|Al-Ahram Weekly Online
25 April - 1 May 2002
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875||Current issue | Previous issue | Site map|
Cartoon by Ossama Qassim
Sir- Re: "That weasel word," your interview with Tom Paulin in issue 580.
This interview with the Oxford scholar is disturbing in two ways. Firstly, while Palestinians and their Muslim brothers are understandably concerned at Israeli political actions, one would hope that a more mature and balanced perspective could be taken. Sentiments of Mr Paulin's such as "Israel has no right to exist" are reminiscent of the 1948 Wars of Independence. It is time that the Arab world accepted the reality of Israeli statehood. Surely any claims for Palestinian nationhood based on a common history, culture and identity apply equally to the millennia-old Jewish nation?
The second point of concern, is that your readership may believe that the views of Mr Paulin are somehow representative of British public opinion. This is not the case.
What they don't know
Sir- There has been a concerted effort to quell any anti-Sharon sentiment in America. Personally, I have been attacked in my workplace, my daughter's school and in the streets for my disgust with Sharon's policies and I have been labelled anti-Semitic. What is the difference between Bin Laden's mutilation of Islam and Sharon's gross distortion of Judaism? The two men are no different. Here in the United States however ("whose home is a home of the brave by the statue of bigotry?") you are not allowed to liken Sharon to his war criminal colleagues. If you do, you are anti-Semitic. The ignorance of the population in this country is truly sickening. So long as the local Starbucks is serving up double skim lattes, everything is OK with this population of TV-land zombies.
They walk the streets unaware of the basis of the Israeli-American "special relationship." This is no longer a special relationship. It's incestuous. It's unnatural. Israel (since the 1970s) has become the conduit for supplying United States weapons to Third World despots throughout Africa and Latin America when congressional human rights laws prevent direct sales.
But the American people are unaware of the fact that it is their tax dollars that provide the wherewithal to create the third largest army in the world (after the United States and China) and plaster the Star of David across tanks which are then used to commit genocide. Doesn't this offend American Jewry? Indeed any Jew anywhere in the world?
Asking too much
Sir- I wonder if, as an Israeli citizen, you would consider printing my reply to some of the allegations and remarks which are passed in your esteemed newspaper.
This conflict and it's latest turn of events only happened after a concerted round of homicide bombers had attacked totally innocent civilians who were eating, on buses, coming from a house of worship etc.
Perhaps I am asking too much for people to understand the cycle of events which surrounds the latest awful events which are happening in both Israel and Palestine.
It is too easy to criticise us, and very easy to laud the Palestinians, but until we can find the road to an acceptable peace this crisis will simply lurch from crisis to crisis, only interrupted by even more savagery.
The alliance trap
Sir- I deeply understand your outrage over what is happening in Palestine. But do you really think we'll come closer to peace, understanding and security if you let a lunatic like La Rouche talk to your audience? Well, he can talk, but why don't your people ask him questions? Haven't you heard about the idea that La Rouche is the most chameleon-like figure of a "left-right-change-the-tree- camouflage game." Watch out for your allies; they might not be your friends.
If you want to carry on that path, I can certainly get you some German "Skinheads" who will tell you how much the "Vicious Jews" need to be exterminated. As far as I know, Arabs have never persecuted Jews.
Look out for your alliances.
Your enemy's enemy
Sir- I am so surprised that you allow the good cause for justice in Palestine to be sullied by quoting a well known anti-Semite (a person who is anti- Jewish) as Lyndon La Rouche.
In my opinion, this is thoroughly irresponsible of your venerable paper. It gives ammunition to pro- Israeli commentators to paint the Palestinian quest for justice with the racist epithet of anti-Semitism.
In this case, like most other cases, your enemy's enemy is not your friend. He is actually your enemy's friend.
I believe that it is every Palestinian and Arab's duty to fight anti-Semitism because it is: 1. the moral thing to do.
2. used as weapon to stifle any criticism of Israel's atrocities.
3. used to get Jews to immigrate to Israel, thus exasperating the problems in the Middle East.
By writing about Lyndon La Rouche you are doing us all MAJOR HARM.
Issam M Nashashibi
Joker of the pack
Sir- I think you are doing a disservice to your reputation by conducting an interview with Lyndon La Rouche. When you publish work by scholars and people of such high calibre and integrity as Edward Said, it astounds me to think that you print the confused, dangerous, racist invective of La Rouche who is known in the United States and world-wide as an ideological fascist. In this context, I suggest that your interviewer consult the writings of one of Edward Said's friends, namely Noam Chomsky; and La Rouche's own writings as well, to verify what I have stated above.
Edward Said has repeatedly stated that it is imperative for people who support the Palestinian cause to inform themselves fully about the political culture of the United States. Unfortunately, your interviewer fails utterly to do this. Moreover, such articles fuel the right-wing Zionist lobby which continually points to the crude racism and anti- Semitism often found in Middle Eastern media. Interviews such as the one with such odious characters as La Rouche silence criticism of Sharon, not only in Israel but also among Jewish communities world-wide. The consequences of silencing these criticisms are not difficult to extrapolate.
Israel is to blame
Sir- Who can explain in one word why the Palestinians blow themselves up in the occupied territories copiously? I think the word "OCCUPATION" is the only correct answer.
Occupation is the Pandora's Box for the Palestinians. It stripped them of their dignity and hope. In fact, Palestinian suicide bombers don't sacrifice themselves as believed. They have been living like zombies. Life and death are equal to them.
Instead of addressing the core of the issue, Sharon and his ilk from the West dubbed them terrorists! As if fighting occupation is tantamount to terrorism, though occupation is the flash-point of terrorism! Zionist-owned media all over the world launched ferocious campaigns, amid which, facts were wrenched and eclipsed, the masses were brainwashed and blindfolded. Unfortunately, in the course of time, they forgot who the oppressed were and who the oppressors were.
Still, I'm of the opinion that the Israelis, not Sharon, are to blame for what is going on in the occupied Arab territories. They were the ones who voluntarily brought him to power, though they had known beforehand about the massacres he had perpetrated since 1948, and his killing the prisoners of war in Sinai in 1956 and 1967. They are even aware that he will be, sooner or later, prosecuted as a criminal of war. Certainly the peoples deserve their rulers!
The patriotic steadfastness of the Palestinians will go down into history as the only people that stood up heroically, to take away their rights from the brutal forces of occupation, armed by the whole gamut of high-tech weaponry, and inexorably fighting the defenceless indigenes by tanks, gunships, warplanes and missiles!
But history taught us a lesson. Dawn must come, no matter how long and dark the night is.
The let down
Sir- I would like to express myself and those who I know or meet from Egyptian lawyers or people generally.
-- The attitude of the US administration against Palestinians, who have no weapons but their only bodies to face Sharon's brutality, is shameful and disrespectful.
-- It's unfair and unjust to treat Palestinians as terrorists with blind bias towards the Israeli state, which itself represents terror creation.
-- I used to respect American civilisation more than mine (Eastern civilisation) but now I feel there is no difference between them. My friends now look at me with contempt. No one can now defend the American stance on the Palestinian issue.
-- I once argued for normalisation and supported it by publishing an article in an Egyptian newspaper, but now I strongly condemn my earlier views.
-- I believed foolishly that USA would protect human rights around the world but now I feel that I was wrong.
-- It will be very difficult for pro-American peoples or friends of America to believe anything the US administration says in the future.
Ahmed Abou Bakr
Nasr City, Cairo
The power of empathy
Sir- I understand the Intifada.
When I was a little boy we were, for few years, under Nazi occupation in Italy. Nothing compared with 35 plus years of the Israelis occupying over a million Palestinians.
Yes I was there when the American bombardment happened. I was in a basement with a bucket over my head praying to the Virgin Mary as my mother told me to.
Yes, I starved. I was always hungry and had nothing to eat. I fainted few times because of that.
My aunt Nina died when the bombs fell on the building next to me. When I went outside, the scene was just like Jenin in these days.
And yes, I was a terrorist. We were 5 or 6 kids. I was not strong and, at 3 feet in height, I was on the look-out while the others were removing the connection between the rails on the railroad in the area. The boss, maybe 12 years old, convinced us that by removing them, the Germans on the train could not communicate with each other. And so you have it.
When this thing started I saw a teenager throwing rocks. On the other side was the Israeli military with telescopic lenses on their guns aiming, at the head of the Palestinian kids.
I did not like that.
Sir- I was very impressed with your coverage. We do not see an accurate picture of the conflict in America. I have come to get most of my news from Al-Ahram and Ha'aretz because the coverage is simply not complete here in the US.
I have found many of your columns to be challenging and, combined with other sources, they have caused me to re-think many positions I had taken on the Palestine issue. I used to think that the main obstacle was that the Israeli government was unable to come to a peaceful resolution on this issue or that of Golan due to a flawed democratic system where extremists wield disproportional power. While I still think that this is an obstacle, the columns in your press along with others have helped me see that the Israeli leadership has simply been unwilling to accept the possibility of a Palestinian state, and that the peace movement in Israel, in their support for the Camp David proposals showed a moral bankruptcy I am not used to seeing in peace movements. I am now convinced that it is and has been arrogance at the top levels of the government which has lead to the current crisis.
I still believe, however, that the majority of the peoples of both sides want the violence to end, and would support at least the principle of Palestinian sovereignty, if not reparations to the refugees. The world must act as one and work to create a just and fair solution to the problems that exist. Sometimes I fear that President Bush is not ready to assume this role. There are those of us in the US, even those like myself of limited Jewish descent, who support the Arab peace plan.
Out to get Arafat
Sir- Hani Shukrallah's article "Back to basics" in the April 18-24 issue is excellent. Israel is hoping to kill the 70-years-old-plus "Yasser Arafat" by bombing his compound, to make him have a heart attack or "heart failure."
Dr Jennefir Sorbiatis
What shouldn't we buy?
Sir- Please publish a comprehensive list of Israeli products and interests to boycott.
Israeli government web sites CAN crash.
Kill now, shame later
Sir- As a sports person I have never felt the need to be involved in politics and wars, but the last few events occurring in the Middle East have left an irreversible impact on any person that can call themselves even half a human.
The US and NATO took their time in coming to the rescue of 7,000 Muslims in Srebrenica and the Dutch Battalion did not do their duty in protecting them. Result? A horrifying ethnic cleansing of thousands of Muslims. Today, 7 years later, the Dutch government has resigned after the investigation of their brigade's failure. This action makes me believe that there is still some hope in this world.
I wonder -- will the Republicans feel the same shame in a few years about the Jenin massacre? Is the Jewish Lobby's money for office more important than human rights?
To Sharon, massacres are habitual (Sabra and Shatila) so it is expected of him. But the USA? For Shame. I cannot come to terms with the fact that people were buried alive and no help was allowed to them, that rapes occurred and that people bled to death because Israel refused to provide any assistance. What kind of people are these? And the USA speaks of human rights!
Oil and Zionism
Sir- I hate to criticise anything that appears in this pretty marvelous news source, but the lead statement on the article by Nevine Khalil, headed "Salvage Operation," is just erroneous, incorrect, unsupported by evidence, and dead wrong.
"Washington is determined to resolve the crisis in the Middle East..."?
I regret having to object so strenuously, Ms Khalil. I'm sure you mean well. But this statement reflects a total misunderstanding of what the US president and the US polity are all about.
The convergence between US geo-strategic realpolitik focused on energy resources for the coming decades, and the Zionist goal of a reborn Eretz Israel -- which must not be given up lest the whole Zionist enterprise be revealed as meaningless -- may be a coincidence, or it may have been planned. Either way, it exists.
This incontrovertible fact is the one which, above all others, determines the manner in which the struggle must be waged. By this I mean whether or not the West Bank is to be annexed; it's "present tenants" evicted and relocated to handy bits of Iraqi or Afghan desert to be fed etc by the UN and the Red Cross.
Daniel Owens Elliott
Sir- In response to the article entitled, "Boycott Israel? Not so simple." I think a strong way to cut off the demand for Israeli goods is by individuals being more careful about what they buy. By cutting off demand, we cut off supply. It should be our duty as human beings to stop supporting the Israeli occupation and to stop funding their economy. Since governments often do not wish to be involved in a boycott, it is up to society. Consider it charity to spend slightly more for a product that is non-Israeli.
We love you Edward
Sir- I just finished reading Mr Said's essay about Palestine, and would like to congratulate you for publishing such a wise man. Mr Said is one of the brightest among the fine harvest of Palestinian people.
Sir- Edward Said offers a glimmer of hope in an otherwise desperate time.
While it would be easy to sanction an indiscriminate, violent response to the horrendous crimes perpetrated against the Palestinian people, his call for "Palestinians to capture the high moral ground and keep it" is surely the only viable option.
Finally, I hear that Edward Said is unwell and wish him all the best.
Sir- Several weeks ago, when Israeli soldiers tied, numbered and photographed Palestinians, I was reminded of how Jews were treated during World War II. Israelis were reminded as well, as many holocaust survivors expressed their disgust with the Israeli army's actions. Actions like these need not be the only reminder to Israelis that history is repeating itself, this time with the Jews on the wrong side of history.
I propose to the Palestinians that they start wearing white armbands with a sewn-in Palestinian flag on their upper right arms. This would vividly illustrate to Israelis the nature of their behaviour towards Palestinians and put it into the proper historical context for them.
Stop our oil
Sir- Arab states are considering at least a symbolic showing of unity with the Palestinian people by considering a cut back on oil production. As an American who is against the continued occupation of Palestine, I think this is an EXCELLENT idea.
The overwhelming media misrepresentation and unquestioned support of Israel's policies in the US are very difficult to fight against. Pressure must be put on the US from all sides, inside and out, to end its one-sided policies. Americans must be made to realise the terrible costs of this continued conflict and their role in supporting an immoral occupation of another people.
The great Arab failure
Sir- What a clear and moving article by Edward Said!
It just amazes me these days, that justice, freedom, human rights, etc., which are daily advocated by the strong of this planet, do not necessarily apply to others, except their own selves and associates.
But what amazes me even more is the fact that the Israeli war machine has been using Arab oil to carry out the atrocities!
Who is to blame for that?
The Arab world has been methodically dismantled since 1948.
Their failure to act with consensus and immediacy the moment the Jews begun their onslaught against the innocent population defies imagination.
Or as a German tourist told me recently, when the oil runs out or hydrogen replaces oil, the Arabs are destined to return back to camel riding. Perhaps not their corrupt leaders!
Sir- As a citizen of the US, I want to tell you how ashamed I am of my government's unflagging support for the murderous and illegal policies of the Sharon government. Over the past month, I have done whatever I could to protest Israel's occupation, and their use of my tax dollars (over 2 billion in military aid each year) to buy the tanks and gun ships that murder Palestinians. I am very impressed by those who are resisting the occupation, (including those in Israel who stand for peace and a Palestinian state) and hope for mass non-violent resistance to grow, so that no more will die. I read many pieces from the international press on the Internet, especially on commondreams.org, and want your readers to know how widely the occupation and Israel's murderous acts are being protested around the globe. In hope and solidarity,
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