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May 05, 2002
A wake up call from Charlie White

By Ahmed Amr.


Dear NileMedia Reader: I want to introduce you to a very fine man, a decent man with a heart of gold, who I have known since High School. It has been nine years since I last saw Charlie. Yesterday, I got an email from him. And just the fact that he had found his way to NileMedia confirmed that sooner or later, honorable men like Charlie would enter the fray.

One thing that I always remember about Charlie was that, even in High School, he was brutally honest. And as you will see from what he wrote us, he has more concerns about Palestinian behavior than about Israeli repression.

Charlie knows Sharon's past and yet calls him a warrior. He knows the nature of the brutal Israeli occupation, but he is more interested in Israeli security. And his greatest concern is for the security of the United States and his own family.

What Charlie writes is proof that good strong intelligent Americans are easily swayed by Zionist propaganda, even when fully aware that the Israel Firsters are masters at the art of defaming the Palestinians. He has reduced the problem to Israel's security. As a younger man, Charlie was a vocal pro-Palestinian advocate. But the demonization of the Palestinians is now a done deal. And Charlie sees them as demons who threaten the security of America. In Charlie's mind the struggle for Palestinian liberty is an existential threat to America by crazed Islamic fundamentalists.

When the Palestinians lose an old friend like Charlie, they should become very alarmed. This is no Arab hater. He is a man who has always stood for religous tolerance. This is not a man who is uneducated. He is a lawyer and a good one. But the Palestinians have failed to make their case to Charlie. Yasser Arafat has lost a beauty show in which the only other contestant was a serial war criminal, the Butcher of Sabra and Shatila and Qibya and Jenin.

How exactly did the Palestinians lose this public relations war so decisively? The simple answer is that the attack on 911 shook every American and while the enormity of the atrocity has begun to fade, the anger at the huge loss of life remains. The Israeli Public relations Armada has managed to blame 911 on the Palestinians. The suicide bombings against Israel have been translated in the American mind as being motivated by the same 'international terrorists' who committed the atrocities at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Even the Taliban were not confused with Al Qaida and the Afghans were not confused with the Taliban. But the Israeli media wizards have succeeded in branding every last Palestinian a terrorist.

Once again, I would like to remind Charlie that the Israeli security issue is bogus. Israel's occupation of the West Bank has always been a land grab as evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of settlers. This colonial settler activity, which doubled during the Oslo years, left many Palestinians with little hope that the Israelis had any intentions of allowing the creation of a viable independent state composed of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. The election of Sharon was correctly viewed as an existential threat by the vast majority of Palestinians.

The Israelis are masters at rewriting history. Even folks like Charlie seem to forget that Sharon's election was a referendum on implementing Oslo and the Israeli public said 'no'. Sharon had made it clear during the campaign that he would kill Oslo if elected. And this war criminal, who should not even be allowed an American tourist visa, went about dismantling Oslo in a systematic fashion. He caneled the negotiations, escalated the level of violence, started demolishing homes, tightened the noose around every Palestinian town, village and hamlet and his IDF goons killed nearly 1500 Palestinians and wounded nearly 40,000. All the while, Sharon and his willing accomplices went about the business of demonizing Arafat and stripping him of any means to challenge radical factions within the Palestinian movement. His latest massive 'incursion' into the West Bank resulted in hundreds of Palestinian casualties, the demolition of vital public property and the vandalizing of personal homes and community institutions.

But the American media still blames Arafat. The Palestinians are portrayed as a bunch of fanatics with suicidal rage as a result of 'cultural' indoctrination.

The Palestinians should never have lost an ally like Charlie White. We at NileMedia take our part of the blame for failing to reach good folks like Charlie. But Charlie has to understand that we are up against the expultionists at the New York Times and The Washington Post, to mention a few. Charlie also needs to make a little effort to cut through the media fog.

So, now, it is Charlie's time to vent. But before I go, I have a few questions for my old pal from Mamaroneck High School. Every responsible Palestinian leader, including Yasser Arafat, embraces the two-state solution. Does Sharon have any kind of solution other than the expansion of settlements and the expulsion of the Palestinians? Is an apology from Israel for displacing the Palestinians in 1948 too much to ask of Amos? Does Charlie think the American government has played a neutral role in the repression of the Palestinian people?

What Charlie wrote:

Ahmed, I believe that we are old friends from a long time ago during our high school and college years. You visited with me and met my family back in 1993 or so in Miami when you had a consulting job there. If I am mistaken, then I apologize. If not, I would love to hear from you. Like all Americans, I have some real concerns about what is happening in the world. Recent events have challenged opinions I have held for my entire life. You had always taken a stand for the rights of the Palestinians and against Zionist propaganda, and I applaud your magazine and its mission. The problem that I see is the absence of any middle ground. Let us say you get your apology from Famous Amos, what then? If that apology was supported by the whole world, including Israel and the American Jewish groups, what moral actions could now be justified? Would Israel have, in essence, delegitimatized itself? Would Jews now lack a moral platform to allow Israel to exist? Would all those who would seek Israel's destruction by whatever means now be justified? And what of the United States, which because of its role as the ultimate protector of Israel's right to exist as a nation? On the evening of September 11, I was talking about what had just that day had happened with my family. I told my family that noone but the people who perpetrated that atrocity knew who had done it. My 7 year old son pointed to the TV set, and said, "That's easy, those people did it". On TV was the scene of Palestinians dancing in the streets cheering and celebrating our loss. Are we so tied to Israel that anyone can attack us in the name of the Palestinians and other aggrieved Muslim people? Has not the cause of Islamic fundementalism thrown down a gauntlet and challenged the United States to a war of extermination? Are we supposed to cave in to terrorist attacks or deny Israel the right to respond as would any nation of strong people who love their lives, liberty and children? How can you talk to these people who send young men and women to kill themselves and others, and who are worshipped for it? How do you think Israel should have reacted in a way which did not teach the lesson that these tactics will bring results? Surrender? Give in to all demands? Evacuate Palestine? If that is the objective, then Israel has no choice but to fight for its survival. If all Arafat has been doing is manuevering his people for eventual victory over Israel, if that is what he and his people pray for, then what choice does Israel have? I think the Israeli people feel this, and that is why they elected Sharon. They want a warrior because they do not believe that Arafat can accept a peace with Israel as an independent Jewish state. To the extent that you are trying to reach Americans and educate them, I believe that you will need to address these issues. I hope you can read these words of mind with the understanding that I respect your views and even sympathize with them. I hope that you will answer or at least attempt to answer my concerns either in the forum of your magazine or in private. I look forward to renewing our friendship and walking along this path with you as a friend.

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