From: Ismail Zayid
To: The Halifax Herald ; Beverley Dauphinee
Sent: Saturday, April 14, 2001 3:28 PM
Subject: Distortion of History
The Editor
The Halifax Herald
April 14,2001
Dear Editor:
There is clearly no end to the diatribe you reproduce from The New York Times about the Palestine/Israel conflict and Islam today {John Burns "The Peace Breakers" April 14}.
The killing of children and civlian men and women is appalling, be they Jews, Christians or Muslims. Mr. Burns brings up the tragic killing of the Israeli child in the settlement in Hebron, but no mention of the hundreds of Palestinian children killed or maimed for life. He states that the killing of this Israeli child "prompted U.S. President George W. Bush, in Washington, to demand that Arafat "stop the violence". Clearly, President Bush was not prompted to call on Sharon to stop the killing of hundreds of Palestinian men, women and children, the extrajudicial assassinations , the demolition of Palestinian homes, expropriation of their property or to call for an end to the illegal Israeli occupation that has been allowed to stand for 34 years, in defiance of international law, The Fourth Geneva Convention and repeated Security Council resolutions.
He speaks of the threat of Islamic militants "mastering a new generation of chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons". There is no mention of the fact that Israel is already in possession of these weapons. Some readers may remember Daniel Paul's column in The Halifax Herald :{'Where is the outrage over Israel's work on Biological weapon" Jan. 15,1999}, referring to the report in The Sunday Herald { The Ethnic Bomb: Israeli weapon would kill Arabs, spare Jews" Nov. 15, 1998.} This report was taken from The Sunday Times of London, authored by Uzi Mahnaimi and Marie Colvin, quoting Israeli scientists and politicians. Similar work on chemical weapons at the same Israeli institution, Nes Tziona, was confirmed by The Netherlands government after the crash of the Israeli airliner El Al in Amsterdam in 1992 {The Globe and Mail , Feb. 8, 1999}. Reports are coming out now from physicians in Gaza reporting Israeli use of chemical weapons.
Mr Burns accuses Islam of encouragement to kill idolaters. Let me remind him that Islam preached tolerance to "The people of the Book", including Jews and Christians and practiced that, as historically documented, more than any other faith. The first Khalifah in Islam, Abu Bakr, in the year 634 A.D, ordered the commander, Usama Ibn Zayd, of the troops sent to Palestine and Syria :" Do not deceive or cheat and do not torture and do not kill a child or an elderly person or a woman and do not cut a tree or slay a cow or a sheep or a camel. You will find  people in their churches and places of worship; do not molest them or harm them". These were The Fourth Geneva Convention, written 1400 years ago. Let me contrast this with the soldiers of the Hebrew Tribes besieging Jericho ,quoting The Book of Joshua, so often invoked today in the Israeli Army rabbinate, to put everyone "to the edge of the sword ...both man and woman, young and old" [Joshua vi, 21]. Tragically, we have witnessed this week this madness expressed by Former Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the ultra-orthodox Shas Party in his passover sermon in Jerusalem calling on God for the annihilation of all the Arabs and stating :" It is forbidden to be merciful to them, you must give them missiles, with relish - annihilate them. Evil ones, damnable ones".
I think an element of balance and fairness to Palestinians and Islam is called for, and the readers of The Herald deserve that.
Yours sincerely
Ismail Zayid, MD.