The Arafat visa flap
The editorial ``Arafat should be heard,'' Nov. 29, states that Secretary of State George Shultz refused to grant an entry visa to Yasser Arafat in order ``to make a largely symbolic point about US opposition to terrorism.'' If he was really concerned about terrorism, however, he would have balanced this action, which is totally illegal under US-United Nations treaty obligations, with some action regarding current Israeli terrorism against its West Bank hostages, or its own Arab citizens. Secretary Shultz might have recalled that in June 1967 Israel committed far more massive terrorism against Americans than the PLO has ever done when Israeli forces deliberately bombed, napalmed, and machine-gunned the USS Liberty, killing 34 Americans and wounding 171 others.
Joseph C. Harsch states it more accurately in his column ``Preferential treatment for Israel,'' Nov. 29, by pointing out that the ruling concern of Secretary Shultz is obviously ``preferential treatment'' for a client state that dominates the foreign policy of its American patron in all areas of interest to it. David Stowe, Tenafly, N.J.
George Shultz's personal feelings dictated his denial of a visa to Yasser Arafat. Like Humpty Dumpty in ``Through the Looking-Glass,'' Shultz says, ``When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean.'' Israelis who destroy homes in neighborhoods where Palestinian kids throw rocks, or who bury Palestinians alive, are not ``terrorists.'' Death squads with documented ties to the National Guard of El Salvador killed four American women religious workers Dec. 4, 1980, and thousands of Salvadoran civilians up to the present, but they are not ``terrorists.'' According to documentation by Witness for Peace, contra guerrillas in Nicaragua in 1986 alone killed 231 civilians, including 27 women and 50 children, but they are not ``terrorists.''
Nicaraguan guerrillas are ``freedom fighters.'' El Salvador is a ``democracy'' whose national budget is absolutely dependent on US funds to pay Army and civil government expenses. Israel is a ``democracy'' that receives billions of US tax dollars in aid.
Humpty Dumpty Shultz says: Words like ``terrorism,'' ``democracy,'' and ``freedom'' mean just what I choose them to mean: Don't bother me with the facts. Arch Taylor Jr., Louisville, Ky.
In the face of this negative reaction, let's not lose sight of the fact that the United Nations has invoked the rule of law to justify the presence of the leader of a terrorist organization who is committed to the destruction of a UN member-state. This is a clear violation of Article 4 of the UN Charter, which limits participation in the UN to ``peace-loving states.'' In 1974, the UN reacted to the new scourge of international terrorism by embracing its perpetrators and treating them with full honors and privileges. In return, the PLO promised to abandon terrorism. Clearly it has not kept its word. In the past 14 years, the PLO constituents established an international terror network. They have been involved in over 300 terrorist atrocities on land, at sea, and in the air.
George Shultz is the only foreign minister to have the guts to publicize this outrage. He understands that if Mr. Arafat really wanted peace, he would follow the example of Anwar Sadat and go to Israel.
When Arafat comes to the UN, it is to wage political warfare. George Shultz is the first to say that 14 years was enough time to give the PLO, and to perceive that if the PLO cannot be trusted on this issue, it cannot be trusted on any other. He is the first to say no to terror. Harris Schoenberg, New York B'nai B'rith International
This is just another example of the US government's continuing to kowtow to the Israeli lobby and the Israeli regime of Yitzhak Shamir. I thought the US government was a democracy that granted free speech to everyone. Arafat has as much right to address the UN as anyone else regardless of the wishes of Israel. Secretary Shultz cited Arafat's use of terrorism as his reason for rejecting the visa. But the US welcomed Ariel Sharon, who turned his back while hundreds of Arabs were killed in Shatila and gave him a consular post without any questions asked.
Every day human rights violations are committed in the occupied territories, and neither the US administration nor Congress ever raises these concerns to the American people.
Why can't the US government be fair and evenhanded in the treatment of the two sides of this difficult problem instead of being so heavily biased in favor of Israel? This approach, amazingly enough, might even facilitate a solution. Walter M. Desher, Philadelphia