17 - 23 October 2002
Issue No. 608
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875||Recommend this page|
Harvest of blood
Sir-- Jonathan Cook's piece 'Selling anti-Semitism' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 10-16 October) hits the nail fair and square on the head. If the victims of a terrible persecution survive they later become empowered with the righteous indignation of those who are guilty of "doing nothing" as it happened. During World War II, the allies stood by and did nothing as Jews, gypsies and others were systematically murdered. When the dust of war had settled in 1945, those "guilty onlookers" became obliged to aid, abet and befriend those who survived the Holocaust. And so it was that the Zionists found a powerful weapon in their hands -- it was called "anti-Semitism".
This "anti-Semitism" became the accusing gun that fired bullets of guilt at those who dared oppose them, and by God they use it and abuse it. The Zionist lobby in the United States has loaded this gun with magnum-grade ammunition. It is ironic that these "once victims" are now guilty of the same crimes committed against them. Once, it was the Jews in the Ghettos, now it is the Palestinians with Zionist guards.
Meanwhile, Jewish settlements spring up like poisonous mushrooms, occupied by Hassidic fanatics who wallow in the same religious zeal that both sides use to soak the ground with human blood. Even a fool can predict the harvest.
St John's, Newfoundland
Sir-- Paul Findley deserves respect from the Arabs and courageous people worldwide. Regretfully, for the good American citizens what he is saying about the US pro-Israel lobby is awfully correct.
I believe that we have a visible Israeli occupation in Palestine, while there is an almost similar but invisible one in the United States.
Americans against war
Sir-- Insatiable greed, lusting after power and revenge are all underlying basis for the turmoil seen in our world today. Human behaviour does not change too easily, which leads to the manifestation of history repeating itself.
On a personal level, my youth was spent growing up in the USA during the Vietnam conflict which ended in disgrace. During this time the US was carrying out military air strikes against countries neighbouring Vietnam. For many years these military missions were kept secret from the American public. If Iraq is attacked and/or brought to its knees, who will be next on the "list for terrorist affiliation?" Whether the connections with terrorism can be substantiated or fabricated, sadly enough the actions of the USA will always be justified. Clearly, the domino theory is in place now and is being used to achieve agendas.
Had we Americans not been inundated with conspiracies and cover-ups within our own political history, we might have blind faith in our leaders. Blind faith is not the case since it is becoming apparent that the spoon-fed rhetoric being fed through the American media is tainted with flavours of manipulation and control. There are many Americans who can see through these orchestrated scenarios and who do not want war with Iraq.
Sir-- There have been quite a few warmongers writing in letters to Al-Ahram Weekly claiming the Anglo-American campaign against Iraq is noble and will bring about democracy to the Iraqi people. If that is the case, then one should reflect on this interesting comment from US Representative Tom Lantos, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on International Affairs, and one of the congressmen fighting to relocate the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. After meeting Knesset member Colette Avital, who was worried about consequences of the Iraq war towards Israel, he said:
"My dear Colette, don't worry. You won't have any problem with Saddam. We'll be rid of the bastard soon enough. And in his place we'll install a pro-Western dictator, who will be good for us and for you."
The Bush administration is quite ingenious indeed. They just invented a new type of democracy -- run by a dictator. Perhaps next time we hear Rice et al talk of liberating the Islamic world and instilling democratic values, we'll know what's really being planned. By the way, Mr Lantos, also hopes to invade Syria, Iran, Lebanon and institute regime changes with pro-Western (read pro-Likud) dictators everywhere else in the Middle East -- except in Jordan where there is one already in place.
Sir-- A few weeks ago, on the region page of Al- Ahram Weekly, there was a photo of Syrian students on a hunger strike demonstrating for Iraq's children. Who caused these children's misery and hunger but The Great Saddam? And by the way how come he and his assistants are all big and tall with full bellies, why is none thin or weak-looking like the sick ill-fed children they show us on television?
Did Saddam consider any of the Arab or foreign leaders before he invaded his Muslim neighbour Kuwait in 1990? Was Kuwait a suburb of Israel? Did he listen to any Arab leader's advice to get out of Kuwait before being struck by Desert Storm? Why is he asking for Arab solidarity now? Why should Arab countries continue to suffer from a vain, sick tyrant?
He certainly deserved the sanctions and the only one who can help the Iraqi nation now is Saddam himself. Please Mr Hussein, be man enough, have mercy on your people and resign -- 33 years of imprisonment for the Iraqi people is more than enough. No one is so naive as to believe the false show of love your people show on the streets of Baghdad. They are surely scared of being slaughtered like your sons-in-law.
I am not for war on Iraq, but I am sure you, Bin Laden and your gangs should be removed from the world scene. And I don't think you have anything to do with real Islam.
Lead by example
Sir-- This is an excerpt from a letter I sent to the White House. It is not intended as a threat, but rather as an opinion during these very delicate times.
Dear President Bush,
I am worried about the world and the way your government is reacting to Iraq. There is no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein must go, and fully support putting major world pressure on Iraq and the UN to help get rid of him. However, I believe that the whole world must agree to war before it happens. This is not just America's world and your choices will affect the whole world, therefore you need to ensure that all actions follow the United Nations.
Even if America does go to war, what will it really accomplish? If Iraq has nuclear warheads -- which at this time I believe they do -- what will firing on them do? Do you honestly think you'll get them all in one shot? How can you be sure the Iraqis will not use their arsenal in retaliation? I feel very strongly that if you fire, North America will be more vulnerable than it ever has. Frankly, this is a careless approach, which has people asking if there are ulterior motives for the US.
I know it sounds soft, weak and without leadership, but the truth is, war is no answer. Some country must take the stand and try to solve problems without hurting innocent people. The United States must be this country. You are powerful, you are free and you represent so much for the world, so lead by example. The US can change the old ways of thinking and it can go beyond war to solve this problem with Iraq. For the future it must.
Respect by all
Sir-- Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. In his speech to the UN General Assembly to rally greater global support in his coming attack on Iraq aiming to overthrow Saddam Hussein, US President George Bush focused a great deal on the importance of respecting the resolutions of the United Nations. Bush's language concentrated on logical definitions of justice; he argued that fulfilling the terms of UN resolutions would bolster respect for the international organisation; to fail to implement UN resolutions would be to deal a blow to the United Nations' esteem and, ultimately, its raison d'être.
It seems that the American president is absolutely correct, both with regard to the importance of respecting UN resolutions and the necessity of implementing them. But the United States has proved that it doesn't respect the institutions of the United Nations and is not afraid of public global opinion or international law. Why hasn't the American administration seen it fit to apply these fine principles before? Why hasn't the United States insisted on the implementation of UN resolutions whenever they deal with matters pertaining to Israel? If Iraq has indeed violated UN resolutions 14 times, as Bush says, it is even more evident that Israel has not implemented UN resolutions dozens of times. It has openly flouted them, often supported by successive American administrations that thwarted a number of resolutions based on international consensus through the use of the US veto in the Security Council.
Apparently, the United States has fundamentally ignored that there already is an international organisation called the United Nations, with a mandate embodied in its charter and institutions to be the principle authority in settling disputes between nations.
What about Israel?
Sir--Mr President Bush,
There is indeed a dangerous, aggressive, heavily- armed nation in the Middle East, and it is called Israel.
Israel defies UN resolutions, kills civilians whose land it has colonised, possesses nuclear weapons, and has expressed a willingness to use them. Israel is led by a hideous nightmare of a man, a grossly obese terrorist whose career in crimes against humanity spans half a century.
But this is your beloved "man of peace," and you want us to worry about whom?
Freedom to speak
Sir-- 'Heikal's dream' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 10-16 October) is a wonderful article about a fascinating Egyptian intellectual. Thank you. I only wish that more Americans had sufficient curiosity and ability to discover such people as Heikal and publications as Al-Ahram Weekly.
Heikal states: "In short, the US is a real state, one comprising institutions, that does not allow anyone, even its own president, to go mad." The best example of Heikal's thesis, available to Americans, is probably at this web link: http://www.accessatlanta.com/ajc/opinion/0902/ 29bookman.html
And the most honest response that Americans can give Heikal, and the readers of Al-Ahram Weekly is this: Contrary to what intellectuals in other countries may believe, in this country "we have the freedom of folly, and yes the freedom for even a president to go mad."
San Francisco, CA
Change the tune
Sir-- I have been reading Al-Ahram Weekly for several years now, and I must comment on the level of incitement and hatred that flows from your publication.
There are continuous articles condemning the United States and Western countries; Israel is always portrayed as a racist, abusive country; and Palestinians are described only as poor victims in despair. Instead of actually subjecting your readers to some scholarly analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which gives both sides of the story, you mire your readers in a barrage of hatred. This is done almost in every issue.
How much richer would your readers be if they could use your pages to hear both sides of the conflict. As long as this publication and the Arab world in general chooses to propagate incitement and hatred, there will be no chance for true peace in the Middle East.
Always on the frontline
Sir-- Having just recently discovered your Web site -- and your reporting for that matter -- I was very pleased with the overall quality of presentation and people currently expressing their opinions in your columns. Considering the apparent difficulties in presenting comprehensive and just reporting about the Arab-Israeli wars, this site is as good as it gets. Although I imagine it will be hard for the average US citizen to digest -- considering the disparity in views and outlooks with what they are likely to read at home -- it is a rewarding experience to say the least once they locate the site.
I have noticed, however, a common mistake which most publications make in their reporting of the current conflicts in the Middle East. The more dead, the more reporting is visible. Why? Should it be that people have been accustomed to feeling sympathy for those that depart early? Do we feel no equal sympathy for those who live on in dire situations and continue living? Perhaps Hollywood has had a stake in this.
My message is simple: no matter what the conflict is, adequate reporting is always necessary no matter the situation.
Peace in dialogue
Sir-- We just viewed a programme produced by the Australian journalist John Pilger for an English channel, regarding the current suffering of the people of Palestine, entitled 'Palestine is Still the Issue'. In Australia we are still fortunate enough to view such programmes, albeit on more cultured television channels that do not attract the majority of the popular choice -- so much the pity. The images therein displayed were of such barbarity that they left me in tears although I am well aware of the actions taken by the Israeli army towards the defenceless Palestinian population.
I cannot see a solution for peace in your region unless both Israelis and Palestinians sit at a mediation table (on equal grounds), and discuss the future of their respective people and the survival of their children. The injustices perpetuated against each other will always be remembered by the following generations and no doubt avenged again and again.
Let's give peace a chance in our lifetime and look beyond the current deadly fascination which the West has developed for black gold -- oil.
Maria Helena de Almeida Santos
Israel the troublemaker
Sir-- Thank you for highlighting -- through your Reader's Corner section -- the depressing level of paranoia and hatred many in my country are sadly paralysed with. Whether it's Peter Dvorak in 'Two- sided argument' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 3-9 October) who puts the sole responsibility on Arabs when he rehashes the racist smear that Arab parents teach their children to become suicide bombers, or Madelynn Moran's crackpot comment in 'Simplistic truths' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 3-9 October) about the 35-year old occupation of Palestine being the result of a 4,000-year-old brotherly feud.
Good grief, if Israel had existed that long the final solution to Israel's Arab problem would have been complete by now. Perhaps Mr Dvorak could ask himself why is it that if the Arabs are the ones to always resort to violence, Israel is currently threatening to invade Lebanon (again) because the Lebanese want to drink from their own water supply -- something they couldn't do while under more than 20 years of Israeli occupation (which also saw 18,000 civilians blasted by those sweet Israeli angels).
Instead of asking what would have happened to Israel if the Arab world got its way (it would be a civilised country able to live in peace and not as a fascist, ever expanding terror state), Ms Moran should consider what is now happening because Israel is currently getting its way -- World War III.
By the way, while it's obvious that the likes of Mr Dvorak get their news from the Israeli consulate (ie Fox News). I'd love to know what Ms Moran is reading when she visits Al-Ahram Weekly's Web site. I've yet to see a pro-terrorist article or any level of hatred that could match that in the American press.
Grand museum plans
Sir-- I enjoyed Nevine El-Aref's detailed article about 'Replica royal tombs at Giza' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 1-7 August) and her previous detailed report about historic Cairo. As an interested journalist in archeological affairs, why doesn't she write an in-depth article about the Grand Egyptian Museum which will be built in the Pyramids area. Egypt allocated a unique site which is neighbouring a timeless wonder -- the Giza pyramids. The project will be built beside the most precious archeological area, specifically beside the international heritage Memph cemetery of the pyramids area, which extends in a north south direction for about 30 km from Abu Rawash to Dahshour including Abu Ghorab, Abu Sir and Saqarra archeological area.
The new Grand Egyptian Museum is situated in a desert area between the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road and Cairo-Fayoum Desert Road, near Hadayeq Al-Ahram city, the Shooting Club, Al-Rimaya Housing Club and the archeological area. The new museum could establish a visual linkage not only with the three pyramids and the sphinx on the Giza plateau, but also with other important monuments in the area.
Sir-- I enjoyed 'The pyramid mystery' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 10-16 October). For those building the pyramids, lighting must have been a very considerable problem. Could the shafts have been a ventilation mechanism to allow the smoke from illumination lamps and torches to exit the king's and queen's chambers?
The original entry galleries would allow fresh "draft" air to enter these chambers from the bottom, and the small shafts could then take the stale and smoky air out like miniature chimneys. Once interior construction was completed, the small doors were closed to seal the chambers in the traditional manner, and most of the creosote from the lamps or torches would be evident upon the chamber walls, but not necessarily on the shaft walls.
I do not know enough about the interior architecture of the pyramids to know if ventilation shafts already exist, so this is my best guess at what the small shafts might have been used for. At a minimum, even without the "smoke chimney" consideration, circulating fresh air might have been a good enough reason for the builders to employ these shafts.
Sir-- I felt heavy and saddened after reading the article 'Young and hip, veil optional' by Yasmine El- Rashidi (Al-Ahram Weekly, 3-9 October), particularly the interviews with some Egyptian teenage girls. They say that their parents live in a different world because they do not see as many "Western movies" or surf the Internet. In a more precise way, parents are considered ignorant in the eyes of these children.
I left Egypt over 20 years ago, have two teenage children born and raised in North America. They do not wear hippy loose pants or short T-shirts which show the belly. Most of my 17-year-old daughter's friends are dressed in the same manner and wear one ear ring if they ever do. Not every Western teen girl is trying to copy Britney Spears and other young and flashy American singers. Thank God our children have kept their Egyptian personality and identity which is not washed off by what they see in the movies or on television.
It is so sad to realise that generally Egyptian teens are blindly copying what they see in the movies, believing that this is the real Western life. My daughter and 19- year-old son (both are honour roll students) work full- time in summer and occasionally during school months to take charge of their personal expenses. They do not use bad language or use "cool" expressions often. They do not "hang out" during school days, and have to be home at a certain hour if they do.
Finally, it is not easy to raise teens today in an open world. But society should try to overcome and reverse the strong, unacceptable influence which is affecting the young and impressionable children -- keeping in mind that these are the future of this country.
Don't spoil a rare forum
Sir-- It seems in the last couple of weeks that many of your Letters to the Editor have focused on the letters page itself. With your permission, I'd like to chip in my own two cents on that subject.
As an American, I've been happy to see that other Americans are engaging the Arab world in conversation through your letters page, but of course dismayed at the low quality of thought displayed in many of the letters printed. Still, I couldn't help but bristle when I read Mahmoud El-Lozy's letter 'Not so innocent' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 3-9 October), and his rather uncharitable assessment of the intelligence of the American people based on the letters they've sent to your publication.
I think it was pretty apparent that the intention of Mr El-Lozy's letter was to cause offense rather than to help American readers of Al-Ahram Weekly to better understand whatever it is that he wishes they understood. Moreover, although I have no direct knowledge of Mr El-Lozy, I am just presumptuous enough to hazard a guess that he didn't learn to write like that at Cairo University. As long as Egypt's best and brightest would willingly cut off their left arms to study at any run-of-the-mill state college in the US rather than their own esteemed local institutions, they may perhaps want to hold off on calling Americans the stupid ones. You don't hear about a lot of Americans lining up at Egypt's New York consulate to secure a visa so they can go get smarter in Egyptian universities.
Even so, my intent is not to nit-pick with Mr El- Lozy. I just want to say that it is my experience that there are many people in America who are eager to understand what the Arab world is about and why the Arab world resents American policy. This concern is, in fact, new to many "whitebread" Americans, and it has been my experience that they do not understand the Arab perspective easily. This is not because they are stupid or unwilling to understand, but because the Arab perspective is so far from their own perspective that it takes time to digest it.
The Al-Ahram Weekly's letters page is a rare forum -- the only one I am aware of -- where Americans and Arabs are talking with each other directly. Let's (Arabs and Americans both) not spoil it with poorly focused anger and childish name-calling. No one is going to be served if the reasonable among us adopt the terms and attitudes of our respective nationalist extremists.
Laguna Niguel, CA
Letter from the Editor
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