By KennethR. Timmerman
Assistant Secretary of StateWilliam Burns, under fire from conservatives for recent remarks inJerusalem that disparaged the president and his supporters, has ahistory of cozying up to radical Muslims who oppose peacefulcoexistence with Israel.
Speaking to Israeli and Palestinian "peace activists" in Jerusalem onMay 4, Burns reassured them that "common sense" would prevail overthe views of the President George W. Bush's Christian andconservative supporters, many of whom insist that the PalestinianAuthority recognize Israel's right to exist and stop homicidebombings against civilians before the United States pressures Israelto accept a Palestinian state on its territory.
Burns' comments, former White House domestic-policy chief Gary Bauertells Insight, "showed incredible disdain for the president and hismost loyal supporters, and demonstrated that this is not GeorgeBush's State Department. He should be fired."
On Monday, Bauer sent a letter to the president that was signed by 22Jewish and evangelical Christian leaders, urging him to recognizethere can be "no viable peace unless Israel's neighbors concede itsright to exist." The lettercited "Nazi-inspired hatred ofJews" in Palestinianschools and ongoing terrorist attacks as unmistakable signs ofPalestinian rejection of Israel.
While not named in the letter, top State Department Arabist Burns hasbeen taking it on the chin from nationally broadcast conservativetalk-show host Marlin Maddoux, a signatory of the letter, andWashington Times publisher Wesley Pruden, who wroteon Tuesday that the president needed to "rein in 'the Arabist cabal'at the State Departmentthat is forever pressing the Israelis to kill themselves on behalf ofpeace."
But it could get much worse for Burns. As the Clintonadministration's ambassador to Jordan for three years, Burnsapologized on behalf of the United States to a top Jordanian Islamistwho was barred from entering the United States because of his ties toknown terrorists.
According to the New York Times, Burns personally telephoned IslamicAction Front leader Ishaq Farhan to "express his concern" after theImmigration and Naturalization Service (INS) at New York's John F.Kennedy Airport barred Farhan from entering the United States on May3, 2000, because he was on the terrorist watch list. Farhan had topurchase a $2,000 one-way ticket back to Jordan when the INS orderedhim to return to Amman on the first available flight.
The Times article added that "American diplomats in Jordan said theywere unaware of information that would merit interrogating ordeporting Mr. Farhan, whom they consider an important moderatingforce."
What the Times failed to report was that Farhan's U.S. visa had beenrevoked by the State Department, after it had received informationfrom the INS detailing Farhan's ties to Hamas, the Palestinianterrorist organization that has murdered hundreds of Israelis andmore than a dozen Americans in suicide bombings during the last eightyears.
Farhan headed the "consultative council" of the Islamic Action Front(IAF), the political arm of the radical, anti-Western MuslimBrotherhood that has spawned Osama bin Laden, Hamas and PalestinianIslamic Jihad. In Jordan, the IAF is a recognized political partydespite its open sympathy for international terrorist groups.
"This story, which I was not aware of until now, shows that Mr. Burnsdoes not understand the nature of the enemy the United States andIsrael is facing," American Values President Bauer tells Insight."What a comment it is on the man's judgment."
Two days after Burns apologized to him, Farhan told UPI that the U.S.Embassy in Jordan had told him he would receive a new, permanent U.S.visa.
Farhan added that a U.S. journalist who "regards himself as an experton terrorism" had been responsible for the treatment he had receivedat JFK. He claimed that the journalist had submitted a report to theState Department and to a House of Representatives subcommitteelisting him as an "Islamic terrorist militant." Farhan appears tohave been referring to terrorism expert Stephen Emerson, whotestified before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism,Technology and Government Information on Feb. 24, 1998, on thesubject of foreign terrorists in America.
Among the most notorious foreign terrorists regularly admitted to theUnited States, Emerson told the Senate panel under oath, was Farhan,who in 1991 "gave a pep talk to 25 handpicked Hamas recruits inChicago, and a few years earlier collaborated with Jordanian-basedIslamist Yusuf al-Azm on gunrunning for Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin."Farhan also was a regular speaker at the annual conference of theIslamic Association for Palestine, a Hamas front group in the UnitedStates that has been closed down by the FBI, Emerson added in histestimony.
"Burns arranged for an official of an organization that was callingfor jihad on America to come to this country. He should have beenheld accountable then, and he should be held accountable now,"Emerson tells Insight.
In his recent encounter at the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem withleft-wing Israelis and Cabinet ministers of the PalestinianAuthority, Burns said that President Bush was determined to moveahead with his "road map" for Middle East peace, despite oppositionfrom his own supporters. According to minutes of the meeting releasedby the left-wing "Peace Now" group to the Jerusalem Post, Labor PartyKnesset (Israeli Parliament) member Colette Avital alleged thatconservatives, Christians and the American-Israel Public AffairsCommittee "are lobbying to torpedo the road map." On behalf of the"peace coalition," she asked Burns for help "to express our views tothe American public."
In reply, Burns stated his view that "the common sense of all peopleswill override the conservative and Christian viewpoints once they seethe road map's potential."
The State Department Near East bureau did not return Insight's callsfor comment on this story.
Kenneth R. Timmerman is a senior writer forInsight.
Original source: Insighton the News - National
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