Rubright, You’re Rubbing it the Wrong Way! [Archives:2002/03/Focus]

January 14 2002

By: Hassan Al-Haifi
Dick: I thank you for your interest in Yemen and in the YT, in particular. I am inclined to believe that your letter was more like an attempt to suppress Common Sense for more ulterior motives rather an objective assessment of the commentary. Whatever the case, you are either reading Common Sense with an already well established position on the issues discussed or an apparently prejudiced perception of the author. You did not specifically pinpoint any matter raised in Common Sense that angered you so much.. Nevertheless, I welcome your views and appreciate your sustained follow-up of Common Sense. However I would like to clarify some very important points that you either failed to recognize or you overlooked, as you so diligently read the column for at least six months, as you said.
1) On my attitude towards the United States and Americans, it would be extremely rude and ungratefully disrespectful of me to ever attack either of them (I never did!). The US was home to me for 14 years and the place where I obtained my education (from Fourth Grade through Graduate Studies). You might be surprised to learn that most of the Common Sense material is derived from references and knowledge, which were or are being obtained from the US, and which is readily available to anyone anywhere in the world. My general honors academic achievement include a 96% result in the American History and World Background New York State Regents Examination, (the highest statewide was 97%, and incidentally by a fellow classmate!), which has its origin of which goes back to my fascination for the American experience in general. Thus, there is so much of the US that is a part of me not to mention so many close American friends, crossing the ethnic lines. They include “WASPs” and other European backgrounds, Jews, Gentiles, Blacks, Whites, Orientals, Hispanics, as well as internationals crossing most of the continents, including one Israeli close friend, who ironically had more respect for my views than that shown in your letter. It is obvious that the criticism you may be referring to involved certain elements of American foreign policy discussed in Common Sense. I tend to believe, as any knowledgeable observer would also suggest, that such policy would, most likely, not be to the benefit of the US in the long run. Moreover, it may be deemed as inconsistent with the more responsible envisaged role of the United States as the sole Global Superpower. Being as I have visited the World Trade Center, I clearly pointed out my complete and uncompromising disdain for the attacks of September 11. I am also very inclined to believe that the strings culminating in the attacks do not end with Bin Laden and the Taliban. There just has to be something far beyond the sophistication and culture of either of them to mastermind such an attack with such deadly precision, or even contemplate doing it, while this does not rule out their involvement as more on the implementation side. Obviously, there is still a lot that has to be unraveled in the mystery.
2) I have never tried to distort any facts or make-up any baseless pertinent comments, if I was not confident that they are easily backed by a multitude of references, including American press sources, Zionist literature, United Nations reports, etc. But your diatribe never revealed any contradictions to what I specifically said or opined, but stuck to a general attack that went beyond any sort of real intellectual pursuit on your part. On the other hand, it is my fervent belief that the American people have a right to see the other side of the coin in any issue. This is especially true regarding the Middle East. I am fairly confident and have seen that the picture that is generally conveyed to them covers up a lot of tragedy and suffering, the victims of which are human beings, who are very much entitled at least to be given some hope for relief, which can only come from the United States (We gave up hope on the Arab states a long time ago!). Moreover, I am confident that with the American people more aware of the whole picture of the issues involved, the United States would be in a better position to broker a fair and equitable settlement and to alleviate some of this misery. We cannot overlook the fact that the latter is, in fact, the whole cause d’être of the problem. Even non-Arabs who know all the facts about the Palestine problem, will find themselves compelled by their conscience to advocate for some way of directing justice towards the continuing tragic plight of the Palestinians. The argument of Israel as being the “only democracy”, does not belittle the fact that this should not be construed as sufficient grounds for the tragic way in which it was created. This creation came about at the expense of the millions of indigenous people, who were and are still continuously being systematically uprooted from the homeland they and their ancestors have dwelt in for generations (see Common Sense issue 59/2000). I am rather surprised that your visits to the region and your apparent interest in it have not driven you to try to understand the source of the sympathy that most Arabs Moslems and Christian and even some Jews, who contest the Zionist philosophy on purely religious and moral grounds have for their Palestinian blood brothers.
3) Never before and never after September 11, 2000, did I ever praise the Taliban for anything, let alone “for standing up to the West”. Therefore, I am somewhat at a loss to understand how you arrived to such a conclusion. I am sure that if you had read my articles carefully, in this context, that your attempt to infer that I harbor any sympathy for the Taliban or their likes is an effort, with bad intent, to associate me with those who are being projected as the enemy of the international community, i.e., with the bad guys. I have always stressed that the Taliban and their likes pose a serious danger to the image of Islam and to the future of the Moslem World. I am also inclined to believe that their origin is simply non Islamic, which is also true of their dogma and approach. My fears for Islam are only sedated by the knowledge that similar movements have appeared before in Islamic history. More often than not, they eventually became the victims of their own demise!
4) As for the author of Common Sense “telling lies”, one can only be amazed at how you can come up with that accusation directly after you yourself conjured the lie cited in paragraph 3 above and some of the other innuendoes preceding it.
Going back to the Middle East, as much as you may believe to the contrary, being Anti Zionist should never be misconstrued as “automatically” being anti American. Otherwise, you would really make it difficult for millions of people all over the world to maintain hope in the United States wanting to obtain a just and equitable peace in the area. Making such a connotation would, in itself, be considered a serious intentional attempt to wrongly manipulate public opinion, especially that of the American public. I am sure you would agree that this would be unforgivable in any democracy or in any democratic forum.
For your information, Common Sense was the name of a publication that was issued by Thomas Paine. If you may recall, Paine was a leading American Revolutionary hero, who was not a native born American, but was among the first to call for American independence from Britain – his country of origin.
Common Sense commentary is made credible by illuminating an awareness of all the different perspectives of the issue being analyzed. To the other readers, we continue on the Islah Party in the next issue.