By Ismail Ibrahim Nawwab
Mr. Powell, Tell Mr. Sharon: Tear This Wall Down
His Excellency Colin L. Powell
The Secretary of State of the United States of America
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
I, a Saudi Arab Muslim born in the holy city of Makkah, the cradle of Islam, appeal to you to save the citizens of Bethlehem, the hallowed birthplace of Christianity, most of whose inhabitants represent the oldest Christian community in the world.
This letter is in response to the recent appeal (reproduced below) issued by His Beatitude Msgr. Michael Sabbah, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. It explains the dire straits in which the followers of Christ find themselves as a result of the brutal and illegal actions of the state of Israel, whose genocidal aim is to denude the land of historical Palestine of its non-Jewish Arab inhabitants, both Muslim and Christian. His Beatitude appeals for action.
The situation of all Palestinians, Christians as well as the Muslims, in the Palestinian Occupied Territories has never been so precarious. Their very existence is threatened. In the not too distant future, if the United States and other justice-seeking nations of the world do not take corrective measures, the Christians would have been cleansed from the cradle of their faith and their 2000-year-old ancestral association with Palestine would have been eviscerated for ever. This would have been the first time in history that such a calamity would have struck the Christians. In supporting the human and religious rights of the Christians of Bethlehem, I’m only following the teachings of my religion in this regard. Muslims have a religious and legal obligation to protect and defend the persons, properties and churches of Christians living in their midst. Bethlehem and every Christian living within its boundaries -- or under any Muslim state -- must therefore be vigorously protected and defended by Muslims, who will be asked by God if they failed to discharge this religious duty and trust. This stance has its origins in the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and is the view of illustrious Muslim jurists, both classical and modern, who base their opinions on the two primary sources of Islamic law: the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Despite the irony inherent in the present situation -- the modern Muslims’ inability to defend their own lands, persons, properties and mosques -- their obligation towards their Christian compatriots remains religiously and legally binding.
Arab Christians and Arab and non-Arab Muslims (some 1.25 billion spread all over the globe) look forward to firm, effective and immediate action by the United States to put a stop to Israel’s criminal, inhumane treatment of the Christian and Muslim Arabs of Palestine. This unprecedented, barbaric treatment, whose long litany of crimes is notorious and is the beam in the US administration’s eye, has been condemned repeatedly by the United Nations and all human rights groups. But Israel’s acts of sheer barbarity continue to this very day, to the utter shame of a deafeningly silent civilized world.
Your Excellency, the world has noted of late that you are championing the cause of the oppressed and proclaiming the intention of the US administration to change regimes which trample human rights and murder those under their charge. I hope, therefore, that Your Excellency, will not disregard the fact that there is no state which has more frequently flouted United Nations’ resolutions and violated the 1949 Geneva Convention -- which protects civilians during war or under occupation -- than Israel. The entire Muslim world is asking: WHEN and HOW SOON will the United States start ENFORCING United Nations’ resolutions passed against Israel, at least those which had not been vetoed by the United States? Your Excellency, has even one such resolution ever been ENFORCED? Some of these SIXTY resolutions are at least FIFTY years old, and not TWELVE years as is the case with Iraq, which is accused of violating EIGHTEEN resolutions. Who’s making the United Nations “irrelevant?” In the eyes of the Muslim world, these double standards stick out like Mount Everest.
You wouldn’t have had to work so hard to convince the world, particularly the Arabs and the Muslims, of your case against Iraq had the United States not damaged its credibility by allowing Israel to violate EVERY United Nations’ resolution passed against it. Let alone being punished by UN-mandated sanctions for its myriad, continuing “material breaches” of UN resolutions, the rogue, racist, terrorist state of Israel has been supported financially, diplomatically and militarily by the United States. President Bush has even called Ariel Sharon, its current Prime Minister, “a man of peace,” to the utter horrified dismay of most of the world, which regards him as a war criminal.
Please act to alleviate the suffering of the helpless Palestinians, whose humanity is no less at the mercy of brute power than the Iraqis’, who you say you want to set free.
Freedom and justice know no boundaries. Tell Sharon. “Mr. Sharon, tear down this wall!” The President of the United States and you, Mr. Powell, as his secretary of state, have the power and authority to make this wall come tumbling down, setting free an entire nation living in one hellish, bloody prison, where murder, starvation, house demolitions, and other egregious human rights’ violations are daily on the rampage.
Your Excellency, please don’t let the Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Arab Christians and the Muslims of the world down.
Ismail Ibrahim Nawwab
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
Courtesy of and © 2003 by Ismail Ibrahim Nawwab. Mr. Nawwab is a retired pillar of Aramco/Saudi Aramco Public Relations organization, a former university professor and the author of “The Muslims and the West in History”
February 25, 2003