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Caught in the Crossfire



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Knoxville TN
I am saddened that you would choose this time of year to highlight the problems of American Arabs caused by the 9/11 attack on America.

We were not attacked on September 11 by Jews, Germans, Latinos, Asians, or Europeans. We WERE attacked by Arabs who claimed Islam as their religion and vowed to destroy the way of life we hold dear.

It is Arab Muslims from Saudi Arabia and other middle eastern countries who finance and encourage bloodshed in countries where Islam is almost the prevalent religion such as the Sudan (genocide against the christians and animists of the south), the Balkans, and some Asian countries.

I do not disagree with telling this story because we do need to guard against bigotry and violence against innocent INDIVIDUALS. However, the story that needs to go out during this September should focus on the victims of 9/11, the accounts of bravery and sacrifice, and the many triumps as Americans reveal that our strength is highlighted in trials and that we will prevail. In spite of our faults, our way is life is still vastly superior to all other.

Khalid Hijazi
Charlotte, NC
I would like to commend you for showing such a balanced overview of the Arabs and Muslims life experience after September 11th atrocious incident. It is about time that the American viewers learn that Christian Palestinians are also suffering on the hands of the Israeli colonizers. In order for us to have a genuine peace, Israel must start abiding by the UN Resolutions, Fourth Geneva Conventions and Human Rights reports.

Kathleen O'Connor Wang
Long Beach
I was sorry to read the bigoted comments of too many of the responses to the Crossfire story. If those people want to paint all Arabs and or people of Islam with the same brush they surely should not be surprised that at this time Americans are being scorned in other countries because of the arrogance and cruelty of our foreign policies that have been responsible for so much death and destruction in other places. A group of Americans who have lost family members on 9/11 have a web site dedicated to peace called These families have grieved with Afghanistan families whose family members were killed in US bombing raids after 9/11. They are actively working towards peace and do not want their family members death to serve as an excuse to harm more innocent lives. They would like the guilty to be brought to justice. If they can tell the difference between a person who is guilty of being a terrorist rather than a person who just happens to be the same race or religion of one of the terrorists why can't all of us? I would not like any of my people to suffer for the deeds of Tim McVeigh No innocent Arab or Muslim should suffer for the wrongs committed by the 19 on 9/11.

Ken Ehlers
My grandmother was born in Ireland and came to this country as a girl. She told me that when she arrived there were signs in windows saying "Help wanted, Irish need not apply." This country is a country of immigrants and bigotry will always be with us, sad to say, for those already here and how they relate to those that are just arriving.

Kerry H
I have yet to see the program Caught in the Crossfire but based on reading the talkback comments I am saddened by many of the responses that have been posted. As a third generation Christian Arab American I am surprised to see how bitter people are. Plenty people in the Arab American community, including myself, are condemning the attacks and I believe in many cases Arab Americans have received a double whammy trying to express their anger and denounce the attacks on the US while still trying to protect themselves from harassment.

When are people going to look beyond the Palestinian Israeli conflict or the propaganda that shows Arabs jumping for joy and burning the American flag and start looking at Arabs as your local grocery store owner, teacher, mechanic, lawyer, marine, politician and in many cases people who were killed in the September 11th attacks?

September 11th is a day that I will never forget because on that day not only was my country attacked, my nationality bran ded terrorists once again but I also lost a friend, who was also an Arab Christian, in the attack on the WTC.

If there is one thing that we all should learn from the events of the past year is that we have to work together and be united. The terrorists did not do this in the name of Islam, for if they were true Muslims they would follow the teaching of Islam as a religion of peace. Nor did the terrorists do it for the Palestinian cause. On September 11th they attacked us to demoralize us, scare us and to divide the country; do you want them to win in the long run? I will not allow this to happen, my family has worked too hard to proudly call themselves Arab Americans.

Eran Duzman
Irvine, CA
I was very diturbed by this program. It portrayed the palastenians as such victims. As I see itm the are only victims to their inadequate leadership and not to the Israeli government. I felt that this program portrayed the Israelis as the "bad guys" instead of the ones defending their homeland. Israel is doing exactly what the us have done in Afganistan except that they are much more careful not to attack civilians. This is in contrast to the Palestenians who are specifically aiming at Israeli civilians. I feel deep sorrow for a lot of the palestenian people. They have a bad leadership that is more concerned about themselves and terrorsm than about feending their own children. Golda Meir, a former prim minister of Israel, said that the only time that we will have peace with the Arabs is when they will learn to love their own children more than they hate us! I only hope this occurs soon. It is long overdue.

Addison Bross
Bethlehem, PA
Congratulations and many thanks to PBS and the filmmakers for this splendid, humane and greatly needed presentation. It has become almost impossible to find in the US media any report offering a view of current life in this country from within the actual lives of Arab Americans. The CROSSFIRE program went a long way toward remedying this injustice. I especially admire the truthful inclusion of the role that different faiths (both Christianity and Islam) play in the lives of these families. You have shown the profound value of the human traits of courage, endurance and love. You have provided us viewers with a priceless contribution to truth and justice.

Carole Rubin
i watched the show tonight for the first time, and was very moved by the reporter's comments that understanding each others pain is the only way real peace will be possible. it doesn't matter who did what to whom. never did. it only matters that we connect with each others pain, and, finally, with each others humanity. thank you for this!

Debbie Hamilton
Perhaps we have all forgotten the Universal message of Brotherhood our Teachers and Prophets taught us. We war against each other because we refuse to Hear and follow its sublime simplicity:

"Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee."
--Abraham, Genesis 13:8

"What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man."
--Moses, Judaism, Talmud: Shabbat 31a

"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so as to them: for this is the Law and the Prophets."
--Jesus, Christianity, St. Matthew 7:12, KJV

"No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother what he desires for himself."
--Muhammad, Islam, Sunnah

I am of mixed heritage. Some of my relatives immigrated from Palestine in the last century, and some of my relatives are Indigenous to North America, specifically Iroquois. The parallels have been staggering. Information has historically and to this day reported as benefits the country doing the reporting; this is universal. There are no altruistic governments in the world. Just as the vast majority of non-Indians do not have an inkling of the truth of the real Indian situation in this country, the majority of non-Arabs, and particularly Americans, have only fragments of truths and half-truths (unfortunately more often "no-truths") within the reach of their comfort zones.

Would it surprise you, then, that as citizens of this most powerful of countries, we do not learn the truth of many situations? This program was a fraction of a half-glimpse at truth. I am appreciative that it was aired. I revel in any morsel that has any truth in it whatsoever.

Would it surprise you to know that those pictures you saw of Palestinians supposedly celebrating the death of Americans in the 9/11 tragedy was not what it seemed? There were countless clips of Palestinians mourning the dead, holding vigils, paying homage, but they did not make it into the US media. Is it prudent to always believe blindly that a clip is even relevant to the subject matter? There are some who know where and when those clips were taken. We don't bother to speak out. It is pointless.

I have 3 friends who are journalists in the Middle East; all of them were approached by magazines asking for photos of Arab children laughing, playing, cheering, celebrating... something, anything. When asked what they would be used for, they all 3 refused to contribute.

If we take all things at face value, we end up sheep.

Reverend Vince Milum
Lenexa, Kansas
Greetings from the Universal Light Institute (!
God loves us all unconditionally. That includes Arabs, Arab-Americans, and all Muslims.
There is but One Humanity. My Muslim brothers and sisters are part of that humanity.
Regardless of your faith or ethnicity, we say, PEACE!

Thank you for the Caught in the Crossfire on Arab Americans. I hope our PBS stations run it multiple times. And I hope they make more programs like it. Scanning your talkback site and noticing far too many anti-Islam, anti-Arab comments (from usually enlightened PBS viewers) I can't help but think that the fire storm of racist hate being hurled at Arabs and Muslems right now will soon expand to include Jews in America, and years and years of hard work to end discrimination will be all for naught.... America needs to remember that racism is wrong, it is poisonous and evil.

David Anderson
Los Angeles, California
I am sorry you have decided to remove the "Their homelands" section. Now that it has been taken from us, the rest of us have been deprived of what I gather was an upsetting discussion to some people. I am weary and distrustful of the coverage the popular media has been providing on the subject of the middle east. Thanks for your efforts at making an even handed presentation. No matter how careful you try to be, or how mediocre your work may become, you always run the risk to upsetting someone. However, if no one gets excited, it isn't worth doing.

Your fact sheet and commentary misses the obvious. Is this an oversight on your part or deliberate deception. Most Arab Americans are not Muslims. Only 23% are Muslims. The first wave of Arabs to America 1875-1920 were Christians and most Arab Americans born today are native Americans. This first wave was escaping from political persecution by Muslims much as the early Pilgrims fled the early tyranny of the Church of England. They share our country's heritage seeking religious freedom. The later waves of Arab Muslims came to America seeking economic opportunity but still believe in their religio/political system. America doesn't have a problem with Arabs. It has problems with a religio/political system that bows to Islam, not the U.S. Constitution. Where will religious dissenters be able to run to next if Islam is not modified?

Dan Riney
Tokyo, Japan
In the second paragraph on the homepage of this Web site is the phrase "President Bush's war on terrorism."

How can one person, even the most powerful person in the world, be given the sole responsibility/credit for such a broad undertaking?

In addition to being the war of countless other elected officials, both in the US and abroad, it is also my war and the war of millions of other private citizens worldwide who support the defense of safety and liberty.

Phrases like the one above can only raise doubts about the objectivity of this project.

I applaud the documentary on the existing concerns coming from the Arab American community in N.Y. Thanks for showing another view rarely seen.

There has been for years one side to this issue, since our government has been clear in their show of solidarity for ZionistIsrael. We are burdened with the mistake made 50 years ago by our government officials and it seems we continue to make the same mistakes. Until we have the courage to confront the real problem in the M.E., which we helped to create, we will continue to lose credibilty with the other nations in the world.

Kurt Moeller
Columbus, OH
I wonder if Mr. Gilbert watched the documentary. If he had, he would have discovered that Raghida, Ahmed, and Pastor Khader are all grateful for the opportunity to be living in the United States. They deplore the attacks on the U.S. on Sept. 11. Raghida, in particular, has been in a unique position to offer up the truth to both Arab and American audiences about the situation in the Middle East-- if only people would listen. She has done this even at the risk of being charged for treason and being arrested if she returned to Lebanon, her place of birth. As for Pastor Khader, his experiences of imprisonment and torture at the hands of the Israelis, for no apparent crime (other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time), is illustrative of the suffering that a lot of Palestinians have gone through at the hands of the Israelis in the name of "security". Khader doesn't strike me as a terrorist, but as a man of God. I applaud PBS for presenting a documentary that puts a human fac e on the Arab American people. What you see on "Arab" or "Muslim" web sites is not always illustrative of the concerns of individual Arabs or Muslims living in the U.S. In my opinion, it is not necessary for Arab Americans, Muslims, or anyone for that matter to toe some jingoistic pro-American or pro-Israeli line to prove they are "loyal" Americans. Such a test is akin to McCarthyism, and we have been down that road as a nation before.

I watched your program in almost disbelief last night. Could it be true that Arabs are finally being shown as human beings? I have great respect for all those involved in producing this program and also for the stations for carrying it. I hope that it is shown several times so that those who were unable to see it will have that opportunity.

It is imperative that Americans have an greater understanding of the Arab (in particular a Palestinian) life experience and perspective of the situation. How can we understand a situation if we are consistantly given only one side of it? It is like looking at a book. If we are only shown the front cover but never the back or it's contents, how are we to form an educated opinion of it? Same goes for the Palestinian situation.

The entire truth must come out for Americans to fully understand the situation. For so long we have been only been given one side of the human experience of our Arab brothers and sisters. So often they have been lumped t ogether in one group, made out to be almost non human, violent and non caring people, when in reality the vast majority are very bright, educated, good and sincere people who want only to live in peace with justice for all people.

So many times when I look at the plight of the Palestinians, I can't help but compare their situation to that of our first Americans. The Americans have had a long history of denying the suffering of others. The truth of the Native American experience is avoided. It is not taught in our schools. There is a new program on PBS called Liberty's Kids. It focuses on the struggle of the "Americans" to achieve rights from British oppression. No mention is made about the fact that the land upon which they are living was stolen, that the Native People (who were not even legally considered to be human) had no rights, that they were being killed, sold as slaves, etc. Quess the "Liberty" of their kids doesn't count in the "History" of America. I believe that until America becomes willing to look at it's own history, it will continue to find it easy to avoid the truth of the Palestinian tragedy.

The situation of Cowboys and Indians, lives on in the Palestinian - Israeli sitation today. The Palestinians, like the Indians, who want to keep their home land are considered to be, terorists or trouble makers. In the old days if one small Native group tried to force out a settler who was invading their land, the calvalry would come and literally obliterate the entire tribe. Such is the situation of the Palestinians. I am not saying that I am condoning "terrorism", but I am wondering who is making those definitions. Is not the bombing of innocent people terrorism? When are we shown images of the bombing of innocent Palestinians? Almost never, and when we are it is just in passing. Perhaps if we were shown every night, the daily suffering, what is gong on in villages, at check points and in refugee camps, where brave Isrealis, such as the Women in Bla ck, American, and people from all over the world who are dedicated to civil rights for ALL people, sneak across the border, risking their lives to bring supplies, like water, food, diapers, etc. to Palestinians, we might have more compassion for them all.

This program is a great step in the right direction. I hope that this program helped create a human connection with the viewers. We are all on this earth together. The sooner we figure that out, the sooner we know that though we are different in many ways, we are more the same.

Thank you for your efforts in bringing the truth forward. My admiration and respect for all of you is great.

D.Y. Miller

This is probably a futile effort, but I have to try to respond to the comments of B. Gilbert and others about the alleged silence of Muslims in America after 9/11 and in the year since.

This is almost an Internet legend, this idea that Muslims have never spoken out against terrorism and the events of 9/11. Sometimes it surprises me that it is still circulating. American Muslims spoke out immediately after 9/11, and for a long time afterward. I remember seeing a full-page ad in the Boston Sunday Globe the week of 9/11 condemning the attacks, listing the names of every Islamic organization in New England. I remember hearing imams and ordinary Muslims condemning the attacks on the radio and (when they could get airtime) on TV. I remember participating in interfaith events - the first one the very evening of 9/11. I remember an American unity march from our mosque to the city hall, with a rally where Jewish, Christian, and Muslim clergy spoke. I remember our mosque holding open houses for anyone who wanted to come, and inviting people to come learn more about true Islam. We gave blood, gave money for the victims.... what more could anyone possibly want from us? We did this when we were still justifiably afraid for our own safety, while people were yelling at us in the street, sometimes even killing people who were Muslims or Arabs or who were mistaken for them. We did it although we had nothing whatsoever to do with the attacks, didn't know any terrorists or knowingly contribute to any terrorist organizations, and should never have been blamed for what happened.

Not only CAIR, but other Islamic organizations have statements condemning the attacks on their websites. And they are not 'tucked away', either, any more than CAIR's is. As for providing ways to report discrimination, that is not 'complaining about America' - it is the community self-help that every minority group needs to provide, using organizations ranging from the NAACP to the (Jewish) Anti-Defamati on League.

Countless items supporting the Palestinians? There are so few, compared to the endless support from both our government and the media for Israel.

I am wondering if people who feel this way ever read newspapers, or watch programs presenting Muslim points of view. Or perhaps (though I hope not) they do not really want to know the truth, and prefer to perpetuate this calumny against the Muslim community in America.

Sarah Cunningham
"Caught in the Crossfire" was superb and fair-minded. But how frightening so many of the comments on this Talkback page are. These are the kinds of sentiments that landed Japanese Americans in internment camps.

Arab Americans should not have to pass a litmus test to prove that they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. I'm Mexican and Irish and my family's been here 100 years, and I reserve my right to criticize this government's foreign policy, and I believe I share that right with all my fellow citizens, regardless of their ethnicity. To Arab Americans, I want to say: You do have friends here who are sympathetic to your history and to the predicaments you face today.


The Story The People Their Homelands Arab Americans After 9/11: Stories The Filmmakers Resources Broadcast