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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

June 8, 2009 at 4:26 PM

Obama and the Middle East

A vision for lasting peace

Editor, The Times:

President Obama’s [Middle East] speech not only demonstrated his knowledge and appreciation of Islamic and Arab culture, but it also offered a vision for a comprehensive peace between the Arabs and the Israelis [“Obama reaches out with limited success,” Times, page one, June 5, and “Obama’s straight talk to a tough audience,” Opinion, editorial, June 5].

The fact that large numbers of Israelis and American Jews are acting defensively about his firm call for no new Israeli settlements and for a two-state solution is mystifying to me, as an American Jew who longs for peace for Israel and the Middle East. Do these people think that keeping the Palestinian people under indefinite military occupation constitutes a viable option? Where else on the planet is that considered any kind of “solution” in the eyes of fair-minded people?

Do they also think that it is in America’s interest to indefinitely alienate more than a billion Muslims in the world with a policy of de facto support for Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and restrictive isolation of Gaza? Don’t they realize how this counterproductive policy of blind and uncritical support for Israel, no matter how much Arab land gets appropriated for settlements, undermines America’s credibility and standing in the world?

Obama’s speech is a great first step. … people with a fair-minded vision of what the future should hold must step forward and support his efforts, and then we may see an end to the endless cycle of violence and fear that has gripped Israel and Palestine for more than 60 years. In addition to the enormous cost in lives and treasure, both peoples have had a large and continual outward migration of talented people to other countries, which is so destructive to building a stable society. How can anyone supportive of Israel ignore that stark reality, and not realize that peace is the key to ensuring Israel’s prosperous future?

— Jonathan Ryweck, Port Townsend

Right-wing fear

President Obama’s speech to the Muslim world impressed the international community, and most Americans. We were relieved to see a mature president whose foreign policy is motivated by a robust desire for reconciliation and partnership.

What’s sad is the reaction of the Republican right. Mitt Romney called the president’s effort an apology trip. Rush Limbaugh accused him of siding with al-Qaida. Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe called the president un-American.

These Republicans pretend to be tough, but what really comes through is their fear. They are scared of dialogue, scared of empathy, even scared of government. They’re scared of Latin women, gay men and poor people. They’re scared of Muslims, Mexicans, Asians and Palestinians. They’re scared of complexity, ambiguity and diversity. And they’re really scared of President Obama.

It’s no coincidence that most of them are white, male Christian heterosexuals, who have dominated all the key American institutions for three centuries. They are scared of losing control.

— Fred LaMotte, Steilacoom

We are Muslim, and Christian, and …

My fellow Shoreline resident Elaine Solberg (like a number of conservatives) got very worked up this past week about President Obama’s comment that the United States could be considered “one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.” [“Since when is U.S. a Muslim country?” Northwest Voices, June 5]

Out of curiosity, I did a little research. Estimates vary, but the U.S. Muslim population is somewhere between 7 and 10 million. That would put us somewhere between 25th and 30th in the world. So the president’s comment is accurate enough. By the same token, we are also one of the largest Spanish-speaking countries in the world!

Demographically, we also have the largest Christian population in the world. That doesn’t make the United States in any legal sense a “Christian nation.” This republic is founded not on the Bible but on a Constitution that prohibits any establishment of a state religion and in fact never even mentions God. So I’m certainly not afraid of Islam being imposed on our country.

Our president is just trying to reach out to a troubled region of the world seeking mutual understanding.

— Alan Christensen, Shoreline

Don’t “Rush” to judgment

Reader Elaine Solberg’s diatribe regarding President Obama’s recent speech in Cairo made at least one thing painfully clear — it’s very likely that she neither heard nor read Obama’s words.

Relying on “The O’Reilly Factor” or Rush Limbaugh for news content is roughly equivalent to asking a Chinese government official to share an unbiased view of the events in Tiananmen Square.

Perhaps a more novel approach is in order. The complete text of President Obama’s speech is readily available online.

— David Arntuffus, Shoreline

Sacrifice of Native Americans

The reader who stated that President Obama’s mention of Muslim success in America was a threat because it violates America’s “Christian foundation” and “one nation under God” seems to have forgotten that the first indigenous peoples, Native Americans, graciously sacrificed over 90 percent of its population to Christian conquest and disease while also filling European coffers with gold, silver and other resources.

And, since this new Christian economic system couldn’t find anyone alive for cheap labor to mine those virgin resources, they imported non-Christians from Asia and Africa to do so and with such Christian regard that many of their lives were lost also.


— Gregg Teslovich, Seattle

Read the Constitution

As I read the Sunday Times, two pieces caught my attention. One was a letter complaining about President Obama supposedly calling the U.S. a Muslim nation.

Obama did not claim that the U.S. is a Muslim nation but rather stated the fact that the U.S. is home to 7 million Muslims. In an earlier speech, he did state that we are not a Christian nation. While the majority of Americans may be Christian, we have no official state religion.

The Constitution, which all presidents swear an oath to uphold, is quite clear on this point. People who want to deny others the rights they take for granted might try reading it some time.

— David Pfeifle, Lynnwood

President invites nuclear war

It’s apparent to many who have thought through the implications of President Obama’s soft-pedaling of Iran’s coming nuclear threat that he is likely inviting a nuclear war in the Middle East.

Both the Iranian president and his attending mullahs have indicated that they find 15 million Iranian deaths an acceptable price to pay for the eradication of Israel.

The world now knows that we are dealing with a mad foe whose hatred for Jews is greater than any affection for his own people. How long will we wait for this criminally insane society to provide the world with its next holocaust?

— Howard R. Wolf, Lake Forest Park

Comments | More in Barack Obama administration, Middle East


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