Mohamed Khodr’s Column
As an American I am enraged at the terrorism of September 11 costing thousands of innocent American lives and strongly support the military prosecution of the perpetrators . As a Muslim I am repulsed and angry that these alleged Muslim terrorists would commit atrocities in the name of Islam, my faith of peace, justice, and respect for human life. Terrorists killing innocent civilians, be they Muslims, Jews, Christians, or Hindus are enemies of their faith.
As a child growing up in the Middle East I lived through my first civil war, a proxy Cold War conflict. My country then overthrew a tyrant monarch in 1962 with the help of Egypt and Soviet weapons only to be opposed by Saudi Arabia and American weapons. Hundreds of thousands of my people died in that civil war with America on the wrong side of history. As an adult in Lebanon, America again was on the wrong side of history. Israel invaded Lebanon twice, occupied the nation for 22 years, and killed over 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinian civilians, in addition to Sharon’s oversight of the Sabra and Chatila Palestinian massacres. There again American weapons in Israel’s hands or directly via the battleship New Jersey shelling indiscriminately several mountain villages led directly to the bombing in 1983 of the American Embassy and Marine barracks. Israel pulled America into that deadly civil war.
One night in the emergency room during Sharon’s 1982 demolition of Beirut I recall the wailing of a father of seven children killed and shredded instantly by an Israeli rocket as they played in their balcony. While holding up a part of his smallest child he cried out to me: “Why does America hate us, why do they let Israel do this, where are the TV cameras to show this to the American people?”. I had no answer for him nor for the many Arabs and Muslims around the world from Palestine, Iraq, Chechnya, and Kashmir who die daily from American weapons, sanctions, or political expediency. There is no acceptable justification for the massacre of innocents on September 11, but America still remains the sole superpower on the world stage with interests in 56 Muslim nations, a third of the world’s nations with one fifth of the world’s population, that will largely determine world peace and stability. We must as a democratic nation have the courage not only to fight and overcome fear but more importantly to have the will and wisdom to reassess our role, policies, and interests worldwide. If we don’t then the six thousand Americans would have died needlessly.
America’s domestically manipulated foreign policy has marginalized the United Nations, abandoned International treaties, alienated our allies, and emboldened our enemies. Americans are apathetic and uneducated in the realm of foreign policy thereby creating a political vacuum for powerful special interest groups to formulate such policies. Our government has neglected engaging its citizens in the decision making process in foreign affairs but it is us the citizens and military who pay when such policies backfire. The young Marines I met in Beirut in 1983 had no clue why they were sent there, taken out, then sent back again only to come home in coffins. When Congress holds hearings on foreign policy only a select group of Americans with strong Pro-Israel connections are invited as was done on September 25 when only Benjamin Netanyahu and Jewish American lobbyists were invited. Strangely, Muslim Americans were not invited, nor are they appointed to foreign policy bodies, nor are they invited to appear on Television news shows, nor is their opinion sought or accepted by most of our media to offer a balanced view to our one sided foreign policy in the Middle East. Our government views the Arab and Muslim world through the prism of what’s good for Israel and not what’s good for America.
To the Muslim world, America has an established double standard that violates our own principles of democracy, freedom, justice, support for human rights and United Nations Resolutions. America is neglectful of its conflicts and problems but somehow manages to intimidate Muslims to join it when American interests are at stake which usually entails Muslims killing Muslims as was the case in the Persian Gulf War. The U.S. has historically opposed implementation of UN Resolutions when they dealt with Israel’s occupation of Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon but are immediately implemented against Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Sudan. Muslims are doubly victimized by their own ruthless autocratic regimes supported by the U.S., at time by force. The decades long Anti-Islam campaign waged by our media, movies, and some “experts” has indoctrinated Americans to view anything Arabic or Islamic with prejudice and contempt. Similarly, any nation packaging its internal conflict as a fight against “Islamic Fundamentalism” automatically garners our political and military support such as the case in Russia, China, India, and Israel. Ironically the only nation opposing President Bush’s coalition building is our expensive ally, Israel, even to the extent of Sharon insulting our President.
The Muslim world has nothing but respect for Americans and their democratic prosperous life, a life they wish for themselves. The cure for the Bin Ladens is a strong respectful alliance between America and the Muslim world, not our bombs and not our biased foreign policy.
Americans fear Islam because “We Fear What We Don’t Know”. Our educational system must be revamped to include world history, religions, and cultures. Our very future is directly linked to our level of ignorance. As H.G. Wells said: “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.” Islam is not what we read or see but a faith that reveres Jesus and Moses, the Torah and Gospel. Don’t judge a religion by its people but by its scripture otherwise no faith survives scrutiny. I’m an American who loves this country because Americans were caring and generous to help a poor child in an impoverished country. America will find peace and security when Americans reclaim their government and ask “WHY” of our policies. Who will benefit from a “Clash of Civilizations” between the Christian and Muslim world? Certainly not the human race. Americans are Beautiful, our foreign policy, NOT. God Bless our great country.
Mr. Mohamed Khodr is an American Muslim physician and a native from the Middle East. He has worked in Academic Medicine and Public health with national and international health experience. He is a freelance writer who often writes columns on the Palestinian cause, Islam and on America’s Foreign Policy in the Middle East. He lives in the Washington DC area.