Your interview with Hassan Mallah, the former president of the Spokane Islamic Center, which ran in The Inlander's Dec. 27 edition, and the commentary, "War springs eternal," by Jonathan Schell, deserve a response -- readers in this region deserve a more objective perspective on the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict.
Rather than rehash worn arguments about terrorism and "whose land is this, anyway?" let me put forth these solutions and challenge any Muslim, Christian or Jew; hawk, dove or centrist to deny their possibility:
1. Establish a Palestinian homeland in TransJordan (as decreed by the UN in 1947 and previously rejected by Arab states prior to attacking Israel in the first of many wars).
2. Organize UN-monitored elections to democratically elect a Palestinian leadership truly representative of Palestinian goals and aspirations.
3. Force the oil-rich Arab states to invest in economic, social, and educational Palestinian projects to enhance the well-being of their brethren.
4. Stop all foreign aid to Arabic countries whose state-sponsored media continue to produce virulent hate propaganda directed against the U.S. and Israel.
5. Bring to justice all terrorists (past and present) involved with killings of innocent civilians; destroy the networks of Hamas, Hezbollah, et al.
Israel is NOT the problem in the Middle East. As Fouad Ajami wrote in the December edition of US News & amp; World Report, the issue with Palestinians is Arabic "abdication of political responsibility, victimology that excuses terror and imagined hurts inflicted by the West."
I do agree that it's not easy being a Palestinian these days. Imagine how much "easier" it would have been if a Saudi and some Egyptians had been building roads in Gaza/the West Bank instead of constructing terrorist camps and hijacking airlines, or if suicide bombers would disappear from the streets of Tel Aviv.
This letter is in reference to the "On The Street" comment attributed to Attorney General John Ashcroft, in the Dec. 27th issue of The Inlander. The comment reads: "[People who] scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty only aid terrorists." The quote may furnish an insight into the thinking of the Attorney General and the Bush administration regarding the "war on terrorism."
The phrase "peace-loving people" may be accurate but does not describe the government of the United States, which has been engaged in approximately one war or military adventure for each year of its existence. To quote Patrick Henry: "people may cry Peace, Peace, but there is no Peace."
The next phrase, "phantoms of lost liberty," is worthy of Herr Goebbels. The phantoms of lost liberty that General Ashcroft refers to are specific rights of American citizens found in the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights. The Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable (i.e., without probable cause) search and seizure is no phantom, but a shield against a government all too prone in time of crisis to invade our privacy, ransack our homes and offices, and to jail those who exercise their right to dissent under the First Amendment.
The rights of freedom from double jeopardy, self-incrimination or deprivation of life, liberty or property, without due process, are not wisps of smoky air, phantoms of our imagination, but words of a covenant with the American people, which General Ashcroft swore to "preserve, protect and defend" when he was sworn in as Attorney General.
The right to a speedy and public trial that President Bush unilaterally amended, contrary to his sworn oath (an impeachable offense), is a protection of the accused in all criminal prosecutions. Until Bush's proclamation, this entitled a defendant to a presumption of innocence until voted guilty by a UNANIMOUS verdict of her or his peers. "A phantom of lost liberty?" Perhaps to those unaware of the history of English monarchs and their prosecutions of political opponents.
The sophistry of Ashcroft's statement seems to be indicative of the reasoning of the present federal administration, aka as the new McCarthyism. Constitutional rights, freedoms and privileges are not mere "phantoms of lost liberty." They are the solid bedrock on which the house of liberty and freedom was erected, and we had better damned well preserve them while we still have the chance.
Inequality Breeds Terror
In the search for possible feeding grounds for terrorism, we have to look at the disproportionately large contrast between the wealthy and poor in most non-Western countries. Our corporate globalization practices of free trade, financial liberalization, deregulation, reduced government spending and privatization have to be re-evaluated. We can't continue to support our own way of life and business as if we operate in a void.
Our apparent efforts to alleviate suffering in the world by humanitarian aid cannot justify concurrent creation of more global inequality and poverty in the name of defending our freedom and prosperity!
As an example, the assets of the three richest people on earth are greater than the combined gross national product of the 48 least developed countries. These rising inequities as a consequence of globalization have even been acknowledged in CIA and World Bank reports. Our being able to manufacture cheap goods overseas means exploitation for others.
We need to recognize that we are living in a world where everyone is interconnected. It is our responsibility to facilitate more self-sufficiency in these poor populations to ensure lasting peace in the world.