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Back to the Margins (3/98)

In the long struggle between Iraq and the US, Iraqi women have been the most harmed of that nation’s beleaguered masses. Like men, of course, they’ve lost opportunities and seen their living standard plummet. But they’ve also been forced into social contracts which they thought ended a century ago.Seven years of sanctions have desiccated more than bombs could. The casualties include not only Iraq’s modern, secular society, with its advanced medical and educational systems, self sufficiency, university research, and child vaccination programs, but also the progressive lives of eight million Iraqi women. Before 1990, Iraq had an exemplary policy of educating women and opening the professions to them. Before the Gulf War, women were found in all sectors of life. But in the years since then, those gains have been reversed. read more

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Arab Reality Check (12/01)

Do Arab Americans really deserve being bashed about as they are today? It’s a sorry sight: pushed off airlines because other passengers are frightened by our looks. Our scarves yanked off us, our children bullied, our people blamed for heinous crimes, insulted, eyed with suspicion. Customers at our stores gone, our mosques firebombed, threats left on phone machines, and hate words sprayed on our cars and shops.

It’s ugly. Shocking. Frightening. No, we don’t deserve this. But then, nobody deserves it. There is plenty of racial hatred in this land – against Asians, Blacks, Native Americans, Hispanics. At long last, welcome to the Arabs, they say. read more

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Surviving in Iraq People on the front line speak out (11/02)

Who among us can possibly imagine what being an Iraqi, living anywhere in that doomed nation, must feel like? Should each resident of Basra, Baghdad, and Mosel build a bomb shelter? Should you abandon your home in the city and flee to a village where your cousins live? Should you get out garden tools and be prepared to fight in the street? And if so, against what and whom?

Perhaps you could head for the border to a neighboring land. But which one — Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, or Jordan? Will any of them let you in? And how will you reach the border? read more

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Raising the Stakes: Palestinians Refuse to Surrender (3/01)

Anyone who sympathizes with the Palestinian struggle during the current war for the end of occupation may feel rather disheartened seeing images of the struggle. Mothers cry, fathers bow their heads. There are so many funerals. Neither side will retreat and there’s no sign of a solution from any international leadership.

Certainly, press reports would have those who view the carnage from a distance believe that the Palestinians are vastly overwhelmed and becoming weaker by the day. The Palestinian economy is deteriorating, and unemployment is soaring. There are requests for outside medical aid, and now food supplies are dwindling. Local leaders and medical personnel send out appeals for assistance while political leaders call for an independent inquiry and an international police force to protect the vulnerable Arab population. The UN is unable to act, either as a negotiator or with a peacekeeping army. read more

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Terror at Close Range: Palestinians Under Siege (11/00)

Tanks surround cities. Helicopter gunships dart above deserted market stalls and abandoned garden restaurants. Sirens call women from shoe stores and banks. School children are turned back at the roads that would lead them to waiting mothers in the suburbs. 

Some of the people fleeing bullets and shells seek out alternative routes, if not to their own home, then to a relative’s. They locate a phone and report that they’re safe – for the moment. "But what about Samir and Fideh? The school closed early. Where could they be? What about Adnan at his pharmacy, and Leila at her office?"  read more

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Business Backs the Iraq Embargo (5/00)

I can buy anything. If I have to agree to take oil or gas to Dubai, I’m going to do it. I’m not here in Iraq for the excitement. I want to make money; I’m like you … . This embargo is going to end. I need an order. I need it now." It was one of those blunt realities which idealists, especially those moved to actions by human suffering, refuse to believe. Too crass to be true. Too pragmatic to face. 

It happened two years ago. I was in Baghdad, in one of the five star hotels where businessmen stay, and talk. You find no humanitarian oriented social activists in the lobby here. "Too many secret service agents," they say. Few journalists hang around here, either. But I was meeting a friend. Behind me sat two men, facing each other, and apparently unaware of me. They talked freely, although in low voices. My back was to them, and I leaned forward over the coffee table in order to write down verbatim what I heard. I didn’t look at the men, but I could recognize from their accents that one was an Iraqi. The other was a US businessman. He did most of the talking, was very blunt, and spoke without formalities. read more