Artwork from the book - # 94 – Abd al-Bari Atwan by Stephen Pohlmann -
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Sep 2016
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# 94 – Abd al-Bari Atwan

by Stephen Pohlmann


March 17, 2008

So often, on CNN, Sky or BBC, I’ve seen Abd al-Bari Atwan, editor of Al Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, printed in London. He’s a leading and popular spokesman on Arab affairs. He is obviously intelligent and well-educated, articulates well – and I, from my admittedly biased point of view, have always felt ill at ease at his manner.


Yes, I am biased on the side of Israel and the Jews, but that’s life – people invariably take sides. What I hope I also have is tolerance, the ability to look at and listen to the other’s point of view. I try to be objective. That’s the whole point of these ‘Letters’.


This man is dangerous, this man is wrong. This man, respected by the ‘ignorant neutrals’ (my description, encompassing so much of the world which, for quite natural reasons, cannot be expected to be knowledgeable on particular subjects, becoming themselves subjective), came out with an article recently: the terrorist attack on Jerusalem’s Mercaz Harav Yeshiva on March 6 was “justified” and the religious seminary is responsible for “hatching Israeli extremists and fundamentalists”.


His article did not condemn the attack and said that the celebrations in Gaza that followed symbolised the “courage of the Palestinian nation”.


There were some understandably angry reactions in Israel to the attack. But did you see interviews with some of the families of the victims? These ‘mothers of terrorists’, apart from their devastation, could only feel sadness at the environment that creates not only the suicide killers, but whole towns and villages who somehow produce the word ‘martyrdom’ out of this.


Is Israel perfect? Of course not. Who is? Are its actions justified? Perhaps, but certainly flawed. We speak of post-traumatic syndrome (PTS) and all that stuff about the effects of war on the mind. How about 150 years of pressure, since the first wave of Jewish immigration to this part of the World? The country’s 60th is approaching. For most here, it will be a celebration.


But it will be a dramatic reminder of 60 years of pressure; never a let-up of war, attrition and abuse from its neighbours. We know PTS. We live it every day. All the fantastic achievements of this little country have been gained despite the pressure.


Those who put ‘us’ and ‘them’ in the same category are like teachers in the playground. 2 kids fighting are 2 kids fighting. “Who started this?” is the practical limit to their investigation. We are slowly realising that, no matter how much ‘propaganda’ is put out, this attitude will rarely if ever change.


On Wednesday, I shall go for another walk to see the flowers of Israel.

On March 26-28th, the Israeli perio and implantalogical societies hold their annual conference; some of the 1,300 or so Israeli Arab dentists will be welcome.



On March 27th evening, we shall attend a religious wedding in Jerusalem. We are taking only kippa (yamulka) and presents. No guns.



On April 8th, our 2nd daughter, Shira, gets married. We shall celebrate with our friends, and hope that we are giving our kids a better life than our parents gave us.


PS – This is the bouquet from Eliana’s wedding. We can’t discard it. By coincidence, it was Shira who caught it when thrown by Eliana.


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