Manhattan began with Palestine
Stabroek News
September 20, 2001

Dear Editor,

The US and its main allies say that the imminent attack is to deter the "terrorists." Would someone say how an attack can deter "terrorists" when those "terrorists" are already volunteering to die? And if it can't, do the lives of the innocent, poor people who will die in Afghanistan and/or perhaps Iraq have no value? Judgement, thou hast indeed fled to brutish beasts.

Osama bin Laden used to be a hero expelling the Soviet Union from Afghanistan. Then he was supported both materially and spiritually by the US and Pakistan. Does he really hate the US or does he simply stand against injustice to his people? He is the "prime suspect" but so are husbands when their wives are killed just by virtue of their presence. Will we see the evidence? Do civilised people permit the victim to collect it, prosecute and punish?

What degree of grievance must the "terrorists" have had in order to plan and train for Manhattan for years? Amid all the tragic stories of the Manhattan victims, should someone ask what trauma the "terrorists" or their families or their people have suffered to drive them to this attack? To be so resolute? To give their lives?

When the psychopathic gunmen murdered children in their schools in the USA and the UK, the authorities reached for their psychiatry manuals to diagnose the illness of the psychopaths, from their youth, their upbringing, etc. Should not these "terrorists" be diagnosed?

Some do not support the death penalty even for the most horrific murderers. Yet they are about to avenge Manhattan by killing innocent, poverty-stricken people and their children.

Had the Nazis won World War II and called Britain `(Greater) Germany' British refugees who, like the 350,000 Palestinians in Lebanon, fled to Ireland or France and whose children for generations stagnated there for 50 years without jobs, without rights to own land and thus without livelihoods, may have become "terrorists." Italy supporting Germany may have become a target. It wasn't the Palestinians who tried to commit genocide against the Jews, and they had no Marshall plan.

What is the common thread in the US's lone refusal to support the Rio and Kyoto Treaties to reduce carbon monoxide and its steadfast support for Israel in the oil-rich Middle East? How blind can inordinate consumption make us human beings? Does the gluttonous consumption of fossil fuels not only destroy our ozone layer but also in some unknown way render us unable to reason?

When wealthy people from wealthy countries die, the tumult is disproportionate. Vide the Titanic and its four films. No one has recorded how many Palestinians died in the original Israeli take over of Palestine, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, their innumerable incursions and indiscriminate air raids, Sabra and Shatila, and Israel's incremental settlement expansion for over 50 years. No one knows because few care. I submit it was many times more than five and a half thousand.

Since September 11, Israel has killed 11 more Palestinians, mounted an overwhelming attack on Ramallah with helicopter

gunships and tanks and threatened the very seat of government there. Not unlike Japan in World War II, they could not `miss the bus.' Must they carve up Ramallah while their benefactors grieve and Europeans observe silence as a mark of respect?

With divine providence, on September l2, 2001, Amnesty International's indictment of Israel for torture of Palestinian men, women and children in its infamous El Khiam prison in South Lebanon right up to the year 2000, was shown on British television. One mother daily for three years kept taking food to El Khiam for her son. The Israelis could not tell her that her son had died five weeks after he was arrested without trial, and, like every one of his fellow prisoners, without Red Cross visits. Yet the USA supports Israel.

America is a democracy, a plural society of migrants from all over the world. They helped save us from the Nazi jackboot and the Japanese intent on gobbling up the free world. We are grateful. But will some from that plurality who by the law of averages cannot be blind make their blind compatriots and their leaders see the truth? Does Israeli propaganda have to win forever?

As one Western journalist in the Middle East put it, Manhattan began with Palestine and it will have to end in Palestine. Who but those who year in year out suffer and die without hope of sympathy, without international whisper or tumult, can fail to empathise with the families and the people of the victims? Yet many Palestinians feel the grief of the USA even as Israel pressed on. Manhattan is a tragedy beyond words. It is appalling and horrific but as David Owen said, we must get at the root of the problem, not indulge in subterfuges like claims that it was an attack on democracy, freedom and civilisation.

There is no point, Messrs Bush and Blair, in charging around like Don Quixote. There are no windmills. Killing innocents will only breed more "terrorists" and make those existing more resolute.

A shrinking world with its devastating weapons of mass destruction cannot afford the degree of grievance in Palestine. The South Africans were at least given `homelands' in their own land. Stop Israel! They have taken enough and Arafat has accepted their right to exist. Give the Palestinians back one half of their country stolen from them, or even perhaps one half of what the UN tried to restore to them. That will be the real `D' day in what they call the `War against terrorism'.

Yours faithfully,

Shahabudin McDoom