Americans Must Set an Example for Mideast Peace

Altaf Ali

Posted Aug 9, 2006      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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By Altaf Ali

Recently a lone gunman entered the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and began shooting. He killed one woman and injured several others after reportedly shouting, “I’m a Muslim American; I’m angry at Israel.”

In Michigan, a pro-Israel driver allegedly tried to run down an Arab-American demonstrator at a rally protesting the current conflict in the Middle East. And in South Florida where I live, the Jewish community was targeted by four acts of vandalism; two against synagogues and two against businesses.

As a person of conscience, I denounce the senseless attack at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and offer my sincere condolences to the family and friends of those killed and injured. I also express my sympathies to the Jewish community in Florida who suffered from the recent acts of vandalism.

It is evident that these and similar incidents nationwide are a disturbing result of the Middle East conflict. That crisis shows no sign of ending soon. The silence in response to the disregard for innocent lives and the beating of war drums is deafening.

We have witnessed almost 1 million displaced people, hundreds of innocent lives lost and the utter destruction of civilian infrastructures in Gaza and Lebanon. We have to ask ourselves whether all this death and destruction will ever bring peace.

Rafi Ginat, editor of Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s largest newspaper, said, “I am prepared to hail down hellfire on the Hezbollah terrorists, their aides, their collaborators, all those who turn a blind eye to them and everyone who so much as smells of Hezbollah and their innocent bystanders can die instead of ours.”

In a taped message broadcast by Al-Jazeera television, Ayman Al Zawahri said, “All the world is a battlefield open in front of us. The war with Israel does not depend on cease-fire.”

The Yesha Rabbinical Council announced in response to the Israeli attack on the Lebanese town of Qana, in which many civilians were killed, that “according to Jewish law, during a time of battle and war, there is no such term as ‘innocents’ of the enemy.”

The expedited shipment of American-made bombs to Israel is not a sign that our nation wants a cease-fire or peace. One can hardly overlook the remarks made by Secretary of State Condolezza Rice when she said the conflagration is “the birth pangs of a new Middle East.”

The sentiments being played out are quite troubling and one has to wonder, considering that the United States is playing a pivotal role in this issue, whether the conflict will be transplanted here.

The killing of innocent men, women and children must be denounced at all levels and by all faiths. People of conscience and faith must set an example and distance themselves from all acts of terrorism. If we don’t set an example, who will?

It is imperative that the American Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities work together and do whatever is possible to prevent the Middle East conflict from permeating our county.

We have the opportunity, the ability and the motivation to set a good example. We have no other choice. Silence is a form of acceptance.