Al-Ahram Weekly Online   30 March - 5 April 2006
Issue No. 788
Reader's corner
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Readers' corner

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America's problem

Sir-- I have just read Joseph Massad's article, 'Blaming the lobby' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 23-29 March). I'm not sure I agree with everything Prof Massad says, but one thing is clear: there is no point in Arabs worrying about the Israeli lobby in the US. The Israeli lobby is a US problem, not an Arab problem, and it can be solved only by US-Americans. The Arabs have a problem, but their problem is the US, not the AIPAC. Prof Massad is absolutely right about that. Instead of worrying about the AIPAC, Arabs should break off diplomatic relations with the US and impose an oil embargo for as long as Palestine and Iraq are occupied.

Mark Marshall

At US expense

Sir-- Mr Massad seems to defend much of the Israeli lobbies in the US that force America to do much to aid Israel at the cost of the ordinary American citizen. Mr Massad, you fail to address the exorbitant amounts of money paid by Israeli lobbies to candidates (of both Democratic and Republican political parties) when running for office in America. This in any other country would be illegal. Also, you fail to write about the huge numbers of people who work as top advisors to key officials in the US government who are not only Jewish but hold both US and Israeli citizenship and are what are known as Israel-firsters. I do not think that most people in the Middle East feel that if Americans just realised the truth about Israel they would be "on our side". I do not think you give the people of the Middle East enough credit for their power of thought.

Lynne Evans

You and us

Sir-- I have read with great interest the article by Hamid Dabashi criticising the anti-Islamic stand of Salman Rushdie and other Western intellectuals ('Islam and globanalisation', Al-Ahram Weekly, 23-29 March). This is one of the few times I meet a half-way balanced examination of the so-called "cartoons" scandal. He does make some valid points and I realise that we Westerners are not all lily-white in our reactions. But you must admit a couple of realities: Salman Rushdie and a number of others are condemned to death by Islamist fanatics; death and destruction have been brought about by unruly Muslim mobs; the same goes for burning consulates and shooting thousands of bullets into the air exposing mere bystanders to accidental death or injury.

Luis Baralt

No backing

Sir-- Americans will never support a people that endorses suicide attacks, no matter how they try to justify it, so Arabs should quit trying to justify them. In the two wars with Iraq, Palestinians sided with our enemies again. So why should it surprise Arabs that Palestinians have no support among the American people or, consequently, among politicians in Washington?

Roger McKinney

Weakness showing

Sir-- The charisma of "Amr Khaled, the 38- year-old superstar Islamic preacher" must have deserted him, giving way instead to opportunism as shown in some of his statements in 'Now Danes respect Muslims' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 23- 29 March) revealing a confused and confusing array of targets such as "We found the cartoon crisis to be a golden opportunity that may not occur again to introduce a true picture of our prophet to the West," going on to the unsubstantiated assertion that "at least five million Danes were eager, for the first time ever, to hear about Islam" and then "We wanted to eliminate misconceptions and stereotypes about Islam and abort attempts by antagonists to Islam to attract neutral non-Muslims to their side and alienate Muslims" and on and on. Is it any wonder his mission failed? After all, he took aim at so many unrelated targets, and missed the lot.

Reda Wassef

Less of a tool

Sir-- I agree with Ayman El-Amir that the satellite news TV market is saturated and Al-Jazeera has to work very hard to make an impact and establish a unique niche for itself ('Al-Jazeera goes English', Al-Ahram Weekly, 23-29 March).

This is important, but equally significant is that it must aim at total objectivity and avoid becoming a tool representing narrow religious or political interests. This is unlikely to happen so long as the editorial management is British and does not have individuals with a particular agenda as is the case with the Al-Jazeera Arabic service. The United Kingdom's laws governing media behaviour are strict and must be meticulously observed. They do not allow the use of the channel to defame or accuse any person or country or organisation without proper evidence. It cannot expose scandals unless they are deemed to be in the public interest. It will not be allowed to use inflammatory language deemed to be instigating violence or hatred. It will not be allowed to glorify violence and martyrdom and so on. It cannot show beheading or explicit scenes without consultation and permission. It cannot be used to promote a particular religion or creed without a proper license for the purpose.

I agree that CNN influence is waning and Fox News has gained popularity at the expense of CNN. Fox News presenters don't appear neutral. They don't even try. They have an attitude which is in harmony with the Joe Public in the street. FOX News seized its chance after 11 September. It captured the public sentiment and milked it to its advantage.

Nehad Ismail

You lift me up

Sir-- Referring to the tragic sinking of the Al-Salam Boccacio 98 ferry with large loss of life in the Red Sea, this is in contrast to the sinking of the Queen of the North ferry, 22 March, on the west coast of Canada. Ninety-nine of the 101 passengers and crew were accounted for after a Titanic-like sinking. It was a relief -- even uplifting -- to learn that this dramatic sinking brought out the best in both the crewmen and passengers. The sinking occurred in a remote isolated area. The nearest village, Hartley Bay, has only 200 people. They were quickly on the scene in the middle of the night with small fishing boats to help rescue and care for the passengers and crew even before the ship sank. "They came out of nowhere!" said one passenger. I did a little research and found that the people of Hartley Bay have a saying: when someone does something good for them, they say, "You lift me up." They certainly lived up to that saying. Even children and the elderly provided blankets and coffee, food and comfort to the survivors. Just hearing about it lifted me up. May all who read this be inspired to "lift up others" in the spirit of the Hartley Bay community.

Gary Rowland
British Columbia

Bourgeois democracy

Sir-- The policy of the United States in the 20th-21st centuries has been to promote bourgeois democracy in the world. This policy is based on the belief that our own bourgeois democracy -- the first and, for a long time, the only one on the planet -- is better off with like- minded neighbours. To this end, we rebuilt Europe, Japan, and Korea in our own image. We promote bourgeois "economic liberalisation" in Russia, China, India and Latin America. We nudge the Philippines, Indonesia, and Belarus towards democratic reform; sometimes this works. We support Israel, because it is as much like America as it is possible to be.

In the parts of the world where bourgeois democracy is a non-concept, we support whichever presents the least threat to international peace and international trade. Not an ideal situation, from our point of view, but unavoidable. Africa and the Muslim/Arab region are the primary beneficiaries of this kind of policy today.

John Lenihan

What threat?

Sir-- Americans say Iraq was a threat to the US. They could be asked how can a country on the other side of the earth pose a threat to the US which has more nuclear arms than any country on earth.

Now they are against Iran's nuclear programme while not even mentioning the stockpile of Israeli nuclear arms.

Muhammad Saleem

TV show needed

Sir-- We would appreciate seeing an in-depth show done (by responsible reporters) on a prime-time TV programme. Is this not being done to avoid a panic? This H5N1 bird flu is truly a world-wide problem.

Nadine Baugher

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