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Said Despises Democratic Israel

July 23, 2003

In "Blind Imperial Arrogance" (Commentary, July 20), Edward Said gave us more of his tall tales and fantasies. Some are ridiculous complaints: "Simply to speak Arabic ... has been made to seem a threat to Israel." Others, like his claim that Cynthia Ozick's Wall Street Journal piece about the anti-Semitic indoctrination of Palestinian youths is evidence of the "vilest racist stereotypes about Arabs," are carefully planned deceits. How can Said not know about the Hitler Youth-style training camps and on-the-air incitement to "kill the Jew" we have seen on Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority television?

Said wants us to believe that Arab and Muslim political violence -- against Christians in Sudan, Egypt and Nigeria; against Jews in Israel and against Americans here and abroad -- is simply the result of U.S. and Israeli foreign policy. It has nothing to do with incitement in Saudi hate schools, on PA television or in Egyptian newspapers; nothing to do with a 1,400-year-old tradition of hatred of "nonbelievers" justifying Muslim expansionism (imperialism). What Said truly despises and wishes to undermine, even more than the U.S.' alleged abuse of the Arab world, is the "blind imperial arrogance" represented by the very existence of a small, democratic Jewish nation -- the state of Israel.

Keith Abouaf

Los Angeles

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Said's commentary should be required reading for Americans of all ages and every stripe.

Lee Hutson

Malibu

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I would like to remind Said that I never have seen an Arab flag burning on American soil, but I have watched American flags set on fire in Arab countries. So where is the hatred? Even though it is difficult to understand why healthy young people are told by their leaders that 72 virgin girls will wait for them in the world to come if they blow themselves up and kill innocent civilians, Americans don't blame the whole Arab world. The Middle East is in turmoil because, from the Saudi royal family down to Arafat, the Arab leaders are stealing millions from their people, who are forced to live in poverty.

Alice Shragai

Woodland Hills

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