Monday, November 01, 2004

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Wendy Sherman toes the Israel Line

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Partisan politics: US-Arab activists speak: "Partisan politics: US-Arab activists speak


Many in the Middle East will be watching the imminent US election with keen interest.
But what about American voters of Arab descent? How does their heritage affect their vote? BBCArabic.com interviewed two Arab-Americans, both of Palestinian origin, who are actively involved in Arab political interests in the US.

One supports the Republican Party and its candidate, George W Bush, the other supports the Democrats and their candidate, John Kerry.

They were asked their opinions on the party's stance regarding the Middle East and how their background influenced their political actions.


DR JAMEEL MOHAMED ASH SHAMI

Republican Arab community president,
Washington DC
I've lived in America for 42 years.

But I grew up in the Palestinian territories. I witnessed the Israeli-Arab conflict of 1948 and the wave of Arab nationalism that was both inspired by it and involved in it.

Arab-Americans - regardless of their political views - see that having strong and friendly relationships with the Arab world is in America's interests


The mainstream nationalists were calling for less authoritarian governments to let the people be heard.

The same thing is echoed in the US Republican Party's principles, which call for a less centralised government with less power.

Why did you choose the Republican Party?

I was determined to create an Arab voice inside the party, because Arab-Americans have for a long time been supporters of the Democrats.

I find in the Republican Party's values a common ground with my original values - supporting individual initiative and the private sector and family values.

We have now a presence within the leadership of the party and the administration. Our voices are heard; our problems looked at in spite of rival lobbies.

Arab-Americans - regardless of their political views - see that having strong and friendly relationships with the Arab world is in America's interests.

And US businessmen, mainly from the Republican party, look forward to making good relationships with the Arab world because it represents a big market for US products and technologies and has rich resources.

What is the difference between the two parties?

There are differences and similarities that reflect the American nation.

The Republican Party focuses on the private sector and individual initiative in the economy.

I am an Arab and I am an American - when I vote I use my cultural background and religious ethics to lead me to the right candidate

Hesham al-Meligy


Arab American voters' views
It puts education, health, and social affairs under the state's authority and not under the federal government in Washington, because it doesn't believe in centralised government.

The Republican Party also focuses on the importance of US military force and gives priority to national security.

What do feel about Republican policy in the Middle East?

I disagree completely with President Bush over American policy in the Middle East, especially on Iraq and the Palestinian territories.

I have said this to the party and to the administration and have been saying it in all my press meetings.

But I see in his re-election possible freedom for him from the lobbies that brought him to power.

There are some stances inside the party which give me some hope in regard to its Middle East policies.

And those who think that an administration under John Kerry will be fairer than Bush's, John Kerry's adviser, Wendy Sherman, said that his administration would not be neutral in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and that the US policy would be Israel's policy."

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI, Wendy Sherman wrote the State Department's position statement on the Mojahedin Khalq in 1993:

http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/1993_cr/h930929-terror-pmoi.htm

* Dear Mr. Chairman: I am writing in reply to your letter of August 3, addressed to Secretary Christopher. You asked for the Administration's views on a proposed resolution regarding U.S. policy on Iran. The resolution urges, among other things, that the President consider a dialogue with the National Council of Resistance.

* On the general topic of our policy toward Iran, the Administration's position was detailed by Assistant Secretary Djerejian in his testimony of July 27 before the Committee. That statement of policy remains current.

* Concerning contacts with Iranian opposition groups, there are numerous such groups in the United States and abroad that do not espouse violence and whose political aims range from supporting a return of the monarchy to establishing a constitutional democracy. Many focus their efforts on Iranian human rights abuses, and work closely with the U.N. Human Rights Committee and private human rights groups. We do meet with representatives of such groups at their request, and believe these contacts are useful as an informational exchange.

* However, the National Council of Resistance is closely linked to the People's Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI), also known as the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK). Both groups are led by Masud Rajavi. The Administration maintains a policy of no contacts with the PMOI and, by extension, the NCR. This decision is based on our opposition to the PMOI's use of terrorism. Just as we vigorously oppose the Iranian Government's support for terrorism, we do not condone the use of terror and violence in turn by the Mojahedin or any other opposition group. Nor can we forget that U.S. citizens were the victims of PMOI terrorism in the 1970s, or that the group supported the takeover of our Embassy in 1979 and the holding of U.S. diplomats. The PMOI's claim that the organization is not responsible for actions carried out while its current leaders were in jail is a facile one and, in the case of the Embassy takeover, erroneous. As shown in attached 1981 excerpts from the PMOI's own newspaper--published after current PMOI leader Masud Rajavi was released from jail in February 1979--the group fully supported the Embassy takeover and opposed releasing our diplomats. Only in recent years has the PMOI sought to distance itself from its past in order to gain Western support.

* Other factors support our view that it would be inappropriate to deal with the PMOI/NCR. The National Council of Resistance's claims to be a democratic organization have never been substantiated by its actions. The NCR did, at its inception, include a diverse range of Iranian opposition groups. However, within three years most of the groups that were not controlled by Masud Rajavi had left the organization. According to Ervand Abrahamian's book The Iranian Mojahedin (Yale University Press, 1989), these groups left because the NCR was not democratic, but rather manipulated by Rajavi.

* In years since, most Iranian opposition groups have continued to refuse cooperation with the NCR. A recent example was a 1992 interview with the late Dr. Sa'id of the Democratic Party of Kurdistan (Iran), who denied any links or connections with the PMOI, and said, `In our opinion, our cooperation with the PMOI right now is impossible.' We have no reason to believe the PMOI has become democratic, nor that an Iranian government established by the NCR would be.

* In a different area, I would note that the PMOI/NCR reporting often contains questionable statements and assertions which do not stand up to later examination. Our intelligence community judges that their reporting is not reliable without validation from other sources.

* Our own analysis does not support PMOI claims to widespread support inside Iran. The PMOI's military wing, the national Liberation Army, continues to be based in Iraq and retains the support and financing of Saddam Hussein's regime. The PMOI joined Iraqi forces in the eight-year war with Iran. These ties to Iraq have discredited the Mojahedin and NCR in the eyes of many Iranians, and the organization does not represent a significant political force among Iranians.

* The Office of Management and Budget advises that from the standpoint of the Administration's program there is no objection to the submission of this report.

* I hope this information is useful to you. Please do not hesitate to call if we can be of further assistance.

* Sincerely,

* Wendy R. Sherman,


Assistant Secretary, Legislative Affairs.

2:45 PM  
Blogger JBOC said...

Thank you, I appreciate the information. Ambassador Sherman is fascinating person and I suspect she will make a great Secretary of State in the tradition of secretary Albright. Albright is perhaps the best Secretary of the the last 50 years. Well lets see, 50 years ago was Dulles and before that was the Soviet Union's lawyer Dean Gooderham Acheson. Albright was clearly better than those two. It will be tough but I think Sherman can do the job and would be a good choice for the job. President Kerry will need someone like her to repair the damage of the Bush years. I have to agree with her on the MKO. We can not deal with terrorists.

8:14 PM  

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