Thursday, January 18, 2007

An Open Letter to Judea Pearl

Yesterday Judea Pearl, father of murdered journalist Daniel Pearl, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times opposing al-Jazeera television. Mr. Pearl shouldn't worry. It is almost impossible for Americans to receive al-Jazeera television. No cable company will carry it. For what it is worth, here is my response to him.

Dear Mr. Pearl,

I first want to convey my deepest condolences to you and to your family. Your son's murder was an awful crime and I hope that someday you receive justice.

Yesterday I read your op-ed in the New York Times and I have to say that I disagree quite strongly. Americans live in a bubble of ignorance with no clue about why they are hated around the world, but particularly in the Arab and Muslim world.

I hope that more Americans do see al-Jazeera. It is nearly impossible to get an accurate accounting of world affairs from the U.S. media. Bush administration lies are printed and broadcast as fact. When the president lies and says that Saddam Hussein kicked out WMD inspectors, the networks and newspapers quote him verbatim and never point out that he is telling a blatant falsehood. I see nothing wrong with al-Jazeera pointing out that the war on terror is a phony one. It has been used to eliminate our civil liberties and to bring death to the people of Iraq.

Americans are now living under the abuses of the Patriot Act and crony capitalism. The so-called war on terror is being used to justify these and every other outrageous act committed by our government since 2001.

I understand that you are an Israeli citizen, so I will take great pains to tell you that I do not want Israel to be destroyed or its citizens to be harmed. I am an advocate of non-violence. I say this because critics of Israeli policy are always branded as anti-Semites. While I do make factual but highly critical comments about that government, I also want you to know that those accusations of bigotry do not apply to me.

I mentioned Israel because America's relationship with that nation is the cause of much of the hatred against our country. Israel receives $15 million per day from the U.S. taxpayer. When Israel invades Lebanon, and violates the Geneva conventions by inflicting collective punishment on a civilian population, the U.S. is seen as having also invaded Lebanon. If Israel drops nukes on Iran, then the U.S. has dropped nukes on Iran.

It is a disgrace that the American media rarely point out that Israel is already a nuclear power. If Iranians develop a nuclear weapons capability in the 5 to 10 years that experts estimate, they will still not have as many nukes as Israel. Why is this information never conveyed to us? How can Americans be expected to make judgements about military and other actions if we aren't given simple information, in this case that Israel is estimated to have between 100 and 300 nuclear warheads? If Americans see al-Jazeera they may just get important information that they do not now have.

If more Americans see al-Jazeera they will learn that all Arabs and Muslims are not just crazy fanatics out for blood. They will instead learn that there are many legitimate grievances against the U.S. That knowledge will be helpful to us all and will help the entire world.
You should not be afraid that Americans will get information from outside this country's media. We should fear that Americans do not. We have deliberately been kept ignorant and ignorance is quite dangerous.

Thank you.

Freedom Rider