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Dialogue integral in resolving Middle East conflict

Mariam Durrani
By Mariam Durrani
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday Apr. 30, 2002

„Absurdly shocking.š „Nonsense.š „Ignorant and backwards.š

Some of the responses to my columns this past year have not, to say the least, been positive.

Alright, alright, most of them have been outright criticism ų but you know something?

I appreciate it.

Why? First of all, feedback is always fun because that means someone actually reads my columns. Thanks, guys.

In the past semester, the great majority of the letters the Arizona Daily Wildcat received pertained to the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and the Palestine-Israel conflict. After reading those letter discussions in the Wildcat, it was evident that many readers reacted strongly and passionately to my columns about those particular issues. Silas Montgomery, Armand Navabi, Charles Petersen, Jeremy Slavin and many other students seem to be writing in on a weekly basis to discuss what is going on. This is fantastic!

Even halfway around the world, we see that our opinions are extremely strong and sometimes rigid. So it makes me think, what about those on the frontlines? What about the people who live in this terror-infested land everyday? What about the Israelis who dread going into a cafe or bus in fear of being blown up? Or the Palestinians who wonder just how many people the Israeli government has to kill before the United States halts its unwavering support? I don‚t know which one is worse, but I can tell you that neither is acceptable.

I have never supported the killings on either side. But, it always occurred to me that the atrocities committed by Israel have been more often than not swept under the rug. Hence, President Bush‚s senseless and ignorant attempt to name Sharon a „man of peace.š Come on, George. If a man vows to win a war by any means necessary, he cannot be defined as a man of peace.

„Peaceš has become a special word for many people in the last school year.

The attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon woke us up to a very fanatical portion of people who hate America. The vicious and cowardly tactics these people pursued in order to make their point appalled me.

Right after 9/11, we began to see stories about UA students who shamefully admitted some initial racism toward those of Arab descent on campus. Later, many Arab students decided to return to their home countries in fear of any backlash from events that had nothing to do with them. I must commend President Likins and the administration for doing an outstanding job supporting Arab and Muslim students and fighting against hate crimes. Also, the Islamic Center of Tucson put forth a lot of effort to display the true Islam in and around campus and explain exactly why it has nothing to do with the bombings.

Later, the war on Afghanistan awoke humanitarians when thousands of people were dying because of U.S. bombs as well as Northern Alliance fighters. There was some argument that said the families of the victims of 9/11 were more important than the Afghan families. Maybe they are to you, but when a little girl loses her father and sees her mother raped in front of her by the Northern Alliance, I refuse to discard her anguish or belittle her pain.

Unfortunately, patriotism can blur even a humanitarian‚s vision.

And then, when the war entered my front door and called my dad to duty, I was enraged. Exposing my personal life in a column felt unusual, but it seemed appropriate at the time. In fact, I want to say thanks because it helped me release some of my feelings.

Time went on and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict grabbed my attention and became my favorite subject. Just when I thought I had shared everything I could on the matter, there would be a new development and I had to say something else. And fortunately, we got a lot of letters talking up a storm from the opposition.

The letter section of the Wildcat has revealed the complex and powerful nature of the Middle Eastern conflict. I sincerely hope next semester we get more responses from both the pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian readers.

The only end to this issue is respectful and intelligent dialogue. Keep it up.


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