letters to the editor
Sir -- With reference to your online article update 'Explosion at Egypt's Taba resort', I strongly condemn these terrorist acts that hit Egypt last Thursday.
It was a cowardly act. Supposing that those who carried out these explosions are members of Al-Qaeda, and their terrorist operation was in retaliation for the continuous attacks that the Israel forces launch on the Palestinian cities, they should not have targeted an Arab country like Egypt, particularly given that Egypt plays an important role in defending the Palestinian cause. Instead, they should have carried out their operation inside the Israel territories.
There they will find many places that deserve to be targeted like, for example, their military bases.
In short, such "terrorist" operations should only be continued if we guarantee that Israel will halt its inhuman practices against the Palestinian people.
The unfortunate reality, is that it is obvious that as long as Israel gets such continued full support from Bush administration, it will continue its fierce attacks on the Palestinian people.
Sir -- Just a short time ago I wrote you to point out that Americans know the cost of war and also know we are not the only ones to pay that cost.
Now I find myself writing to express sympathy at the price you have paid at Taba. As I said before "every single" one will be mourned, every single one will be missed. I pray for God's peace for the victims and their loved ones.
Voice of minority
Sir -- Thank you for an excellent analysis by Salama A Salama, 'American debates', ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 7-13 October). Please be assured that there are US citizens who care deeply about the suffering in Palestine and Iraq and are equally outraged that these issues are not addressed in the election debates. No one has mentioned the issue of civilian casualties incurred in Bush's illegal and immoral war. No one addresses the unlawful incursions into Gaza that claim the lives of women and children.
I am a member of the Green Party and our platform and candidates have a clear and courageous anti-war, anti- occupation message. But because we are a third party without corporate financing or wealth behind us, our voices are censored. Trust me, the two-party system does nor represent democracy, and the capitalist, militaristic and imperialist model of "democracy" in the US is greatly flawed.
Nevertheless, activists like myself will continue to speak out and demonstrate in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Middle East and we want peaceful relations, not war.
Dude, we know a lot!
Sir-- This is in response to the commentary on the US presidential debates, 'American debates', ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 7-13 October). I have a greater degree of optimism for our democracy. But, I won't dispute that here. More importantly, I have to differ strongly with the following sentence: "The Arabs should not be surprised by this omission since the average American citizen, who knows nothing of the outside world, is also oblivious to bloodbaths occurring daily in Gaza and the West Bank."
I grant you that our knowledge of the outside world is lacking. But, to say we know nothing of the West Bank and Gaza situation is completely false. It is, in fact, the one thing that even those "average Americans" you speak of are exposed to daily. It is in our newspapers and on our televisions screens in minute detail. It is something we cannot, as the world cannot, escape. Though there may not be informed, intelligent, precisely thought out opinions about this conflict by every "average American", you might be surprised how this conflict has imbedded itself in the psyches of even the most uninformed. It has across the world.
I appreciate your candidness in writing. It is helpful to hear the views of people who have a fresh perspective.
Sir -- The biggest Arab mistake, ever, was the 9/11 attack. The average American may know nothing of the outside world, but we know what freedom, democracy, rule of law, human rights, and prosperity is, and we will fight to the last man and woman to protect these things. In addition (and this seems to be difficult for non-Christians to understand) we want to share these blessings with all Iraqis, all Arabs, all Muslims, the whole world, and you, sir, Salama A Salama, 'American debates', ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 7-13 October).
One of my dearest and oldest friends is a Palestinian whose grandfather's farm was partitioned when the Israeli border was established. He'll be at my home for dinner tonight, and I'll ask him to comment on your article. I particularly want his opinion of why you would characterise American military action to regain control of Samaraa, Falluja and Sadr City as "mass exterminations".
The Iraqi interim government and the US are mocked for not providing enough security so that free elections can take place in January. An Iraqi complains in a newscast that the Americans cannot stop the terrorist attacks. Sabotage of the infrastructure and suicide bombers targeting school children are excused in Arab newspapers or greeted with approval by some Middle Easterners, and Islamic religious leaders encourage Iraqis to attack their liberators.
Yes, Mr Salama, the average American does know about the outside world, and we are baffled by leaders and spokesmen who condemn us. We pray and work hard, putting our financial resources and our finest young men and women on the line so that, one day, all Arabs can enjoy the blessings of liberty.
Holding Israel accountable
Sir -- My thanks to Khaled Amayreh for his article 'Sharon pounds Gaza', ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 7-13 October). Once again, I denounce the murderous Israeli army for its "barbarous butchering" of defenseless people in Jabaliya Refugee Camp in Gaza. There is no way the Israeli army can justify its use of disproportionate force into one of the most densely populated refugee camps in Gaza for a handful of home-made rockets. Besides the army's heavy weaponry is often imprecise and can be catastrophic on a civilian population. The army's offensive also violated many terms under the Fourth Geneva Convention for the protection of civilians in the territories.
Needless to say, the incident resulted in excessive casualties. Over 90 people have been killed and some 300 remain injured. The Israeli army's offensive raises some fundamental questions about our American support for Israel. More and more it seems Israel is a state being characterised by revenge rather than justice. The Israeli army has a strong history of a reckless disregard for Palestinian civilians. This is revealed in the latest vital statistics -- just released by the Palestinian Board of Health for the second Intifada. Of the 3,334 Palestinian deaths reported and recorded over the last four years, 82 per cent were civilian deaths. It's one thing when a suicide bomber blows innocent people up, it is quite another thing when an army commits atrocities. This army must be condemned by the world.
I urge the Arab League to form a real "coalition of the willing" and make this army accountable in the court of law and by sanctions. Remember if we sit idly by we are complicit in this brutality too. Like Amayreh noted from other Israeli commentators "the real aim is to kill and maim as many Palestinians and destroy as many Palestinian houses as possible." This is unconscionable, we must raise our voices.
Who hates who
Sir -- Your editorial on 'Who hates who', ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 7-13 October) was very illuminating. I agree with a growing majority of Americans that the war in Iraq was not connected to the events of 11 September or the alleged weapons of mass destruction. An increasing number of my fellow Americans are beginning to believe that George W Bush is an embarrassment who may be a danger to our nation and the planet. They may be correct.
Yet you make a terrible mistake in your analysis. The reason that almost all Americans, both those who support John Kerry as well as those who will vote for Bush, are not outraged by the events in the Arab world is that this appears to be your normal and natural state of affairs. You only pay lip service to "taking responsibility" for the suicide bombings and radical religious beliefs that make Islam look like a terrorist religion. Bush's actions may add to the problem, but he is not the cause of the problem.
Things will likely get worse until the Arab world looks at itself in the mirror and genuinely seeks to change itself into a more modern and tolerant society that allows diversity of opinion to flourish, and which promotes the objective studies of mathematics and science.
Ironically, the tradition of Islam a thousand years ago was the epitome of this ideal. Yet it clearly is not now. Nor will it be so again if you continue to blame the Jews or the Americans for all your problems. I refer you to the "first rule of holes". When one is stuck in a hole, the first rule is to stop digging. In this regard, the Arab world has much in common with the current American president.