An Opportunity for Peace, Not War

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Mohamed Khodr’s Column

Dear Mr. President:

I’m an American Muslim physician who’s witnessed much death and destruction in two civil wars and survived the destructive 1982 Israeli invasion of Beirut, including the massacre of 2000 Palestinian civilians exactly 19 years ago in the Sabra and Chatila camps. Yet nothing, my President, prepared me for the utter shock of seeing the inhuman terrorism perpetrated in New York and Washington DC. Having pulled people from collapsed buildings in Beirut I can almost hear the deafening silence underneath the collapsed towers. My heart and mind are almost in total collapse for those innocent Americans who only wanted to work hard and raise their families. I pray for them and their families and I pray for you to shoulder this immense historical responsibility and for God’s guidance upon your thoughts and decisions that may determine the future of the entire world for a long time to come.

Mr. President, this is not the time to share with you the perspective of Muslims around the world regarding our blanket support for Israel, our protection and support for autocratic regimes in the Muslim world who buy our weapons to suppress their own people and abuse human rights, and for our nation’s decades long vilifying of Islam by politicians, media pundits, hollywood, and clergy alike. Such recurrent prejudice and indoctrination against Islam has forged a mentality among our citizens that reflexively associates Islam with terrorism, suppression of women, slavery, and an inherent hatred for our way of life. Nothing could be further from the truth. I just returned from a trip to the Middle East and I saw nothing but an insatiable desire and consumption for anything American. In fact, Mr. President, from a cultural point of view most of the Muslim nations are beginning to experience the same cultural immorality and loss of values that we in this country are trying to change.

Mr. President, thank you for speaking out on behalf of America’s Muslims. I honor your efforts.

May I, Sir, suggest that this is the time to utilize your high poll ratings and popularity and inform the nation of what maybe root causes of Anti-American terrorism and what are the short and long term strategies we’re contemplating. Sir, may I also suggest that this be done during a special session of Congress. America and the world needs to know that we’re a nation for peace and justice, not a nation seeking revenge, not a nation that will stand for the disruption of law and order, but a nation whose resolve is to bring terrorists to justice and that will lead the world to stamp out the very concept of terrorism, a nation whose ideals and values will be showcased to the world even during this time of tragedy. We, Sir, will be a nation that will strengthen the United Nations and the concept of peace through dialogue among civilizations, cultures, and enemies.

Sir, no greater evidence to the world, in particular to the Muslim world will have greater impact than your proclamation that the U.S. will no longer stand for further victims of terrorism and oppression in the world be they Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists or of any other faith.

Sir, this is the time to demand a breakthrough in the Israeli Palestinian conflict based on UN Resolution 242, Land for Peace that your father courageously stated in front of a joint session of Congress. Congress, the American people, in fact the world will support you, Sir, and we shouldn’t fear repercussions but have freedom from fear. Our tragedy and our dead citizens deserve no less than to know they died for the cause of peace and justice and not simply as victims of terror.

Mr. President, you can also use this opportunity to demand peace negotiations on Kashmir and Chechnya. Our attack on Afghanistan if contemplated can only further inflame the Kashmiri conflict and potentially involve nuclear weapons. Mr. Putin is desperately looking for a face saving measure out of Chechnya and will support your efforts.

Mr. President, I’m well aware of the pressure you’re under from some advisors, special interest groups, and foreign nations to use the logic of power. Sir, it will be us who will kill and us who will die, not them. I recall the poor Marines and Embassy staff in Beirut who died because Israel pulled us into its conflict. Please listen to the power of logic and your heart’s desire to leave this country and world in a more peaceful state than it currently is. Bombs beget Bombs, Dialogue begets Peace.

I honor you, Mr. President, for the leadership, emotional support, patience and wisdom you’ve demonstrated during this painful week. America despite its understandable anger really wants peace and not a life of fear within our borders and abroad. Only you, Sir, can make the difference.

God Bless you and God Bless America the Beautiful.

Mr. Mohamed Khodr is an American Muslim physician and a native from the Middle East. He has worked in Academic Medicine and Public health with national and international health experience. He is a freelance writer who often writes columns on the Palestinian cause, Islam and on America’s Foreign Policy in the Middle East. He lives in the Washington DC area.

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