Publishers' Page, November 2010, Page 7
The Cordoba Initiative Uproar...
Brought out the worst in America. A wave of anti-Muslim "demagogic buffoonery" hit the U.S. during this mid-term election silly season. Rather than uniting to condemn the verbal and physical attacks on Islam—and, by implication, Muslims—in America, former presidents, party leaders and politicians running for office kept their mouths shut. The Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance and the Anti-Defamation League—both of which, according to their stated principles, should have championed the interfaith Cordoba Initiative—spoke out against the community center. However, the controversy...
Also Brought Out the Best.
Who can forget New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's speech in front of the Statue of Liberty surrounded by men and women of many faiths and colors? President Barack Obama, as well as Jewish, Christian, and Muslim writers and faith leaders, including Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (see p. 18), stepped up to the challenge. Their words will continue to inspire all Americans—including the next targets of xenophobia, racism or intolerance, whomever they may be—long after people have forgotten the names of such hate-mongers as Newt Gingrich, Charles Krauthammer, Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter, Pamela Geller, Glenn Beck, and Franklin Graham.
It's These Words We Will Remember:
Richard Cohen, in his column "No Room for Compromise on Mosque Near Ground Zero" in the Aug. 26 Washington Post, got us thinking. "Those of us who are of a certain age remember the days when African-Americans and their champions were being cautioned to go slow, compromise," he wrote. "They were being told to take into consideration the tender feelings of whites, no matter how ugly their racism, and protect their dewy Scarlett O'Hara way of life. Leading politicians espoused this course. Wrong was somehow to become a little less so, but right would be postponed. What was compromise?" Cohen asked:
"The Middle of the Bus?"
We hope that Muslim Americans—and Arab Americans—move faster and try harder to reach out to their fellow citizens. That means using their financial clout and mental gifts to build stronger institutions to protect civil rights in this country. Support politicians who stand up for your interests as Americans (see p. 28) and unite to unseat others who put the interests of a foreign country above our own. Train more leaders and writers. Help publications (hint, hint) and organizations that help put your best foot forward. Let's help each other correct what has gone wrong—but could be so right—in America.
Cohen's Words Apply to Palestinians As Well.
Since the "peace process" began nearly two decades ago, Washington has asked Palestinians to wait patiently for a final peace treaty—after leaders decide on yet another "framework" agreement that would lay out the main compromises each side would need to make (see Uri Avnery's analysis on p. 11). We are reminded of lines from "Mississippi Goddam," a song written and performed by the iconic American singer/pianist/civil rights activist Nina Simone, who died in 2003. In her song she railed about making only incremental changes to end racism in America: "Keep on sayin' 'go slow'...Why don't you see it? Why don't you feel it? I don't know, I don't know. You don't have to live next to me," she sings...
"Just Give me my Equality!"
We say 62 years of living under racism and occupation is long enough, and sincerely hope that, by starting early in his administration, President Barack Obama will succeed in bringing equality and justice to the Holy Land. It's imperative that we unite to ensure that this last opportunity to create peace is not destroyed by domestic partisan politics, and religious extremists at home and abroad. If talking once again comes to naught, it is time for Palestinians simply to declare statehood and get on with building their country. Righting this moral and historic wrong...
Can No Longer Be Postponed.
We'd Like to Introduce You to...
Andrew Stimson, our new AET Book Club director, who succeeds Adam Chamy (who has set off on a travel adventure before attending grad school). Andrew is all fired up and eager to make the AET Book Club <www.middleeastbooks.com> your preferred source for books, films and music. Browse the titles in the enclosed Book Club order form to find the best new selections (or old favorites that you loaned but never got back!). Don't forget we also offer pottery from Jerusalem, Palestinian olive oil, olive oil soaps, embroidery, greeting cards and other gifts to make your holiday shopping at once easy and meaningful.
Help Us Rev Up.
You should have recently received our first donation appeal for 2010. As we've mentioned once or twice (or 200 times), we cannot exist without your financial help. We are running a barebones operation right now, and need a few additional staff members (an administrator to pay the bills, for example) and interns to cover daily events and unfolding developments in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Kashmir, the Gulf, Yemen, not to mention North America. The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, trains interns who become the future leaders, journalists, scholars, educators and diplomats this country needs. We need your help to find and equip the next generation of peace workers.
Challenges and Opportunities
While forecasters once predicted doom and gloom for newspapers, magazines and other print media, it turns out that as readers become more educated they have a larger appetite for news—both online and on paper. That means it's time to ramp up both the print and digital versions of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, and increase our Internet presence. Use this and every issue of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, to get the information the mainstream media won't provide, and to elect representatives who will work for peace and justice. Help us use words, not war, to make this world a better place and....