On the same day that President George W. Bush was encouraging all nations to unite in the fight against terrorism, New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani sent a chilling message to the Arab world that "freedom of speech," human rights, understanding, and the freedoms we enjoy and would have other nations gladly adopt are the rights of Americans alone and Mr. Giuliani in particular!
Mr. Giuliani said that the city was rejecting a $10 million check from Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz Alsaud of Saudi Arabia because he criticized American policy in the Middle East. The prince was one of many foreign visitors who have gone to ground zero with the mayor since the World Trade Center attack on September 11th.
With the check was a letter from the prince, in which he expressed his condolences for "the loss of life that the city of New York has suffered. I would also like to condemn all forms of terrorism, and in doing so I am reiterating Saudi Arabia's strong stance against these tragic and horrendous acts." The prince added, "However, at times like this one, we must address some of the issues that led to such a criminal attack. I believe the government of the United States of America should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance towards the Palestinian cause."
This was too much for Mr. Giuliani, who at first accepted the check then rejected it.
Apparently the mayor is not interested in understanding how or why such an attack on America happened. Or in allowing the prince the freedom to express his condolences along with his views, while, on the same day, President Bush promised to revisit and address the Palestinian situation.
It is precisely this kind of bravado and hypocrisy on Mr. Giuliani's part that nations around the world, including our closest friends and allies, are disgusted with!
This from the same mayor who stepped down "for health reasons," allowing Mrs. Clinton to win a Senate seat in New York then welcomed a state law change (fortunately denied) so that he could pursue another term as mayor -- after the attack on America. The same mayor whose wife, Donna Hanover, moved out of the mayor's mansion because her husband was seen at so many of the city's affairs (excuse the pun) with his mistress.
Is it just coincidence that this mistress has not been seen with the mayor anywhere near ground zero at the site of the destroyed World Trade Center since September 11th?
Is there any Arab gasoline in your automobile's tank, Mr. Mayor?
In the light of President Bush's appeal to the children of America to support the children of Afghanistan, $10 million could have done much for U.S. children who lost their parents at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11th.
Mr. Mayor, you were wrong in rejecting the generosity of Prince Alwaleed and the condolences of his people, sending a message to Arabs and the rest of the world that America is blameless in its foreign policy. No nation on earth is blameless when it comes to foreign policy and regard for their neighbors. There is much to be done and many issues to examine in the global arena. And understanding does not come by adding insult to injury.
This action of yours was not only insulting, it was hypocritical and stupid. Before you leave office, the city should send you a bill for the sum of $10 million.
It has been a bad week for decisions in the mayor's office in New York City. Giuliani was just as wrong on this issue as he was in predicting, on national television, that "the Yankees would take the division series from the Oakland Athletics in four games."
Peace in our time, respect for other nations, and making the world a safer place for our children, however, has nothing to do with such foolhardy bravado or baseball. This game demands wisdom, integrity, and the recognition of the rights of all people who forthrightly oppose criminal acts of terrorism.