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Palestinians and Arabs slandered in letters

- Waleed Husseini
Friday May 17, 2002

To the Editor: 

I am writing to respond to two letters by James Sayre (May 7) and Daniel Spitzer (May 9). As a Palestinian-American working and supporting a nonviolent struggle against the 35 years of occupation of Palestinian territories by Israel, I find the views expressed by Sayre and later by Spitzer to be totally false and therefore dangerous. 

I do not care to argue whether Israel has the right to exist, because this right has been accepted by the Palestinians and the Arabs have offered Israel peace and total normalization of relations contingent on ending the occupation of Palestinian territories (the West Bank,Gaza,and East Jerusalem), i.e, going back to the 1967 borders and accepting the formula of land for peace and allowing the Palestinians to establish an independent state on 22 percent of Palestine. This is what the Palestinian struggle is about, but it continuously gets distorted by the Israeli right wing and its supporters in this country as a struggle to destroy Israel. Those who carry this view are either trying to mislead the world or are ignorant. I think most belong to the latter category and hopefully will eventually see the light. 

Moving on to specifics, Mr Sayre got his facts wrong. He claims that in the 1940s the Arabs refused to allow the refugees to settle. The truth is that there were no refugees until 1948 when Israel was established and those refugees were driven out by fear from Israeli massacres like Deir Yassin (April 9, 1948) and others, and not, as Mr. Spitzer claims, that the refugees were called upon to leave by Arab governments. At any rate most Palestinian refugees today are in the occupied Palestinian territories, in Jenin camp, Jabalia, Deheisheh, Balata, etc. They have been there under Israeli occupation for 35 years. What did Israel deliver to them but misery and oppression and most recently death and siege and all kinds of repression?? Those refugees are the majority and they are on Palestinian land and not in other Arab lands. 

Mr Rayes also makes the outrageous claim that the "Arabs have a long tradition of antipathy towards the Jews and of treating the Jews as second-class citizens. The Muslim religion sanctified this prejudice into its religious text, the Koran. In that writing, the Muslims were given explicit permission to raid Jewish settlements and to steal from Jewish homes." This is a big lie and an insult to Islam. Sayre relies apparently on the book by Joan Peters which he calls brilliant but actually is full of distortions and falsehoods, and has been discredited years ago. In reality Jews had their best days under Muslim rule in Spain and other places. Any persecution they suffered came after the rise of Israel and the persecution of Palestian refugees. As to the Koran giving explicit or even implicit permission for Muslims to raid Jewish property, etc., there is no bigger lie than that. It is complete trash. 

Like Mr Sayre’s opinion, Spitzer’s opinion is full of lies. Among his points are claims he makes about the way Palestinians treat women and children. He claims the sole country in the Middle East where Arabic women are permitted to vote is Israel. He is totally misinformed. Arab women have the right to vote in Palestine and many other Arab countries, and not only that but they also hold ministerial positions and get elected to Parliaments (Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, etc). 

As to Palestinian children, there is no doubt about their anger, because everything around them is angry, and all the time they witness their parents being killed and humiliated and if they do not think it, they can feel it and children have a great sense of things. Do not underestimate them. 

As to Jenin and whether a massacre occurred there or not, Human Rights Watch concluded that war crimes occurred and this happened in many other places besides Jenin. 


- Waleed Husseini