Letters to the Editor [Archives:2001/49/Letters to the Editor]
When I read your newspaper, I feel there is still hope to continue the path of the founder Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf for the establishment the freedom of the press. I would like to inform you that there are many forgotten areas that nobody has written about so far, particularly about Yemenis’ sufferings in the lack of schools, hospitals, electricity, water supply, roads, qualified judicial staff and honest police forces. One of these areas that deserve the attention of the media is the Baha area in the Lahej governorate. Please try to make just one visit to that area to draw the attention of government.
Having not read Yemen Times for some time, it was good to read the publication again. However, it was also unsettling to read the two first letters that greeted me on the Editorial Page, one from writer Diego Andreios U, and the other from Bill Danielson.
While both writers had valid points, both also had elements of hatred that has grown since September 11. These points of hatred are far more dangerous than any valid opinion or inaccuracies they authored. Calmer heads must prevail, if we are to overcome the violence that has been spawned from the Middle East to areas in both the U.S. and Afghanistan.
As an American, having visited Yemen and other areas of the world several years ago in extensive stays for business purposes, I was awakened. The living conditions experienced by many people in the world are far less attractive than most people in the U.S., largely due to the poorer state of economic well-being that exists in other countries. Our poor in the U.S. have far better standards of living than many of the “middle class” in some other countries. The poor in various areas of the world, would be envious of the assistance that is commonplace to the poor people in the U.S. It was a humbling and uncomfortable educational process.
Student-Diego is correct in his assertion that we view others as propagandists if they do not share our view. But any group voices its view from its vantage point; journalists are not necessarily immune to that condition. And many journalists are fed information from their own governments, and sometimes can becomeunwittinglythe pawn of government.
This is also true of religious groups who voice their own opinions to their adherents. Whether Christian, Muslim or Jewish, individual clerics vary radically in their own viewpoints, sometimes in dangerous and incorrect ways. I believe we have seen all three major religions voice irresponsible statements in recent months, and all have been picked up as propaganda by the media. For the media should not necessarily edit opinions, as you correctly stated in your response to Bill Danielson.
The U.S. does permit a tremendous amount of negative comment about itself, particularly in the media. Student-Diego’s vehement letter seems to voice the opinion that to criticize the U.S. is not permitted or is hugely criticized itself. As he says, “So what?” If you can criticize the U.S., the U.S. retains the right to criticize the critic. But if he believes that there is not opposition to the U.S. within the U.S., or negative comment to the U.S. within the Country, he must not be paying attention. It is the foundation of our freedom.
As for 60 Minutes and the level of Pakistani attitudes, I personally spoke with three very close Pakistani friends who have just returned from their homeland. One said he saw no evidence of any meaningful demonstrations, and a lot of the attitudes were confused, more than having extreme opinions one way or another. A second fellow said that people were concerned but seemed split on whose side to take.
The third said people had no idea what was going on. It would appear that propaganda is fed by those with whom the reporter speaks.
Mr. Danielson, I agree, needs to re-visit history. He asserts that terrorist have attacked Israel for 120 years. Since Israel has only existed for about 50 years…I don’t understand.
And as for his statements on democracy, there is not one, but two democracies in the Middle East, as I recall. Yemen, being the other notable democratic government. This, it seems, is not something of which he is aware.
It is sad that it seems that the U.S. favors Israel. There are times when that is, in fact, true. On the other hand, there are times when Palestinian resistance became more passive. There have been times when accords between Palestine and Israel have been formed, only to have Israel seem to defy those accords in short order. U.S. opinion and support of Israel have wavered, and it seemed as though tremendous breakthroughs have been made for support to go much further toward Palestine. But just as quickly, terrorism on the part of Hamas or some other group has served to reverse that support by some horrendous act of violence. And acts of violence push the U.S. farther to the Israeli side. The Arabs are, in such cases, their own enemies.
Recently, it seemed as though the Bush administration was making such moves to support Arafat. Israel was complaining about such moves, even before September 11. The U.S. support for Israel is not clad in iron. But bombing teenagers in pizza shops makes it very difficult to treat any supporting group with anything but disdain.
Finally, Student-Diego states that there were demonstrations in Italy against the U.S. bombing in Afghanistan. Why were there no demonstrations against the killing of 4,000+ people in New York and Washington? You could make a case that the Pentagon was a legitimate military target, but the people on the airline were not. This was an act of cowardice, and nothing more.
And what of those 600 or so Muslims who died in the World Trade Center? Is this in keeping with Islam? What about the child care center in the World Trade Center? Were those children agents of the U.S. government?
Civilian deaths are unavoidable in war. There have been civilian deaths in Afghanistan; however, these have been few and regrettable. If the U.S. were as unconcerned as some propagandists say it is about civilian deaths, the bombing would have been far more intensive than it has been.
There are any number of reasons to support the Arab cause, and I believe in a Palestinian State, among other issues. But I also believe that bin Laden’s acts of barbarism represent cowardice and acts against God – any God. Recent developments offer the opportunity to really investigate the needs of all parties. But U.S. arrogance, Israeli stubbornness and Arab emotionalism must first be set aside. Student-Diego and Bill Danielson offer evidence of the attitudes that prevent substantial progress from being made.
I am an American tourist who loves to travel. I would love to visit Yemen and learn about its culture and people.
With the war on terrorism going on, we, as Americans, need to hear what and whom you support to feel safe in your country. We need to know that you are against terrorism. Who in their right mind would want to visit a country who supports terrorism? I believe that your country needs to speak out against terrorism and prove your sincerity to make travelers feel safe.