Reader Forum. (Opinion)

American Libraries, October 2002 | Go to article overview

Reader Forum. (Opinion)


Anti-Palestinian Letter Condemned

As an educator, librarian, and ALA member, I am disappointed that the editors chose to print Anna Sazie's factually erroneous anti-Palestinian letter to the editor (Sept., p. 42-43). Three minutes of research by even a non-Middle East specialist will show that Palestine and Palestinians existed nominally and legally before 1967. More personally, next to my computer as I type this is a copy of Mousa J. Kaleel's 1914 book When I Was a Boy in Palestine. The book was a discard from the high school library of the Ramallah Palestine Friends Boys School, which my father-in-law attended as a young Palestinian Christian Arab during the 1920s. My wife, a naturalized U.S. citizen and Palestinian American, was born in Palestine, as indicated on her Palestinian birth certificate and on various U.S. naturalization documents. The pain suffered by Sazie in her own family history in Europe does not excuse destroying the history or culture of Palestinians.

JOHN HAUGEN

Dearborn Heights, Michigan

I don't know which is worse: the letter from Anna Sazie in the September issue of American Libraries, or your decision to publish it. Sazie lays out her stunningly ignorant grasp of history by stating that there were no Palestinians before 1967, and that prior to that time only Jews lived in Palestine. She then goes on to laud Israeli destruction of Palestinian libraries because, in her opinion, they are not more than 35 years old and they only contain terrorist tracts anyway! Rhetoric like this is simply unacceptable in the pages of American Libraries.

Libraries contain keys to the past and tools for creating the future. The systematic destruction of them, along with the continued closure of schools and universities in the occupied territories, is extremely demoralizing to a population and calculated precisely to put an end to hope.

I have traveled extensively in Israel and the territories and I can speak firsthand of the thousands of young people leaving the region every year precisely because they have no hope of any future under continued Israeli occupation of their land. Palestinian Christians, for example, who once made up 30% of the population, are now down to less than 5%.

I know people of good will on both sides, and I deplore letters like this one, which show absolutely no respect for an entire population and no willingness to grapple with the hurt and pain experienced by both sides. Hateful letters from bigots like Sazie only serve to poison public discourse if they go unchallenged. Shame on you, American Libraries, for publishing such a despicable slur on an entire nation.

FRANK DOWD

Naples, Florida

Hugs for Hughes...

I was extremely gratified to read Robert Hughes's brilliant keynote address, "Free Libraries, Free Society" (Aug., p. 48-51). The heroic honesty and accuracy of his well-chosen words stand as a sort of manifesto, not only for libraries but for our current times. His observations are obvious for anyone who cares to observe the world with genuine objectiveness in mind (a practice which seems to be on the endangered list). Yet in our climate today, the obfuscation of the human condition continues to infect humanity with the same old flaws, but in newer mutations.

Robert Hughes is indeed a beacon of clarity and sanity amidst this not-so-subtle chaos, and the enlightenment shown by American Libraries in featuring his address as a cover story is to be applauded.

BRIAN P. BACH

Central Washington University Library Ellensburg

Thank you for printing "Free Libraries, Free Society," by Robert Hughes and for your editorial, "Who Wants to be the First to Go to Jail?" (Aug., p. 46). As an ALA member and reader of American Libraries since 1974, I can't imagine such plainspoken, outspoken language appearing under other editorships, but I also cannot remember a time when our civil liberties have been so endangered. …

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