“I’ve been told you're a Middle East expert, Mr. Ray, so I'm assuming you know about the Sabra Refugee Camp Massacre?”
“Yes, of course. It happened back in the early 1980’s in the middle of Lebanon’s civil war. If I remember correctly, members of the Phalange party entered a Palestinian refugee camp and killed over three thousand people.”
As I recited this account, his face turned to granite.
“Those were Christian Phalanges, Mr. Ray,” he said, spitting out the correction, “and they were aided in that massacre by the Israelis.”
“The Israelis sealed off the camp and prevented anyone from entering while the killing took place.”
I couldn’t dispute his well-documented facts, so I asked quietly, “How was your wife killed?”
At the mention of his wife, he turned away from me and looked up at their wedding picture. He didn’t speak for almost a full minute, and I considered mumbling something about calling him later, but finally, he turned toward me and told me the story. His voice took on a monotone, as if he’d recited the tale a thousand times before.
“In 1980, I was the cultural affairs officer at our embassy in Beirut. I’d joined the diplomatic corps when Eloise and I were first married, but she hadn’t been happy at our previous postings in Germany or Japan. She wanted to be in a country where she could make a difference. She was thrilled when I took the position offered to me in Lebanon, and she immediately went to work trying to aid the thousands of Palestinian refugees being displaced by the civil war.”
At this point in the story, his voice broke slightly, but then he straightened his back and hurriedly finished the account of his wife’s death.
“She happened to be in the camp the day the Israelis sealed it off following the assassination of the Lebanese President. The Israelis allowed the militant Christians to enter the camp and seek revenge on the Palestinians for killing their President. Eloise’s body was found a day later. She’d been killed trying to protect some helpless child.”
“Again, Professor, I am so sorry for your loss.”
“I left the Foreign Service after that and raised my two daughters by myself.” He nodded toward the other family photos. “I now have four grandchildren.”
“I’m sure they bring you lots of happiness.”
“Yes, they do,” he agreed.
Then, he shook his head. “But I don’t want them growing up in the kind of world we live in today. I want something better for them—a world without conflicts. Everything I do here,” he gestured toward the campus scene outside his windows, “is an effort to influence tomorrow’s leaders. Someday, I hope one of them will implement the right solution.”
What exactly would that solution be? Perhaps a world free of Jews? If that’s what he thought, then the cultured, distinguished Paul Franklin could be as dangerous as any Islamic terrorist plotting the next attack.
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