The Jerusalem Post, June 29, 2004

SAUDI SCAPEGOATING

by Alan Dershowitz

It's no wonder the Saudis are having trouble finding the terrorists beheading, shooting, bombing and kidnapping people throughout their country. They're looking in the wrong place, and for the wrong people.

Listen to whom Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia -- its de facto monarch -- attributes the terrorism that has plagued his country. "We can be certain that Zionism is behind everything," Abdullah assured a group of leading government officials and academics in Jeddah, specifically referring to the attack on oil workers, which killed six people, including two Americans.
"I don't say 100 percent, but 95 percent."

In addition to the Zionists Abdullah blamed "the followers of Satan," meaning Jews and Christians, Israelis and Americans. But the main fault lies squarely with the Zionists: "Our country is targeted," Abdullah said. "You know who is behind all of this. It is Zionism. This is clear now."

Lest anyone think these are the crackpot views of a single leader, listen to Saudi foreign minister Saudi al Faisal: "It is no secret that extremist Zionist elements which are spread throughout the world are keenly involved in a vicious campaign against the Kingdom. What the awful terrorist group is doing in a desperate attempt to destabilize security and national unity feeds into the interests of these extremist Zionist elements."

Nor is this bigoted claptrap limited to Saudi Arabia. Government-controlled Syrian media issued a report that was eagerly picked up by the Teheran Times alleging "from reliable sources" that "Israel's Mossad had commissioned five Yemeni Jews to assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.

"Disguised as Muslims, they entered the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus to attend a ceremony commemorating the slain Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi. Mashaal's bodyguards captured them and handed the five over to Syrian security forces. No names were released."

If the Zionists and the Mossad are behind al-Qaida and terrorism in general, it makes no sense to conduct searches in Saudi Arabia, where almost everyone is anti-Zionist.

Why bother to look at the funding sources for terrorism inside the kingdom, including several members of the royal family itself? Why focus on the hatred of non-Muslims that is being taught in so many Saudi schools? Why bemoan the polls that show widespread support for the philosophy of Osama bin Laden among Saudi citizens? It is much easier to look for the traditional scapegoat -- the Jews.

I'M REMINDED of the old joke about the drunk who was looking for his car keys under the lamp-post. When someone asked him why he was looking there, rather than near his car, where he dropped them, he replied: "The light is better here."

The light is always better in Saudi Arabia when you're looking for Jews than when you're looking in the mirror.

The kidnapping and beheading of American civilian worker Paul Johnson, Jr. may stimulate Saudi officials temporarily to shift their focus from Zionists to Islamic extremists, but unless the Saudi rulers are prepared to focus on their own extremism, this will be a short-term solution.

Saudi Arabia is a major breeding ground for Wahabi hatred of all infidels.

Much of the funding for Islamic terrorism originates in Saudi Arabia, as does much of the ideological and religious justification for killing those who have been dehumanized.

Simply arresting and beheading an occasional killer will solve nothing. A complete reassessment of Saudi policy toward terrorism is needed. Such a reassessment will require a hard look at the schools, mosques, charitable institutions, media, police and other institutions.

Most important, it will require the royal family to look at itself. It is an important part of the problem.

When the ruler engages in public blood libels against Jews and Christians and blames his nation's self-inflicted problems on the Zionists, why is anyone surprised that so many of his subjects are willing to kill these and other "messengers of Satan"?

Saudi Arabia will never become a real nation -- as distinguished from a large family run gas-station -- as long as King Abdullah is in charge. The problem is that if he were to be replaced, his successor could be worse.

What a place.

The writer is a professor or law at Harvard. His latest book is America on Trial.