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We have only one WORLD yet! If we destroy it, where else will we go?

Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2003 21:47:33 +0300
From: "zeki kentel" <zkentel@netone.com.tr>
For Fairly Use

An Open Letter to the American People on Resisting War

 Fawziya Abu KHALED
(Arab News, 3/23/03)

"America, what have you done to your beautiful dream?"

It is not possible for any of us, after the 1991 Gulf war, the attacks of 9/11 and the 2002 war in Afghanistan, to trust that smart bombs or combat operations, whether primitive or highly technical, could bring peace and security to any nation.

I, the undersigned, an Arab Muslim woman and a citizen of Saudi Arabia, send this open letter to the people of the world in general, to the American people in particular, and specifically to my American host family. The fuel for this war, however, will not be oil but the flesh and dreams of both the Arab and American peoples as well as those from other countries.

The record of Arab political literature is full of such wistful messages, perhaps as many as the number of wars imposed on this region and in which the U.S. administration has not taken a fair stance, except against the tripartite aggression against Egypt in 1956.

It is not possible for any of us, after the 1991 Gulf war, the attacks of 9/11 and the 2002 war in Afghanistan, to trust that smart bombs or combat operations, whether primitive or highly technical, could bring peace and security to any nation. One of the many reasons that makes me address this letter of protest to the American people is my deep doubt in the ability of the "tamed hawks" of the American administration, as expressed by Ralph Nader, to understand the code of letters of love against war.

It is this group of tamed hawks, headed today by the likes of Bush and Cheney who push American youth to an unknown fate in the Iraqi Desert. It was they themselves who were enthusiastic for the war in Vietnam when their privileges protected them from participating in it and from tasting its atrocities. Through my own experience, I have come to know the American people very well. I have also experienced how they cherish life to the extent that they are ready to confront the fierce storms of wars if the truth is not hidden from them.

My beliefs are derived from my first-hand experience of daily life in American society. I still keep and cherish the delightful cards, full of mother love, sent to me by the lovely lady who was my host mother on both Christian and Muslim occasions. Whenever I missed my parents, and relatives in Saudi Arabia she was there for me with open arms of love and words of comfort. Mrs. Shirley Newman never ceased to take care of me during times of illness, staying at my bedside until I was well, and I remember with deep gratitude her attempts to prepare Arabic food for the weekly visits from my brother.

From the first days I knew her until the present, Shirley never stopped showing serious concern with the political affairs in the Middle East. Expressing their bias in favor of love and peace rather than war was the stand of my host Mother and of all members of the Newman family. They never stopped asking open-minded questions and showing understanding of Muslim and Arab causes, even after 9/11. What is worth emphasizing is that we never experienced any difficulties in establishing an intellectual and rational dialogue about all the complicated issues in the world of politics.

Along with the close relationships with my host family, there were other instances of friendship when I lived in America. I will never forget the home-made meat loaf, ginger cookies, and hot marshmallows dipped in melted chocolate that Ms. Peggy Canon and her family shared with me on winter evenings. For as long as my eyes are open, I will never forget my best friend from Portland, Oregon - Sue Thompson. All these people and many others who became my friends stood, without exception, in support of just causes throughout the world, often challenging and disagreeing with their government's stand.

They joined demonstrations protesting the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the massacres by the Israelis in Palestinian camps, and rejecting their government's continuous support of the Zionist occupation of Palestine. They took an honest stand against aggression, just as other Americans did in demonstrations of 15 Feb, 2003, against the war in Iraq. These demonstrations, and other serious protests are all live examples of the nation's determination to uphold the principles of its constitution.

Living in American society taught me that America is far more than McDonald?s and Kentucky Fried Chicken. On the contrary, the vast majority of young American men and women are looking for spiritual values and love, and they show great commitment to some of life's most important values, such as the value of time and hard work, freedom, equality and the right to individuality. In addition many of the Americans with whom I lived came to realize that women in Arab and Muslim society is not the stereotypical portrait of a mysterious female covered with a black veil.

The fact is that Saudi women have strong personalities and a willingness to stand up for themselves and their country. It became clear to my American friends that the women of Saudi Arabia, like many other women around the world are engaged in daily educational and occupational struggles. Thus, through this experience between open-minded Americans and a Saudi woman, I came to realize the importance of working together against a war that will harm us all. I also came to realize that not all Americans aim to spread McCarthyism throughout the world using military might.

Based on this belief in a common goal of peace, my message comes to you "No"! No to a war that will bring destruction to our region and to much of the world. We all - Americans Arabs, Christians, Jews and Muslims - should join the courageous people who, with one voice, are chanting: "No"! No to the American military invasion of Iraq. No to the shedding of human blood.?

My letter is not an isolated personal opinion but it is written in the name of all Saudi men and women, who object to any act of military violence against civilians in Iraq as well as in any other parts of the world.

Those who have doubts about Saudi women's involvement in life are either ignorant or in denial about people's struggles for freedom and development when these efforts take a pattern different from the Western model. We strongly believe in sisterhood and we firmly stand by women who fight for better socioeconomic and political conditions. It is the denial of other people's right to choose their own method of struggle to which we object.

I emphasize that this letter is not only in my name. It is a statement against the war written in the name of all Saudi women and in the name of most Saudi people. I record here, without any doubt or hesitation and with full confidence, that no Saudi man or woman will accept or agree with the American administration's plan of aggression on Iraqi, or any other Arab, territory.

The Saudis, like their Arab and Muslim brothers and sisters throughout the Middle East, are no less committed to the values of freedom, peace and justice than other peoples. If the war is not prevented, countless numbers of civilians will be left out in the cold as has happened to the people of Afghanistan, and as has happened to Palestinians. In my opinion the American people, and the rest of the world, are very much responsible for preventing their governments from betraying the value of democracy.

We all know the pretexts that the American administration uses to justify invasion of Iraq. It repeats that the war is to disarm Saddam Hussein, to clear the region of weapons of mass destruction, and to establish a democratic regime. However, it never mentions why it was silent when Saddam Hussein, with its consent and blessing, was using primitive biological weapons against civilians during the 1980's Iran - Iraq war.

Can this administration honestly tell the American people why it is acceptable for Israel to develop nuclear arms and weapons of mass destruction which are used daily against the unarmed citizens of Palestine? How is that acceptable if one goal of the war in Iraq is to empty the region of these very weapons? We do not believe that the administration can conceal its lust for oil nor its desire to control the rich fields from the Gulf to the Caspian Sea. Hence we must condemn this war before it is too late.

What further aggravates the situation is that Israel has found in the American administration's campaign for war against Iraq a political cover for the continuous massacre of the Palestinian people, and the illegal evacuation of civilians from Palestinian lands.

There are a number of questions with which I would like to end. Are the American people ready to support a war that will result in the spread of violence? Are they willing to finance an unethical war for more than $200 billion while more than 1.2 billion people around the world are living on less than a dollar a day?

Finally, I would like to say that I write this open letter to the American people not as an emotional plea for mercy for the Arabs in Iraq, Palestine or in other places of the world that are intimidated by America's superior military power. On the contrary, this letter aims to stand in support of all rational forces in the world who say firmly: "No"! No to the war against Iraq. No to the testing of America's weapons of mass destruction on Iraqi civilians. No to the globalization of hatred and organized terrorism.

Instead we say: Yes to justice, freedom and peace to be enjoyed equally by all nations. I can do no better than to end with a verse from the Holy Qur?an: "That if any one slay a person - unless it be punishment for murder or spreading moral corruption in the land - it will be as if he slay the whole of mankind. And if any one saves a life, it will be as if he save the life of all mankind." Chapter 5 "Al Ma'ida", verse 32.

_ . _

This issue is dedicated to the Peace Process of SRI LANKA & prominent Turkish author Yasar KEMAL

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