Outrage is an apt word for current Arab and Muslim sentiment toward Israeland toward American policy in the Middle East. Muslim and Christian Arabsalike have expressed mounting frustration with what they see as the Clintonadministration's unwillingness to demand an end to Israeli aggressionagainst Palestinian civilians.
American Muslims and Christians sympathetic to the Palestinians sayfrustration on the streets of Gaza and Ramallah and other cities in theoccupied territories has risen to a new level. They say there is nothingleft to lose. Not even peace.
In order for any kind of peace process to be reinvigorated American Muslimsand Arab-American Christians are calling on the American government to stopsending military and economic aid to Israel. Military aid alone amounts toapproximately $5 million a day.
"I believe for the peace process to continue, Israeli tanks and rockets, allmade in the U.S. with our tax money, should be withdrawn from the occupiedterritory and from all Islamic and Christian holy places," said GhaziKhankan of the Islamic Center of Long Island (ICLI), New York. Militaryhardware intimidates Palestinian civilians, he asserted, driving them todefend themselves with stones and slingshots.
"The media should not compare as equal the heavily armed Israeli militiawith unarmed civilian demonstrators," Khankan went on to say, voicing theopinion of many Muslims who feel media coverage of the Palestine-Israelconflict is not even-handed.
"Israel has been relying on unlimited and unconditional moral, political,and financial support from the United States," said Nihad Awad of CAIR."That has given Israel permission to do what it pleases. The outcome is abad reputation to the United States, a bad image in the Arab and Muslimworld, and has not served the interest of the U.S."
Many supporters of Palestine feel the situation now is more hopeless thanever. Robert Moore, a leading member of the Coalition for Good Government,pointed out that "Israel can carry out those types of actions in response toour coming to the defense of our holy sites, and the reaction is that theaggressor should be appeased. You can never appease an aggressor!"
Moore also expressed disappointment that American "peaceniks" have not comeout in support of Palestinian victims in the current conflict.
Repeatedly, American Muslims and Arab-American Christians and Muslims say theroad to peace is through Washington, D.C., and the termination of the "specialrelationship" between the U.S. and Israel. They demand that money andfavoritism freeze.
"We have the leverage," said Ghazi Khankan. "Economic, military, andpolitical leverage to solve the problem. Stop sending military equipment,and Israel will realize it has to make peace. But as long as Israel feelsit has the upper hand and is supported by the U.S., it will continue beingarrogant and will steal more land from Christian and Muslim Palestinians."
"I don't really see light at the end of the tunnel," said George Milhelm ofHempstead. I don't see a Palestinian state with freedom andself-determination. I fear we will always be under the fist of Israel."
Dr. Raana Akbar, an allergist in Saginaw, Michigan, believes the peaceprocess as it existed is extinct. She feels a new foundation must be laidin order to make progress. "Obviously, what we are looking at is dead," saidDr. Akbar, a native of Pakistan. "If the Israelis are not willing toaccommodate the religious feelings of the Palestinian people, there cannotbe peace in that area. The Palestinians will die rather than relinquish theHaram al-Sharif. Perhaps a mandate for a neutral authority over Jerusalemwould be acceptable. But Israeli control will never be acceptable."
"We condemn the killing of any human being," said ICLI's Ghazi Khankan. "Webelieve in due process. We also disapprove strongly of those who haveexploded the USS Cole at Aden, and those who have desecrated a synagogue inthe Bronx," he said. But until justice becomes a pre-condition for peace,American Muslims and Arab-American Christians see an extended and expandedintifada into the future.