December 1995, Page 73
GW Holds Terrorism Symposium
George Washington University's Terrorism Studies Program held a half-day symposium on domestic and international terrorism on Oct. 23 in Washington, DC. Providing an update on current developments in terrorism were Hugh Barber from the private consultancy firm Pinkerton Risk Assessment; Dr. William Royce, U.S. Information Agency; Otto Graf, European Union Second Secretary; Reagan administration Defense Department official Dov Zakheim, president of SPC International; and Dr. Sabri Sayari, of Georgetown University.
The second and final panel, "Preventing Super-Terrorism," focused on terrorist threats involving weapons of mass destruction such as chemical and biological agents and nuclear weapons. Speakers on this subject were Dr. David Kay, vice-president of Science Application and International Cooperation and former deputy director of the United Nations' mission in Iraq; Dr. Anthony Fainberg, formerly of the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment; James T. Dunne, bureau of diplomatic security, Department of State; Dr. Randy J. Rydell, of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs; and Dr. Julio Cirino, Embassy of Argentina.
In his remarks, Dr. Royce focused on the role of the Iranian government in supporting and encouraging terrorism, especially its efforts to create a hostile, anti-Western environment in parts of the region. Royce told the audience that "unless the rhetoric [between the U.S. and Iran] can be cooled, there will be a problem for a very long time." Dr. Sayari analyzed Turkey's problems in dealing with the Kurdish resistance organizations, especially the Marxist Kurdish Worker's Party (PKK), which he called "one of the most violent and lethal terrorist organizations in the world." Sayari cited Syrian support for the PKK as an example of state-sponsored terrorism. He said Syria supports the PKK with logistical aid, intelligence, and bases in the Bekaa Valley and that a PKK leader lives openly in Damascus.
—Shawn L. Twing
Musical Tribute To Khalil Gibran
The Marcel Khalife Quartet celebrated the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran in America during a nation-wide musical tour that began in Washington, DC on Oct. 13. Performing "Jadal: a Concerto for Two Ouds," the quartet played a blend of contemporary and traditional Arabic music on the uniquely-Arab instrument, the oud. Marcel Khalife, whom one critic has called a man "with a rebel's soul and a scholar's perspective," is a Lebanese composer and oud master who is attempting to revitalize traditional Arabic music and make it appealing for contemporary audiences. During the two-hour event, the quartet played songs invoking the spirit and passion of Lebanese-American master poet Khalil Gibran.
—Shawn L. Twing
Conference on Democracy and Participation
The Washington, DC-based Foundation on Democratization and Political Change in the Middle East held its second annual conference, on "U.S.-Arab Relations and the Challenge of Participation," Oct. 19-21 at the Doubletree Hotel in the national capital. Participants from the U.S., Europe and throughout the Arab world conducted lively presentations and discussions on such topics as the post-Cold War era, Arab and American democracy, the multi-ethnic state, civil society and accountability, and human rights. U.S. Undersecretary of State Robert Pelletreau was the luncheon speaker.
A conference report will be available in January from the FDPCME, 1301 33rd St. NW, Washington, DC 20007, (202) 338-7597.
Center Hosts Three Scholars
The Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine, a Washington, D.C.-based research institute, held three programs in October and early November concerning current events in Palestine. On Oct. 3, Father Emile Salayta discussed the importance of Jerusalem to the Palestinian community, focusing on the difficulties faced by Palestinian Christians who encounter serious obstacles to traveling in and around the city so central to their faith. Fr. Salayta, the general director of the Latin Patriarchate Schools in the West Bank and Gaza and pastor of the Immaculate Conception Parish in the village of Birzeit, said the Christian population in Palestine "is in real danger," because of emigration resulting directly from Israeli harassment. Among examples of harassment of Christian and Muslim Palestinians cited by Fr. Salayta were destruction of houses by Israeli soldiers, difficulty in obtaining permits to rebuild, shootings and mass jailing of children during and after the intifada, and routine humiliation including beatings by Israeli soldiers. Asked what he thought should happen with Jerusalem in the final-stage negotiations of the Oslo accords (Oslo III), Fr. Salayta said: "We ask for free access to Jerusalem for all people believing in God."
Fateh Azzam, internationally respected human rights activist and the former director of the Palestinian Organization for Human Rights (Al-Haq), spoke about "Israel, the PNA, and Palestinian Human Rights" at the Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine's Oct. 24 program. Azzam divided his presentation between Israeli human rights violations and allegations of rights abuses by the Palestinian National Authority. In reference to Israel he told the audience that "very little has fundamentally changed." Continuing Israeli abuses include the confinement of political prisoners while prisoners arrested for criminal offenses have been let go under the Oslo II accord, land confiscations which Azzam said are "proceeding at a much faster rate" than before the signing of the Oslo accords, and settler violence that is not only ignored by Israeli soldiers but is becoming more frequent and more violent.
Turning to Yasser Arafat's Palestinian National Authority, Azzam said "the PNA has been involved and continues to be involved in serious human rights violations." However, he said, increased media attention on this subject has improved the situation significantly. He said some of the killings attributed to the PNA's Preventive Security Service have resulted from intra-Fatah rivalries and power disputes, and are not extrajudicial killings as they have sometimes been described. On the positive side, he noted that PNA authorities have been "remarkably open" with human rights groups allowing unannounced visits in prisons and unplanned interviews with prisoners without guards present.
In a Nov. 1 program, the Reverend Nicholas Porter described the future of the Christian community in the Old City of Jerusalem as "uncertain and dwindling." Rev. Porter, who is curate at St. George's Episcopal Cathedral in Jerusalem, said attempts to make Jerusalem the capital of Israel will only increase the population imbalance in the city sacred to three world religions. "Jerusalem should be a dual capital for Palestinians and Jews," Rev. Porter said. "It should be open to all religions and all peoples."
Rev. Porter said Christians in the city have a large stake in the peace process because Israeli government policies presently discriminate against both Christian and Muslim Palestinians. These policies include restricting most new building and land ownership by non-Jews and cutting off access to other populations. This will later be a detriment to the peace process, he added. "We see Palestinians and Israelis as twins who should be sharing this land. Attempts to thwart their relations hurt everyone in Jerusalem."
—Shawn L. Twing