President Barack Obama shakes hands with Palestinian children during a visit to the Church of the Nativity in the occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem, March 22, 2013. (ATEF SAFADI-POOL/GETTY IMAGES)
Lebanese Kurds wave the Kurdish flag and a flag picturing Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan during Persian New Year, or Noruz, celebrations in Beirut, March 21, 2013. (JOSEPH EID/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lipid (c) with former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who resigned his position after being indicted on charges of fraud and breach of trust, at the Feb. 5 swearing in of the 19th Knesset. (URIEL SINAI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Israeli soldiers take pictures of each other in front of Israel’s illegal apartheid wall near the Qalandia checkpoint outside Ramallah, March 30, 2013. Israeli troops earlier had clashed with Palestinian demonstrators commemorating the 37th anniversary of “Land Day.” (ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Clay, Babylon, Mesopotamia, after 539 BCE D x H: 7.8-10 x 21.9-22.8 cm British Museum, London, ME 90920 Photo: ©The Trustees of the British Museum
Prosthetic legs for wounded American soldiers at the Center for Intrepid rehabilitation gym at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX, Aug. 7, 2012. (JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES)
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, December 2000, Pages 81-84
Other People’s Mail
Some letters by or to other people are as informative for our readers as anything we might write ourselves.
Trapped for 12 Days
To The New York Times, Oct. 10, 2000 (as submitted).
You report that several hundred Jews in the city of Nazareth “rampaged on Sunday night, attacking Arab homes and touching off a melee in which the Israeli police killed two Arabs” and injured others. (“Crowds of Jews Rampage in Nazareth,” Oct. 10, 2000.)
Your reporter appears to excuse this, saying the behavior took place because the Jews were “apparently tired of feeling trapped for 12 days in this predominantly Arab city.”
Such generosity and willingness to explain away violence has rarely been extended to Palestinians, who apparently have no right to protest their absolute exhaustion with decades of military occupation, continued confiscation of their land by settlers, routine violence and humiliation by Israeli forces, and pervasive racism against them.
Ali Abunimah, Chicago, IL
The Saddest Sentence
To The Washington Post, Oct. 18, 2000 (as published).
An Oct. 13 news story about a pro-Israel rally in New York referred to a sign held by a protester that read, “Don’t Throw Rocks and You Won’t Get Killed.” This is perhaps the saddest single sentence I have read yet. As a faithful and observant Jew, I am told by the organizations that supposedly represent me—with the spin summarized in that sign—that I must be entirely pro-Israeli in my reactions to the recent violence.
As someone who believes in God and the principles of my religion, I cannot accept this sign, these statements, this representation. How offensive that I must be told that I must believe the Sixth Commandment has conditions, that all people were not created in God’s image and that I should be complicitous in the violation of all I have learned in synagogue because it will damage Israel’s political position.
Israel and the American Jewish community have demanded that Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian people disclaim the murders of the two soldiers killed before the world’s eyes. Although they should be justified in making this demand, how have they disclaimed the killing of 100 Palestinians, other than by insinuating that they do not have the same value as Israeli soldiers? How can Mr. Arafat order his people to stop protesting when we proclaim our pride in our ability to kill them? And when will Israel, the American Jewish community and the media demand actual allegiance to the principles, ethics and values of the religions that have supposedly created this conflict?
Brad Rubin, Washington, DC
Real Cause of Failed Talks
To The New York Times, Oct. 17, 2000 (as published).
Your Oct. 14 front page features a photograph of an Israeli officer blocking Muslims younger than 45 from Friday services at Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
The officer’s attitude, demeanor, shouting (indicated by the wide-open mouth), rage (seen in his eyes) and authority to stop a Muslim from offering his obligatory Friday prayer at a mosque of his choice is enough for Muslims to reject Israeli control of Al-Aqsa mosque under any circumstances.
You can blame Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, for not accepting Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s concessions, but the cause of the failure of the peace talks is amply seen in the picture.
M. A. Cheema, Treasurer, American Muslim Council, Elm Grove, WI
Killing Unarmed Protesters
To the Los Angeles Times, Oct. 9, 2000 (as submitted).
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak claims that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat can magically push a button and order the Palestinian people to stop their strike against Israeli occupation. This is unfair because the Israelis have done everything in their power to bribe and divide the Palestinians into warring factions.
Since the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993, there have been no improvements for the Palestinians—although Israel’s economy has prospered greatly. Palestinian towns have been turned into Bantustans reminiscent of apartheid South Africa, their economy has been strangled by Israelis who only want to sell their goods to the Palestinians but will not allow them to export their vegetables and other products to the Arab world.
Strikes occurred in Seattle against the World Trade Organization, strikes have taken place throughout Europe against rising petrol prices, BUT GOVERNMENTS DID NOT USE LIVE AMMUNITION on the protesters.
What the hell is going on in Israel that allows unarmed protesters to be slaughtered?
When will decent Israelis no longer be able to stomach the slaughter of Palestinian children facing Israeli bullets? When will Zionist right-wingers realize there are too many Palestinians to eliminate? Palestinians cannot be treated like native Americans were 150 years ago. Palestinians will not willingly roll over, die and allow the Israelis to say they are an inferior people. Nor will they permit the Israelis to destroy their dream of nationhood, since Palestine has been theirs long before the Hebrews showed up.
Samir Twair, President, Arab American Press Guild, Los Angeles, CA
Rabbis Must Speak Out
To The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Oct. 10, 2000 (as published).
I am sick of the fighting in Israel. How many more will die in the name of religion or a piece of land that can’t be shared with all people who find their religions centered in this part of the world?
As a Jew, I call on all religious leaders to speak out against the killing. How many sermons on Yom Kippur were wasted on Zionism, inter-faith marriages, giving money to the synagogue and the other typical concerns of the rabbis? Now is the time to speak out against the killing of all people in the name of religion and land.
Peace now! Speak out in synagogue and in church. We all have something vested in peace in the Middle East. Jews must stop the fighting, killing and maiming. As Prime Minister Ehud Barak flexes his military might, how many Atlanta Jews are sickened by his militaristic threats against the Palestinians? How many rabbis will attempt to raise the consciousness of Jews that the fighting can stop with Barak urging peace instead of threatening further military action against the Palestinians?
Let me know because I won’t be attending synagogues this year. I am sick of American Jewish leaders encouraging the violence to continue instead of speaking out against it.
Lloyd Flaum, Marietta, GA
Understanding Mr. Arafat
To The New York Times, Sept. 10, 2000 (as submitted).
It is reported that “U.S. and Israeli officials say that they are having trouble understanding Mr. Arafat now.” How can this dangerous incomprehension be explained?
Perhaps, since the U.S. and Israel are the world’s leaders in not taking international law and U.N. resolutions seriously (except when, as a matter of convenience, they can be used as a stick with which to beat a particular adversary), their leaders are genuinely surprised that the Palestinians take them seriously.
Perhaps, as leaders of vigorous democracies in which principles, deeply held beliefs and a sense of honor are unaffordable luxuries for politicians, President Clinton and Prime Minister Barak are genuinely astonished that Mr. Arafat, governing a less democratic society in which campaign financing and elections are not pre-eminent concerns, actually possesses principles, deeply held beliefs and a sense of honor and cannot be convinced by some combination of threats and financial inducements to sign away the fundamental human rights and rights under international law of his people.
If Mr. Clinton and Mr. Barak are not capable of understanding these fundamental realities, perhaps their successors will, in Mr. Barak’s words, be “capable of rising to the magnitude of the hour.” Peace awaits the moment.
John V. Whitbeck, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Bias on Israeli Violence
To The Washington Times, Oct. 4, 2000 (as published).
Any student of the Middle East and the recent uprising between the Israelis and the Palestinians would be appalled at the level of bias exhibited in the article, “Israeli officer slain by gunfire in ”˜holy struggle’” (Oct. 2).
The headline, the largest in the print edition and the first in the online edition, betrays the author’s cruel calculus: One Israeli soldier’s life is more important than the many lives of Palestinian civilians lost on the same day. That soldier’s life gets a mention in the second paragraph, while a 12-year-old boy who was shot by an Israeli soldier pitifully gets mentioned in the eleventh.
Moreover, the article creates a false symmetry between the Palestinian civilians, more than 30 of whom were killed in recent fighting, and the Israeli occupation forces. The fact remains that had the soldiers not been using overly aggressive tactics in Palestinian territory, they would not have been in any danger. The context was all but ignored in the article.
Also, the article’s characterization of Ariel Sharon as the “leader of Israel’s hawkish opposition” is extremely disingenuous, as if he were the Israeli equivalent of House Speaker Newt Gingrich during the Clinton administration. In reality, Mr. Sharon is a war criminal. He was responsible for the brutal Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and the Sabra-Shatila and the Qibya massacres. Without this information, it is impossible to understand the Palestinian reaction to his recent acts.
Shams Shihadeh, Washington, DC
Bias in Halsell Obituary
To The New York Times, Sept. 4, 2000 (as submitted).
Some years ago a Duke History professor and I had a dinner-table debate on the question of which is the world’s best daily newspaper. His candidate was The Financial Times. Mine was The New York Times, despite my admission of its pro-Israel bias in coverage of and comment on the Middle East.
It was not until I saw your issue of Sept. 2 that I realized the blackout extends even to the obituary section. Your article on Grace Halsell provided good coverage of her early accomplishments in the field of race relations in the United States. Don’t you agree that it should also have cited her years of dedication to the cause of Palestinian victims of Israeli discrimination?
Curtis F. Jones, Chapel Hill, NC
Hidden Palestinian Refugees
To www.Refugeecamp.org, New York, Oct. 4, 2000.
As one who has worked with refugees, I very much applaud your efforts to educate and highlight the dire plight of refugees. However, I am deeply puzzled and concerned that the largest refugee group in the world—the Palestinians—are not discussed in your curriculum. Must they in addition to their refugee status be hidden from the world as well? Doesn’t our media do a good job of that already?
It is my fervent hope that you reconsider this issue and include it in your studies. If I missed something on this, I apologize, but it seems you’re doing the safe, politically correct thing, so as to avoid confrontation. Is that then how we will solve refugee problems, through avoidance?
Mohamed Khodr, M.D., Winchester, VA
To the Chicago Tribune, Sept. 5, 2000 (as published).
Thank you for printing Ali Abunimah’s excellent commentary. Profiling results from negative stereotyping and is unlikely to improve our national security—its supposed intent.
We should all fight to stop this practice as well as the negative portrayal of Arabs and Muslims, which has allowed the practice to continue uncriticized.
As an American Jew, I thank you for bringing this issue to the public’s attention.
Janice Hayden, Concord, MA
To the Independent, Sept. 7, 2000 (as published).
That Palestinian textbooks should not acknowledge Israel’s existence may be a disappointment (“Textbooks teach Arab children to hate,” Phil Reeves, Sept. 6, 2000). But then again, as nearly all Palestinians living in Palestinian Authority areas cannot even enter Israel due to the closures, Israel might as well not exist for them anyhow. The closure is one of many policies that still justify the textbooks referring to the West Bank and Gaza Strip as being “occupied.”
Chris Doyle, Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding, London, UK
To The International Herald Tribune, Aug. 6, 2000 (as submitted).
Regarding “Peace Is Not In The Interest of Middle East Potentates” (Opinion, Aug. 4), by Jim Hoagland:
Why on earth does Mr. Hoagland believe that the Jews have a more compelling claim to Jerusalem than the Arabs, be they Muslims or Christians? Their attachment to the Holy City is just as passionate as that of Jews. Over the last 3,000 years, Jews held Jerusalem for 557 years during David and the Maccabean Kingdoms B.C. During their periodic rule from 323 A.D., Christian Romans and Crusaders, and Muslim Arabs and Turks held the city for 1,600 years. This is documented in the U.N. official records.
History aside, Palestinians, with the understandable support of world Muslims and Christians, won’t agree to let Israel have exclusive sovereignty over Jerusalem and be satisfied with administrative control over certain quarters. The common sense solution, at present, is to make Jerusalem an international city, administered by the United Nations, open to all and recognized as the capital of the states of Israel and Palestine. The 1947 U.N. partition plan of Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state envisaged this “corpus separatum” status for the Holy City. The Vatican has repeatedly advocated it. Should Israelis and Palestinians later find a way to share sovereignty over Jerusalem, the U.N. mandate would end.
Breaking the Jerusalem deadlock this way will improve significantly the prospects of a just settlement and a durable peace.
S. A. Sherif, Montreux, Switzerland
Embassy Land Is Palestinian
To Minnesota Sens. Rod Grams and Paul Wellstone, Sept. 20, 2000.
I know that the will of Congress is that the U.S. Embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, subject to the president’s decisions as to how this would affect peace negotiations.
You know, I’m sure, that only two Central American states have moved their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and that the great majority of American Middle East specialists oppose the move.
Here is still other consideration. I enclose a copy of the introduction to a study called, “The Ownership of the U.S. Embassy Site in Jerusalem,” from the Journal of Palestine Studies, a very academic and scholarly quarterly. The writer, Dr. Walid Khalidi, is a highly respected scholar in his field. He has lectured several times in Minnesota. I last heard him at Hamline U.
The White House argument against moving our embassy has been that this would disturb Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. It appears now, however, that there is the question of ownership of the land on which our embassy might be built. [Dr. Khalidi’s study shows that Palestinians legally own the 7.7 acre site. See WRMEA , October/November 2000, Vol. XIX, No. 8, p. 40.]
C. Patrick Quinlan, Edina, MN
U.S. Silent on Israeli Torture
To the Press Journal (Vero Beach, FL), Oct. 1, 2000 (as published).
Over the years, Israel has habitually tortured innocent Palestinians to extract confessions. Detainees suffer long periods with urine-soaked hoods over their heads, are handcuffed and shackled to posts in painful and suffocating stooped positions, stretched backward over chairs with hands and feet tied to chair legs, bathroom denied. Red Cross lawyers and family are not allowed to contact victims.
Now, on CNN, Partners for Peace and others tell about 10 American citizens of Arab ancestry detained and tortured from 1997 to 1999.
State Department officers are obligated to assist all arrested or imprisoned Americans abroad but American consular officials accept without protest Israeli abuse and torture of Arab Americans.
A Jewish American stated, “If you are Jewish, I can get you out of jail in a few hours. If you are a regular American, I can get you out in a day or two. But if you are an Arab American, forget it.”
Amnesty International, church groups, and other impartial observers tell the truth about human rights violations by Israel. Most Israeli laws dealing with Arab citizens in occupied territories defy international law and their racism would make them unconstitutional in the United States. Supporters of Israel should stop touting Israeli democracy and admit Israel’s government favors only Jews.
What is happening in the Israeli-occupied territories of Palestine is a natural Arab resistance to a brutal foreign occupation.
International law and humanitarian principles are on the side of the Palestinians. You can’t bulldoze your neighbor’s home, steal his land and brutalize him and expect him to be your friend.
Americans should demand from Israel justice for the Palestinians and fair and humane treatment of all Americans before offering another penny of aid to Israel.
Clinton should heed the wisdom of Pope Paul VI: “If you want peace, work for justice.” Without justice, “peace” negotiations are a cruel hoax and a certain path to more bloodshed and waste of U.S. taxpayer money without hope of assuring Israel’s security.
Iranian vs. Israeli Torture
To The Dallas Morning News, June 20, 2000 (as published).
Re: “Eyes on Iran—Nation should open up trials of 13 Jews,” Editorials, May 31.
Your editorial criticized Iran for the conduct of the trial of 13 of its Jewish citizens for spying, on the grounds of the level of secrecy of the trial and the use of confessions. Yet systematic torture, including torture that is “illegal” by its own standards, and the use of confessions acquired by torture, are common practice in Israel. Palestinians are the most frequent targets, and your newspaper has chosen not to comment editorially, even when the Palestinians are also U.S. citizens.
You may be correct in criticizing Iran on holding a trial in too much secrecy, but you are also showing editorial bias by not criticizing Israel for more serious and more frequent civil rights violations against non-Jews, including U.S. citizens.
You also have not commented editorially on the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service for using secret evidence to deport Arabs and Muslims who are legal residents of the United States.
Let us hope that the 13 Iranian Jews will not be tortured in the manner that thousands were tortured in Iran, with U.S. help, under the shah.
Robert Burrage, Plano, TX
USS Cole and USS Liberty
To the Los Angeles Times, Oct. 16, 2000 (as published online).
Re the Oct. 13 graphic about peacetime attacks on U.S. Navy ships: On June 8, 1967, Israeli air force and navy torpedo boats conducted a coordinated, sustained, 75-minute-long attack on the U.S. ship Liberty. The Liberty was a World War II Victory-type cargo ship equipped for electronic surveillance. It was attacked in international waters off El Arish, Egypt, during the Israeli-Arab Six Day War.
Thirty-four American seamen were killed and 171 were wounded. The captain of the ship, William L. McGonagle, was seriously wounded. In spite of his wounds, he stayed on the bridge and continued to command his ship until help arrived from U.S. 6th Fleet units. McGonagle received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions in saving his ship.
Harlod W. Schieve, Whittier, CA
Professional Zionist Indyk
To the Manitowoc Herald-Times-Reporter , Sept. 26, 2000 (as submitted).
Recent news reports that U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk has been stripped of all his security clearances pending a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into possible espionage leads one to ask why such an avowed partisan on behalf of Israeli interests was ever appointed to that ambassadorship in the first place?
It should not be forgotten that Indyk was an Australian citizen living in the U.S. working for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), whose job it is to get the U.S. government to support whatever Israeli government is in power with as much money that can be taken from the American taxpayer as possible.
Indyk did not become an American citizen until shortly before his confirmation as ambassador to Israel. Certainly the question ought to be asked how did this foreigner come to represent the interests of the United States in a country for which he was a professional partisan prior to his appointment?
Franklin D. Roosevelt never appointed an avowed Nazi sympathizer to represent the U.S. in Hitler’s Germany nor did any subsequent president appoint any avowed communist to represent U.S. interests in the Soviet Union or any other communist country. Why then, did President Clinton appoint a professional Zionist to represent the United States in Israel?
Robert E. Nordlander, Menasha, WI
To the(Toronto) National Post, Sept. 14, 2000 (as published).
Re: “Religion in the Public Square,” by Clifford Orwin, Sept. 11.
The only legitimate concern one should have with the fact that Sen. Joseph Lieberman will become the first Jewish vice president of the United States if the Democrats retain the White House is its probable effect on negotiations to end the Arab-Israeli conflict. Given Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore’s frequently declared total support for Israel’s position, a Jewish vice-president would extinguish what little credibility the United States has had as an honest broker.
Lest there be any doubt as to where Senator Lieberman stands on the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (July 2000) has determined through information provided by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that in addition to untraceable contributions, he has received at least $82,000 from registered pro-Israel political action committees during the past two years. This sum is far greater than that received by any other senator or member of Congress from pro-Israel political action committees over the same period.
Gary D. Keenan, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Finish the Balkan Job
To The New York Times, Sept. 13, 2000 (as published).
With President Clinton’s efforts to bring peace to the Middle East before he leaves office frustrated (front page, Sept. 8), why doesn’t he concentrate on finishing the peace process in another part of the world?
War-crimes suspects like the Bosnian Serbs Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic—not to mention Slobodan Milosevic, the Yugoslav leader—still roam freely throughout their Balkan lands. Mr. Clinton should finish the job he began in the Balkans and have these men arrested and sent to The Hague to stand trial before the end of his term. He will then be remembered not only for bringing a shaky peace to the Balkans but also justice as well.
Jeffrey Heyman (official of the U.N. Protection Force in the former Yugoslavia, 1994-95), Oakland, CA.
Israel Must Stop Using U.S.
To The Christian Science Monitor , Sept. 7, 2000 (as submitted).
I grew up at Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi, during the 1930s and early 1940s. Tougaloo College was founded in 1869 by the American Missionary Association. As children growing up on the campus, we certainly did not understand the world outside our “campus sanctuary.” However, we were aware that outside the gate there must be something terribly wrong, since all of us experienced the ugliness of a totally segregated society. Living on the campus, while attending a white rural school, was in itself an education. There are many similarities between the Palestine-Israel conflict and the segregated South that I knew as a child.
Now, over a half-century later, we occasionally get together and talk about our childhood experiences. Although we all live in different parts of the country, we all agree that we were blessed to have the opportunity to grow up in that very special place. These early childhood experiences have influenced all our lives. We are sensitive to injustice wherever we see it and quietly work with others to bring about change. However, the Palestine-Israel conflict needs national attention. There is nothing that we as individuals can do.
Soon the U.S. will elect a new leader who could, if inspired to do so, bring an end to the monstrous injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people by the Zionist movement of Israel. However, the only way peace will ever be possible is when the American people hear the truth about this decades-old conflict. They must understand that we Americans have been the enabler in this tragic, historical injustice. They must also understand that this human rights tragedy that affects every one of us as Americans, was, in fact, prolonged with our own tax dollars. Only then will Americans demand justice.
To our knowledge, the only newspaper in America that has consistently and honestly reported on the conflict in the Middle East, between the Palestinians and the Israelis, is The Christian Science Monitor. We have a special file on your Mideast reports and have used your reporting in letters we have written to others both here and around the world. In the late 1980s, after returning from an overseas assignment, we started our quest for the truth about this conflict. We cannot tell you how angry and ashamed we were after we learned the truth....
Only when Israel can no longer use the United States can there be real peace and justice between Palestinians and the Jews.... How can we talk to other countries about democracy when we have failed so miserably by not holding Israel accountable for its massive human rights violations and its contempt for international law and conventions? Instead we have supported Zionist Israeli policies. What moral authority do we have left? We have lived overseas and we understand why others look at America with such cynicism. We are also aware of the mounting anger in countries around the world.
Vincent T. and Louise F. Larsen, Boston, MA
Kashmir Plebiscite a Must
To Mr. Bawa Jain, Secretary-General, The Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, Sept. 1, 2000.
We, and the 482 members of the congregation who signed this letter today, on behalf of more than six million American Muslims, urge you to include in the ongoing discussions of the “World Peace Summit” the subject of “Plebiscite for the People of Kashmir Is a Must,” so that a peaceful solution to this 53-year-old tragedy can be reached. How could Kashmir not have been included among “current zones of conflict” in your press release of Aug. 12, 2000! We urge you and the leadership of the “Religious Summit” to consider the following as part of the findings and recommendations of The Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders.
An unresolved Kashmir issue can escalate into a nuclear confrontation between India and Pakistan, the two newest nuclear powers.
The people of Jammu and Kashmir have suffered immensely in human, fiscal, educational and emotional resources, particularly since 1989. There are many, many similarities between the events in Chechnya, Bosnia, Kosovo and Kashmir.
We believe that without the intervention of the international community, this issue will remain unresolved. Initiation of a political dialogue between the Kashmiri leadership and the government of India and Pakistan will set the stage for a democratic and peaceful solution.
We request you to recommend to the U.N. secretary-general that he take the following steps to help resolve the issue:
1) Urge all parties to revive the U.N.’s resolution calling for a plebiscite for the people of Kashmir.
2) Appoint a special U.N. envoy on Kashmir.
3) Encourage the governments of India and Pakistan to include Kashmiri leadership in a trialogue and, in the event of stalemate, accept mediation by an impartial international agency. The recent success in East Timor could serve as an example.
Without the strong leadership of the U.N. General Assembly and Security Council, the Kashmiri issue will continue to fester and may ignite a nuclear catastrophe. We, once again, urge and request you to take immediate action.
Al-Haaj Ghazi Y. Khankan, Director of Interfaith and Communication, Islamic Center of Long Island, Westbury, NY
U.N. Bias Against Taliban
To The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 28, 2000 (as published).
The U.N.’s “spinelessness” as noted in your Aug. 23 editorial “Global Groveling” has also been a determinant in undermining any hope for peace in Afghanistan. For example, the U.N. routinely ignores or rejects out of hand any and all overtures by the Taliban government in pursuit of recognition. This, despite the fact that the Taliban control some 95 percent of the country.
Secondly, while the U.N. imposes sanctions and relentlessly criticizes the Taliban for human rights abuses, it ignores or refuses to investigate war crimes committed by the forces of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. For example, in 1997, under the command of Ustad Muhaqiq, units of the Northern Alliance murdered 6,000 Taliban prisoners of war in Dasht-I-Laili.
Moreover, the refusal of the U.N. to address the role of Russia, Iran and the Central Asian Republics in fueling the fires of war in Afghanistan can perhaps be best explained by the ever-present anti-Taliban and anti-Pakistan bias on the part of a majority of U.N. personnel assigned to Afghanistan, and to profound incompetence as well. The U.N., contrary to its mandate to pursue conflict resolution, is seen by a majority of Afghans, historians, and certain members of Congress as nothing more than a hopelessly incompetent bureaucracy, an organization that provides excellent employment opportunities for ex-diplomats who, first and foremost, represent the special interests of certain members of the Security Council.
Bruce G. Richardson, Topsfield, MA. (Mr. Richardson is author of Afghanistan, Ending the Reign of Soviet Terror.)