Out of touch
Sir-- President Bush was reported shocked and amazed at his mid-October meetings in Bali when moderate, pro-American Muslim leaders complained Washington considers all Muslims terrorists. They warned Bush that his total identification with Israel's extremist right-wing government was ruining chances for Mideast peace. Bush was apparently unaware his administration is increasingly viewed abroad as an aggressor and a bitter foe of Islam. We know Bush prides himself in not reading, but being so out of touch staggers the imagination.
Is Bush really unaware a mainstay of his administration, the Muslim-hunting Attorney General John Ashcroft, claims "In America, there is no king but Jesus"? Or that Lt-Gen William Boykin, a loudmouth he put in charge of anti-terrorism, recently claimed while in uniform that Muslims were akin to Satan, and that his god was "bigger" than the idols he mistakenly said were worshipped by them? Or that some of his neo-conservative advisers (Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, Michael Ledeen, etc), who want the US to act as Israel's henchman, keep calling for more wars against the Muslim world?
But President Bush was too busy blasting Malaysia's retiring leader, who recently claimed Jews ran the world and the United States, to denounce equally odious canards against Islam by his own administration and its supporters in the media and on the religious far right.
Sir-- Our President George W Bush is going around the world bashing elected leaders of sovereign nations and ordering them on what they can say and what they cannot say, while he is turning a blind eye to his own employees. GWB is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and ultimately responsible for Deputy Undersecretary of Defence Lieutenant-General William Boykin's repeated insults to Islam and Muslims. Why has GWB not removed that lieutenant-general? Instead, he has approved his promotion; what message is this sending to American Muslims and how does that help in our war against terrorism?
Several of GWB's personal friends such as Frank Graham, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell have repeatedly made extremely bigoted and hateful statements against Islam and Muslims (such as calling Islam an evil religion and Mohamed [Peace Be Upon Him] a "terrorist"). GWB has refused to publicly condemn those personal "friends". GWB also recently appointed one of the biggest Islamophobes, Daniel Pipes, to the federally funded 'Institute of Peace' despite congressional refusal and American- Arabs and American-Muslims pleading repeatedly with GWB not to hire the hate-inciting bigot Pipes.
GWB has no credibility at all to tell the Malaysian prime minister what he can or cannot say if he himself is constantly turning a blind eye to his friends' and employees' repeated bigotry and hate- incitement. GWB should deal with bigotry within his own administration before going out and ordering elected leaders of other independent sovereign nations.
New York, NY
Tell me more
Sir-- In 'Tough week, tragic day' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 6-12 November) you state that "US policies towards Arab and Muslim nations are endangering international peace, spreading fanaticism and terror, debasing economies, threatening political stability and ripping apart the very fabric of society in these countries."
Readers who live in Arab and Muslim nations may not need an explanation of US policies which are considered to be harmful, but as a non-Arab and non-Muslim citizen of the US I am not aware of harmful policies of my government toward Arab and Muslim nations. The US policy towards Israel understandably, in my opinion, leads to Arab and Muslim nations' resentment towards the US.
Perhaps you would write more about US policies which you find to be harmful.
Newport Beach, CA
Sir-- L Paul Bremer, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, described last week as a "tough week". Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary, said that 2 November was a "tragic day". Well, what should the Iraqi people say -- they had some 20 and more tough and tragic years thanks to a dictator supported also by the US which now wants to bring "democracy and freedom" to their country. Of course they will not withdraw soon from Iraq; of course they will proceed installing their people in the Iraqi government; of course it's about oil and money; of course it's about Israel; and of course it's about influence. Of course the attacks are not (mainly) caused by Al-Qa'eda.
It's sad for me as a European, who -- together with tens of thousands -- demonstrated against the US policy in Iraq, to see how things are developing in Iraq and Israel. And no, I'm not an anti-Semite. You're not alone with your opposition to the USA, but just like the EU politicians, Arab politicians play the part of good servants in this American game.
Too many foreigners
Sir-- Paul Wolfowitz, on one of his many visits, informs a press conference in Baghdad that the "main problem was that there were too many foreigners in Iraq".
He is right. Once he leaves, Iraq will have one less foreign person. Once Americans leave, Iraq will have no foreigners.
Leaps of faith
Sir-- I believe that it is Curtis Doebbler author of 'Can you trust a liar?' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 23-29 October) who has taken a "leap of faith" in Iran's commitments and forgiveness towards the United States. Unfortunately the IRI regime uses all ruses to stay in power, and meanwhile corruption amongst some of its elite is at its highest level and the continuing human rights abuses are rampant. The IRI is also one of the reasons of continuing instability in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The writer forgets that terrorism and the spread of 'Islamists' escalated with the arrival of Khomeini.
The majority of Muslims believe in forgiveness and peace, but many of their governments and leaders have another agenda -- the destruction of Western values of freedom and yes, Western civilisation.
New York, NY
All the facts
Sir-- Your article 'From pulse to poll' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 30 October - 5 November) on the Zogby poll of Iraqis fails to mention what the anti- American Arab press always fails to mention.
As the polls shows, a large majority of Iraqis hated Saddam; 74 per cent of Iraqis want Ba'athists to be punished. You are so eager to express your antagonism towards America that you ignore the fact that Saddam was (and is) a monster.
Sir-- I wish to thank Khaled Amayreh for his article 'Carnage in Gaza' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 23-29 October) where he reveals the horrific destruction and the absolute terror inflicted by Israel's forces, during their recent attacks and raids into Gaza. Israel's use of excessive force on civilians in a dense population was unconscionable. Protection of civilians is a fundamental principle of the Geneva Convention; the use of helicopter gunships firing missiles into the Nuseirat refugee camp was a reckless use of force. It left 15 people dead and over 100 people injured.
Israel's raids into Rafah were shocking too. The demolishing of Palestinian homes due to the suspected presence of "tunnels" seems ruthless. I was disturbed to see Khadra Abu Nameh (a grandmother) sitting in front of a make shift tent with her three grand children in the Christian Science Monitor on 29 October. Mrs Nameh denied the claim her home had any "tunnels" under it. Ami Yousul, who had to flee his house last week from another demolition told Mr Amayreh how he has been living on the street without any money or additional clothing since he escaped from his house a week earlier. Rafah's Governor Majeed Al-Agha compared the damage in Rafah "to an earthquake" (a photograph in the New York Times on 27 October supported his claim).
The Israeli Defence Ministry attempted to justify the strikes into Gaza as targeting Palestinian "terrorists". Yet none of the people killed or injured were militants. Mr Amayreh notes that the Israelis had to admit the killings were "a mistake". Many voices of concern were aired following the raids; Colin Powell and Kofi Annan noted their concern with the inappropriate use of force in a densely populated area. Amnesty International said the widespread destruction of civilian homes were "a war crime". Palestinian Prime Minister Mr Qurei said the Israeli strikes were "racist and disastrous". I have complained to both American and Israel officials.
Sir-- This is in response to Mohamed Hakki article 'It's Palestine, stupid' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 30 October - 5 November).
It is a shame that the West never compensated the Jews for those killed in World War II by settling them in their own land and homes in Germany and other Western countries.
The West used the WWII as propaganda to support a Zionist state.
Sir-- Did Germany and the West take responsibility for the crimes of the Nazis? We do not think so.
They did not create a state with autonomy in Germany or Europe or America; they exported the Jews to Palestine to kill the Arabs.
Sir-- Here is a question to the Arabs and to Egypt: what did the "peace" treaties with Israel bring you? More killing in Iraq and Palestine, less stability and more poverty for the Arabs.
It is time to get out of these shameful deals imposed on you by the West.
Malnues Van Hbree
Sir-- In 'Can Israel have it all?' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 30 October - 5 November) you state that in any future war, Israel would have to coordinate with other countries -- such as Ethiopia, Eritrea, Turkey, India and Sri Lanka -- on what it has identified as its vital sphere.
But haven't the Israelis already been working on just such a scenario? They have intertwined themselves with the Indian right wing, just as they have here in the US. And aren't they not allies with Turkey? Paul Wolfowitz was the US ambassador to Turkey, and he is far more concerned with the interests of Israel than with those of the US.
In fact, his policies (and that of the Republican Party led by George W Bush and his shadowy VP) are to make US interests synonymous with Israeli interests. I wouldn't be surprised to find that the Turks are closely working with Israel -- at least some of them.
In search of home
Sir-- While reading Khaled Amayreh's article 'Killing the two-state solution' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 30 October - 5 November) -- which I perceive as gloomy but unfortunately realistic -- I stopped at the writer's question, 'But to where?' regarding the possibility of compelling the Palestinians to leave their homeland. As I tried to answer the question, I put these assumptions: should the Palestinians go to live in the United States, the country and administration which classify them as terrorists? Or should they be distributed in European countries, the people who appear through their policies to give the cause a second priority? These two assumptions took me to the third inevitable one, that of the Arab states. But for many considerations, I doubt these states would find the idea appealing -- not to mention the claims of David Matola in the letter 'House of glass' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 30 October - 5 November) that "Palestinian refugees are mistreated and abused in all the Arab countries". This, if verified, is added to the already exiting number of Palestinian plights.
The opposite side of this question is the query: why should the owners of a country be compelled to leave it? Is it because the UN Security Council is -- or turned to be -- too blind, deaf and weak to react? Or is it that Palestine and the Palestinians are the playground for the fierce game of interrelated gains and interests?
Of course these words are not meant to depict the Palestinian people as helpless, but rather to call on them to stick together and to their rights in the face of brutality and bloodthirst. I also avail this opportunity to ask the US administration to reconsider its present policy of leading the Middle East directly and rapidly to the end. I call on the Palestinian Authority to free itself of divisions and delusions to save the part of Palestine that still can be saved. The world's mere pity and sympathy are not enough.
Nader Fayez Fouad
Wall of ecstasy
Sir-- Regarding 'Killing the two-state solution' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 30 October - 5 November). As long as Palestinian lives are not important to the Palestinians -- since they prefer to blow themselves up -- why are they refusing the walls that keeps everybody out of each other's way?
Who are they going to kill if everybody is in their own place? The Palestinians are refusing the wall because now they won't be able to blow anybody up and the Israelis won't have an excuse to go and blow up buildings.
Everybody should be ecstatic with the wall and very happy.
Sounds of silence
Sir-- Why don't the Arab/Muslim nations speak up for the Palestinians? Why don't they bring resolution after resolution to the UN? Why are they silent? Why don't they act as one for a change -- have a worldwide boycott of American goods for a day or week or have a "day of justice" with marches all over the world to support the Palestinian people?
Most Americans do not even grasp that there is a connection between Israel's actions, Bush's inaction and terrorism. Here, where "a man's home is his castle" most Americans do not even know of the Israeli policy of bulldozing homes, throwing families in the street, and confiscating property; and they react in horrified disbelief when they learn this.
Most Americans do not know that our tax dollars are paying for the munitions used against Palestinian women and children.
Draft a strategy
Sir-- There have been the usual comments, apprehensions, worries and anger expressed in Al- Ahram Weekly and elsewhere over the assaults on the Palestinian territories during the past few weeks. There are monthly chronologies published in the Journal of Palestinian Studies and, I am sure, elsewhere that show that this assault is a daily fact of life and not a series of loosely connected episodes.
People beaten, parents humbled, Arab children used for target practice by bored Israeli soldiers, residences destroyed or used as cesspools; in short, everyday life in the Palestine left to the Arabs. Recently, civilians were deliberately killed in revenge for the killing of occupying soldiers, thus introducing the tactics and ethics of Reinhard Heydrich to this un-ending conflict. Given that the current Israeli government is directly descended from Irgunists and Sternists, who openly admired the techniques -- if not the objectives -- of the Nazis, this is perhaps not surprising.
Suggesting solutions is pointless; there are none. However, abandoning the two-state solution is necessary with civil pressure for an end to the Apartheid state. Murders and bombs aren't going to work -- the Israelis are much better at it and have much better facilities for it. Has anyone noticed that the Israelis have managed throughout the Intifada to maintain the Arab death rate at three times the Israeli death rate? This no coincidence.
Finally, as some of your correspondents have pointed out recently, despite there being upward of eight million Muslims in the US, they have no organisation. If the ongoing atrocity in Palestine is the priority we hear about, there should be efforts at political organisation to offset the overwhelming power of American Zionism and the equally potent pro-Zionist American Millenarian movement.
S G Briggs
Finding a voice
Sir-- Muslims are their own worst enemy.
To be effective, we need to achieve consensus on goals and priorities -- even one consensus goal would be a good start. We also need a mechanism to assist the diverse Muslim organisations to move toward the goals agreed upon.
Sir-- The situation in Aceh is sad. The province in the northern tip of Sumatra has been at war for five months since 19 June. The Indonesian government has launched a massive war in Aceh to put an end to insurgency there, but so far TNI (Indonesian national soldiers) have confessed to killing 1,000 of Gam and 1,800 have surrendered. But is Aceh now secure? No. And the Indonesian government is planning to continue martial law in Aceh to secure the next general elections.
Why doesn't the government ever think of the Aceh people who have suffered over the past five months? The government needs to think of a way to improve the lot of the people in Aceh if they really want peace. Doesn't the Indonesian government see what's happening to US troops in Iraq? It could happen in Aceh.
A F Shinichi
Right to protest
Sir-- When will people in Egypt have the right to protest like Khaled Dawoud reports in 'Reclaiming the streets' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 30 October - 5 November) on the anti-war protests in the US? By giving people the right to peacefully protest, you can demonstrate how puny or strong their protests are.
If you look at the Washington DC protesters, you will find the same people protesting every week for something different. This destroys their impact with the American people.
Sir-- Salah El-Amrousi's analysis of the dollar shortage problem in 'Forex in free fall' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 6-12 November) is truly discouraging. Al- Ahram Weekly regularly prints articles by economists from universities in Egypt, so it amazes me that no one can figure out the problem. The lack of real economic expertise in Egypt is astounding and I can only attribute it to the total domination of Marxism for decades. To increase the supply of foreign currencies, the Egyptian government is now reduced to bullying its people. But an honest diagnosis of the problem is easy: people think the Egyptian pound is unsafe, so they keep their money in a safe currency. It doesn't take a Nobel prize winner to figure this out.
Economists call situations like that in Egypt "capital flight". Every developing country in the world has experienced it at some time. Russia did so in the early 1990s because of high inflation rates and corrupt banks; other countries suffer from capital flight because of regulations, corruption, high taxes or plain theft.
If Egyptians need more foreign currency, they will have to eliminate the threats to capital that Egyptians face.
Broken Arrow, OK
Sir-- I am amazed by the number of articles and thousands of lines dealing with Palestine and Israel.
Egypt is supposedly the centre of Arab culture, religion and social advances, so where are the articles about these subjects?
Enough pre-occupation with the Palestinian subject. How about the poor Egyptians, the land, the farmers and issues of democracy?
Sir-- Whilst your news journal's Web site is neat and very presentable, I have certain misgivings about all of the articles published by Al-Ahram Weekly on Sudan.
Being Sudanese, and having lived in Egypt, it is evident to me that your analysis of current affairs in Sudan is superficial and distant. This problem is general to the Egyptian media as a whole. Al- Jazeera conducts a much more thorough and well- informed job of reporting on Sudan and the Sudanese. Slogans such as 'The two brotherly nations' are all but empty if the Sudanese cannot see a firm commitment by the Egyptian media to document them, their 'unique culture', their 'unique identity', their 'interests' (yes believe it or not, they exist) in a respectful and unpatronising manner. If any of your reporters have visited Sudan, this is not evident.
Stop writing about us as if we are a group of Martian schoolchildren with an obligation to supply water to Egypt. As you can probably see, Egypt has been marginalised from the current Sudanese peace process. If you truly see Egypt's future and security regarding water inextricably linked with the Sudan, then get to know us as contemporaries, not subjects.
Saleh Suwar Al-Dahab
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