Syria Repeats Verbal Attack on Israel
Syria renewed its verbal onslaught on Israel on Monday, accusing the Jewish state of a long history of crimes against Palestinians and against sites sacred to Muslims and Christians, reported Reuters.
"The contemporary Zionists are the same as those Jews who were fought by Jesus Christ who in turn uncovered their hypocrisy and crimes," Khalaf al-Jarad, director general of the government daily Tishreen, wrote in a front-page editorial.
President Bashar al-Assad launched the campaign of harsh criticism of Israeli policies a month ago in a speech at an Arab summit in Jordan in which he described Israelis who had voted for right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as more racist than the Nazis.
He repeated the condemnation of Israel during a visit to Spain last week and in a speech welcoming Pope John Paul on his arrival in Damascus on Saturday.
Assad's remarks, in which he accused Jews of betraying Jesus and the Prophet Mohammad, drew a sharp reaction from Israeli President Moshe Katsav, who said the Syrian leader was anti-Semitic.
Katsav implied Sunday that Assad should do much better to follow his late father's example by exercising more self-control in his criticism of Israel and the Jewish people, reported The Jerusalem Post.
"He [Hafez Assad] was not a partner with whom we could reach peace but he did not express himself in such a careless, racist, antisemitic, illogical manner as that in which the current president expresses himself," Katsav said.
Assad's father, during his long rule of Syria, never allowed himself to make statements such as those which Bashar Assad made to Pope John Paul II, said Katsav, adding that he hoped the Vatican would correct Assad's historical inaccuracies.
The Syrians hope to promote the Arab issues during the Pope’s four-day visit to Syria.
At least a Syrian serviceman was killed in an air raid on a radar post in Lebanon in April. The Syrians always remind of Israeli threats to wage a war against the Arab country.
Peace negotiations between the two foes froze in December 1999 as the two sides failed to reach an agreement on the Golan Heights, which were occupied by Israel in 1967.
Jarad, whose editorial was titled “The murderers of prophets and children,” accused the Israelis of a long history of massacres and other crimes against Palestinians.
"The Zionist occupation forces have been committing a series of massacres, killings and shedding of blood of the innocent Palestinian people even before the establishment of the Zionist entity in 1948," he wrote.
"These forces also burned and destroyed houses, launched mass expulsion of Arab people, uprooted trees and slaughtered children without mercy," Jarad said.
He said the Jewish state had systematically "disgraced" mosques, churches, hospitals and schools in occupied Arab land and Jerusalem, a city holy to Muslims, Christians and Jews.
Syria strongly condemned the election of Sharon, who is reviled in the Arab world for his role in Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon and the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps near Beirut by Israeli-backed Christian militias.
An independent Israeli enquiry found Sharon indirectly responsible for the massacre and forced him to resign his job as defense minister in 1983.
Syria has held several sessions of peace talks with Israel since 1991 but the negotiations broke off in January last year without reaching agreement on the fate of the Golan Heights, captured by Israel from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.
Syria demands a total Israeli withdrawal from the strategic plateau.
POPE’S GOLAN PRAYER
The Pope, making the first visit by a Pontiff to Syria, will pray for peace later on Monday in the Golan Heights town of Quneitra, occupied by Israeli forces in 1967, destroyed and handed back to Syria in 1974 under a US-sponsored agreement, said Reuters.
"Those who want to see the racist and aggressive nature of the Hagana, Stern and Argon (Jewish) gangs should observe the savage and criminal actions that are being committed daily by Sharon and his coalition government against the unarmed civilians, the women and children in Palestine, south Lebanon and the Golan," concluded Jarad's editorial.
The gangs were underground Jewish groups who fought Palestinians and troops of the British administration in Palestine in the period leading to Israel's creation in 1948 – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)