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     The AI Habtoor Group's sometimes outspoken views on the important issues affecting the United Arab Emirates and the Middle East in the pages of this magazine always generates a large post bag. We receive particularly large responses when we write about and inform on the conflict in Palestine.

    Some of our mail is complimentary and some is not, but all our stories certainly generate interest and comments. From time to time we publish the most interesting letters in our pages.

    In this issue, we are reproducing in its entirety, a letter from one of our regular readers here in Dubai. It brings into focus the sad lack of truthful, factual information available to most Europeans and Americans on the situation in Palestine.

    The writer offers sensible suggestions that we feel deserve attention on how we can all work for a peaceful and just resolution to the conflict that has blighted our region for so long.

Dear Mr. AI Habtoor,

    Since our return from Vienna about 15 months ago we meant to thank you for your very outspoken way in dealing with various subjects, concerning the UAE and concerning the rest of the world. In particular I am impressed by your general assessment of the problems in the Middle East as laid down in your periodical 'Shindagah'. As I have been in Jordan time and again since 1980, I believe that my knowledge of the suffering of the Palestinian people is deeper than that of most of my fellow Europeans, the more, as I did not only stay in the Marriott or the Intercontinental Hotel, but I spent most of my time in Amman, Zarqa and Aqaba in areas where the refugees are trying to survive.
    I believe that the conflict situation cannot be resolved until two very basic, but also very important conditions have been established

1. Information as to the true situation in the geographical area generally called Palestine

1.1 Information about the true historical situation

    You have already outlined the historical development in the area in a very clear and unbiased way. This should however be made known to the so called Western world. My compatriots in Germany, for example, are not properly informed about this development. Although I believe that the German media are hardly biased in principle, they have to live with two conditions, which are difficult to overcome:

    First: a large portion of my generation does still believe that the Jews (and unfortunately thus the Israelis) should be treated differently due to the events in the course of World War II, although this is wrong in principle. The present generation of Jews and Israelis does not have anything to do with those times and they are not suffering from that what their ancestors have been suffering.

    This unfortunate conviction is however slowly fading away. Our children and grandchildren are already adopting another point of view, which is more realistic and more to the point. They have no factual knowledge of the war and the time thereafter, they look at the world in a less biased way now (look at the attendance in Porto Alegre). And if properly informed, they will take matters further.

    Second: the German publishers and editors have unfortunately adopted this modernistic way of making their programmes and newspapers, whereby only the very latest news is worth printing or broadcasting. They are not advising their staff to investigate thoroughly before publishing.

    Although I believe that our international TV programme, DW (Deutsche Welle), is trying very hard, they are all the same - not really much better than CNN and BBC. There is no in depth research, interviews in news programmes are cut to fit into the time frame, whether that fits as to the contents is irrelevant. This has got to be changed.

    In this context it might be of interest for you that even Mr. Henderson, who used to work in the UAE for the British Government after the Second World War, has expressed his disagreement as early as 1950s with the way, the Israeli took the land away from the Palestinians.

1.2 Information about daily life

    What is also really missing is information about the actual physical situation of the Palestine people. Far too many people in Europe and in the U.S. do still believe that their standard of living is comparable with that of the Israelis, and this is utterly wrong. I myself have seen little children in wintertime running about without proper shoes and proper clothing adequate to stand temperatures just above zero and even below. Have you ever seen such pictures of Israeli children?

    Information about both sides is not put into a proper context. The upbringing of children in Israel and Palestine is essentially different and so are the chances of each individual. The Israelis are not living in confined areas as refugee camps necessarily are, and the West Banks and the Gaza strip are no better at the time being. Both the areas in the present situation are no different from the Ghettos that Nazi Germany forced the Jews to live in, not a bit different. Maybe you should initiate a research on this subject, as this has to be brought nearer to the people in Europe and the U. S.

2. Eradication of Hypocrisy

    The double standards in the Western World have to be exposed wherever possible. If you really want an international community living under comparable conditions you have to accept that people are different and do not necessarily have to abolish their traditions and heritage.

    The British, for example, in the context with the European Union are so bothered about their currency and about their centuries of democratic evolution, but at the same time they are trying to impose a Western way of living within months onto people who have been living in their traditions for centuries as well. On the one hand they are talking about less violence and more development aid, on the other hand they are selling weapons to the poorest African states, thus deviating money from necessary development projects (and probably bribing those who are signing the deals).

    The U. S. Administration (I am not using the expression 'Americans' by intention), which by really unbiased assessment and by using proper democratic rules is only representing about 25 % of the population, defines terrorists and 'axis of evils' as it just fits. Their population is only about five percent of the world's population and only just about the same of all people speaking the Arabic language. If they want to guide the world they will have to adopt standards, which are acceptable to everybody and not only to the US president and his administration.

    All of them (and that does not exclude the Germans) should be asked wherever possible and wherever there is media cover:

    Why are the American forces not bombing the (real) terrorists in Northern Ireland?  Why are they not using targeted assassinations there? Do they need the Israeli for that? Why are they not doing the same in Northern Spain?  Why do they allow the Israeli to have weapons of mass destruction being opposed at the same time to the mere possibility of existence of those in Iraq? If they are so great, why do the American forces not eliminate Saddam. Hussein? If they are so great and superior, why have they not got Osama bin Laden up to now? If they are calling themselves Christians, why do they not behave accordingly? Why do the Europeans allow the Americans to make the mess and to leave it to others to clear up? Why are the Americans not 'bombing' their own 'corporate terrorists'? Taking a life is certainly a serious matter and not acceptable in principle, but is taking a living, as the Enron management has done, not equally evil? What about the corporate 'axis of evil'? Should that not be attacked? And so on, and so on.

    Just by these few examples it is obvious that the U. S. administration prefers to have it the simplistic way. It is certainly much easier just to call a nation “a rogue state” and to repeat this by (mis) using the media as much as ever possible, than to sit down and think about the reasons for shortfall first and then to blame with substance and not just with a word. But they should not get away with that so easily.

    Who has brought the idea of bribing to the African countries for example? Do we not have to blame the Western corporate culture for that? What about the tax offices in the Western countries, when they allow bribes to be deducted from the taxable income?

3. Counter Actions

What is necessary to rectify this wrong development?

Information, information and information.

    The None Western countries will have to build up an information system to counter the habits of the Western policy makers and to check and unveil their systems.

    That you can do a lot with information can be seen from the development of the Green Party in Germany. They have never stopped to inform the public about wrong developments as to the environment in Germany and they have been heard. They have now about seven to ten percent of the electorate behind them and are at the top of policy making (Mr. J Fischer).

    The only important matter is that all information released has to be researched and verified so that it cannot backfire. The German magazine 'Der Spiegel' is a prime example for this; they are researching and backing up so well, that they have not lost more than a handful of cases in the course of the last 55 years.

    This will certainly be a strenuous way, but if we do want to avoid conditions as described in '1984' we will slowly have to start.

    And this will call for non violent methods. Suicide bombing understandable as it is for people who are so desperate as the Palestinian youth are does not help to get people from other countries involved to achieve a peaceful solution. People in settled environments do not like to see blood. You can see this from the fact that also the Israeli side are heavily loosing support within the last years.

    I am sorry, I got carried away in the train of thoughts, but we are particularly bothered about the fate of our friends in Jordan and in Palestine.

    We hope that you will not stop telling people how things are and where they are wrong and we look forward t read the next edition of 'Shindagah'.


Best regards


Uwe and Anne Hinrichs


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