Al-Ahram Weekly On-line   Al-Ahram Weekly On-line
5 - 11 October 2000
Issue No. 502
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Issues navigation Current Issue Previous Issue Back Issues

Rights to Mahfouz

Sir- We always enjoy browsing through your charming Pack of Cards. But when your cards ignore the facts, which were so clearly confirmed by Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz throughout the local press, about the million-pound Internet story involving the usually copyright-conscious Ibrahim El-Muallem, we have to cheerfully set the record straight. The exclusive right to publish and licence Naguib Mahfouz's literature in all foreign languages in any form (which includes the Internet) has been and continues to be the responsibility of the AUC Press since 1985, resulting thus far in more than 360 foreign-language agreements concluded by the AUC Press on behalf of the author all around the world. As to "publishing" the Arabic-language editions of Naguib Mahfouz on the "Arab world's most powerful portal," we ask Madame Sosostris to check her Pack of Cards and let all of us know about the wisdom or usefulness of "reading," of issuing e-books, or downloading the Cairo Trilogy off the Internet.

Mark Linz
Director, AUC Press

Days of misery

Sir- How many more Palestinians need to be killed before the world opens its eyes? How many more need to be punished by Israel for their existence? When will the world see that this is all a campaign to exterminate Palestinians as a human presence on the land of their ancestors? To former Israeli Prime Minister Begin they were "two-legged vermin;" to MK Michael Eitan they were "drugged roaches in a bottle;" to former Israeli Prime Minister Shamir they were "grasshoppers;" to the Israeli public they are "the Arabs of Judea and Samaria;" and to the New York Times they are "terrorists," or just "Arabs." When will the world see that the Palestinians are human beings who just want to continue their daily lives on the land they inherited from their ancestors? Those who have been driven out by aggression or by fear just want to return home and live on the land owned by their parents and grandparents.

Over the years of negotiations, what has been left out of media attention is the increasing Israeli intransigence and actual violence. This policy of persecution and discrimination is what Palestinians have contested and will contest. It is a fact of their lives, more than negotiations with US diplomats who are keener Zionists than the Israeli negotiators themselves. The US supplies the Israeli occupation forces with the bullets that killed 12-year-old Mohamed and 18-month-old Rania.

All illusions of improving the "quality of life" are inherently unrealistic and in direct contradiction to the aspirations of the Palestinians to live in freedom. A necessary prerequisite to any peace process is the commitment to clear and final objectives: namely, self-determination, freedom and return. Since Oslo, Israel has succeeded in imposing an agreement defining "peace" as unconditional security for Israel but extremely conditional security for the Palestinians, both under occupation and in the Diaspora. The scope and gravity of Israel's human rights violations are widely documented. Israel relies on its self-made laws to trample basic human rights -- sanctioning torture, hostage-taking, the construction of Jewish colonies, the destruction of Palestinian homes, deportation and the imposition of exile on millions of human beings.

The US is imposing its own rules on a world that has had enough of imperialist and expansionist states. At a time when freedom and democracy have supposedly triumphed, censorship and media manipulation are making a comeback, more powerful than before. Now Washington has abandoned the UN altogether and is mediating a deal to serve its interests in the region. Yet the world insists that victim and executioner are equal; it shows cruelty to the victim and sympathy for the executioner.

Arjan El-Fassed
DR De Bilt, Netherlands

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