Just because we don’t demonstrate by the thousands in the streets of Jeddah.
Just because we don’t march to the US Consulate on the corner of Palestine Road.
Just because there are no overt signs of mass fury and public outrage on the Cornices or at malls in Jeddah.
Just because we don’t riot in front of McDonalds and T.G.I. Fridays and pelt their doors with stones and rocks.
Just because we don’t burn US and Israeli flags and burn effigies of Sharon and Bush, chanting “Death to America” – “Death to Israel.”
Just because we don’t wear FREE PALESTINE tee shirts and checkered Palestinian scarves.
Just because we don’t boycott American and Israeli products, Helena Rubenstein (HR) and Marks & Spencer, lurking sinisterly in every corner of our shopping malls.
Just because we don’t travel on solidarity missions to Bethlehem and Ramallah along with other writers, intellectuals and peace activists.
Just because we abhor violent protests and the sight of police retaliation with clubs, water cannons and tear gas grenades.
Just because we don’t use the rhetoric of a simple housewife riding the Cairo metro – “Anyone who eats at Burger King and drinks Pepsi is drinking the blood of the Palestinian people.”
Just because our students do not organize anti-American rallies and gather for peaceful protests inside university campus.
Just because we are unable to personally deliver this message right at your embassy door.
Just because we don’t and we don’t and we don’t … that doesn’t mean we are not outraged at US biased support for the slaughter of Palestinians and US unwillingness to force Israel to comply with UN resolutions ordering it to withdraw from the West Bank cities.
That doesn’t mean we are not appalled by the ominous role of the US in Palestine and its cold-blooded willingness to condone the assassination of those who dare to fight for their basic human rights.
That doesn’t mean we are not shocked by your president’s vindictive and personal hatred for the elected leader of Palestine.
That doesn’t mean that we do not hold President Bush personally responsible for all the carnage and wanton destruction in Palestine and for any and all future massacres of Palestinian refugees.
That doesn’t mean we do not accuse President Bush of sponsoring and funding the terrorist state of Israel.
Just because American tanks are not rumbling through Palestinian towns and American soldiers are not roaming the streets of Ramallah and Bethlehem, that does not make your current government any less responsible for the current plight of the Palestinians.
Here is our list of 10 condemnations:
We condemn President Bush’s speech on Thursday. Leaders of great and powerful nations like America should be magnanimous and generous, not cruel and vindictive. Blaming an isolated Arafat and a desperate 18-year-old Palestinian girl for the violence and Israeli atrocities in the West Bank is not just simplistic, it is evil. It is an incitement and a license to kill anyone who dares to speak out against the Israeli tyrants that America sponsors and funds. We will, therefore, hold President Bush personally responsible for the inevitable murder of Arafat and for the point-blank executions of innocent Palestinian teenagers now trapped in the closed military zones of Ramallah and Bethlehem.
We condemn President Bush’s speech because it is written with the intent to sow discord and distrust among Palestinians and Arabs. According to his logic, if we the Arabs want a “peaceful” Palestinian state then we must kill Arafat, kill our resistance movements, kill our peace activists, kill our anti-occupation activists, kill anyone who dares to oppose Israel and America, kill anyone who says NO, and especially kill the warriors of Hamas and Jihad. Only then, Bush tells us, will he and his Israeli aggressors allow the original inhabitants of Palestine to regain what is rightfully theirs.
We condemn the fact that a notorious war criminal like Sharon is welcomed with open arms and accorded red-carpet treatment at the White House, while Yasser Arafat, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, is shunned and abhorred. When the Jews first came to Palestine from the ghettos of the world, these bands of armed settlers formed terrorist organizations like the Haganah that maimed, killed and bombed the original inhabitants into fleeing their land. Sharon, Barak and other leading figures in Israel were and still are, members of this coalition of terror. Why is America rewarding them for their evil? Why are they not branded as enemies of the state? Why are their names and photos not listed on the FBI’s most wanted list? Or is this infamous list meant only for Arabs?
We condemn President Bush’s belated verbal call on Israel to withdraw from the West Bank cities of Palestine. His half- hearted appeal rings hollow as long as he continues to supply Sharon with the weapons now being used on the streets of the West Bank, and billions of dollars in aid and continued moral support.
We condemn President Bush’s racist call to Arafat “to do more to curb terrorism,” while all the time praising the barbaric actions of Sharon, a remorseless sponsor of the Sabra and Shatila massacres.
We condemn President Bush’s personal support for Sharon’s genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and his terrorizing of inhabitants into fleeing.
We condemn President Bush’s support of the illegal Israeli occupation and its colonial policy of settlements, mass murder, expulsion and transfer.
We condemn President Bush’s denouncement of our state organizations, religious schools, charities and educational institutions as inciting terror and hatred of the West. What about your Klu Klux Klan, your Timothy McVeighs, your Waco militants? What about your biased Zionist-controlled media and your anti-Arab journalists like George Will and Rosenthal? What about Hollywood and its hostile stereotyping of Arabs as terrorists and bandits? Aren’t those incitements that Bush could do more to curb? What about your own federal institutions? Your congress, your radical senators, your pro- Israeli Capitol Hill, and your strong Zionist lobbies who back Sharon, cheer him on and applaud his barbaric actions. What about your anti-Palestinian lawmakers gearing up to further condemn and impose new sanctions on Arafat and the Palestinians while happily ignoring Israel’s brutal take over of Arab homeland? What about your congressmen’s constant conferring with Howard Kohr, the executive director of the American- Israeli Public Relations Committee (AIPAC), before every bill they pass just to make sure they “get all the details right” (as journalist Barbara Ferguson reports). What about the smug, racist views of your Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Sen. Henry Hyde’s smug smiles and obnoxious statements: “Sharon is doing what we in Texas describe as “A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.” How sinister! How evil! How degenerate!
We condemn President Bush’s support of religious extremists in Israel and his self-proclaimed bond of loyalty to radical ultra-orthodox Jews. Where is Bush’s indignation at the incitement, hatred and racial superiority preached by these racist groups? As Israel Shamir explains, “the Talmud preaches compassion to animals. But there is a profound lack of compassion toward non-Jews. They are frequently compared to animals. In the Talmud, marriage to a Gentile equals bestiality… In an interview, a Shabak official, Ehud Yatom, boasted he smashed a Palestinian prisoner’s head with a stone. He is supported by many MPs and by the Israeli public.”
We condemn the racist and tasteless statements of the American ambassador in Bahrain who called on Arab students at a university gathering to observe a moment of silence for Israeli victims of the conflict with Palestinians. Do you in America observe a moment of silence for the native American victims your forefathers slaughtered. Do your schools and universities bow their head in silence for the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for the victims of Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. You and your Israeli friends have no right to occupy our land, confiscate our territories, brutalize our civilians and then ask us to show sympathy and to honor your dead. Where is your sympathy, not ours? This is our sacred homeland and no radical, racist settler from America or Europe is going to drive us out.
Here is a list of 10 Israeli atrocities President Bush and his administration are quick to defend:
The “bored, overfed, sadistic Israeli soldiers are daily humiliating, beating and often murdering the local people.” Men are stripped to their underwear to walk through checkpoints. Tanks are placed at hospital gates. Women are forced to deliver their babies in the streets. (Courtesy of Israeli journalist in Jaffa – Israel Shamir)
Rogue Israeli soldiers are killing unarmed civilians. “Their preferred victims are children. They abuse children of the refugee camps and shoot and maim them on a daily basis” (Courtesy of the above Israeli journalist).
Israeli tanks are firing at ambulances trying to rescue the wounded.
US jets with Israeli pilots have bombed the school for the blind in Gaza.
Palestinian civilians continue to suffer from lack of electricity, water and food supplies.
Israeli tanks fired on the buildings of the Medical Relief Organization where a number of Italian peace activists are barricaded in a show of solidarity with Palestinians.
So far around 1,500 young Palestinians have been arrested in racist and senseless mass arrests in Ramallah and other West Bank cities.
Bodies are still piling up at the Ramallah hospital morgue and denied proper burial.
There is widespread vandalism as Israeli soldiers loot civilians and banks in their door-to-door search for illusive so-called terrorists.
As I write, Israeli soldiers are storming the Church of Nativity where unarmed Palestinians have been given refuge by peace-loving bishops and priests. A repeat of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre is pending.
Here is a list of 10 things we will NEVER do:
We will never applaud Israeli and American destruction of Palestine.
We will never label our resistance movements as “terrorists” and Israeli terror as “retaliation.”
We will never relinquish our right to Jerusalem.
We will never stop aiding all our people in Palestine, including those who choose to die as martyrs.
We will never applaud US jets leveling any of our cities.
We will never stop protesting your biased war on terror and your blind support of Israeli brutality. You call this incitement; we call it courage, faith and resilience.
We will never stop calling for the end of the illegal Israeli occupation of our homeland.
We will never stop honoring our martyrs and observing a moment of silence for our fallen warriors.
We will never forget the Palestinian Holocaust of 1948. We will never watch idly as Israel and America orchestrate a new one in 2002.
We will never side with the Bushes and Sharons of this world. We will never side with genocide, mass murder, transfer and expulsion. I guess this means, according to Bush’s simplistic either-or logic, that we are on the side of the terrorists. So be it. We believe we are on the side of the martyrs, on the side of decency, humanity, civility, fortitude and freedom; concepts which your brave American warriors of the past once strove so valiantly to uphold. But Alas, no more.
In short, Mr. Ambassador, we do not care if we incur the wrath of your President Bush. We do not care if you deny our citizens a US visa or freeze their assets in American banks. We do not care if our children never attend your schools and your universities or our tourists never enjoy the wonders of Disneyland or Universal Studios. What we care most for is our faith, our dignity and our sacred homeland.
He who granted victory to David against Goliath, to Moses against Pharaoh, to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) against Abu Lahab, will grant victory to the warriors of Palestine against Sharon and Bush and those who sponsor them. Beware Mr. Ambassador that the curse promised by the Lord to the misbehaving children of Israel (Deut. 28) does not fall upon your own heads.
Here is my signature. Here is my name. Let it be the first name listed in this letter of protest and indignation. See! I am not afraid. I dare to speak. Along with Israel Shamir, I call “for citizens to take arms against the bloody dictator Sharon.” If and when this petition ever reaches your embassy doorstep, I am confident the list of names will have grown and grown and grown.
Afnan Fatani is a Saudi professor of English language and style. She has published several papers on Arabic linguistics. She is based in Jeddah. Above open letter to the US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, published here with permission, was first published in the Arab News, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.