- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 5, 2001

China dam bankroller doesn't deserve our business

Your July 1 front-page special report, "Flooded dreams in China," describes the impossible task of resettling and rehabilitating almost 2 million refugees created by the construction of the Three Gorges Dam.

There is another element to this dam nightmare that readers should be aware of: the role of U.S. investment banks in bankrolling the dam. While eyeing the enormous profits from arranging China's upcoming initial public offerings, U.S. investment banks, including Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., helped underwrite more than $830 million in bonds for the China Development Bank (CDB). CDB lists its largest loan commitment as the Three Gorges Dam Corp. In addition, Morgan Stanley's joint venture, China International Capital Corp., has served as the project's adviser on raising overseas capital for the dam and underwrote $225 million directly for the project in 1999.

By financing the project, U.S. banks are partners in the human rights abuses resulting from this monument to authoritarianism. All dissent over the project is stifled; citizens who have dared to speak out are harassed or imprisoned. After reviewing the project's environmental and social impacts, the U.S. Export-Import Bank and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation pulled out of the project. The World Bank, the leading funder of large dams around the world, also declined to participate.

Until Morgan Stanley takes responsibility for the impacts of its financing decisions, International Rivers Network is spearheading a consumer boycott of the firm's services, including Discover Card. Financing Three Gorges Dam through the CDB is bringing suffering to millions of Chinese to be affected by the project for generations to come. Investment banks such as Morgan Stanley don't deserve our business.


DORIS SHEN

Program officer

International Rivers Network

Berkeley, Calif.

Comic columnists get cold reception

I was shocked to read in "Israel in pieces" the demonization of an entire ethnic group and blatant prejudice against Arabs (Op-Ed, June 29). Not only is the article laced with racism, but its arguments lack any semblance of intellectual honesty. The writers' willingness to liken the Israeli occupiers to oppressed black Americans and persecuted European Jews demonstrates, at best, a stunning blindness to reality. At worst, it is an attempt to sway public opinion through gross deception.


MICHAEL SOURYAL

Arlington




In response to the June 29 Op-Ed column "Israel in pieces," both Jackie Mason and Raoul Felder, in their insipid and borderline racist column, have effectively displayed their lack of ken on this subject and lack of common sense in general. In addition, they portray Arabs and Muslims as warmongers and barbarians with a predatory mentality, a people who don't deserve to live. If people continue to view Arabs and Muslims as subhuman, without feelings and souls, the way the Nazis viewed the Jews, we are headed for the same catastrophic disaster, and peace will never be established.


BART GATRELL

Alexandria




In their June 29 Op-Ed column, "Israel in pieces," Jackie Mason and Raoul Felder stereotype all Arabs in a blatantly racist and derogatory way, and they distort the facts to justify their bigotry.

Stereotyping Arabs as having "religiously fueled crazed killer mentalities" reminds me of statements that South Africa's former apartheid government made about blacks. If the comments made by Mr. Mason and Mr. Felder had been made about blacks or Jews, the entire nation rightly would condemn the writers and demand an apology. Palestinians are no different from anyone in this country; they love their families, desire a better future for their children and long for freedom and independence, just as our forefathers did.

Perhaps the writers should recall that the Palestinians have agreed to recognize Israel as a state and desire to live in peace with their Jewish neighbors on an equal level, with a sovereign, contiguous and autonomous country. Unfortunately, Israel has yet to recognize the political, social and human rights and the national identity of the Palestinian people.


JAMIE TERRAL

Washington




I had to pick my jaw up off the ground after reading "Israel in pieces," the Op-Ed column by Jackie Mason and Raoul Felder. Your editorial page's pro-Israel slant has been pronounced, but the raw, racist language in this column was too much to stomach. Mr. Mason and Mr. Felder, whom you presumably deem worthy to write Op-Ed pieces, given their impeccable credentials as a comedian and a lawyer, describe Arabs as a people with "religiously fueled crazed killer mentalities" who "daily decimate the Jewish population." In 2001, I thought such broad, racist generalizations only echoed in the living rooms of bigots, not the pages of a daily newspaper.

Fanatical language only makes constructive discourse on this complex problem more remote. Mr. Mason and Mr. Felder should channel their talents into comedy and law, not Op-Ed columns.


JAMES GRIFFIN

Silver Spring




I am outraged that The Washington Times published the Op-Ed column "Israel in pieces," by Jackie Mason and Raoul Felder. If the word "Arab" had been replaced with "black," and "Jew" with "white," you would not have printed the article.

Mr. Mason and Mr. Felder call for the expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland, stating, "Why should Israel accept the presence of any Arabs in the land of Israel when Yasser Arafat either will not or cannot stop the Arabs from killing any Jews," and later, "While Arabs daily decimate the Jewish population, they continue to grow in number from 3 million to 10." The implication seems to be that the number of Arabs should be reduced.


KHALID TURAANI

Executive director

American Muslims for Jerusalem

Washington




"Israel in pieces" may have been the product of Jackie Mason's flaccid attempt at humor, but it was just plain ignorant.

Rest assured that I am a fervent believer in free speech, and I support the right of Mr. Mason and Mr. Felder to publish their opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. If they had stuck to the facts, I wouldn't have minded the article in the least. But their portrayal of Arabs as baby-making, Jew-hating terrorists gets to me. It is easy to make another's grievances illegitimate when you portray them in such a manner.

I can assure Mr. Mason and Mr. Felder that Arabs don't have a problem with Jews. What Arabs object to is the fact that they have been made to look like animals to justify the brutal treatment of them to the rest of the world.


NANCY SAMI MAHMOUD

Jackson Heights, N.Y.




Concerning the article by Mr. Mason and Mr. Felder: A few militant Palestinians do not represent all Palestinians (about 5 million to 6 million worldwide), let alone all Arabs (about 200 million).


DENIS J. SULLIVAN

Boston




What a world we live in. Politics on the comics pages and comedy on the Op-Ed page. Of course, it is not humor that makes Jackie Mason's Op-Ed column laughable; it is his grasp of the facts.

In Mr. Mason's world, the poor Israeli settler in need of a bigger kitchen is beset by Palestinians who, well, would do what? Certainly not bulldoze the settler's home. In the eyes of Mr. Mason and Mr. Felder, Palestinians "daily decimate the Jewish population" while multiplying "from 3 million to 10." His Israel offered to "return more land than even ever expected." I suppose he is referring to the offer of less than 22 percent of the Palestinians' original homeland, which Israel occupied in 1967.

In the real Israel, Mr. Mason may be surprised to learn, it is the Palestinian houses that are bulldozed, along with their crops. This is done under the guns of the Israeli occupation force. Palestinians would dearly love to be able to oppose such oppressive practices, but they lack the arms or freedom of movement necessary to marshal any meaningful opposition. So they throw rocks and are shot by Israeli snipers for their trouble.

In the real Israel, the dying is done overwhelmingly by Palestinians. Also, 1 million Palestinians, not 10 million, are citizens of Israel, though they lack the rights of their Jewish neighbors.

In the real Israel, the government has refused to honor its international commitments at Oslo and under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Instead of giving back land for peace, Israel continued to colonize the West Bank and Gaza, subjugating the Palestinians and usurping their natural resources.

Mr. Mason makes a ridiculous analogy in comparing the Palestinians to the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazis. In the real Israel, Israelis keep Palestinians in camps, deny them passage on roads, assassinate the Palestinians' civil leadership and refuse to abide by international law or U.N. resolutions that have been on the books for decades.


JOHN F. DOYLE

Arlington, Mass.

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