March 28, 2004
Arabs and the Glass House
A letter to President Bush
Mr. George W. Bush,
The president of the United States of America
The White House
I am in full support of your vision and initiative for a greater Middle East. It would be really great if we would get rid of all the dictators, kings or presidents in the Arab countries. It is a beautiful dream to think that one day we will see democracy and respect of human rights within the rule of law. Arab countries, almost all, are lagging seriously behind the rest of the world. Lack of democracy is one of the reasons for violence and terror.
Indeed Mr. President, it would be a miracle if we wake up one day to find no political prisoners, no torture, no military courts and full respect of international laws and treaties.
It would certainly be a huge leap into civilisation and progress.
Some Arab politicians are scared of reform because it means that they would be out of office, and may be out of pocket if not in jail. They use any excuse to reject it, such as "reform should not be imposed from outside."
No one is suggesting that reform will be imposed from outside. They should listen to advice from friends like you. I am sure you also would welcome their advice too, that is if they have any to offer.
Well Mr. President, I have some advice.
To begin with it is vital that you treat the Arabs as partners and not just an area of oil reserves.
Why not give us an example by reforming the US policies?
Would it not be good if America showed more respect to human rights in Guantanamo and elsewhere?
Would it not be beautiful if America began to show respect for international legality, including respect for United Nations Security Council resolutions and ratifying the treaties on the protection of the environment?
Would it not be encouraging if America stopped being one of a minority of two on the international stage -- itself and Israel against the rest of the world?
Would it not open up new possibilities if America started to show fairness by asking Israel to end its four decades of occupation of Palestine and open its doors for the inspection of its stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction -- otherwise America would consider sanctions and possibly war?
Mr. President, by taking action in this way I am confident that you will offer an irresistible example for the Arabs and the rest of the world. After all we are friends and no one is imposing anything on any body.
Finally, Mr. President I want to tell you an Arab popular proverb. It says: ĎHe who lives in a glass house should not throw stones at othersí. Iím sure you understand.
Eyad El Sarraj, MD
Chairman of the Board, GCMHP
NB. This is my second letter to you and I hope this time Iíll get an answer although I understand how much busy you are.
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Gaza Community Mental Health Programme