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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Praise for Al Habtoor

by Paul Findley

© APimages

Former US Congressman the Hon. Paul Findley weighs in on the Syrian refugee crisis and talks about the shame of world inaction. He praises Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor for his repeated call for action.

Here are timely words of Dr. Khalaf al Habtoor, a wealthy philanthropist in Dubai, United Arab Emirates: "Their pain is our shame. What does it say about our part of the world that our Syrian brothers and sisters feel the need to flee to a place where they are not wanted? To a place where they are being humiliated and insulted.

What does it say about our wealthy Arab world blessed with vast empty tracts of land that our doors are closed to our own? The scene dominating our screens are almost unbearable to watch. Tiny children washed upon the shore like flotsam..."

Dr. Habtoor is known here in Jacksonville as a generous supporter of Illinois College. I know him as a friend for nearly 30 years. We were brought together - and kept together - by our broad and sustained opposition to the oppression of Palestinians.

When we first met, he was just beginning business leadership. His principal achievement was the Metropolitan Hotel in Dubai. Over the years he has become a strong voice for the Arab world through books, editorials in public media and in his own bi-monthly company magazine. He is the author of a bestselling autobiography and four books on pubic policy with more in the planning stage.

He is one of the small group of dedicated people who built Dubai into a wonder of the modern world for grandeur, variety and success. Today he owns properties and businesses worth over US $2. 5 billion. Among them is the Abraham Lincoln Hotel in Springfield. Most of his immense transition occurred since our first meeting. His reaction to the plight of refugees pouring into Europe is typical of his passion to help the downtrodden. In his emotion charged statement, he deplores wealthy states for not opening their borders to the onrush of many thousands of frantic, abused and helpless refugees from Syria and Iraq. Since receiving his eloquent plea, I learned that wealthy Arab Kuwait opened its borders.

The American people share the shame. Our government committed grave misdeeds through acts of war in Iraq, Libya and Syria, leaving mayhem that produced the refugee tide. Our government has pledged to accept 10,000 refugees. We should welcome many times that number and salute Dr. Habtoor.

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