AMERICA, contrary to increasingly popular rhetoric in this country, is not in any way responsible for the taking of hostages now held in Beirut. We are not responsible for the stone-age mentality of Shiite militiamen, nor are we responsible for uncontrolled religious wars in the battle-torn region. We must see these actors as they really are, as calculating, anti-Senitic terrorists, not as victims of U.S. foreign policy as some would like to believe. Those responsible for the hijacking of TWA flight 847 should be held fully accountable without hesitation and procrastination. We must not allow the hijackers to succeed in dividing America. The terrorists acts of Palestinian, Syrian, Iranian and other forces should not be allowed to masquerade as justified rebellions against Western-supported suppression.
Instead, the incident must be seen for what it was, a blatantly anti-Semitic act. We must not let the Shiite terrorists succeed in weakening relations between the U.S. and Israel, its most faithful ally in the region and possibly in the world. Despite common knowledge that the 766 Shiite POWs, captured by Israel after committing terrorist acts during its withdrawal from Lebanon, would be released promptly, the Shiites nevertheless preempted the release. In a perfectly planned hijacking, the Shiites cleverly took advantage of Israel's position by pitting it against the U.S., all the while feigning concern for the fate of their captured colleagues.
The assailants knew well that President Reagan would never accede to their demands by pressuring Israel for an early release of the prisoners. They knew well that some Americans would reconsider their strong alliance with Israel if that alliance proved a threat to the safety of American citizens. They knew well that a stalemated situation, a situation which ruled out the use of military force if the lives of the hostages were to be preserved, would only be to their advantage as Americans witnessed Israel's necessary resolve to stand firm to the Shiite demands. The hijacking, and other terrorist actions in recent years, were designed to help dissolve long-term cooperation between the Americans and Israeli Jews, the enemy people of Moslem extremists.
TO A CERTAIN extent, this and similar terrorist actions have succeeded in dividing America. In 1979, too many critics of President Carter charged that support for the Shah of Iran and lack of respect for religious beliefs in that country had alienated the Moslem faction, percipitating the Irannian hostage crisis. In 1985, critics are charging that unflagging support for Israel has given Middle Eastern religious sects no means save terrorism in their struggle for freedom. These critics often characterize American involvement in the region as motivation for the violence there. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Why do we refuse to recognize that Moslems and Christians have fought in the Middle East since the beginning of history? In 1983, our entrance into then-Christian-controlled Lebanon was in a peace-keeping capacity. We tried to end the bitter war which threatened Israel, flattened Beirut and advanced Syria's goal of geographical expansion into "Greater Syria," a goal which happens to include domination of present-day Israel. After terrorists killed 241 U.S. servicemen and we pulled out of Beirut, after Israel pulled out of the region, the fighting between Christians and Moslems continued as fiercely as ever. It will continue as it has for hundreds of years.
We are not responsible for this turmoil and the affiliated difficulties of the Moslem and Christian populations, we want it stopped. Israel is certainly not an instigator; the geographical and religious destruction of Israel is the ultimate goal of the fighting.
How can we forget the children whom the Ayatollah Khomeint has sent to die in the battlefields at the hands of the Iraquies? Since we withdrew our support of the former Shah, 500,000 Iranians have perished in a fanactical religious war. We have no part in that war. The hostages were not taken in Iran while the Shah ruled the country; half a million of the Shah's people did not die in one of the least-understood, most bloody wars in modern history. The Moslems there are solely accountable for their own destitution.
Americans should stand fast against those who believe we are responsible for the current Middle East crisis. Our history of involvement in that region is by no means without blemish, but we are not the motivation for terrorism and violence, that is built into the system. We would support any free, democratic nation in the Middle East, as we support Israel. America has been, and always will be, on the side of nations that prize freedom. The Shiites are simply out to destroy those nations in any way possible for their own fanatical reasons. The Shiites desperately need the publicity and the vigor that hostage-taking provides to gain power, power which has been and would continue to be directed against Americans. The Shiites and those who support them are waging a war against the U.S. and our solid allies. They are bent on the destruction of the free world, a free world Israel represents in earnest.
Do not allow those who take us hostage to achieve their anti-American, anti-Semitic goals. Do not in the crisis divide our own nation and threaten our good relation with our foremost ally in one of the world's most vital regions. We must unite with Israel and other supporters and crush those who threaten our security. Our retaliation must be swift and severe. Americans should make perfectly clear in the Middle East and all over the world that the taking of innocent lives and citizens will never divide those who stand for freedom.