Mona Charen

What provoked the Arab people's ire? It was "internal and external," the president explained. Regarding the latter, he said "... It is about the problems that we have in our region, i.e. the lack of peace, the invasion of Iraq, what is happening in Afghanistan and now its repercussions in Pakistan and other regions. That led to this desperation and anger."

As for internal conditions, Assad allowed as how joblessness might be a problem in some parts of the Arab world -- though not in Syria.

"We have more difficult circumstances than most of the Arab countries but in spite of that Syria is stable. Why? Because you have to be very closely linked to the beliefs of the people."

Hosni Mubarak emerged from his well-guarded villa in Sharm el-Sheikh on April 10 to deliver a televised speech denying he had enriched himself as president of Egypt. The former president, who had enjoyed, in addition to the presidential palace, a multimillion-dollar townhouse in London registered in his son's name, a fleet of Gulfstream jets, the above-mentioned villa on the Red Sea, and no one yet knows how much cash in offshore accounts, was caught in his own net. Having accustomed his people to lies, he is now outraged that Egyptians believe he commands something like $70 billion in stolen treasure -- a figure that is almost certainly grossly inflated.

But we ask, in light of what you see happening in your countries, in light of the venality of those who have held power over you for so long, whether you might reconsider everything they've told you.

In addition to dishonesty about themselves, Assad, Gaddafi, and the rest have woven a skein of falsehoods about Israel, about Jews, and about the United States. You've been told that Israelis are subhuman beasts who shoot Palestinian civilians for pleasure, have no historic link to the land of Israel, use human blood in religious rituals, and plot conquest of the world. You've been told that the United States is at war with Muslims, in the pocket of the Jews, bent on conquest, plotting to steal the Arab world's oil, and guilty of war crimes against Muslims.

As you attempt to free yourselves from the tyrannies your leaders have inflicted on you for decades, perhaps you will also free your minds from the shameful poison they have purveyed.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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