Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May 2004, pages 5, 89-90

Letters to the Editor

Prescription for Mideast Peace

On this one-year anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war, President Bush is proclaiming this to be a big achievement in bringing peace to the Iraqi people and a victory in the ongoing war on terrorism.

President Bush could bring about a victory in the war on terrorism without sacrificing 550 American lives and over $1 billion of U.S. taxpayer money. All he would need to do is break clean from Israel and suspend all aid until Israel relinquishes its control of the occupied Palestinian territories, stops building and expanding illegal Jewish settlements, accedes to the Palestinian right to self-determination and evacuates Jewish settlers now living in areas of the West Bank and Gaza.

With this recommendation the president can instantly, and without firing a shot, quiet guerrilla warfare in Iraq and anti-American protests throughout the world. Further, he would be taking a major step toward restoring the U.S. to the position of respect and honor it once held among all Muslim and Arab nations.

President Bush has the power to end the reign of terror right now if he is willing to break clean from the stranglehold of the Jewish lobby. Politically, it is a hard choice, but ultimately a sensible and realistic one that would bring about true peace and justice in the Middle East.

Brig. Gen. James J. David (ret.), Marietta, GA

We’re frequently struck by how simple the solution to Middle East peace really is—especially compared to the intellectual contortions used to justify current U.S. policy in the region. In fact, should he feel the need to be “even-handed,” the president can suspend aid to Palestinians as well—since it’s virtually nothing to begin with.

Incumbents No Longer

I believe perceptions of the Spanish voters bowing to terrorism in their recent election are off base. I saw cartoons on Spanish news of Bush and Blair with long Pinocchio noses. Spanish voters swept out their incumbents for supporting Bush’s war in Iraq based on misleading WMD statements. I hope U.S. voters toss out President Bush for the same costly reasons.

William A. Self, Redwood Valley, CA

Winning the War on Terror?

One thing has been made abundantly clear by the terrorist attacks in Spain that killed over 200 people: the world is much less safe than before we attacked Afghanistan and Iraq. Isn’t this what was predicted by those who were not paralyzed by fear or kicking out blindly in retaliation?

The logical result of our military actions is the rage, grief and anger of the victims, directed at those who are perceived to be the cause of the destruction, loss of life and misery. Even though almost 90 percent of Spaniards opposed the invasion, their government became part of the “Coalition” of the bribed and bullied. Terrorism cannot be overcome by making war on innocent people and occupying and pillaging their countries; our actions only turn people who have no hope for the future into terrorists. If our government would only practice a policy of kindness and tolerance instead of full spectrum dominance, it is probable that we would cease to create new terrorists.

Gordon Hawthorne, Atwater Village, CA

Can’t Have It Both Ways

We don’t hear very satisfying arguments against the new book Against All Enemies, where Richard Clarke describes the White House’s failure to deal with al-Qaeda. In countering his allegations, we hear that the former chief head of counterterrorism is “out of the loop” (Dick Cheney) and “doesn’t know what he is talking about” (Condoleezza Rice). Might that be the reason we had a catastrophic attack in New York on Sept. 11? Who is to blame if Mr. Clarke is incompetent to do his job? Why was he allowed to continue in his role, knowing the dangers of al-Qaeda? Either it’s true what Mr. Clarke has to say or it’s damnable that he was allowed to stay on if what the White House says is true. You can’t have it both ways.

If he is incompetent, why allow him to stay on and risk U.S. lives? If he knows what he speaks of, why not answer him? If the White House had something of worth to say, they would have already done so. Personally, I’ll consider what Mr. Clarke has to say. And why is Dick Cheney answering questions about Iraq”“al-Qaeda ties by referring people to documents that the CIA and the DOD have already discredited? Is misinformation of its citizens now the way government does business?

Mark Sequeira, via e-mail

Shooting the Messenger

Every time an attempt is made to expose the prevarications, outright lies and corrupt acts of our government officials, the Bush administration seems to go into high gear with smear campaigns and attempts to discredit the whistle blower. Witness the statement about former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, that he could not have had access to the information that the invasion of Iraq was planned well before the inauguration of George Bush, and that Iraq had no connection whatsoever with 9/11.

Shooting the messenger has become a serial activity of our government, Joseph Wilson and his wife being the most recent victims. What is the Bush administration going to do about the European press writing about the lawsuit against Halliburton, and Cheney giving $2.4 million dollar bribes to Nigerian officials to get tax breaks?

Charles Prendergast, Los Angeles, CA

Americans Need All the News

I was outraged to read Delinda Hanley’s article in the April 2004 issue of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, about Mordechai Vanunu—especially regarding film footage showing Palestinians exposed to nerve gas used by Israelis in Gaza early in 2001.

Recently, Howard Zinn spoke in our town, and when I asked a question about Vanunu, Zinn asked how many people had heard of him. There was only a small showing of hands.

BBC aired a documentary, “Israel’s Secret Weapon,” in 2003. It has been rerun around the world, including Israel (which boycotted the BBC). But the film has not been shown here in the States.

So I decided to call some stations and, in a friendly tone, asked the programming departments to feature a story on Vanunu, or show the BBC film. One station said they doubted if they would show it, and gave me CBS’s telephone number in New York. I left recorded messages on all the local stations around the Boston area, and also left a long message on CBS’s line in New York, saying that, since the world has seen the film, why not America, too? It’s time that we got all of the news, I said. (It’s well known that CNN International overseas shows much more of the news than we get on our CNN. They get the meat; we get the milk.)

Hopefully, some of your readers can spend a half hour or so telephoning their television stations and follow up on this subject. The more requests, the better.

Carol Rae Bradford, North Orange, MA

Anticipating Vanunu’s Release

After these many years, it is exciting to think that Mordechai’s [April 21] release date is less than two months away! As anticipated, there is a tremendous amount of activity now, and Jack (my husband and U.S. Campaign associate coordinator) and I have our hands full with all the work that needs to be done—interviews, writing articles, fund-raising, outreach, responding to requests via mail, e-mail and phone for literature, other resources and information, and organizing and coordinating activities with the Free Vanunu campaigns in other countries—including arrangements for the international delegation that will be in Israel in April to welcome Mordechai to freedom.

As you will read in the issue of [the Campaign’s newsletter] I Am Your Spy, authorities in Israel are contemplating various restrictions and conditions on Mordechai Vanunu when he is released. The fact of the matter is, we can’t know what will happen in April. We expect Israel to do the right thing and release Mordechai, without any conditions. But we need to be prepared for anything. And we need your help.

The Campaign’s need is critical. The budget for the next few months exceeds that for all of last year. After buying airline tickets for the Eoloffs [Vanunu’s adoptive parents] to go to Israel in April, and paying for this newsletter, the Campaign’s account will be nearly drained.

Yet important organizing and activity is just ahead that will cost us money—for larger phone bills due to an increase in international phone calls; for a host of logistical expenses in April for the international delegation (renting cell phones in Israel, hiring buses to take the delegation to the prison, renting a small p.a. system for the vigil, printing flyers and press packets, and making signs and banners); to help Mordechai’s brother Meir, who just traveled to Israel from Australia, with expenses to prepare for Mordechai’s release; for potential legal and travel expenses for Mordechai, and more.

So at this time, I must urgently appeal for your help.

Your active support for the U.S. Campaign to Free Mordechai Vanunu has been indispensable to keeping Mordechai’s case and cause alive through many long years. Please send a donation now to help see us through these important couple of months leading up to Mordechai’s release date. This is the time that your help is desperately needed.

We will deeply appreciate every donation, large and small, and put each dollar to good use as we work toward Mordechai’s freedom. If perhaps you are in a position to donate $50, $100 or even $1,000, remember that donations of $50 or more may be tax-deductible if made payable to the Progressive Foundation, our fiscal sponsor.

Mordechai is looking forward to celebrating with his supporters in the not-too-distant future. Let’s do everything we can to bring that day along!

Felice Cohen-Joppa, U.S. Campaign to Free Mordechai Vanunu, P.O. Box 43384, Tucson, AZ 85733

A Family to Remember

Enclosed please find a cashier’s check for $5,000. You may use this in whatever way you find fit.

If possible, please accept the donation in the name of the man in the October 2003 issue. His son did donate and was going to try to donate $50 more a month, or something like that. All in all, the family sounded like a good one to remember.

I thank you all for all the work you do at the Washington Report, and I hope we can all make a difference this year.

Linda Thain-Ali, Lake Oswego, OR

We are honored to accept your generous contribution in memory of Fathi Abu Jibara, who was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers. His son, Husam, lives in Qalqilya, now cut off from the world by Israel’s Apartheid Wall. With your support, we will do our best to let him and millions of other Palestinians know that, not only are they not forgotten, but many Americans are working for the day when justice will be theirs.

Another Family of Angels

I am a subscriber to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. While my mother was visiting me, she started reading your magazine and decided she wanted to help you do your work. She doesn’t have a checkbook so she gave me $300 to send to you. This is a gift from Mrs. Houda Mekdachi.

Rima Joundi, Winnipeg, Canada

We Like Charley, Too

Your magazine is the most magnificent today!! Each issue is of great value. I like the writer Charley Reese. Enclosed is a $100 check to help you keep up the fine reporting you do—and to thank you for forthright reporting and your courage to call a “spade a spade.”

Frances Hasenyager, Carmel, CA

Overwhelmed, but Hopeful

Your latest (April 2004) issue is the most powerful—indeed, overwhelming—one I have ever read. I have spent nearly all day on it and am still not done. I confess to being emotionally exhausted, and yet this issue gives me great hope for the first time in a long while. If so many articles can put the case so eloquently, all the rest of us need to do is to get the word out! Having spent most of my career in the Middle East (I worked for George W. Ball and traveled with him when we were at Lehman Brothers), I am more inclined to reach out for dialogue with Jewish groups and pro-Zionists than I am to going to meetings where everyone already agrees and we “preach to the choir.”

All I can do is thank you from the bottom of my heart (and further donations from my modest wallet will be forthcoming!).

H. Clark Griswold, Waterbury, CT

We thank all our angels from the bottom of our heart as well. As we often say, we’re all in this together.

A Palestinian Olympian

Enclosed is a Jan. 28 Christian Science Monitor news item about Palestinian runner Sanaa Abu Bkheet, who will be competing in the Olympics this August. I’m sure you know all about it, but the only thing missing here is an address where contributions can be sent. I’m sure other readers of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, would like to help out this young woman. Win or lose, it will be a good story illustrating the character of these much maligned young people.

Perhaps you’ve already done this in a current issue. I get behind in my reading now and then and may have missed it. Either way, many thanks. No need to reply. You are busy people doing much good work. THANKS!

Jean L. Baker, Wheaton, IL

To help Palestinian athletes, including Abu Bkheet, swimmer Raad Aweisat and others, contact the Palestinian Olympic Committee, P.O. Box 469, Al Qadisiya St., 9727 Gaza, Palestine via Israel; phone 970-8-287-9192; fax 970-8-287-9190; or e-mail: [email protected]

An Angel Missed

I was saddened to read in the Jan./Feb. 2004 issue of the death of Pat Quinlan. When I lived in Minnesota, I had the great pleasure of working with him on a number of Middle East-related projects. We served together on the board of Middle East Peace Now for several years, and his experience, warmth, and thoughtful ideas and suggestions were most useful and welcome, particularly when I was vice president and then president of the organization. We also were on panels together a couple of times, particularly around the time of the first Gulf war, and he was always gracious yet to the point in his analysis and insights. His wise counsel and gentle wisdom will be greatly missed, as will his humor. We need more Pat Quinlans in the struggle to change American policies in the Middle East.

Brian Cronwall, Kapa’a, Hawaii

Delegates Are Where It’s At

I saw—and read fully—AMT’s beautifully crafted full-page ad in the April issue of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. In it, there are plenty of good points about voter registration, voting, going to town meetings, working in candidates’ campaigns and donating money, but not a word about becoming delegates to the state and national conventions of the major political parties. Locally, here in Texas, we have individuals with degrees in political science, and some even teach political science in presitigious universities and colleges, but it has fallen upon us amateurs to take up the cudgels for American Muslims and motivate them to win delegateships.

Voting is fine; in fact it is a must. But when you stand by passively all year (or for four years) and wait until November to exercise your franchise, you are doing nothing more than rubberstamping one of two individuals on the ballot. Often the two are ideological twins, as far as our issues are concerned. Having two choices is better than having only one name on the ballot (as in the former communist world or Saddam’s Iraq), but not much better. You have thrown away your opportunity, your right and your privilege to mold the planks, platforms, philosophies and overall direction our government will follow by staying out.

Is it not obvious to anyone who watches on television every leap year summer the circuses called the Democratic and Republican National Conventions that the delegates are the king-makers? That it is the delegates who form the Resolutions, Platform, Rules, Credentials and Nominating Committees and impose their will on the candidate whom they anoint? That all the candidates woo (wine and dine) the delegates and listen intently to their views?

If American Muslims have any hope of having their voices heard by their national leadership, they need to be “at the table”—i.e., have a commanding presence, in convincing numbers, on the convention floors, and to be seen and heard by the press, the public, the pundits and the politicians. Once that happens, sit back and watch the tone of the public discourse about Muslims and the Middle East shift dramatically.

Inayat Lalani, Fort Worth, TX

Jesus vs. Hidalgo

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Simon Wiesenthal Center began to attack Mel Gibson and his movie, “The Passion of the Christ,” a year before it appeared in local movie theaters. They claimed that it depicted Jews as being responsible for the death of Jesus, and that this would fuel anti-Semitism. Their criticisms were carried on every major television station and in the print media prior to the film’s opening on Ash Wednesday. Attacks by Abe Foxman (head of ADL), Marvin Heir (head of SWC) and a host of other pundits from The Holocaust Industry have repeatedly tried to kill “The Passion” even as Christians have embraced the film by buying blocks of tickets in advance.

Contrast this with reaction (or lack of reaction) to another contemporary box-office hit, “Hildalgo,” the story of an American mustang who is entered by the legendary Frank T. Hopkins in a 3,000-mile horse race in Arabia and (predictably) beats all the purebred Arabian horses. The movie is full of cheap shots against Islam and Arab culture. There are snarling, swarthy Arab villains, a forced marriage to a polygamist, a slave market, the promise of a flogging, and plenty of misogyny. Even the main supporting character, Sheikh Riyadh (played by Omar Sharif), is portrayed negatively when he orders Frank to be castrated for seeing his daughter without her veil; the servants bring out a special box with saws, knives, and an egg-shaped grabber for this graphic punishment.

So where is the outrage by the American-Muslim community to the bigotry and racism in “Hidalgo”? Where are the protests by American-Arab organizations that are even remotely comparable to the “kvetchen” by the organized Jewish community over Mel Gibson and “The Passion”? Where is the word for anti-Arab bigotry that compares to prejudice against Jews, which we all know as anti-Semitism? What do you call Arab-bashing? We don’t even have a word for it. While there are more Muslims in the United States than there are Jews, they are unorganized and unwilling to fight prejudice even at the level of a simple movie.

Daniel McGowan, Geneva, NY

See a discussion of the two films on pp. 64 and 66 of this issue.

Edward House’s Ethnicity

I imagine this has been called to your attention before, but with respect to the very interesting and revealing article at <backissues/1095/9510081.htm>, Edward Mandell House, in spite of his middle name, was not Jewish (or at least not openly so).“Mandell” was the name of a Houston businessman whom Colonel House’s father admired—or at least so says House’s biographer. With people like Louis Brandeis and Rabbi Stephen Wise whispering in President Wilson’s and House’s ears, House himself did not need to be Jewish.

Dave Martin, via e-mail

Who says the Internet didn’t inaugurate the Age of Information? (Come to think of it, that sounds like something we used to say.) Happily, our Web site, <https://www.wrmea.com>, is, as we hoped, making 22 years of Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, articles available to a wider audience.

The article to which you refer, “Britain Issues the Balfour Declaration,” by Donald Neff, appeared in this magazine’s October/November 1995 issue. (All of Neff’s “Middle East History” columns, by the way, have been compiled in the book 50 Years of Israel, published in 1998 and available from the AET Book Club.)

Coincidentally, a 100-year-old Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, reader, who wrote that he “may have visited Harry’s haberdashery in Independence while I was attending school in Kansas City during 1921,” maintained that President Truman’s middle initial stood for Solomon, and inferred that Truman was Jewish. Even more coincidentally, an acquaintance of ours who does geneolgical research and is a distant relative of Truman’s informed us that “Harry S. Truman was named Harry Shipp Truman at birth.Later, as an adult, when asked what the ”˜S’ stood for he replied that it stood for Shipp from his father’s side of the family and for Solomon from his mother’s side of the family” (Solomon being his maternal grandfather’s first name).

Go figure.

 

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