Sir-- The Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon commented to Guardian reporters with regard to Palestine that, "This is the Promised Land. Promised to the Jews -- no one else." What is remarkable about this statement is the inferred goal -- the eradication of the Palestinian people from their homeland. In reviewing a Voice of America report by UN Special Investigator Jean Ziegler, one can reasonably assume the Israeli government may well be on its way to achieving this end -- unless stopped by outrage from the world community.
According to Ziegler, the humanitarian situation in the Palestine territories is catastrophic and severe malnutrition in the West Bank and Gaza is rampant. World Bank statistics report that more than 60 per cent of the Palestinian population lives on less than $2 a day, and more than half of Palestinian families eat only once a day. "The Palestinian people are reduced to begging, and most are dependent on international assistance for survival," he commented, ticking off additional crises involving breakdowns in farming and food supplies, the inability of people to get to hospital and schools. "The Palestinians are humiliated in a very, very shocking way," he added. "Israel is violating international law by failing to provide much needed aid to the Palestinians."
Of course, the government of Israel blames the situation on their security concerns, but in light of Sharon's recent comment, along with apartheid and ethnic cleansing, attempted genocide may soon be added to the list of Israeli misdeeds.
Genevieve Cora Fraser
Sir-- Arab governments conspired with Israel to call East Palestine a name that would erase the identity of the Palestinian people.
The Palestinian territories should have been called East Palestine a long time ago, so the Arab League and the Arab people must push for the new names of East Palestine and West Palestine (Israel). I hope your newspaper adopts this view and begin using these names.
Sir-- As a citizen of the US, I must state my opinion. There are many oppressed countries which are pleading for the US to help them protect their citizens and remove murderous dictators. Iraq was very fortunate to have the forces of the United States and Britain remove the Hussein government of terror and repression. They should be glad that the US is there instead of complaining. We have lost some wonderful men over there, and for what? Hopefully, to help the millions of Iraqis no longer subjected to the murder and torture from their government. They will do well knowing that the United States and Britain are there to help them -- and this we will do because we understand freedom and democracy. They could have done a lot worse.
The US fought for freedom and democracy, and now the Iraqi people must do the same thing. This is a gift, take it graciously. It is an opportunity, run with it. The US is the most powerful and free nation in the world. We choose to spread freedom and democracy. We are not tyrants as the Middle East would like to view us; but we are not fools.
The people of the US are losing patience with the negative comments and attacks on our troops. We liberated the Iraqis and will leave as soon as the country is stable. Work with us, not against us. Bush is a man of peace and many US citizens support and respect him -- as should the Iraqi people who now have a chance to live real lives.
Also, the money being spent on this liberation could be well used right here in the US, however the American people have always known that it is our responsibility to help those who have not had the opportunity to live in freedom, without fear of repression. One life saved is worth more than anything money can buy.
Sir-- I enjoyed Abdel-Moneim Said's article titled 'Take Mexico instead' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 17-23 July) very much. Being Canadian and a lifelong observer and critic of our friends to the south, I chuckled as I read his well-informed argument against presupposing US actions in Iraq herald a new colonialism. I would, however, like to point out two small inaccuracies in his article.
First, Mr Said stated that during the war of 1812 the British ("Canada" as a country did not exist at that time) burned the city of Washington "to the ground". The force that landed in Chesapeake Bay actually did very little damage. One wing of the US presidential house was burnt, with the rest of the structure receiving some smoke damage. The resultant coat of white paint used to cover the damage gave rise to the name "White House". But "our" forces did make a point in attacking their capital.
The second point deals with his assertion that "Quebec did not join the Anglo-Saxon alliance against Iraq." In fact, Quebec is a province of Canada, and foreign policy is set by the federal government. Canadians in general, and the government of Canada opposed the invasion of Iraq. Only one province, Alberta, had a majority of the population that supported it. Our reasons for distancing ourselves from the US was the unconvincing nature of the arguments put forward regarding so-called "weapons of mass destruction". It seems our judgment in this was correct, although few will weep at the departure of Saddam.
I enjoy reading your paper very much. Keep up the good work and may all of us find peace and happiness on this beautiful planet.
Ruling the waves
Sir-- The article 'Take Mexico instead' (Al- Ahram Weekly, 17-23 July) written by Mr Abdel- Moneim Said impressed me indeed. However, while his conclusion might be correct, I think that in developing his argument that no colonial motives were involved in the occupation of Iraq, he fell victim to a few inaccuracies that might undermine his whole line of reasoning.
Most, if not all, of the colonial projects were made against countries and nations far from the mainland of the occupying force. Take Britain for example, it occupied Egypt and India, while Spain and Portugal went across the globe to colonise the Americas. Thus, the non-occupation of either Mexico or Canada does not make the US adventure in Iraq less colonial.
In addition, all colonial activities were founded on the idea of bringing culture, values and modernity to those backward people whom they intend to colonise and help them administer their affairs, until such a time when they can do it on their own, if at all. The US cannot use this rhetoric against either Mexico or Canada. You can also colonise a people in other forms other than just physical military occupation. You do not have to occupy Venezuela, as suggested by Mr Said, to use its oil, and you also do not have to occupy Mexico to colonise it.
Pressuring such countries into free trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the USA, Canada and Mexico can sometimes do the job quite as good, without having to occupy Mexico and upsetting the dominant Anglo-Saxon demography of the US by bringing millions of Hispanics into the US. It is only when countries do not succumb to such pressures that resolve to other means might be necessary, such as good old fashioned colonialism.
Sir-- Thank you for Mr Said's fine article 'Take Mexico instead' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 17-23 July).
The US's motives are thoroughly misunderstood in the world (and especially in the Arab world), so it is refreshing and much appreciated to find someone examining logically why the US acts as it does.
Sir-- Mr Said's comparisons about US motivations in the Middle East (especially Iraq) and other countries here in America in 'Take Mexico instead' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 17-23 July) lacks understanding of some issues. First, there is no justification to invade Mexico or any Western country. Why? Because there is no excuse to do so. The US does not want to be perceived as the villain invader, but as the hero and saviour. Saddam Hussein was vastly perceived as a dictator, giving the US the perfect excuse to invade. There is no such excuse in the Western world. The last time the US invaded an American country, it was against Panama, with General Manuel Noriega being the "excuse". That is the American mind.
So, in these days of political correctness and image being so important, Mr Bush and partners have decided to go the easy way by attacking easy, profitable and "bad example" (according to their Anglo-Saxon view of the world) targets.
I am sorry for Latin America; ideologically, our countries already belong to the gringos. Call it fear, call it convenience, that is the way over here, sadly.
Sir-- Inherent in Prime Minister Blair's statement to the US Congress that "History will forgive us (for the Iraq invasion, even if no link is found between Saddam, WMDs and terrorism)", is his assumption of "the White Man's Burden". In this concept's present day refinement, one select country and its sidekick can enforce life and death decisions upon the rest of humanity, based upon their assumed superior morality and "leadership", without any concern for justice or factual reality. The people who are "sure" that history will forgive them were similarly "sure" before the war that WMDs existed in Iraq.
Can we, who live in the US, ever imagine thinking of similar statements made by leaders of other countries banding together to invade the US, justifying their actions by resurrecting decades-old events and charges that are forged, exaggerated and ultimately proven false? Can we then picture those leaders having the audacity to talk about "forgiveness by history", after they have destroyed our homeland and made life unbearable for millions? If we cannot imagine such a scenario, but still justify the invasion of Iraq, then know that it is because of the unconscious attestation of "the White Man's Burden" -- racism that is explicitly denied by this society but has implicitly become second nature due to social programming under the guise of patriotism and hollow "freedom" slogans.
History will forgive Blair no doubt, but only because his friends might get to write it.
Sir-- We know that President Saddam Hussein and his family have "doubles" who look like them. The two killed in Mosul are no doubt the doubles of Mr Hussein's sons.
Now his children have the freedom to move anywhere. The medical records had been prepared a long time ago as an escape plan.
Sir-- Uday and Qusay are dead, but the fighting will continue. It's hard to believe, and distressing to contemplate, that anyone in Washington could expect otherwise. At some point, Saddam himself will doubtless turn up. That too will not matter because even Iraqis who loathed Saddam do not necessarily want Americans -- or American puppets like Ahmed Chalabi -- running the country as their fiefdom instead. The recent autocratic US appointment of a governing council did far more to inspire attacks on American occupiers, than the death of Saddam's sons will do to deflate them.
Nobody will miss Uday or Qusay, precisely because they were the heirs -- fortunate sons of a tyrant, men whose lives of cruelty and opulence stood in stark contrast to the misery under which most of the Iraqi population lived.
Planners in Washington would do well to remember that Iraq is still ruled by a fortunate son. And he, too, will be resented by Iraqis until the day he is no longer relevant.
Las Vegas, NV
Sir-- The shocking deaths and display of Saddam's sons are a sick reflection of President Bush's foreign policies.
As rootless and cruel as Saddam's sons may have been, they didn't deserve this end. This isn't the Wild West where one takes the law into their own hands. This is the civilised world, where men learn to negotiate their differences. Since when is anyone's death a gain rather than a loss?
But in this sick war environment created by Bush and company, some have the gall to profit from another man's tragedy.
May they rest in peace.
To the point
Sir-- Who cares if Qusay Saddam Hussein is killed. The issue is fighting Zionism and imperialism, not the life of a man or two in Iraq.
Sir-- Ever since 9/11, the US has become openly militant, aggressive, pushy, intolerant and prejudiced towards anyone it chooses to suspect. Respect for the law and for fair process has become less important than the security of those with more power, and their billion-dollar interests. Two whole wars have been waged and it seems more will follow. Real people -- "collateral damage" -- have been killed because they were helpless.
This week Uday and Qusay were hunted down and murdered. The news of their death was celebrated by the US and British media, and their corpses were brazenly advertised for all the world to see -- blood, bombs and burnt flesh.
Are these the fruits of democracy? Is this the American way of life that the USA set out to protect and keep free? Or has someone sadly lost their way -- to the great pain of all those who must follow.
Sir-- One of your writers suggested that the world-class cylinder seal collection at the Iraq Museum is still intact.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
New York, NY
Storm in a teacup
Sir-- I don't understand why all Egyptian newspapers, including Al-Ahram Weekly in 'Tampering with Nefertiti' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 10-16 July) wrote that the bust of Nefertiti in the Berlin Museum was briefly fused to a modern bronze nude body. As everyone can check, also in the picture published in June on Al-Ahram Weekly, the body was veiled, not nude.
As for the possibility of harm, what about the certainty of it for the statue of Ramses standing since more than 40 years in one of the most polluted squares of the world?
Sir-- 'Smoke screens' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 5-11 June) is a good article that brings the issue of tobacco use in your society to light.
No matter where one goes in the world, you can find tobacco or similar products and their use is influenced by society, media and the perceptions associated with its use. I wonder if as many people around the world would take up the habit if ads and film portrayed smoking as a negative pursuit most of the time. Probably not.
Perception influences people more than they care to admit, and I'm glad that you brought this to our attention.
Sir-- During the last two weeks, almost all the Egyptian press was stuffed with news about the results of General Secondary exams (Thanaweya A'amma). Concern was focussed on the efforts exerted by the students to get good grades in order to be admitted into the colleges of their dreams (such as medicine and engineering).
On the other hand, no attention was paid to Azharite students who have exerted equal, if not more, effort. Needless to say, Al-Azhar University is an eminent educational foundation which has been playing a critical role in Egypt's cultural life. Almost all brilliant Egyptian intellectuals received their education at Al-Azhar.
I think Azharite students deserve equal attention as their fellow students.
Sir-- Thanks for giving your readers a good opportunity to exchange their views, however different they are.
Concerning the letter 'Preaching fixation' (Al- Ahram Weekly, 3-9 July) whose author spoke badly of Mr Amr Khaled the eminent preacher. I'm sorry to say that her words were due to a lack of awareness.
A preacher such as him depends on three main reliable sources for every word he utters -- the holy Qur'an, the prophet's hadiths (sayings) and the opinions of the honest followers. Thus, Mr Amr Khaled never utters a word of his own unless there is no clear context.
But the writer, being a sociologist and a psychologist, gets here analysis from those theorists whose theories might be right or wrong. I believe she has no right to say such bad things about such a great respected figure.
Sir-- In reference to the press review entitled 'Even if only for a day' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 24-30 July), you refer to the Supreme Council of Universities as The Higher Council for Universities.
Please take note of the correct name in English.
Al-Ahram Weekly reserves the right to edit letters submitted to Readers' Corner for brevity and clarity. Readers are advised to limit their letters to a maximum of 300 words.