|Al-Ahram Weekly Online
10 - 16 January 2002
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875||Current issue | Previous issue | Site map|
A war on mythsSir- Regarding Mohamed Sid- Ahmed's article equating terrorism to a an ideological pole similar to communism in a bi-polar world (Al-Ahram Weekly, 3-9 January): I find it surprising that an intellectual of his calibre parrots the US's propaganda line that terrorism is actually "Terrorism." Terrorism is not some political form or an ideology: it is a process of expression of political will. This US propaganda is not even accepted by Americans. We understand our government's need to create this myth, but we also understand that the terrorism of 11 September is an extreme expression of political Islam. The war on terrorism is a war on political Islam that rejects Western capitalism and may threaten Israel.
The joke here is that we are fortunate that this attack was not organised by Bin Jose. It would make racial profiling so much more difficult.
As for the Palestinians, it is unfortunate but they seem to have lost the propaganda war here in the US. While the Pakistanis are making the claim that home-grown freedom fighters in Kashmir have a legitimate right of combat, the Palestinians are seen as terrorists. I hope their will is strong.
As for globalism, think international capitalism. The view from environmentalists in the US is that the earth cannot sustain a global Western style of living, but the West, to maintain its present lifestyle, must continue to exploit Third World labour and natural resources.
In the end Mohamed Sid-Ahmed gets it right. Terrorism is an expression of the new world in the making. It is not an ideology in and of itself. It is a form of combat no different than guerrilla warfare. And lest we forget, here is a short list of US actions that, as we say, caused massive civilian "collateral" damage: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, Vietnam, the arrest of Noriega in Panama, Iran/Contra/ Nicaragua, El Salvador, Allende/Chile. Is the US a terrorist state? Hm... How much money do we give to Egypt each year? Ah yes... around $2 billion.
I guess it is true that history is written by the rich and the powerful and the victorioUS.
Stray ArabsSir- Occupation? What occupation? There never was a country of Palestine. Just a bunch of stray Arabs that decided to live there so they could work for the Israelis, because they can't even run a town on their own, much less a country. Reread your history.
Bomb CairoSir- As an ordinary American citizen I wish to express my profound regrets and apologies that my nation, the United States of America, has waged a war on the tragically troubled and destitute country of Afghanistan. I think the US should have dropped its bombs on Riyadh and Cairo, not Kabul.
Harold B Dailey
Fatal errorsSir- My prayers and hopes are with the Palestinian people at this time. May they come through this stronger than before.
There is a slight error in the translation of Mohamed Sid-Ahmed's article in Al-Ahram Weekly of 3-9 December, "Terrorism and communism:"
"... In other words, it proceeded from the premise that mutual destruction was not a fatality..."
The word "fatality" in modern English refers to death as a result of an accident. It is derived from the word "fate" but it has lost all connection with "fate" in the minds of most English speakers, who would find that quoted sentence rather baffling. "Mutual destruction not fatal?"
A better translation might read as follows: "...In other words, it proceeded from the premise that mutual destruction was not fated to happen..."
Just misunderstoodSir- Every letter or article recently appears to be in condemnation of Ariel Sharon and his policies; you forget or ignore the fact that he is the chosen representative of the Israeli people and thus deserves respect for his actions.
All he wants or has ever wanted is Lebensraum or Eretz Israel, so in keeping with the historical mindset of men who have coveted such things why is he being castigated for using all the military might he has at his disposal in trying to destroy previous treaties and the Palestinians on the ground? At least he recognises their existence, a major leap foreword from Golda Meir, who tried to deny their existence as a people.
So the man's Big Plan in Lebanon may have gone a bit too far, with the odd massacre at Sabra and Shatila, but come on, these hiccups occur when a final solution for the Palestinians is in sight. I presume that the majority of Israelis condone his actions, especially that noble breed of pioneering settlers who head off in their bulldozers toting Uzi machine guns. You never know when a family might overreact when their house is destroyed, but the zealots of Gush Emunim are as misunderstood as Mr Sharon. They know that this is all part of a predestined plan orchestrated by a supreme being. So please resist the temptation to condemn Ariel Sharon. He has a mission: to put another brick in the wall.
What's the problem?Sir- As an American who reads your online paper, I see references to the reasons for the terrorist and "Mid-East problem." I have to ask: just what is the problem?
Please spell it out so we can read it in black and white. I understand that Israeli policy is part if it. Or is that all of it? And if so, please spell out what part of the policy. Or is it just the bias that we all know is there? We in America feel that we control the government, yet if we, as a whole, do not understand what is wrong then we cannot change it.
Also, just what is the "desecration" of the holy sites in the Arabian peninsula? What has been done to cause this? I have not heard of Americans riding a horse into a mosque. Or do you want all non-Muslims out of the area?
Free the pressSir- Of course I don't agree with everything that your reporters write on your web page -- the beauty of the free press -- but their overall reporting reads as fair and balanced. It is enlightening for me to read other perspectives of those with different experiences in our world.
I wish the monolithic American press would take a few hints from your reporters when reporting "world" news.
Tell the truthSir- It is appalling how little attention is being paid by the New York Times to the large and growing number of civilian victims of the US war against Afghanistan.
Will the Times ever give us an estimate of how many innocent Afghans have been killed by the US bombing so far? Will you tell us what the cumulative death toll might be from cold, hunger, and sickness among the refugees fleeing the US bombing? Do these people's lives matter to you, or do you view them as subhuman? A Mussolini attacking Ethiopia could not ask for a more cooperative press!
Dr Zeljko Cipris
A little respectSir- Re Gamil Mattar's "Torment and transformation" (Al-Ahram Weekly, 3-9 January): Mr Mattar, like many in the world, particularly Arabs, believes that the US can impose an equitable solution upon the Israelis and Palestinians. This will never happen as long as respect and trust is lacking among the belligerents.
Does Mr Mattar know any Arabs who will publicly state that they believe that Israel has a right to exist? I think not many. Certainly the "Arab street" does not recognise this right.
Now put yourself in the shoes of a typical Israeli. Would you place any trust in negotiations with the Palestinians? Since the turn of the century, the history of the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict has been replete with broken promises and deceit from both sides. Trust doesn't exist. Israel wishes to make permanent the 1967 borders. Arabs want to push the Israelis into the sea.
The US cannot fix the problem by imposing its will on Israel. The problem will only be fixed when Israel and the Palestinians agree to live together. Creating a small Palestinian state will not fix the problem; it will simply prolong the agony of both Israelis and Palestinians.
In my opinion, the ideal solution would be a secular state that recognised the rights of both Israeli and Palestinian citizens. What is likely to occur instead is a long drawn out process of forced migration of the Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza. This can only be avoided by responsible people on both sides working toward the creation of a single secular state. Do you believe fundamentalist Jews or Muslims will allow this to happen? I don't.
Salt Lake City, Utah
More about MansouraSir- I am Egyptian American and have been enjoying your paper for the last year. I wish you would expand the sections that deal with local Egyptian issues, like social and economical problems and what the government is doing about it.
Also, if you have any news about my home town, Mansoura, please include it. Egyptian Americans living in Chicago look for local news from home, but most of the time we hear global problems like Palestine, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia. I want to know about the state of the Egyptian economy, whether they have built a local library in Mansoura (a real library where you can take books home to read) and whether the problem of garbage collection has been solved or not.
I have always believed that politics is local, and the best political news for me is local Egyptian news or Mansoura news.
Keep the good work. We are proud of all you do for Egypt,
War against povertySir- During the last months, the media in the entire world have covered the war against terrorism with great interest. On one hand there has been a heated discussion on the causes of terrorism and on the other there opinions have been divided about the ways and methods to fight terrorism. The politicians of the United States and Europe have taken an active part in these discussions and deliberations, and most of the decision-makers of the Western world have described terrorism as the greatest threat facing humanity. At the same time, since the brutal attacks against the United States, many countries in the Western world have spent vast amounts in the war against terrorism.
While the decision-makers of the West consider terrorism as the greatest threat, a large part of the world's population is under the threat of starvation and food shortage. Several thousand innocent children die every day because of malnutrition and undernourishment. But while vast amounts are used in the war against terrorism, the West makes no big efforts to fight poverty in the world. While the media cover the war against terrorism with great eagerness, people starving in different parts of the world do not make the headlines. And while the most of decision-makers of the West are arguing in favour of a war against terrorism with great enthusiasm, there are few politicians arguing in favour of a war against poverty.
The very sad truth is that we are living in a world where there seem to be large amounts of money to fight terrorism and defeat Al-Qa'eda in Afghanistan, but no resources to fight poverty. The world order does not make sense.
Salam Karam and Åsa Hydén
Who's in control?Sir- I would like to make a few comments about a letter published in Al-Ahram Weekly (3-9 January) by a Mr Glenn Raptors of North Carolina, US.
I do not accept Mr Raptors's premise that Israel is negotiating its right to survive. Israel, right now, is negotiating nothing besides how to stop suicide bombers, who have been driven to their terrible end by years of brutality and oppression by a foreign "country" (as Mr Raptors calls Israel); by witnessing the murder of hundreds of children whose "elimination" is Israel's policy provided the child appears to be 12 years of age or more; by the occupation settlers, whose manicured colonies are constructed on stolen property, and by such tragedies as the tent "refugee camps" (five children were burnt to death when their tent "house" caught fire last week) the Palestinians must now call home. They have seen children murdered by settlers whose penalty -- if they are brought to justice -- is a couple of months behind bars (Sharon's government has commuted many convictions). They have seen infants slaughtered in their beds while they sleep by Israelis invading their neighbourhoods in the dark. They have buried children blown to bits by booby traps the Israelis plant on the roads the children take to school; and they have watched in horror as the Israelis blew a 12-year-old boy's stomach out of his body as he was returning from a shopping trip with his father.
Ariel Sharon is not trying to save Israel from terrorism; he is trying to wipe out a civilisation, and to conquer the Middle East. Mr Raptors might look into Sabra and Shatila as well.
Mr Raptors asks if the US should abandon its "friend and ally, Israel." This is another premise I wish not to accept. Presently, the US government is investigating Israelis, suspected to be members of Mossad, for their suspicious behaviour before, during and after the World Trade Center attack. A national TV network ran a four-part series about the intelligence in Israel's possession prior to the attack. The investigation is still attempting to find out why our government was not informed and who stopped the information from being shared. Also, two members of the Israeli Defence Force have been charged in connection with the planned bombing of a mosque in California, and conspiracy to murder an American senator of Palestinian descent. The Rosenbergs were executed for spying for Israel. There are many other instances, one being Mark Rich, a Jewish businessman pardoned by President Clinton. Mr Rich, it is alleged, was working closely with Israeli intelligence, and was congratulated by Ehud Barak for his service to Israel. Another situation is the collapse of the Texas power brokerage firm, Enron. The top executives took hundreds of millions of dollars from the employee-funded stocks, and ran to Israel. Hundreds of employees who had put their faith and their financial future into their employers' trust lost their life savings.
Mr Raptors says Israel "has the right to decide how to defend itself." Again, I take exception. Israel is protecting itself with tanks, armoured personnel carriers, attack helicopters, snipers killing stone-throwing children... all in a foreign land, not in Israel. Yes, the occasional suicide bomber gets through -- but Israel, for the past few months, has been conducting preemptive assassinations, kind of like when you shoot the paper boy because his brother kicked your dog the other day.
Mr Raptors refers to the "incredible concessions" Israel has made. I'll assume he is referring to Oslo. The concessions were truly incredible -- that is, they were totally without credit. The mirage was in the percentages. The truth is in the totally encircled villages that we see today, giving Israeli occupiers, who defy international law on basic human rights (like those Mr Raptors seems to take for granted), absolute control over the movements of the native, legal, moral, lawful citizens of the land Israelis now occupy in violation of UN Resolutions 242 and 338 among others.
Mr Raptors asserts that Americans aren't shocked by the attacks of 11 September, that "American people are killed every day," as though a few more "Americans" are no big deal. Israel has been known to kill some of its own people for the realisation of its state. If Mr Raptors feels that the "few Americans" killed in the 11 September attacks are no big deal, I wonder where he is really from.
I believe that Israel is alone in its lust for blood. It kills now just for the thrill of it. It is even starting to flaunt its power in America's face. I wonder if Mr Raptors is aware of Mr Sharon's statement to Mr Peres in the Knesset: "Don't worry about the Americans. We Jews control America and they know it."
I think President Bush controls America, by the people's will. Not all those people are Jews. Some have integrity; it is just in short supply right now. But the assembly is in full operation.
Millennia of hatredSir- It is quite clear to me that the existence of anti-Jewish feelings within the Muslim religion itself will forever influence the policies of Arab and Muslim peoples toward Israel and the Jewish people.
As is clear from my name, I am a descendant of Yemenite Jews and from that I know the same anti-Jewish feelings existed for several millennia before Israel was established. Print this on the front of your paper for all to see and stop beating around the bush.
Regardless of your hatred of Israel, in the end you aspire to much more than Israel's destruction and the slaughtering of all Jews within the land, but as well you seek to wipe out entirely all Jews from the face of this earth.
Nothing left to loseSir- I am a Palestinian born in America, an Arab American. I am very disturbed and pained by all that has happened to my people and homeland. I don't understand why there is not an international cry for withdrawal of Israeli tanks and the crippling control Israel imposes on the Palestinians. What about the repeated calls for international observers by Palestinian officials and the rejection of those calls by Israel? Is this not a telling sign?
Palestinians are denied medical care, the opportunity to thrive, the opportunity to live: that has got to be as obvious as the sun in the sky. I absolutely abhor suicide bombings for the simple fact that innocent people seem to be the target. I can understand how atrocious living in those conditions in the camps must be. What is there to lose? It seems the quality of life is not getting better.
Coming from a country that liberated itself from tyrants, we as Americans should feel compassion for the people of a proposed Palestinian state. I cannot write anymore. I want to know what can I do and how I can make a difference.
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