|Al-Ahram Weekly On-line
29 March - 4 April 2001
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875||Current issue | Previous issue | Site map|
Sinai under sewageSir- Some years ago I chose to become a resident of Dahab, South Sinai, due to my love of nature, the desert, the sea, scuba diving and a pristine, clean environment. Slightly over six years ago, the city council decided to install a sewage system to serve the growing needs of this popular destination. Since that time, we have had nothing but sewage floods in the middle of the tourist area, dumping right into the sea, destroying some of the most precious corals and fish that exist worldwide. This can be observed in the middle of Masbat, Dahab's main tourist area.
No one seems to have done much to remedy the faulty system or to do anything about sorting out the problem despite numerous complaints from both locals and foreigners. We thought to write to you in the hope that such a disaster might draw your attention and perhaps lead to a story that will result in finding listeners / policymakers who can do something about it. We find it very interesting that so far, the local city council, the governorate, the health department, the Ministry of Tourism, or the Ministry of Environmental Affairs seem not to care about a major catastrophe that affects all of us on a daily basis. We hope this letter will make someone react and help us to try to find a solution.
Poets in motionSir- Ahhh, it seems to me that once one becomes famous, one cannot use a latrine without it having significance. I am a poet. I knew Maire Janus and Edward Said in the '60s at Harvard. I lamented when I read the news last summer of the rock-throwing episode. I could feel the pent-up years in the toss, since I knew him so long ago.
It seems that we all need to try to speak of what happens when it is an unfair fight, how the oppressed do not give up, how the dialogue of fighting back and yielding if defeated does not take place.
Jews all over know about that psychology. It is the psychology of the people who would do anything to reclaim the right to choose, to regain their will. To be a free person is to choose, even if choosing what seems on the face of it either foolishly trivial, like throwing pebbles at a vacant building, or absurd, like painting a doorway lintel with blood to enjoy safety, or impossible like walking across the water of a sea.
And yet when asked to understand that psychology pertains now to a group that the Israeli military are oppressing, that is impossible for many Jews. That attitude is only about Biblical Jews and their descendents, descriptive of them alone that persistent resistence, that despair.
I truly do not see a solution. Israel cannot be eradicated. There must be a safe haven for Jews, but the haven is not safe because of hideous injustice to Israeli Arabs as well as Palestinian Arabs. The haven is not safe because of conflict and is not safe because of policy that escalates hatred and sorrow and factionalises the Jewish people. A Jewish state that delegitimises other peoples is not a Jewish state, and so the paradox of Zionism is that founding a state for Jewish rescue and haven cannot be to create a state that violates the laws of justice that Judaism stands for and has given as gifts to the world. Israel as now constituted for many, many Jews is not yet a Jewish state, except in name. If it were, there would not be an internal Arab problem -- and there is: one of Israel's making.
Does your magazine subscribe to any of the lists of Jews for Peace? Do you reprint Tanya Reinhart, Arthur Waskow or any of the Jewish Women for Peace or the Rabbis for Peace Action? Is there any reportage on your side of the deep division on this side, including so many who feel there must be some way to create something more fair and more just and kinder than what we have?
Princeton, New Jersey
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