Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Khalid Amayreh – Open Letter to Obama's Envoy to the OIC


Dear brother Hussein, many Muslims around the globe, I am glad that President Obama has appointed you as his Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Needless to say, the repair of American-Muslim relations require, first and foremost, honesty, integrity, and good will — characters I am sure you exemplify as an Islamic scholar and Hafez of the Book of God (Qur'an).Hence, I think that you are probably one of the best people qualified for this difficult job, because, for several decades, the relations between the United States and the world of 1.6 billion Muslims have been marred by tension, lack of trust, and a lot of bitterness.

Hence, I urge you to go about carrying out your mission with utmost care, wisdom, and sagacity. I also want to remind you that several American envoys to the Muslim world have effectively failed to achieve what they were supposed to achieve, namely fostering healthy relations between Muslims and America that would be based on mutual trust, respect, and friendship.

It is my firm belief though that these people, whose efforts should never be underestimated, failed in their missions, not because of the lack of trying nor the absence of good will and rectitude.

My impression, which I believe is shared by many Muslims, is that these honorable men and women did not correctly diagnose the serious ailments plaguing America's relations with the Muslim world. In truth, past American envoys to the Muslim world acted very much as Public Relations emissaries, whose central concern was that Muslims misunderstood America.

In short, they thought that America was only having an "image problem" in the Muslim world, and that if only the United States worked a little bit harder in terms of presenting itself and its policies more skillfully, that tarnished image would be rehabilitated and Muslims would fall in love with Uncle Sam.

History of Wrong Deeds

My Brother in Islam and humanity: From our vantage point, the real problem besetting America's relations with Muslims goes far beyond the image problem. We truly feel that the US government is "tormenting" Muslims in many parts of the world, such as Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq , Pakistan, Lebanon to mention some examples.

In occupied Palestine, America has been enabling and empowering Israel — a state that has much in common with Nazi Germany — to kill us, destroy our homes, steal our land, and banish us from our ancestral land. Moreover, whenever we sought to redress that bad situation at the UN Security Council, America would just veto any resolution that would have given us a modicum of justice.

This brazen alliance with the oppressors on America's part frustrated many Muslims and Arabs, prompting them occasionally to embark on doing things they probably should not have done. You know, people to whom evil is done, often do evil in return.

Even today, the United States, which was as silent as a graveyard during Israel's manifestly criminal onslaught against the helpless people of the Gaza Strip last year, is trying now to kill the Goldstone report, which exposed Israeli criminality and called for the possible prosecution of suspected Israeli war criminals.

The United States has had more than fifty years to make peace in Palestine. However, instead of forcing Israel to give up the spoils of war and grant Palestinians the right to freedom from the shackles of occupation and racism, America has always made sure to further strengthen Israeli militarily and bolster its arrogance of power.

Eventually, this unrestricted embrace of Zionism enabled Israel to irreversibly kill the two-state solution, leaving us with the ominous, but realistic alternative of open-ended conflict.

One Palestinian intellectual, Walid Khalidi, once referred to the United States as "the tormentor of the Palestinian people." Khalidi's words are not an overstatement. In fact, the opposite may well be true.

In Lebanon, a few years ago, Israel blanket-bombed Lebanon, annihilating and maiming thousands of innocent people whose only "guilt" was their weakness and military inferiority vis-à-vis Israel.

In fact, the Israeli air force dropped more than 2 million cluster-bomblets on Lebanon, enough to kill two million children, including people yet to be born. Instead of hearing the United States saying: "Stop it", we heard American officials from the president downward singing the songs of praise for Israel as if these innocent victims were children of lesser humanity.

Iraq and Afghanistan

Moreover, In Iraq, one is really frustrated as to where to begin and where to end when talking about America's crimes and days of infamy in Iraq. America invaded, occupied and destroyed that Arab country based on the mendacious claim that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD). True, Saddam Hussein was a tyrant, but are America's Arab puppets paragons of virtue and democracy?

A few years before the American occupation of Iraq, former secretary of state Madeline Albright made some telling remarks about the death of nearly a million Iraqi children as a result of US-led sanctions against the Arab country. She said, "If it is good for America, it is worth it."

I am sure you understand that only a human devil can reach this level of depravity and evil.

Regarding Afghanistan, American and other NATO forces are raining death on Afghan people in the Helmand province, killing many civilians. US military officials would claim it happened by mistake. Well, but mistakes are done a few times, and when made nearly on a daily basis and thousands of people are killed, it means "mistakes" are actually "the real policy".

In any case, when the number of civilian victims is so high as in Afghanistan and Palestine, even intent becomes irrelevant.

I am sure that had these unwept, helpless civilians been Jews or Christians, the NATO pilots would have been much more careful.

Dear Brother: Muslims want a relationship with America based on honesty and fairness, and above all on justice. I am saying so because the US policy toward Muslims has been almost completely devoid of honesty and fairness.

Nearly every new American administration declares from the outset that fostering democracy and human rights in the Arab world would be at the top of its agenda. However, the truth is that the policy pursued then represents the exact antithesis of America's declarations.

In the past few years, the United States actually encouraged certain Arab states to torture their own citizens by transferring "terror suspects" to these police states, where they underwent all sorts of physical and psychological torture. The so-called "renditions" were a stigma of shame at the forehead of both America and the Arab regimes.

In fact, the United States has effectively transformed several Arab regimes into agents helped by the American intelligence to serve America's illegitimate global interests.

Conflicting Interests?

These regimes do not represent the free will of the Arab-Muslim people. They are more answerable to Washington than they are to their own masses. In addition, they value the "legitimacy" that comes from America's acceptance more than that which comes from their own people's acceptance.

For example, the American-envisaged steel wall being built along the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip is rejected by up to 99 percent of the Egyptian people. Yet it is being imposed, thanks to America's approval of the evil structure.

Does not the United States realize that this wall amounts to passing a death penalty on more than 1.5 million innocent human beings, whose only "crime" was that they elected a political party that Israel and America did not like?

To be sure, America has the right to protect its interests. However, America has no right, moral or legal, to murder and starve people because they exercised their democratic right and elected a political party called "Hamas".

Besides, why is it that Israel has the right to elect clear-cut thugs and certified war criminals, such as Avigdor Lieberman, Ehud Barak, and Benyamin Netanyahu, just to name a few, while the Palestinian people are not supposed to elect a party like Hamas?

Do terror, criminality, and racism become kosher when assuming a Jewish face? Is Israel above the laws of God and man?

Muslims all over the world, including in Palestine, have no inherent hostility toward the people of the United States.

We have no problem with the American First Amendment and civil liberties. We are not against the United States because we hate the American life style. Our problem with the United States stems from hostile American policies that are killing us and murdering our children.

In short, America must reconcile what it preaches with what it does, because otherwise, America cannot just keep lying to Muslims (and non-Muslims) as if our people were blind, deaf, and dumb.

Finally, I hope and pray that you will have the courage to communicate our grievances to the White House, as I am sure you will communicate its concerns to us.

Furthermore, I would advise you to be always mindful of the Qur'an's eighth Aya (verse) of Surat Al-Ma’idah:

"O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do." [Al-Ma’idah, 8]

I have chosen this verse because justice is not only a Muslim value; it is actually a universal value, without which life on earth is corrupted.
Once again, I call on the Almighty to help you carry out your mission in the best way.