On May 25, the Los Angeles Times published an Op-Ed piece under the by-line of Saad Hariri, Lebanon's Prime Minister. Hariri called for submission of the Arab-Israeli dispute to binding arbitration by either the U.N. Security Council or by the so-called Quartet (U.N., European Union, U.S. and Russia). Knowing how such op-eds are produced and peddled, I understood that this piece had been penned by a high-priced public relations firm to burnish Hariri's gravitas for his first state visit to the White House and then rejected for publication by the more consequential New York Times and Washington Post, which recognized the absurdity of a suggestion from a puppet prime minister that Israel should submit its fate to hostile tribunals.
I possess first-hand knowledge about the suitability of Mr. Hariri to address these issues. This is what I asked the Times to publish as a letter or Op-Ed:
I came to know Mr. Hariri well during the course of my two visits to Riyadh--where he was building palaces for the Saudis--in 1995 and 1998. I came to Riyadh with delegations from the Anti-Defamation League, which I then served as National Vice-Chair. During the Oslo "peace" process, the wily Saudis, asked by the Clinton Administration to make some gesture to Israel, would do no more than admit American-Jewish delegations. During both our visits, Saad Hariri's palace came to serve as a welcome refuge from the austerity of the Wahabi hospitality accorded us by Saudi officials.
Somehow, Saad and I bonded. He is charming and gregarious; that's one way you get to become a Prime Minister. By the time we left his palace in 1998, our group was so close with Saad that he loaned us his luxurious private jet to fly us to Aqaba. As we left his palace, something unforgettable occurred. Rumors had been circulating of a Syrian-Israeli peace deal. At the front door, Saad grabbed me by my lapels, brought his face close to mine and whispered intensely: "If Israel makes peace with Syria, you Jews must see to it that Syria leaves Lebanon." I responded: "Saad, your Dad is prime minister of Lebanon; why can't he say that?" His ominous reply, whispered with urgency: "Because the Syrians would kill him."
And that is exactly what the Syrians did in 2005-- with a powerful car bomb. A UN "investigation" of the murder has been limping along desultorily for years. The UN acts quickly only when it is time to condemn Israel. Saad Hariri--to his ever-lasting disgrace--now fronts as Lebanese prime minister for the Syrians who murdered his father. He is a puppet of Iran and Hezbollah. In 2008, Israel returned to Lebanon--in exchange for the corpses of murdered soldiers--one Sami-al Kuntar who had bashed in the skull of a three-year old Israeli girl. Saad Hariri embraced al-Kuntar and proclaimed him a Lebanese hero. If you embrace those who killed your father, it must come easily to embrace an al-Kuntar.
Knowing something about the editors of the Los Angeles Times, I did not expect them to nominate me instantly for a Pulitzer Prize. But I did hope that someone at the Times might be stirred -- if only by intellectual curiosity -- to check out my account of Saad Hariri. My expectations, based on values I learned in journalism college, failed to take into account the seriousness of a supposed newspaper which publishes third-rate tripe swiftly rejected in New York and Washington.