December 7, 2006
Ignoring the lessons of the past
(Page 2 - Previous Page)In that same furious speech, Howe called on Britain's allies to internalize the gravity of Syria's crime and follow Britain's lead in taking "appropriate action."
The United States and Canada promptly withdrew their ambassadors from Damascus. But the European community balked at even this step, to the unconcealed indignation of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Two weeks later, the Europeans finally agreed on a virtually harmless package of sanctions against Damascus -- including the suspension of high-level visits, a review of the activities of Syrian diplomats and tightened security around SAA but excluding, for instance, the suspension of existing arms deals. The Greeks said they were still not persuaded of Syrian involvement in the bomb plot, and the French were ready to condemn only "certain Syrian citizens" rather than the Assad government. French prime minister Jacques Chirac had by then been quoted relaying speculation that the whole affair had been planned by the Mossad in order to embarrass Damascus. Naturally, Chirac strenuously claimed he had been misquoted.
Needless to say, Syria's state terror networks were not remotely inconvenienced by the international community's pathetic punitive sanctions following the "monstrous" Hindawi affair. Neither Syria, nor other terror states and organizations, were remotely deterred from intensifying their efforts at indiscriminate killing.
Two years after Hindawi went to jail, indeed, someone did manage to get a bomb on board a jumbo out of Heathrow. Pan Am 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, on Dec. 21, 1988, and all 270 passengers and crew on board were killed. Libya eventually acknowledged responsibility.
Just recently, almost exactly 20 years after ambassador Haydar packed his bags and left London for good, German police announced they'd cracked another plot to smuggle a bomb onto an El Al plane, apparently out of Frankfurt this time. Details are still sketchy, but it appears that the police discovery -- six arrests following a lucky windfall from a wiretapping operation that had been aimed at drug dealers -- would have come too late had the plotters gone through with their original schedule. Their idea was to target El Al during last summer's German-hosted soccer World Cup, but the plan went awry, it has been reported, when they failed to reach an agreement with the employee at Frankfurt airport who was earmarked to place the bomb on board. No "Mr. A." would have had the opportunity to inspect that bag.
And having assassinated former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in a Beirut car-bombing in February 2005, and killed half a dozen more of its prominent critics inside Lebanon in the nearly two years since, Syria last month evidently sent its terrorists into action again, murdering the rising star of a prominent Lebanese political clan, Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, in his car in Beirut.
Ann Murphy and her daughter, Sarah, who turned 20 this summer, have been long since forgotten. So, too, Sarah's unthinkably callous father, Nezar Hindawi, rotting in jail. And so, too, of course, that forlorn package of European sanctions against Damascus. Even Britain, so outraged in 1986, restored its relations with Syria a mere four years later, freeing up $200 million in EU development assistance for the Assad regime -- to reward Syria for its part in the U.S.-led Gulf War coalition against Iraq and to try to secure the release of British hostages in Beirut. Completing the shift, the United States is now apparently increasingly inclined to contemplate engaging with Syria as a potential force for calming Iraq.
Why does Syria -- not to mention the nearly nuclear Iran, and the dizzying array of terror groups they jointly sponsor in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon and far, far beyond -- so utterly deride the notion that the West will ever unite to effectively counter the strategy of terrorism? Well, international inertia in the face of Iran's brazen nuclear program and that new pressure for a Washington-Damascus "engagement" are only the most recent cases in point. A far earlier one is the small matter of Nezar Hindawi and the Syrian bid to bomb El Al.
As the British Jewish politician Greville (now Lord) Janner was heard to remark bitterly in the face of Europe's impotent response to the Hindawi affair, "If you don't fight terrorists together, you will be blown up separately."
David Horovitz is editor in chief of the Jerusalem Post, where this originally appeared.
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