Friday, January 15, 2010

Displacement and Hope in Nahr el Bared

Displacement and Hope in Nahr el Bared
15 Jan 2010 09:46:00 GMT
Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.
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The Mohajareen neighbourhood next to Nahr el Bared camp for Palestinian refugees, is currently being demined in preparation for NRC's reconstruction of homes for 111 families. The project is funded by the European Commission (EC).
The Mohajareen neighbourhood next to Nahr el Bared camp for Palestinian refugees, is currently being demined in preparation for NRC's reconstruction of homes for 111 families. The project is funded by the European Commission (EC).

NRC/Siri Elverland

Displaced Palestinians see new hope with NRC's reconstruction project in the Mohajareen settlement, which was destroyed by fighting in northern Lebanon in 2007.

With his wife and ten children, Ayache Ibrahim Ayache lives in containers assembled by UNRWA to house Palestinian refugees displaced by the Nahr el-Bared conflict of 2007. The family shares 54 square meters split in three rooms. The cramped living conditions put a strain on the family.

"Girls deserve privacy, but here, girls in my family get none," Ayache explained, looking tired. "How can they? We all live together in these small boxes."

Since Palestinians cannot own land in Lebanon, Ayache and his family used to live illegally with another 110 families in the crowded Mohajareen neighbourhood, a land similar in shape and size to a football field. Due to its proximity to the UNRWA Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr el-Bared, which was the centre of the conflict during spring 2007, Mohajareen was totally destroyed.

Mohajareen - the Displaced.

The Arabic word Mohajareen means "the displaced", which illustrates the fortune of the families living there until the conflict 2 � years ago. Most of them had moved around Lebanon since 1948, unable to settle down and secure property. Ayache's family was no exception. Originally from Janine in Palestine (today's Israel), Ayache has moved from place to place consistently since his arrival in Lebanon in 1948, when the state of Israel was formed. Initially he settled with his family in the village of Rumeish in southern Lebanon. Later on they moved to Tal El Za'atar Palestinian camp in Beirut, until it was destroyed in the fighting in 1976. Then followed a few years of settlement in another camp in Beirut, Borj El Barajneh, until 1982. At last they moved to Mohajareen, close to Nahr el-Bared camp in northern Lebanon. Here they lived in a 65 square meter house built by the PLO in the 80s, with one kitchen and two rooms.

When fighting between an Islamist militia group and the Lebanese army broke out in the spring of 2007, Ayache didn't leave his home in Mohajareen immediately, afraid it would be looted. But as the conflict intensified in the 4th day, he moved his family to the neighbouring Baddawi camp. They remained there with relatives for around 10 months before moving into UNRWA's temporary shelter back in Nahr el-Bared.

Thanks to the Mohajareen project currently undertaken by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) with funds from the European Commission (EC), Ayache has renewed hope for his family. NRC will reconstruct housing for all the 111 families who were displaced by the 2007 conflict.

For NRC Secretary General Elisabeth Rasmusson, who recently visited Lebanon and the Mohajareen neighbourhood, this housing project sets a precedent in the Palestinian refugee history in Lebanon.

"Despite the challenges of implementing a reconstruction project in this area, it is important for NRC to assist Palestinians in obtaining dignified housing and living conditions in Lebanon", she said.

First Housing Construction outside UNRWA Camps. The land of Mohajareen has been donated by its four Lebanese owners to the Islamic Foundation in Akkar (Awkaf), in a process facilitated by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), the Lebanese and Palestinian Dialogue Committee and the EC. A conditional donation contract was signed by the owners, Awkaf and the PLO as a "moral authority", ensuring rights and responsibilities of 111 Palestinian families over Mohajareen. NRC obtained a Power of Attorney from Awkaf to develop the land.

The whole process required understanding of what the Lebanese law determines in regards to house, land and property for Palestinians, and to challenge it on humanitarian grounds. For the first time in the history of Lebanon, it has become possible to build legal housing for Palestinian refugees on land outside an official UNRWA camp.

Currently the Mohajareen neighbourhood is being de-mined, in preparation for the reconstruction which is planned to be finished by mid 2011.

Families Participate.

Today, after being displaced six times, the Ayache family is waiting for their new home. They look forward to participating in the design and layout of the house with NRC's technical and social teams. The master plan and houses that NRC develops for the approval of the Lebanese government, are carefully designed with the families giving special attention to increasing the living areas, circulation, light, and ventilation, as compared to the dire living conditions of Mohajareen previous to the conflict.

The Ayaches will be assigned 114 square meters of space over two floors, enough to accommodate the whole family of 12 people and with room for vertical expansion. "Everyone always wants more," said Ayache. "However, at the moment, we just want something to call our own, a space where my family can have privacy and be happy."

[ Any views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not of Reuters. ]

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

ATFP Original Translation: Saeed and a Happy New Year! by Hassan Khader

January 12, 2010

Hassan Khader
Al-Ayyam (Opinion)
January 12, 2010 - 12:00am

The following is a quote from a Reuters article published in the London daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi on November 30:

“Princess Ferial, 71, daughter of King Farouk and Queen Farida, died yesterday in Switzerland. She was born in the coastal city of Alexandria on November 17, 1938. She left Egypt with her father on the 26th of July, 1952, a few days after the revolution that ended the reign of the dynasty of Mohammad Ali which was replaced by a republic a year later. In a press release from Cairo, Lotus Abdul Kareem said that Ferial suffered from cancer. She was the oldest of King Farouk’s girls. In the Fifties she enlisted in a secretarial school, worked as a secretary and taught typing. In 1966 she married Jean Pierre, a Swiss citizen who died in 1968. They had one daughter, Yasmine, who lives in Cairo, who was with her mother when she died. Ferial was the last surviving daughter of King Farouk after the death of her sisters Fawzieh and Fadia. Ferial’s body will arrive in Cairo tomorrow, Tuesday.”

At the bottom of the article, a reader by the name of Saeed posted a comment, one of many similar comments that are prevalent on the website of that paper, which stated:

“In 1966 she married Jean Pierre, a Swiss citizen who died in 1968. They had one daughter, Yasmine. Does this mean that the Muslim Princess married a Christian and they had a child together? Did she convert to Christianity or did he convert to Islam? To me, this is more important than the news of her death.”

How do we account for such a comment?

At first glance, we have little idea who Saeed is. We obviously know that he is one of the readers who found this article interesting and worthy of a comment. We also know that he is Arab and Muslim. But we have no idea of how old he is, what he does for a living, or what country he is from. We may be quite sure that he lives in an Arab country. Whatever knowledge we have of Saeed notwithstanding his near-total anonymity actually only increases his value as a representative of a demographic group. He is an Arab who can read and write, uses the internet, and feels compelled to comment on public issues.

From his comment at the bottom of the article, we can deduce additional information about his interests, education, and maybe political inclinations too. The death of a princess, for instance, is irrelevant to him. The fact that a princess who lived in exile, worked as a secretary, taught typing and was widowed after only two years of marriage does not prompt him to reflect on the tragedies of life that are the common lot of all humanity. His only concern is to scrutinize her marriage and make a determination of whether it was in compliance with sharia law.

Although the article does not directly address the issue that bothered Saeed, the husband’s foreign name must have set off alarm bells in his mind. The clanging in his head was so loud that he decided that the only way to seek relief was to purge himself of it in writing.

In a sense, as Saeed was pondering all these troubling questions, he also provided us with further information about himself: he is a supervisor of the behavior of others, making sure they comply with sharia, and sees it as his role to bring these concerns to the awareness of other readers who might have missed that point, thereby helping them to differentiate between what is wheat and what is chaff.

At this stage of our analysis, we can safely say that the information provided to us by Saeed tells us more about his own attributes as a representative of a broader cultural and political group than about himself as an individual, given our lack of knowledge about his age, country, level of education and full name.

And in fact, he is not entirely anonymous anymore. Most probably he is in his twenties or thirties. That is a safe assumption since according to the estimates 60 percent of the population of the Arab World is young. He is probably unemployed. At the present there are 21 million unemployed people the Arab World. Or maybe he works in one of those armies of bureaucrats that are in effect forms of thinly-veiled unemployment in many countries.

The world Saeed lives in has a hundred million illiterate human beings out of a population of 328 million Arabs. Since he can read and write website comments, he must have had some secondary education, and probably graduated from some university in the Arab World, universities that rank among the lowest rungs in the world in the field of higher education. In all probability he resides in or nearby a city, since 53 percent of Arabs resided in cities ten years ago and 61 percent will in ten more years. More importantly, Saeed grew up in a world divided between rich and poor. The oil rich, who are a very small segment of the Arab population, own all media outlets, financial institutions and labor markets and have managed to impose their impoverished and irrelevant culture on the others.

We therefore actually know quite a lot about Saeed.

But there is one additional point that we will borrow from José Ortega y Gasset, who in 1930 pointed out that what was threatening Europe then was not the rise of “the masses,” but rather the fact that “mass man” was made up of individuals who had no respect for knowledge and specialization. In the past, it was assumed that people who work in politics, fine arts, the humanities and sciences were people who have talent and expertise. This assumption no longer exists, because knowledge and specialization lost their social significance and hence the “satisfied young man” or “mass man” has acquired the belief that he should pontificate on every issue, and is so infatuated by the idea of equality that nobody can understand or know more than him.

That is Saeed.

He reads the editorials of Abdel-Bari Atwan in Al-Quds Al-Arabi. He is in love with the Qatari Al-Jazeera. He absorbs the rhetoric of the sheikhs and “thinkers” he listens to. He volunteers to be the guardian of morality. He assumes for himself the position and status that enables him to set the priorities in a world where 54 percent of doctors and 26 percent of engineers emigrate, and half the student population prefers to stay in foreign countries; a world that occupies the lowest levels in all indexes that measure freedom. Why do we need doctors, engineers and educated people when we have Saeed?

With such Saeeds, have a happy new year!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My letter to Financial Times RE Israel must unpick its ethnic myth By Tony Judt (12-7-2009)

RE: Israel must unpick its ethnic myth By Tony Judt

Dear Sir,

Yes indeed, Israel must unpick its ethnic myth... Israel’s uniquely “Jewish” quality might be an imagined or elective affinity, but the subsequent violence and rampant institutionalized bigotry inspired by that imagined elective affinity has been very real and it continues to have very real negative ramifications for countless increasingly vulnerable Palestinian men, women and children.

Hussein Ibish, a realist and a well respected Senior Fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) as well as the Executive Director of the Hala Salaam Maksoud Foundation for Arab-American Leadership
, wisely points out in a recent interview what will most likely happen if the Israel/Palestine conflict continues on the one state path: "You'll end up with two sets of bearded fanatics on both sides fighting over holy places and God. It will be a complete disaster. And I think the Israelis will end up ultimately dealing with forces not only beyond its borders, but beyond its comprehension in the long run. This has the possibility of turning into not an ethno-national war but a religious war between the Muslims and the Jews over the holy places with the whole concept of Palestine gone and the Jewish population of Israel in a very unenviable situation, protected in the end only by its nuclear weapons. It's a nightmare." Hussein Ibish on the Fantasy World of One-Staters, interview with The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg

We live in an age of paper trails and passports- and a global job market. Economics matter on both a personal and a political level: Palestinians need to have a passport of their own, and the power to shape their own future identity and destiny.

Anne Selden Annab

My letter to the Guardian RE Amir Nizar Zuabi & his play " I Am Yusuf and This Is My Brother": A Palestinian story about Palestinians"

Amir Nizar Zuabi in Jerusalem. Photograph: Gali Tibbon
In the war of 1948, thousands of Palestinians were uprooted from their homes never to return, and playwright Amir Nizar Zuabi is determined to tell their stories

RE: I Am Yusuf and This Is My Brother: A Palestinian story about Palestinians

Dear Sir,

"My grandmother, this Palestinian matriarch, used to say, 'If you plant what ifs, you'll sow I wish.'" Amir Nizar Zuabi. What a wonderful quote!

Thank you so very much for publishing the story of intriguing playwright Amir Nizar Zuabi and his compelling new play "I Am Yusuf and This Is My Brother: A Palestinian story about Palestinians".

There is a huge international push for peace right now, with the official Arab Peace Initiative leading the way towards a just and lasting settlement creating two states to end the Israel/Palestine conflict. Two states with full respect for international law- and basic human rights. I very much hope that a compassionate awareness of the very real plight of the Palestinians will help make the necessary transition away from blame games and
conflict the most logical choice for all involved.

Anne Selden Annab

Mystery... a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye

Monday, January 11, 2010

Naomi Shihab Nye and Marie Ponsot Elected Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets

Naomi Shihab Nye and Marie Ponsot Elected Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets

New York, January 11—Tree Swenson, Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets, announced that Naomi Shihab Nye and Marie Ponsot have been elected to the Board of Chancellors, the Academy's advisory board of distinguished poets.

They were elected by current Academy Chancellors Frank Bidart, Victor Hernández Cruz, Rita Dove, Marilyn Hacker, Lyn Hejinian, Edward Hirsch, Sharon Olds, Ron Padgett, Carl Phillips, Robert Pinsky, Kay Ryan, Gary Snyder, Gerald Stern, Susan Stewart, Ellen Bryant Voigt, and C. K. Williams.

Naomi Shihab Nye was born in St. Louis in 1952. She received a B.A. in English and World Religions from Trinitiy University in San Antonio, Texas. Her numerous books of poetry, include You and Yours (BOA Editions, 2005), which received the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East (2002), and Fuel (1998). She is also the author of award-winning children's books, the most recent of which is Honeybee (Greenwillow Books, 2008), which won a 2008 Arab American Book Award in the Children's/Young Adult category.

Among Nye's awards and honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lannan Fellowship, and four Pushcart Prizes. In 1988 she received the Academy of American Poets' Lavan Younger Poets Award, selected by W. S. Merwin. She has been a visiting writer at the Michener Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Hawai'i. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas.

About Nye's poetry, Academy Chancellor Edward Hirsch recently said:

A resident of Texas, a citizen of the world, Naomi Shihab Nye is a deeply humane poet whose work crosses borders and lifts spirits. She nourishes intimacy and fosters understanding. She is also a beloved writer and indefatigable anthologist for children, preteens, and young-adults, who flies what she calls the flag of childhood.

Marie Ponsot was born in New York City in 1921. Her first poetry collection, True Minds, was published in Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights series in 1956. She is the author of several books of poems, including Easy (Knopf, 2009), Springing (2002), and The Bird Catcher (1998), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets.

Ponsot, who also translates books from the French, has taught in graduate programs at Columbia University, New York University, Queens College, Beijing United University, and the Poetry Center of the YMHA. Among her awards are a creative writing grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America, and the Shaughnessy Medal from the Modern Language Association. Ponsot currently teaches in the graduate writing program at New School University.

About Ponsot's poetry, Academy Chancellor Susan Stewart recently wrote:

If you've ever found a line of sweet water running through salt water, or spied a red thread running through a dull nest, or felt a breeze inside an unforgiving wind, you know something of the way the poems of Marie Ponsot penetrate the ordinary noise of our time. What she has written of her relation to the night sky—'it becomes the infinite / air of imagination that stirs immense / among losses and leaves me less desolate'—could be claimed by her readers as a description of her own work, which pulls us always to forms of thought and attention that surprise and enlarge and cheer us.

For more information about these poets and to read samples of their work, please visit

The Board of Chancellors was established in 1946 by the Academy's founder, Marie Bullock, who said that:

[Chancellors] must be chosen from amongst literary persons of the highest standing. They must themselves be known for their good judgment and eminent integrity of opinion. They should geographically represent the entire United States, so that their choices will be representative of the nation as a whole, and not of one trend of thought, or literary clique, or section."

The Academy of American Poets' Board of Chancellors elects the recipients of the Wallace Stevens Award and the Academy of American Poets Fellowship. They also act as consultants to the organization on matters of artistic direction and programming and serve as ambassadors of poetry in the world at large. Previous Chancellors of the Academy have included Marianne Moore, W.H. Auden, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, John Berryman, Robert Penn Warren, and James Merrill, among others.

About the Academy of American Poets

The Academy of American Poets is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1934 to foster appreciation for contemporary poetry and to support American poets at all stages of their careers. For over three generations, the Academy has connected millions of people to great poetry through programs such as National Poetry Month, the largest literary celebration in the world;, the most popular site about poetry on the web, presenting a wealth of great poems, poet biographies, essays, and interactive discussions about poetry; the Poetry Audio Archive, capturing the voices of contemporary American poets for generations to come; American Poet, a biannual literary journal; and an annual series of poetry readings and special events. The Academy also awards prizes to accomplished poets at all stages of their careers—from hundreds of student prizes at colleges nationwide to the Wallace Stevens Award for lifetime achievement in the art of poetry. For more information, visit

My letter to the Wall Street Journal RE Taking the Measure of Obama's Foreign Policy by Eliot A. Cohen

RE: Taking the Measure of Obama's Foreign Policy, Saying that the U.S. will 'bear witness' to brutality around the word is, in effect, to say that we will send flowers to funerals.

Dear Editor,

I disagree with Mr. Cohen's "
Taking the Measure of Obama's Foreign Policy" for I do not think Cohen's sarcasm and cynicism help anyone- except of course America's enemies.

We live in a global information age with the whole world interconnected and empowered by the Internet: The day that Obama entered the White House the web page was redesigned to be very user friendly. In addition the Obama administration's outreach takes online social network options like facebook seriously. It all adds up... and it helps create a more productive dialog worldwide.

Obama is a breathe of fresh air and living proof that institutionalized bigotry and injustice can be overcome. That message alone has huge ramifications for peace in the Middle East.

Furthermore Obama's speeches really are good- some are even quite inspiring and all are firmly rooted in American ideals. Isn't that what a good leader is supposed to be all about?! But the burden of good leadership is not the president's alone- we the people and all our many pundits help carry forth diplomatic efforts every day and every where we go. We need to be equipped with good examples, accurate information, pertinent analysis and insights into all the many challenges of modern life so that we can, each in our own way, help shape better polices- both foreign and domestic.

Anne Selden Annab

My letter to the Washington Post RE The limits of ambition, U.S. ambition alone won't forge Mideast peace By Jackson Diehl

RE: The limits of ambition, U.S. ambition alone won't forge Mideast peace By Jackson Diehl

Dear Editor,

Failures to forge peace in the Middle East are not an embarrassment for the US- or any administration: There is no shame in trying to find a way out
for all the many men, women and children being tortured and destroyed by the Palestine/Israel conflict.

Jerusalem is crucially important to three major faiths and to many historians, which means outsiders worldwide feel a very real sense of ownership. Religious or not everyone wants the option to be free to explore and celebrate this valuable cultural treasure- and who gets to give the tour makes a big difference in what heritage is preserved for future generations as well as how the story is told. Decent people are drawn into taking sides and exasperating hostilities... and here we are today with hate mongering ideologues, bigots, bullies, con artists, useful idiots and terrorists worldwide thriving on the continuation of conflict in "The Holy Land".

As things are today, tomorrow it will only be worse. There is no magic moment for peace- there is only momentum away or momentum towards a fair and just negotiated settlement- a solution...and a better way forward.
The Arab Peace Initiative "Emanating from the conviction of the Arab countries that a military solution to the conflict will not achieve peace or provide security for the parties" offers all sides a chance to calm down the angry rhetoric, rein in wild fantasies, halt religious extremism (and investments in injustice and institutionalized bigotry) in order to start the business of building a just and last peace for all the people... for everyone's sake.

Anne Selden Annab

We need a Golden Rule Peace for Israel and Palestine
A peace based on do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Palestinian Sun Bird by Ismail Shammout

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My letter to the Boston Globe RE Globe Editorial: A good year for Mideast peace

RE: Boston Globe Editorial: A good year for Mideast peace

Dear Editor,

Yes indeed this year is a very good year for Mideast peace, and that idea deserves all the positive support we can muster: An actual end to the Israel/Palestine conflict in line with international law- and fully respecting basic human rights... not a temporary truce but a just and lasting peace. It will not be perfect- but it will be a vast improvement compared to the cruel hostilities that have harmed countless innocent and increasingly vulnerable men, women and children.

Anne Selden Annab

"Assessing the Position" By Hassan Khader

Assessing the Position
by Hassan Khader
Al-Ayyam (Opinion)
January 8, 2010 - 12:00am

Translated by ATFP

Four factors govern Egypt’s policy towards the Gaza Strip:

1. The Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, the upholding of which is a key priority for Egyptian national security.

2. Concerns triggered by Israel’s desire to transfer responsibility for the Gaza Strip onto the Egyptian state, especially in light of Israel’s redeployment from the strip, and its attempts to rid itself of the obligations imposed by international law on the occupying power.

3. Concerns arising from the de facto rule in the Gaza Strip by the Muslim Brotherhood, which poses an additional threat to the Egyptian national security. This threat results from the well-established ties between the Gaza Muslim Brotherhood and its banned mother organization in Egypt, and the special relationship linking the Brotherhood generally with Iran, Syria, and other radical Islamist organizations in different parts of the Arab world.

4. Its ongoing efforts to end the Arab/Palestinian-Israeli conflict through negotiations that would lead to a Palestine state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, while simultaneously preventing Egyptian adoption of any positions that contradict its peace treaty with Israel or that would jeopardize its relations with the United States.

These factors are all interrelated, and under certain circumstances some issues become paramount, while at other times different concerns become priorities. Three overriding facts are most determinative of this process: first, that the Gaza Strip shares a border with Egypt; second, that Egypt is a big country; and third, the historical relationship between Egypt and Palestine.

The border connecting Egypt and the Gaza Strip makes it possible for militants to infiltrate into the Sinai, and launch attacks against Israel from Egyptian territory. The border also raises the possibility of Egypt’s loss of control over the security in Sinai in the event of cooperation between the Muslim Brotherhood on both sides of the Gaza border, concerns exacerbated by the fact that the special relationship between Hamas and Iran has now created a de facto Iranian presence on Egypt’s borders.

The Egyptians do not want threats to their national security arising at their own borders. Similarly, the Syrians prevent any attacks on Israel from their territory in Golan, notwithstanding the historic relationships between Syria and countless Palestinian and other radical organizations.

Egypt considers the Palestinian issue to be central to its national security, and regional responsibilities. Accordingly, based on long historical experience, Egypt has formulated a complex policy on this issue. What matters is not whether the Egyptian perceptions are right or wrong, but rather that the Palestinian issue is the prime source that influences Egypt’s national security policymaking. In view of this, and because the policies and stances of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority coincide with Egypt’s positions, any recognition of the legitimacy of Hamas rule contradicts Egyptian interests. Because it is the only way to achieve their national goals, the Egyptians have tried in various ways to unite the Palestinian polity, which would ultimately have to entail the integration of Hamas into the Palestinian political structure, and enable the Palestinians to adhere to a unified stance that is consistent with regional and global realities.

Hamas conduct on the border with Egypt constitutes an open challenge to core Egyptian policies. One example to this confrontation has been shooting at Egyptian soldiers, recently resulting in the death of one of them. This suggests that Hamas leaders fail to comprehend the reality of their situation, and the realities of Egyptian politics.

Under any circumstances, the results will not favor Hamas, even though the Egyptians have found themselves forced into making difficult decisions such as buidling a wall along their side of the border with the Gaza Strip. As for the humanitarian catastrophe befalling the people of Gaza, the responsibility does not rest on the shoulders of regime in Cairo, that would show no mercy to anyone if threatened, but on the shoulders of those who do not assess the political situation with the kind of calibrated scale used for measuring gold.


Enemies of humanity

Enemies of humanity

Once again, Jordan finds itself at the forefront of countries fighting terrorism and offering sacrifices for this noble cause.

When in 2005 terrorists chose to attack this peaceful country that always prided itself on its record of safety and stability, which is considered its biggest asset in this volatile region of the world, they took the war between Jordan and terrorist groups to a new high.

Jordan then was left with one option: to hit back as hard as it can, not with the aim of seeking revenge, but to ensure that such a heinous crime against innocent civilians would not be repeated, neither here in Jordan nor anywhere else in the world.

Jordan learned a lot from the November 9, 2005 blasts that targeted its hotels, leaving dozens killed and many others injured. The most important lesson was that it cannot sit idle and wait until terrorists strike again at the time and place of their choice. It learned that Al Qaeda must not be given breathing space and should not have the comfort of plotting its next attacks against Jordanian citizens or any other innocent civilians around the world without being hit hard whenever possible and wherever its elements exist.

Jordan also learned that the war of terror launched by Al Qaeda against the civilised world, which expanded to include the Jordanian people, does not target one country, race or religion, and is not restricted to any particular geographic region of the world.

On November 10, 2005, the people of Jordan woke up to a new reality, to find themselves the target of Al Qaeda along with many peoples around the globe. A new reality popped up in Jordanian hotels and shopping malls, which ever since then hired guards and installed metal detectors, a scene not familiar in the country before, as a grim reminder of that ominous day.

The November 9 attacks shocked the Jordanian people, but certainly did not weaken their resolve to fight terror. Other attacks were thwarted by the authorities, thanks to their vigilance, and to the fact that the war was taken to Al Qaeda’s home turf, first in Iraq and then to other parts of the world, mainly Afghanistan.

Jordan’s efforts were part of a global war on terror in which many states of the world are taking part including Arab, Muslim and non-Muslim countries.

As part of this fight, Jordan reportedly lost a senior intelligence officer who was targeted along with seven operatives of the Central Intelligence Agency when a suicide attacker blew himself up on December 30 in Afghanistan, considered a launch-pad for many Al Qaeda attacks.

This loss certainly will not discourage Jordan from continuing its war on terror, which is not just a military and an intelligence one. It is a war against the enemies of humanity and the enemies of Islam.

These people who kill and destroy in the name of Islam, a tolerant faith that preaches peace and coexistence, should not be allowed to do what they are doing.

This war should not stop until those enemies of humanity are defeated once and for all.

10 January 2010

Terrorism is personal

Jordan Times
Letters to the Editor
‘Terrorism is personal’

The scattered words of praise for terrorists in the Arab world convey a deep moral and philosophical flaw in the minds of those who express such support for terrorists boarding planes for the sole purpose of killing all aboard for political gains or grievances.

These savages, who are willing to murder innocent people to make a political statement, are the most evil and deranged in society. When these terrorists fail to win by appealing to reason, they resort violence in order to appeal to our fear of death.

We know what they stand for, but do we know what we stand for?

Thanks to these brutes, our privacy will be invaded every time we board a plane just because we happen to share a country with these brainwashed murderers. Our wives and sisters will be exposed to the most invasive rigorous security checks technology has to offer just because we happen to be Arab or Muslim.

It is time that we all speak up against targeting innocent civilians for the sake of our humanity, love for peace and respect for human life everywhere.

Arabs and Muslims have paid a high price for the murderous ideology of an insignificant minority of Muslims. They have brought occupation and humiliation to millions of Arabs and Muslims, and as of now we will pay a personal price for their evil deeds.

The war against terrorism is now personal.

Naseer Alomari,

10 January 2010