NOT SINCE "Pork: The Other White Meat" has there been an American ad blitz as pathetically farfetched as the Saudi embassy’s current venture, "The People of Saudi Arabia: Allies Against Terrorism."
For the last week or so, the TV spots, which have aired in various markets throughout the country (although not on any of the top cable networks), have made the case to the American public that, Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers notwithstanding, the U.S. has no greater friend than the House of Saud. It’s a tough sell, despite the best efforts of some of America’s most preeminent and high-priced spin doctors.
The problem for the Saudis is that their repugnant, terrorist-sponsoring policies continue to belie their futile attempts at propaganda. Television commercials can only obscure the truth; they can’t make it disappear.
On Monday, the Israeli government released extensive information unearthed during its raids into Palestine Authority territories. The documents confirm not only Yasser Arafat’s complicity in anti-Israeli homicide bombings, but also the Saudi government’s. According to Col. Miri Eisin of Israeli Military Intelligence, the Saudis have paid $135 million to terrorists and their families over the course of the last 16 months.
The 85 pages of evidence, which Israeli Military Intelligence compiled for Prime Minister Sharon to bring on his trip to Washington, charge the Saudis with transferring "large sums of money in a systematic and ongoing manner to families of suicide terrorists, to the Hamas organization, and to persons and entities identified with Hamas." Officials in Riyadh funneled the money under the auspices of several institutions, including the Saudi Committee for Support of the Al Quds Intifada, which is directed by the kingdom’s interior minister.
All in all, the families of suicidal terrorists can expect to collect roughly $33,000 in payments for their murderous relative’s handiwork. That comes to about six years’ wagesa decent incentive in a region where there aren’t many opportunities to be had, and suicide terrorists are exalted as "martyrs." The Israeli dossier should lay to rest the Saudi claim that its well-documented funding of Palestinian causesincluding a $100 million telethonis limited to humanitarian efforts.
Despite its denials, the Saudi government has done a rather poor job of concealing its support for Palestinian terrorism. Last month, Ghazi Algosaibi, the kingdom’s ambassador to England, published a poem called "The Martyrs," which praised the 18-year-old Palestinian woman who blew herself up in a supermarket, killing two Israelis and wounding 25 others. The young terrorist, he wrote, "died to honor God’s word."
Then, of course, there are the madrassahs, the Saudi-funded hate-factories that masquerade as schools throughout the Arab world. Here, bizarre Islamist conspiracy theories are taught as fact to the future generations of al Qaeda and Taliban fighters. One popular lie, which was published in a March issue of a Saudi government newspaper, charges that Jews celebrate the Purim festival with the blood of human (usually Muslim) sacrifices, which they use to leaven their pastries.
This from a "moderate" Muslim state, our "ally" in the war on Islamic fanaticism.
The Saudis’ blatant sympathy and support for terrorists operating in Israel makes all the more risible Crown Prince Abdullah’s lecturing President Bush about the finer points of American Middle Eastern policy. "America is a country that was based on justice and freedom and doing what's right," Abdullah reportedly told Bush during his visit to Crawford. "America should pursue those principles in its foreign policies."
Amen, Abdullah. When will Saudi Arabia start doing the same?
There’s a tacky irony in the kingdom’s use of the American free press to promote a message (pro-U.S., anti-terror) that it wouldn’t dare run in its own state-controlled media. Back home, such a campaign would most likely prompt "the people of Saudi Arabia"largely militant radicals who despise their corrupt leaders for being too moderateto revolt.
The House of Saud is an ally of convenience, in much the same way that the Soviet Union joined forces with the U.S. and Great Britain to defeat Hitler’s Germany. There’s a mutual dependence between the two countries based on military bases and oila symbiosis that would be rendered moot with the impending fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Thus the Saudis’ lame PR campaign.
But in the larger war on terrorism and Islamic radicalism, the House of Saud is scarcely a more dependable friend than Stalin was a true enemy of totalitarianism. Thirty-second TV spots can’t conceal a long record of egregious and shameful behavior, both before and after Sept. 11.
Actions speak louder than ad campaigns. Last year, Bush made it clear that there was no place for lukewarm partners in America’s war. "Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."
So far, it seems pretty clear which side Saudi Arabia has chosen.