Letters

GULF WAR SYNDROME

Roger Trilling ["Fighting Words," May 7] did a very good job in presenting the facts surrounding the study I directed for the U.S. Army into allegations that the Iraqis deliberately gassed civilians at Halabja in 1988. Had he had more space he might have gone more deeply into the affair, which is more complex than he was able to convey in his piece.

In my book, Iraq and the International Oil System: Why America Went to War in the Gulf (Praeger, 2001), I discuss not just Halabja but a whole raft of stories that appeared in the media in the United States from 1988 to 1990, all of which were phony (as was the Halabja story). In the book, I speculate about who was behind the campaign to create an environment in which America could go to war with Baghdad. In my view, Jeffrey Goldberg's piece about Halabja in The New Yorker was part of an effort to recycle that original campaign.

This time around, the business is even more frightening—because the anti-Iraq forces in the United States seem determined to finish the job, which will produce a tragedy of epic proportions.

Stephen Pelletiere
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania


WEB OF LIES

I was dismayed by Nat Hentoff's column in your May 14 issue which brought up old, mostly spurious charges against a good friend and fellow student, Nadeen Al-Jijakli, accusing her of supporting anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic causes ["Who's an Anti-Semite?: Hating Not Just Israel, but Jews"]. Ignoring the mindlessness of this charge (anti-Semitism? If she's Arab, she is a Semite), I am calling on the Voice to do some more responsible work.

Nadeen has, time and again, apologized for an unfortunate mistake, and has never and will never support racism or bigotry. It is against her values and against the causes she has worked so tirelessly for. This is nothing but a consistent smear campaign by certain groups on campus that have felt threatened by a growing alliance of pro-Palestinian groups that have called on the U.S. government to end its own unfair actions and gross injustices, and have called, similarly, for a peaceful solution to the conflict in the Middle East that is fair and balanced. That Hentoff should swallow such a campaign, and then repeat it wholesale, is, to say the least, disappointing.

The Islamic Center of NYU, which has over 200 members, has consistently stood for principles of fairness, equality, tolerance, and justice—and this has been recognized by the NYU administration. Last year, we were named Religious Club of the Year. This year, I won a President's Service Award for Leadership.

What are the true facts? Why is it that when an apology is delivered, with sincerity, it is not accepted, even a year after the date of the incident in question? It seems to me that some people have an agenda, and cannot help but constantly bring up old issues to prevent any progress with the real issues of the moment.

Haroon Moghul, President
Islamic Center of NYU
Manhattan

Nat Hentoff replies: Nadeen Al-Jijakli is quoted in my column and in the April 19New York Sun as saying that, if she had known who David Duke is, she would not have posted his material. However, it is not the author but the author's message itself in her e-mail that counts: "The primary reason we are suffering from terrorism in the United States today is because our government policy is completely subordinated to a foreign power: Israel and the efforts of world-wide Jewish Supremacism." She has indeed apologized for sending another "accidental" e-mail urging a presidential vote for Ralph Nader because "he DOES NOT have a Jew running for vice president." But even if she was going through many e-mails swiftly, the capital letters in that one would likely have leapt out, and that message is attuned to David Duke's message.


BEYOND REPAIR?

Thank you for Adamma Ince's cover article on reparations ["Why the Slave Reparations Movement Has Ignored the Hip-Hop Generation," May 28]. It is the first of many stories that we hope to see on this subject in the coming months.

Since reading Ms. Ince's article, I've decided to change my focus from legal to the education and public-awareness campaign that must be waged.

Thanks to The Village Voicefor being a leader on this important issue.

Russell Simmons
Manhattan

Adamma Ince's article was articulate, and her most telling point, I think, was made by Kitty McClain, the granddaughter of a slave, who commented on the historic abandonment by the African American middle class of its lower-class roots.

I wonder what Ms. Ince's suggestion would be for those thinking of utilizing the reparations movement for their own gain, which I unfortunately suspect may be the case with many who espouse the claims of this movement?

Karen Feist
Bedford, Pennsylvania

I'm a teacher in Bedford-Stuyvesant. I prepare welfare recipients and non-custodial parents, many of whom are black, for the GED exam. I am using Adamma Ince's article to inspire my students to write essays on the topic.

Sari Siegel
North Brooklyn Business Resource Center


LIFT EVERY VOICE

I was featured as one of the women on welfare talking about marriage in the package of articles titled"Altared States" [Chisun Lee and Sharon Lerner, May 7]. The accounts by different women in response to Bush's marriage proposal covered an important issue. This violation of human rights must be stopped.

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