10 - 16 October 2002
Issue No. 607
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875||Recommend this page|
End the evilSir-- I read with great admiration the article 'Those who give us hope' by Mustafa El- Bargouthi (Al-Ahram Weekly, 26 September - 2 October). It is an excellent article, which looks to the future in the right way. We should fight all the daily fights to try to save the great Palestinian people, and other Arab and Muslim people, threatened by rising Israeli fascism and its supporters. But we should think strategically also, for this is where we can find the real solution.
It is in the hands of the people; both our oppressed people as well as those who are intellectually and politically aware among the aggressive countries -- including Israel. There are many people inside Israel who are fighting against Zionism, and Sharon's rising fascism, and there are others with similar views around the world. Although they are a very small minority, this is how the future always starts.
The situation now is not only a threat to the Palestinians, nor only to the Arab people, the attack now by Israel and its supporters is against civilised humanity as whole. Arms producers and dealers want to keep there trillion- dollar business flourishing and are the base for all aggression, corruption, drug dealing and all evils on earth. This industry becomes more and more aggressive as it becomes more and more useless. But while dying out, it may take the lives of millions of people everywhere with it.
The only road to freedom and dignified human life is for the minority of people around the world who see this truth to become a majority. Only then will the children in this world -- including the children of these fascist countries like Israel -- be safe and happy.
Thank you Mustafa El-Bargouthi for reminding everyone of this side of the positive results of the heroic second Intifada.
Commitment to the causeSir-- As one who has not yet made the journey to Palestine but does have plans to do so, I would like to thank Dr Mustafa El-Bargouthi for his kind words in 'Those who give us hope' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 26 September - 2 October).
I have been immensely impressed by the role of the 'internationals', including one I am in contact with almost daily, a fellow Canadian. The depth of their commitment to Palestine is often reflected in the letters and reports they write upon return to their own lands. They write of regret at having to leave behind new friends, and fear for them if there should not be sufficient internationals around to bear witness to injustices.
Be assured that those of us who receive daily bulletins from Palestine forward them far and wide to everyone who may have influence.
Spoils of warSir-- Paul Findley in 'Removing the blindfolds' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 3-9 October) forgets that the war in 1967 was not one of Israel's choosing; Arab armies surrounding it prepared to attack. In the aftermath of that war, Israel came into possession of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Sinai.
Egypt's Sadat signed a peace treaty with Israel and received Sinai; Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel and took back some land and assurances of water resources. On the other hand, Syria and the Palestinians refuse to enter into meaningful peace treaties with Israel. Mr Findley would have outside forces -- "the world at large" -- rectify that problem. Only Syria and the Palestinians can rectify that problem.
It sounds like Mr Findley doesn't like the results of democracy. If you don't like a situation, you work politically to change it. His opponents did just that. Democracy worked; it wasn't a great mystery.
Horrified by US policiesSir-- I would like to point out to your readers that there are many people in the UK who are horrified at the way the USA is behaving with regards to the Middle East. It condemns one country for breaches of UN mandates and ignores another, and has not right to demand a change of leadership in Iraq. Everyone agrees that weapons inspectors should be allowed to do their job and that Saddam Hussein is a brutal dictator, but it is only the people of Iraq who have the right to alter their leadership.
What the USA also forgets is that its own people sponsored terrorists for many years by giving funds to the IRA in Ireland. Sadly, some 4,000 people lost their lives on 11 September, but how many people have lost their lives over the years in the UK and Ireland because of the IRA? I cannot believe that my own government has forgotten this and is supporting President Bush.
Tyne and Wear
Second class brainsSir-- As an Englishman, I share Linda Heard's intense concern in 'Britain is not the 51st state' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 12-18 September) about the almost slavish attitude of Blair to Bush and his colleagues. Some time ago, Roy Jenkins, another senior left wing politician, admitted that Blair does not have a first-class brain. Nonetheless, he is not in the intellectual category of Bush or Cheney or Rumsfeld. He is capable of understanding cause and effect.
Linda is quite right. The British people are overwhelmingly opposed to military action in Iraq, just as they are opposed to Bush's Luddite attitude to the International Criminal Court, and to Bush's unjust and destructive attitude towards Palestine. Bush doesn't have a second-class brain and seems to have no understanding of truth and justice.
Only Bush and Saddam
Sir-- This is an open letter to President George W Bush.
We urge you to accept the Iraqi challenge to a duel, and show old Saddam that no one messes with a Texan. If Saddam chickens out and does not show up, you will have won a great victory because the Iraqi dictator will be laughed out of power. In the unlikely case that Saddam has the nerve to face you, you will have a wonderful opportunity to effect a regime change without endangering the lives of a single American soldier or Iraqi civilian, and at a truly minimal cost to the US taxpayers.
By all means, Mr President, have it out at high noon with that snake-eyed yellow-belly -- the world is awaiting your intrepid response.
What lies beneathSir-- Why do all of your writers say that Saddam Hussein has agreed to unconditional weapons inspections? He has made it clear that his palaces are off limits and that inspectors must schedule inspections days in advance.
The original inspectors emphasised to the world that Saddam carried on the most sensitive work in laboratories underneath his palaces. The reason for requiring the scheduling of inspections in advance was so that the Iraqis could move or hide the evidence before the inspectors arrived.
How can your readers make rational decisions when your writers insist on reporting fiction as truth?
Broken Arrow, OK
Meaningless revengeSir-- I'm a regular reader of Al-Ahram Weekly's website, and find it very interesting the way you have documented the opinions after 9/11. I agree with your article saying that since 9/11 nothing in the world has changed. War from America on Iraq or Afghanistan is meaningless. Violence does not always have to be the answer, it means just more loss of life.
In Britain, terrorism is not such a new thing because of the IRA, while hundreds have died for religions that are supposed to peaceful. Most people here cannot understand how a supposedly peaceful religion like Islam can produce some of the most viciously-minded people. Those 3,000 people in New York were innocent, too many of whom died meaninglessly. I know that not all Muslims are like those who attacked the World Trade Center, just as not all Protestants and Catholics bomb and kill each other in Northern Ireland.
I understand why America wants to rid the world of terror, I find it amusing that Britain is acting like Bush's lap dog -- we have offered full support in the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, while they never took all the terrorism we suffered seriously and never offered us any help. I can also understand how those 3,000 families whose relations didn't return or those hundreds of children who have been orphaned would like revenge. I don't believe, however, that all out war is the way to achieve retribution.
Deceptive billSir-- If George W Bush is serious about stopping a congressional bill declaring Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel he would have used a simple new law known as the "Line Item Veto" to discard and disregard the congressional action.
Bush could have easily nullified the recent law declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in the appropriation spending bill regarding foreign operations. All the noise from the State Department and Colin Powell regarding their opposition to the bill is nothing but a ploy, and a game fashioned specifically to fool Arab/Islamic publics and their leaders.
I am certain that Bush, an ardent supporter and pupil of fundamentalist Zionist Christianity, has signed the bill with a big smile on his face.
Spineless statesSir-- I am writing this letter in response to Edward Said's article 'Low point of powerlessness' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 26 September - 2 October).
This excellent article again highlights the absolute inaction and spinelessness of Arab states. When will Egypt close the Israeli Embassy in Cairo and cut all ties with that rogue terrorist nation? When will it do the decent thing and send the Israelis packing?
The same thing goes for Jordan. Syria seems to be the only one that has some guts when speaking about that pariah state Israel.
Peace recipeSir-- This is a reply to 'Losing the Intifada' by Mustafa El-Feki (Al-Ahram Weekly, 26 September - 2 October) where he claims that a peaceful settlement between the PLO and Israel was within reach. El-Feki continues that the turning point was the approval of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak for Ariel Sharon to visit Al-Aqsa Mosque surrounded by soldiers.
What was wrong with Sharon, or anybody visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque? Is this place not Holy Ground for Jews as well as Muslims? Surrounded by soldiers is wrong? Do you expect Sharon to just show up with no protection?
The Jews meant every word of their peace offer. Every single word. There was no intent to fool the PLO. The PLO should lay down their weapons and make peace with Israel. It's as simple as that. Once that is done, the Palestinians will very quickly have their own state and begin living like human beings again, instead of refugees. Israeli Defence Forces will not enter their country; bulldozers will no longer knock down buildings; the Palestinians will be able to go to work without roadblocks; and they will live with dignity.
What more can anyone want, other than peace and freedom?
Gershon ben Daniel
Credit to IsraelSir-- Mr El-Feki's article 'Losing the Intifada' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 26 September - 2 October) on the whole was excellent. This rare demonstration of Arab/Muslim introspective self- criticism was a breath of fresh air, leaving one to think that maybe there is hope after all.
My only criticism is that the conclusion seemed to be at the very edge of reality, and seemed to fall victim to his bias. In his contemplation as to whether the Palestinians were better off with or without the Intifada, he concluded that Israel was ultimately at fault, because they continued their killing of Palestinian children, women and men, even after there were no suicide bombings for a few weeks.
The fact that there were no suicide bombings for a few weeks should be credited to the fact that the Israeli Defence Force had caught dozens of bombers on the way to their mission, found and destroyed a number of bomb factories, was arresting the front line controllers of these bombers, and generally keeping those they couldn't catch on the run. The quiet was not attributable to any conscious decision on the part of whatever Palestinian leadership still exists.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Palestinians would have been far better off being led by someone in a suit, rather than someone who can only wear army fatigues.
Battle over Middle AmericaSir-- Australian newspapers mentioned -- but not in obvious places -- that the Israeli army had flown the Israeli flag over Arafat's compound. A very small photo showed the Israeli flag being carried in the "vicinity" of the compound, and later reports indicated that the Israeli flag had been removed.
The gesture of flying the Israeli flag in occupied Palestine clearly demonstrates the commitment of the Israeli government to the on- going occupation, and, as often stated by Arab commentators, that the Israelis never intended to honour the Oslo agreement.
The battle for Palestine will only be won in Middle America. Americans fought against fascism in World War II, so any photo demonstrating Israel's commitment to total occupation has to be critical in convincing 90 per cent or more of non-Jewish Americans that America is in fact backing the side of armed occupation -- the wrong side. The flying of the Israeli flag shows Israel's contempt for any outcome in Palestine other than occupation, and so any photos you can obtain of the Israeli flag flying over Arafat's compound could be important in the battle for Middle America.
I am not sure where Arab pride comes into this, but if you agree the battle is to be won is in Middle America then is not Arab pride, but public relations in America which counts.
Time for re-examinationSir-- To describe Ismail Sidqi in 'Al-Ahram: A Diwan of Contemporary Life: Man with a past' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 3-9 October) as an ambitious womaniser with fascist tendencies is an oversimplification misleading to your readers.
Indeed, he was no demagogue, he was a true nationalist who loved his country deeply, and who was more interested in bettering his country than being popular. He understood the complex dilemma that his developing nation faced in the shadows of a colonial power, and tried to solve problems in a pragmatic way instead of through emotional irrationality.
Believing that a transition from an authoritarian rule to democratic rule would not occur in one leap, especially to a population riddled with illiteracy and economic woes, his actions may have appeared harsh at face value but in reality were motivated by a knowledge that order needed to prevail over chaos. In testimony to his brilliance and intellectual integrity, the British regarded him as a central threat to their policies. It is fair to say that if a fraction of his policies and ideas had been implemented, Egypt and the Arab world most probably would not be facing the very, very sad state of affairs they are facing today.
As a central figure in the political life of Egypt between the two world wars, it is time for historians to examine this man's life in fairness and give him credit where credit is due.
Bad timingSir-- I am disappointed. Again, we are serving others and not ourselves. The broadcast of the Khufu Pyramid event took place at 3am Cairo local time. This means that the people in the US got to see it at approximately 8pm Eastern time.
Why our history is being broadcast to suit their preferences is beyond me. No wonder other nations think they can walk all over us.
Insult to ChristianitySir-- Having read Mr Stefan Ambert's letter 'The Weekly's turn' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 3-9 October) in which he calls the editorial staff of the Weekly gangsters and Islamicists, I would like to point out a few facts to him:
First, the chief editor of this publication happens to be Christian; second, Muslims and Christians in Egypt are members of one united family -- a fact that your sick narrow mind would never understand. Third, "the Arab world", as you call it, includes many countries, which embrace all three great monotheistic religions. If people like you cannot differentiate between Islam and terrorism, that's your problem not ours. What would you call what was happening between the Catholics and Protestants in Ireland? Christianity?
Fourth, Saddam may be a terrible dictator and his people have suffered tremendously under his rule, but who was it that supported his regime in the first place when it was in the interest of the USA so to do? Fifth, it is obvious that you admire Mr Bush because you talk of a "crusade" as did he, but may I remind you that he apologised later for having used that term. If you mean a crusade as the beginning of a campaign against the Arab world, you have insulted the cross of Christianity which means love, but obviously you have never heard this word, nor know its meaning.
Sixth, I am someone who respects the American people and think that they have been terribly traumatised by the 11 September attacks. However, they have also been misled in the past into accepting wrong decisions by their leaders, such as the Vietnam war.
So please when you decide to express a personal opinion, don't generalise.
Letter from the Editor
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