Big yellow patch
Sir -- I think Palestinians in occupied areas should all begin wearing something equivalent to the big yellow Star of David patches that the Nazis forced all Jews to wear. Perhaps a big yellow circle with a crescent and star on each side and a big letter "P" in the middle, as a sign to the world that they are now in the same position.
That little patch could do more to explain to the world what is going on in the territories than anything else I can think of.
Sir -- My thanks to Khaled Amayreh for his article 'Remove the settlements, period' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 7-13 April). I join the Arab people in feeling that Israel's unrestrained expansion on Arab land is killing all hopes for peace in the region. Indeed, I feel Israel's latest plan to expand the Maaleh Adumim settlement by 3,500 housing units, which will cut off East Jerusalem from the West Bank, is a cruel plan. It has no human need either, except to serve Israel's strategic position. How shameful.
This expansion plan is also in contempt of the American will, the roadmap and international law. How many times has President Bush and his cabinet members asked Israel to stop expanding their settlements because it will diminish the aspirations of Palestinians for a viable state? But Israel continues to build. Indeed, all previous six American presidents have asked Israel to stop expanding their settlements -- and Israel has continued to build.
Today, there are 31 illegal settlements in Jerusalem and over 120 illegal settlements in the West Bank and Gaza -- all in gross violation of International law. The "disengagement" plan from Gaza only involves the removal of 20 settlements. This is just a drop in the bucket; what kind of just solution is this for the Palestinian people?
Now Israel is building a barrier (twice as high as the Berlin Wall and three times longer) to protect these settlements. According to the latest UN data, over 237,000 Palestinians will be trapped between the barrier and the Green Line and another 160,000 will remain on the Palestinian side, cut off from their land and their means of a livelihood. This is inhumane.
Daily the Israelis rob the Palestinian people of their land, take their precious natural resources and keep them in a state of perpetual military oppression and abject poverty. I, for one, will never accept these settlements as "the new realities on the ground" and I don't think the Palestinian people should either. Like Amayreh said, remove the settlements, period.
Raise the fence
Sir -- If Israel stops building the fence, terrorism will likely increase. If that happens, talks between Israel and the Palestinians will break down and the peace process will be defeated.
Therefore, I do not think it is a good idea for Israel to stop building the fence.
R D Cotton
The road ahead
Sir -- It is very obvious that Israel has no interest in settling the issue once and for all. Peace in the region is vital for all; the Palestinian people have a right to live as much as the Israelis do. There is too much talking going on and no action. Both Israel and Palestine should be given the once over warning that all atrocities and occupation must be a thing of the past, start afresh now or else face being isolated by the international community.
Europe and the US must be on board and put their money where their mouth is. The Arabs have the majority of the oil wells, whose oil is supplying fuel to the Israeli murderous machine of Caterpillar bulldozers, gunships, tanks and other IDF vehicles. Of course, there is a way to bring the region, to its senses... but no one wants to take action.
Carmel (Charlie) Attard
Sir -- Reading the supposedly informed commentary on 'Wolfowitz worry?' by Gamal Nkrumah (Al-Ahram Weekly, 14- 20 April), one cannot help sensing the anger and hostility seeping through every word. This kind of "chip-on-the-shoulder" attitude blinds objective and critical analysis regardless of topic. It makes for a biased opinion.
I am not here to defend Paul Wolfowitz in any way, but I just have one question for Mr Nkrumah: Where did you develop this sense of entitlement? No one is entitled to anything; one has to earn it. People do things because they want to. At the risk of sounding reactionary, I will say that nobody owes Africa a thing.
You cannot demand help. If you ask for it, maybe you will get and maybe you won't. This entitled attitude will unfortunately keep Africa backwards for a long time to come. Instead, look at the Koreans and Chinese for example. Stop complaining and get to work.
New York, NY
Sir -- As a member of the South African Communist Party (SACP), we believe the people of Iraq are better placed to decide what the future holds for them. We don't believe that the Americans have the interest of the people of Iraq at heart. Do comrades recall the announcement made for the rebuilding of the infrastructure in Iraq? All contracts were given to American companies to rebuild Iraq. What do the Americans know about Iraq? Nothing.
There are alternative campaigns to deal with the problem. All the comrades need to do is minimise their differences and look at the issues which will bring them closer as a people. The bombs and guns will never rebuild Iraq.
The people's voice
Sir -- Regarding Sami Moubayed's article 'Reluctant embrace' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 24-30 March), I'd like to object to the notion of refraining from political reform in order to achieve economic and administrative reform. For example, the average and poor Indians peacefully use their political right to change the government when it fails to address their demands. We can't ignore the fact that the majority of Indians are considered underprivileged, and hence the fascinating conclusion is that the founding fathers of India had not laboured in vain.
In contrast, some of the political elite or intelligentsia in our Arab countries are alleging that their people are not qualified to practise their political rights, before being well educated and well-paid. This neglects the very stark reality that these people had no hand in their marginalisation from the political arena.
Our people need a real opportunity to learn more about democracy, its principles and institutions, its rights and obligations, to allow them to seriously engage in the affairs of their country. They should not be scoffed at since they have borne recent difficulties with unbridled patience.
Sir -- It seems the "trickle down" economics of Reagan, which raised the inflation-adjusted income of the top one per cent of earners in 1979-2000 by 184 per cent and that of the bottom 20 per cent of earners by six per cent (CNN), has become the "plop down" economics of Bush, with "plop" standing for "please let's own people."
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.