Letters to the editor
Arabs, Jews and Bush
Sir-- I found Mr Bishara's opinion in 'Not Pepsi or Coke' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 8- 14 April) very enlightening and hope that conservative Arabs residing in the United States realise and accept Mr Bishara's viewpoint.
I myself, am of Eastern European (Jewish) decent, however I am very disappointed with Prime Minister Sharon's negotiations with the Palestinians. I cannot support discrimination against any people because of their religious beliefs, nationality or heritage. My family survived the Holocaust in Europe and as a result cannot respect any Jewish person living in the year 2004 who treats people in this manner.
On the other hand, terrorism is not the most effective method to bring about any group's message. So I understand that the Israel/Palestinian situation has no simple solutions. Prior to 11 September 2001, Bush- Cheney had turned their backs on the situation which former President Clinton had tried so diligently to reach an accord on between the people of these states. Had this president continued the work of his predecessor, instead of suicide bombings and helicopters launching missiles at blind men in wheel chairs on civilian streets, perhaps a brilliant country could be evolving rather than a blood bath.
The Palestinian state is inevitable; likewise the State of Israel is also inevitable. Moreover, a healthy economically prosperous Palestinian state is absolutely necessary for the continued success of Israel. Under the current Bush-Cheney administration, this will never be accomplished because it is not a priority.
This administration has failed to show compassion to Jews or Arabs, but rather seems to cater to white Christian conservatives who wish to project their values in a crusade mentality throughout the world. Conservative Jews in the US support Bush, as do conservative Arabs. Isn't it amazing? It is extremely difficult to find an Orthodox or Hasidic Jew who supports the democrats in the 2004 election, since they believe George Bush is a religious and moral man.
George Bush is a Methodist; he is religious now because it caters to the religious right-wing in the heartland of America. Small-minded individuals who believe that Jesus is their Saviour, and that he should be your saviour and mine as well. As Mr Bishara so eloquently stated in his editorial, these conservatives do not have conservative Arabs' interest close to their heart, and their votes are wasted on voting for President Bush.
Likewise, conservative Jews votes are wasted on this candidate as it is beyond this administration's scope of intelligence and political agenda to ever resolve the Israeli-Palestinian situation. Furthermore, the Iraq situation and forcing democracy "the Methodist way" on these people will only result in bloodshed and carnage. This is a battle that was lost by the administration's failed diplomacy and inability to work with the United Nations, long before the so-called "shock and awe" ever began.
'Not Pepsi or Coke' truly is an objective piece that should wake the conscience of others. However, because of the current administration's artificially-produced sentiments, this objective viewpoint may be considered "non-patriotic" because anything that is anti-right in this country today is interpreted as being anti-American.
Therefore, this administration needs to be removed, and any Jew or Arab who would vote for Bush-Cheney has authorised and, in fact, sanctioned the bloodshed of his brothers.
Long Island, NY
Islam and Kerry
Sir-- Azmi Bishara's argument in 'Not Pepsi or Coke' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 8-14 April) that Arab- Americans should vote for Kerry misses some points.
Kerry is an abortionist, repeatedly voting for the legalisation of the murder of millions of American children expressly condemned by the Qur'an. Kerry supports civil unions between homosexual partners -- again clearly against Islamic teachings. Kerry's position on Palestine is just as one-sided as Bush's. In fact, the only hope for US policy towards Palestine is a second-term president who doesn't have to worry about re-election in the face of the Israeli and Christian-Zionist lobby.
American conservatives, unlike European conservatives, support religious freedom as an inherent right. This is why Muslim children are permitted to wear the headscarf under a conservative American administration.
One must wonder what the policy would be under the Francophile Kerry.
Sir-- Your editorial 'Not Pepsi or Coke' ( Al- Ahram Weekly, 8-14 April) was interesting. It is clear the writer knows little about the US or its politics.
He is obviously a leftist whose main sources of information about America come from the extreme American left, and are biased and distorted by their angry views. Just the fact that he refers to them as a "peace movement" tells me a great deal.
It is clear he thinks of conservatives and Republicans as "racists" when those of us who live here know it is the liberal left which is racist. He praises "affirmative action" and seems to believe it is a reasonable policy, when it is the very embodiment of racism.
He should have to live in the United States as an Arab-American for a year or more; it would open his eyes.
Sir-- Re: "Not Pepsi or Coke" (Al-Ahram Weekly, 8-14 April). During the 2000 presidential campaign Bush draped himself in a banner of "Passionate Conservativism." After four years it's time to ask what manner of man is this who calls himself a Passionate Conservative?
Let me add up the score:
In the immediate aftermath of the September 11 tragedy the president's gross insensitivy to the utter devastation wreaked upon our country was inscribed for all time by his gloating words, "Lucky me, I hit the trifecta," This, according to his budget director, Mitch Daniels, and subsequent recycling of this sick joke at GOP fundraisers. Any race horse aficionado knows that "Hitting the Trifecta" means picking the exact order of finish of the first three horses in a race. The odds of doing so and subsequent payoff are stratospheric. In the Bush trifecta this meant that war, recession and national emergency liberated him to soar in the political stratosphere.
Bush is portrayed in Talk magazine as ridiculing pickax killer Karla Faye Tucker of Houston for an interview she did with CNN broadcaster Larry King. Just before her execution date she appealed to this "passionate conservative" for clemency on the grounds that she had become a born-again Christian. " Please" Bush whimpered, mocking her pleading voice, "Don't kill me."
As part of a light-hearted comedy skit at the annual Radio & TV Correspondents' Association dinner, Bush showed a series of photos involving the president in awkward positions -- bent over as if he's looking under a table, leaning out the window -- accompanied by remarks such as "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere!" and "Nope, no weapons over there!" and "maybe under here.?" To joke about this contrived deception foisted on a gullible public, the prime reason for involving us in a horrible war with the death toll mounting daily, descends into the very depths of revulsion.
Then there's the interesting video tape of our Commander in Chief while visiting the Booker Elementary school in Florida, on being told by his Whitehouse Chief of staff, Andy Card, of a second airline crashing into the world trade center. Bush's facial reaction: Shock? Anguish? Disbelief? Awestruck? No! None of the above! At best his visage reflected only a bland indifference as he proceeded for the next 20 minutes to listen to the schoolchildren read about a pet goat!
Finally, there are President Bush's re-election campaign commercials using images from the September 11 terrorist attacks, including wreckage of the World Trade Center. The mounting anger on the part of families of the victims of the attacks expresses far more poignantly than I can a total lack of compassion from this the "passionate conservative."
"It's as sick as people who stole things out of the place," said Firefighter Tommy Fee of Queens Rescue Squad 270. "The image of firefighters at ground zero should not be used for this stuff, for politics."
"It's a slap in the face of the murders of 3, 000 people, " said Monica Gabrielle, whose husband died in the twin tower attacks. "It is unconscionable."
"I would be less offended if he showed a picture of himself in front of the Statue of Liberty," said Tom Roger, whose daughter perished on American Airlines Flight 11. "But to show the horror of 9/11 in the background, that's just some advertising agency's attempt to grab people by the throat."
Sir-- This is my first visit to the Al-Ahram Weekly Web site and it will certainly not be my last. I think it is necessary, at least for me, to read Arab newspapers and to get their views.
Although I may not agree with everything, I don't agree with everything going on in the US right now. I especially found the opinion piece 'Not Pepsi or Coke' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 8-14 April) enlightening. Of course being a far left liberal, I guess it's not surprising.
Your page is bookmarked and I will return often.
LBJ's mixed bag
Sir-- I agree wholeheartedly with Mr Bishara's article 'Not Pepsi or Coke' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 8-14 April), but I would like to offer one correction.
Lyndon Johnson did not start a campaign "against civil rights". He in fact was the one president who did more for civil rights than any president since Lincoln.
He also knew that in doing so he was handing the South to the Republicans, who had abandoned the struggle for equality back in 1877.
It is indeed a tragedy that he could not muster a like courage when it came to withdrawing from Vietnam.
San Francisco, CA
Sir-- There he was, the leader, the self- appointed saviour of the Free World insulting our intelligence again, with President Hosni Mubarak by his side. In a comical attempt to placate Muslims in general, he says, "the situation in Iraq has improved." This after a week in which at least 56 US soldiers were killed, the greatest number in the entire Iraq War.
This after Iraqi insurgents keeps kidnapping people. This after the US military killed more than 600 Iraqi civilians in the last week.
This after US soldiers shot bullets through copies of the Qur'an, according to Naomi Klein in the Los Angeles Times.
Bush is engaged either in willful denial or outright propaganda. "We can't let a few people" decide the fate of everybody in Iraq, he said. And he labelled those who oppose the United States as "gangs."
But reporters on the ground are seeing a different picture. They tell us that there is widespread hatred for the US occupation, and that Bush's single success has been to unite Shi'ites and Sunnis -- against the United States.
US military leaders brag about taking "precise" and "judicious" action against the enemy. But how precise and judicious was it when the United States killed hundreds of civilians in Fallujah? Precise and judicious may not have been the operative words. Bush, as Paul Krugman recounts, demanded that heads roll for the mutilation of the four Americans. When that's the command from the commander in chief, concern about civilian casualties takes a back seat.
When asked about those civilian casualties, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, the pitiless senior military spokesman, blamed it all on Al- Jazeera and gave this great piece of advice: "Change the channel." But changing the channel won't make those corpses go away, only US non-interference will.
Since Bush declared an end to major combat operations a year ago, no weapons of mass destruction have been found. He has acknowledged there is no concrete evidence of links between the Sept. 11 attackers and Saddam. Powell now says that the most dramatic evidence he presented to the UN turned out to be based on faulty intelligence.
Pray for peace
Sir-- What is written below has been sent to more than 600 peace groups throughout the world.
We are a grassroots organisation located in the small town of Linda, Ca. population 13,474. We are making an effort to promote peace in the Middle East. From this little town, things can be done. Please help us by spreading the word.
Our initiative is named "Hands Across the Jordan." Our intentions are to be politically neutral, and pray for peace in the region. What we wish to do and what we actually do may be two different things, but pray for peace, we will. Our primary objective is to get a large body of people together to show the world's yearning for peace. This is and will be a worldwide effort.
We wish to build a PEACE BRIDGE across the Jordan River between the Arab world and the Israeli world, in an undisputed area of land. We have personally surveyed and know of an area that meets this criterion. After the bridge is built, we will gather in a circle across the bridge, join hands and pray silently.
As you know from your experience in Middle East, we will need both governments of Israel and Jordan to allow this action. This will be non-exclusionary. All people are invited and it will be highly publicised. We have contacts with 1.6 million people throughout the world via peace groups, environmental groups and religious organisations. We are in touch with Jordanians, Palestinians, and Israelis wishing for peaceful solutions to their ordeal.
It would be an honor to join hands with you on the bridge, as respected and accomplished representative of world peace. The International Day of Tolerance is November 16, 2004; this will be the day of the event.
Ask yourself, what is peace? How many types of peace are there? What makes up peace? What would you call it, if the only peace I receive were the understanding that you are as pitiful as I am? Peace, as most know it, is a state of mind. Peace of the body, is mental peace. Peace of the spirit is a God given peace.
As we think about these questions and statements, we come upon our ability to think freely. Isn't this action yet another type of peace? Not one is more important than the other is. We have mental peace, emotional peace, and environmental peace. Worldwide peace is the combined state of minds across the earth. Each of these can be broken down into categories.
Rabbi Chayim Levin
Sir-- We don't care if you get Westernised or Americanised. You've destroyed your civilisation beyond the point of no return; you've turned your religion over to fanatics; you've turned your governments over to thugs; you've impoverished your people and made illiterates of your women, enslaving them in hijabs. That's your fault, not ours.
We don't care what you do but you continue to blame it on us. And you continue to try and kill us. We will not permit that.
It is our superior morality that prevents us from destroying you. You do not have the capability to destroy us, but we do have that power against you. We haven't used it but you would undoubtedly use it, if you had it, against us. So grow up. If you want good government, then kill your clerics and destroy your leaders.
I don't care what you do, just don't make your problems our problems. Our patience grows thin.
Sir-- After a dirty and illegal war during which the Iraqis faced relentless bombardment by smart bombs and cluster bombs, the terror still haunts Iraq and claims the lives of the innocent people.
All that and more makes a mockery of Bush's speech in which he alleged that "in the history of Iraq, a dark and painful era is over." As a matter of fact, it is highly depressing that America, the so-called land of democracy and freedom, insists on coveting another country's resources, subjecting its people to occupation and turning the natives into slaves.
It goes without saying that the war against Iraq is a real tragedy, not only for the Iraqis but for all peace-loving nations. Hence, Iraqi resistance is no more than a struggle for liberation. It sees American forces as a type of imperialism against which resistance is need.
Alaa Gamal Abd-Alhakim
Sir-- A mercenary means someone who serves merely for wages. So what economic incentives do US private Army companies have to bring the Iraq war to an end, when their mercenary soldiers are being paid $15,000 a month?
Private armies need only inflame Iraq civilian populations to ensure their employment continues. American citizens should ensure that the US government never allows private armies to be deployed in the US for any purpose.
Hitler had a private army constituting 100,000 SS.
Sir-- I'm so pleased I can read your paper on the Internet. I went two times to your country and I know I will return in the coming years.
I would like to assure you that most of the European people disagree with what is happening in Iraq, are not war-minded and don't entirely approve with what this awful Bush and his administration are doing.
I also support the Palestinian people in their battle for peace and recognition, and hope with all my heart that a solution is reached.
Alexander's final journey
Sir-- You might want to revise your article 'Dialogue with Amun' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 8-14 April).
In it you stated that Alexander the Great died in India. He actually died after leaving India; Persia if I remember correctly.
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