In his recent op-ed, syndicated columnist Charley Reese proclaims terrorist
leader Osama Bin Laden a truth-teller, labels President Bush a liar, and
disseminates outright errors and propaganda concerning the Jewish state and
Ariel Sharon. (Bush Blows It, Again was sent out by Reese's
syndicate on April 19, 2004 but it may have appeared at a later date in your
newspaper, possibly with a different headline.)
Reese Promotes Bin Laden's Extremist Views
Reese bases his criticism of President Bush and Ariel Sharon on the words of
Osama Bin Laden, who at one point claims:
He [Bush] also would not have lied
to people and said that we hate freedom and kill for the sake of killing.
Reality proves our truthfulness and his lie...the killing of Americans on the
day of New York was after their support of the Jews in Palestine and their
invasion of the Arabian Peninsula.
Though it seems amazing to have to refute the words of Osama Bin Laden, one
is forced to do so as Reese uses the wanted terrorist to make his main points.
Bin Laden and many Muslims hate Israel because they consider illegitimate
any non-Muslim rule in lands formerly under Islam (in Israel's case, that would
be the Ottoman Empire, 1517-1917). Bin Laden's opposition to Israel (and the
U.S.) stems from his intolerance of all value systems other than his own,
including non-Wahabi forms of Islam. And it is this intolerance of
freedom -- religious freedom -- that informs his terrorist agenda.
Contrary to Bin Laden and Reese's claim, it is the U.S. and Israel's shared
values and interests and not a common urge to oppress Muslims
that have made the countries natural allies for over five decades. Israel is
the only democracy in the otherwise repressive Middle East, and a country
currently waging its own war on terror.
Reese also quotes Bin Laden as saying:
Had he [Bush] been truthful about
his claim for peace, he would not describe the person who ripped open pregnant
women in Sabra and Shatila (a reference to Sharon) and the destroyer of the
capitulation process (a reference to the peace process) as a man of peace.
Not only is it inaccurate for Bin Laden to describe Sharon who
issued military pull-backs and prisoner releases in the face of escalating
Palestinian terror as the destroyer of the peace process,
but it is false to claim that Ariel Sharon was directly involved in the Sabra
and Shatila massacre.
Palestinians were slaughtered in southern Lebanon in 1982, but the
perpetrators were Lebanese Christian Phalangists -- not Israelis. What Sharon
has been faulted with was not anticipating the killings. Any
newspaper that carried this column should publish a correction of the blatant
falsehood regarding Sharon and "pregnant women."
Reese Twists History
1) Reese states:
He [Bush] has from the beginning
acted as if he were a ventriloquist's dummy and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon were the ventriloquist. He proved it again by buying into Sharon's
scheme to steal great globs of Palestinian land in the West Bank, and by
arrogantly denying the right of Palestinian refugees to return home or be
compensated. Israel has no legal right to the land occupied by settlements; the
whole world recognizes this and has for decades.
* It is not Palestinian land, but disputed land. Palestinian
Arabs never had sovereignty over a country called Palestine.
* U.N. Resolution 242, on which all Mideast peace initiatives have been
based, indicates Israel does have "legal rights" and legitimate
claims to the disputed land by stating negotiations must lead to an Israeli
withdrawal from some but certainly not all the territory gained
in the '67 War. (For a clear exposition of Israel's obligations under this
resolution, see CAMERA's full-page ad, Stop Distorting
Resolution 242. Also CAMERA backgrounder, Land, the Palestinian
Authority, and Israel:
* Bush's statement that Palestinian refugees should move to the future
state of Palestine and not Israel does not imply they will not
receive financial compensation.
2) Reese claims:
the United States used to
recognize it [that Israel had no legal right to areas gained in the '67 War]
until Bush decided to kiss the most ample part of Sharon's anatomy.
To imply that Bush's recent statement represents a sea change in U.S.
policy turns political reality on its head. Only under President Carter did the
U.S. view Israel's settlements as illegal. Reagan reversed Carter's stance and
no other U.S. administration has held the view that settlements are illegal.
(See CAMERA backgrounder, Jewish settlements and
3) Reese says George Bush tells Palestinian refugees they have no
Far from saying the Palestinians have no rights, President Bush
reiterated his call for an independent Palestinian state in his April 14, 2004
statement: The United States supports the establishment of a Palestinian
state that is viable, contiguous, sovereign, and independent.
4) Reese repeats the Arab propaganda claim that Palestinian refugees
[were] ethnically cleansed in 1947-8 and again in 1967.
* Israeli forces have never had a policy of "ethnically
cleansing" Palestinians. In 1947-8, the majority of Palestinian Arabs who
fled Israel did so at the behest of Arab leaders who told them to leave to make
way for the wholesale slaughter of the land's Jewish residents. In 3
communities, Jewish soldiers did force the Arab residents to leave, but this
was very rare. In 1967, Israel waged a defensive war in which it gained the
West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and eastern Jerusalem. (See CAMERA
Palestinian Claim to a 'Right of Return.) It was Arab aggression
not an Israeli ethnic cleansing plot that caused
Jordan to lose the West Bank, Egypt to lose Gaza, and Syria to lose the Golan
* Additionally, how can Reese be correct that Israel ethnically
cleansed Arabs from its land, when 20% of Israeli citizens are Arabs?
Reese Rationalizes Terror
According to Reese, the United States and Israel deserve all the terrorism they
get. Such apologetics for terror are morally repugnant. There is no moral or
legal justification for the violent targeting of civilians.
One hates to say it, but Osama bin Laden makes more sense than
And one hates to see a syndicated columnist abuse his role by spewing such
extreme and distorted views.