill and maim for years to come. Rudy it’s the way we deliver and want “to share” our freedoms with the Middle East that sometimes is not understood or sufficiently appreciated.

Rudy, you failed to tell the good voters of New Hampshire, that the people of the Middle East in general respect American freedoms and the fundamental principles on which our country was founded. Many countries in the Middle East are achieving a number of them and they havea culture and values which we need to learn about and benefit from. It is the recent self-desecration of American ideals that is a serious problem, first and foremost, for American voters.

Seeking their votes Giuliani told his audience, “The freedoms we have are in conflict with the perverted, maniacal interpretation of their religion.” Addressing the ‘terrorists’ (read the Muslim/Arab world) directly, Giuliani added: “We are not giving that up, and you (read the Muslin/Arab world) are not going to take it from us!” The crowd reportedly thundered its approval.

Giuliani also charged that America had been naive about terrorism in the past and had missed obvious signals. “They were at war with us before we realized it, going back to ’90s with all the Americans killed by the PLO and Hezbollah and Hamas,” he said. “They came here and killed us in 1993 [with the first attack on New York’s World Trade Center, in which six people died], and we didn’t get it. We didn’t get it that this was a war. Then Sept. 11, 2001, happened, and we got it.” The crowd cheered wildly.

Giuliani was not about to reveal to his audience that none of these groups had anything to do with 9/11. Or that right after the attack one of the first to condemn it in very strong language was Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hasan Nassrallah, an adversary of Osama bin Laden who claims Shia Hezbollah are not even Muslims. Does Rudy know that the leadership of Hezbollah also strongly condemned the 1997 attack at the Temple of Hatshepsut at Luxor, Egypt which killed 58 civilians as “bloody and terrible, calling them crimes against Islam. Hezbollah also condemned the Cairo attacks on the Greek tourists, and the Algerian killing of 7 Trappist monks in Algeria by claimed Islamists

In a discussion with journalist David Ignatius in February 2006, Nassrallah categorically set his group apart from al-Qaeda and its action that he considers is fanning Sunni-Shiite tensions in Iraq and increasingly in Lebanon. “I believe the most dangerous thing we confront is the so-called Zarqawi phenomenon,” he said. “This is a creed of killing without any responsibility — to kill women, children, to attack mosques, churches, schools, restaurants.”

Does Rudy know that Shia Hezbollah is the enemy of Sunni al Qaeda.? Interestingly the antipathy is not based on religion, but rather on al Qaeda terrorism which Hezbollah rejects. The fact is that the Iraq war debacle has led to a “surge” (that Bush/ McCain word again!) of al Qaeda fighters here in Lebanon. They are threats to Hezbollah as well as to the American University of Beirut and the American Embassy. Al Qaeds’s numbers and influence are growing and, based on interviews by Americans with some al Qaeda leaders, they have major plans here. If al Qaeda to be contained it will likely be Hezbollah who does it. We Americans should engage with Hezbollah not defame it.

As a former prosecutor, where is Rudi’s evidence to support his New Hampshire campaign claim that “going back to the 90’s there were all those Americans killed by the PLO and Hezbollah and Hamas”?

Can he name even one? If Rudy had to support that ridiculous assertion in his favorite NY Courtroom, he would likely be sanctioned by the Judge and chased out of court!

Rudy, if you actually misspoke about the ’90s’, rather than seeking to mislead your audience, and actually meant to say the 1980’s, maybe thinking of the April 17, 1983 bombing of the American embassy or the October 1984 bombing of the marine barracks show us the proof?

At the time of these events the PLO had left Beirut, Hamas would not exist for nearly a decade, and Hezbollah was a long way from being fully organized. Moreover, Hezbollah and has never been contradicted in its consistent denials of involvement. Again, where is the proof Rudy?
Was Rudy thinking about the kidnapping of US hostages? Hezbollah’s position on the Western hostages is unchanged; “We are neither directly nor indirectly responsible for the taking of the hostages’ Nassrallah as repeatedly stated.

Deputy Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Naim Qassem explained:

“Hezbollah did not take any decisions regarding this nor did it have any role with regard to the hostage issue. Now the fact that these groups who carried out these acts were part of the Islamic trend does not automatically mean that they are members of Hezbollah”

The namesake of the Lincoln Day dinner which Rudy addressed would be the first to counsel Rudy that we must put our own house in order. It’s not enough that Rudy often communicate to your audiences, “My Country Right or Wrong! Rather, it’s the full toast Stephen Decatur made here in the Middle East more than 200 years ago that Rudy would do well to recall: “My country right or wrong, when right, to be kept right, when wrong, to be put right.”

Let’s see if Rudy can rework his new stump speech and create something more in keeping with American values.

FRANKLIN LAMB has been in Lebanon researching a book for the past nine months. Hezbollah: a brief Guide for Beginners in expected in early summer, 2007. He can be reached at fplamb@gmail.com

 

 

Franklin Lamb is a visiting Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law, Damascus University and volunteers with the Sabra-Shatila Scholarship Program (sssp-lb.com).

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