[fla-left] [news] Arab-Americans Boo, Heckle U.S Official on Iraq (fwd)

Michael Hoover hoov at SPAMfreenet.tlh.fl.us
Sun Jun 11 08:07:22 MDT 2000

forwarded by Michael Hoover

> Friday June 9 3:59 PM ET
> Arab-Americans Boo, Heckle U.S Official on Iraq
> By Jonathan Wright
> ARLINGTON, Va. (Reuters) - Arab-Americans booed and heckled a senior State
> Department official on Friday when he tried to defend U.N. sanctions
> against Iraq at the annual convention of the American-Arab
> Anti-Discrimination Committee.
> Over formal lunch at a hotel in the Washington area, guest speaker and
> Under Secretary of State Thomas Pickering angered the audience by saying
> sanctions against Iraq must continue.
> Delegates began banging their plates and booing, disrupting the speech for
> several minutes. One heckler shouted, ``Shame, shame on you! How dare you?
> You want to kill the kids of Iraq. What kind of a human being are you?''
> A group of women shouted, ``Get out!'' and ``Let the children live!'' They
> then walked out for the rest of the speech, which Pickering eventually
> resumed.
> Pickering said, ``I can understand your depth of feeling but I should at
> least have an opportunity to present a point of view I truly believe in...
> We should each have an opportunity to listen to each other without rancor
> or clamor.''
> The official, who ranks third in the State Department hierarchy and has
> been U.S. ambassador to Jordan and Israel, also faced hostile questions on
> the Arab-Israeli conflict and the regular bombing of Iraq by U.S. and
> British warplanes.
> To applause, Palestinian-American Ziad Mughraby said, ``You stand there
> representing the most fascist Zionist administration (Israel) in
> Washington, D.C., now lecture about (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein. What
> about Israel? What about what happened to the Palestinians, to the
> Lebanese?''
> Pickering replied, ``I recognize the deep-seated sense of grief, hurt and
> disturbance and worse that people feel for what has happened to them in the
> Middle East and beyond.
> ``I cannot deal with the past. I can only help with the future. I am
> determined to do that.''
> It was the first time a State Department official addressed the annual
> convention of the Anti-Discrimination Committee, which is one of the
> largest Arab-American organizations in the United States.
> Oil-For-Food Program
> Another official, deputy Middle East peace mediator Aaron Miller, will
> probably go ahead with plans to speak to a convention panel on Saturday, an
> official said.
> In defense of sanctions against Iraq, Pickering said that because of the
> oil-for-food program, lifting the sanctions would not lead to dramatic
> change for the people of Iraq.
> Iraq says millions of children have died over the years because of the
> sanctions, imposed in 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait. The United Nations
> set new conditions for lifting sanctions after Iraqi forces were driven out
> in 1991.
> Pickering said, ``Lifting sanctions would free Saddam to rebuild his
> military and his weapons of mass destruction programs but would not give
> any guarantee of either money or a better life for the average Iraqi.''
> He repeated allegations that the Iraqi government has deliberately
> obstructed the distribution of food and medicines in Iraq to make
> propaganda out of the suffering.
> For example, Iraq long ignored U.N. calls that it order special foods for
> needy people and refused to distribute medicines worth $250 million from
> its warehouses until public pressure was brought to bear, he said.
> Under the oil-for-food program, Iraq sold oil worth $8.4 billion in the
> last six-month phase and the annual rate is expected to be $20 billion, he
> added.
> The U.N. Security Council renewed the oil-for-food program on Thursday,
> with some modifications to accelerate the process of approving goods for
> export to Iraq.
> The council has drawn up a list of badly needed supplies that can now be
> approved by U.N. officials rather than by the entire council membership.
> The resolution also adds equipment for water and sanitation systems to the
> list.
> In a gesture of good will to the Arab-American community, Pickering invited
> young members of the community to join the foreign service as U.S.
> diplomats. The State Department, which says it is committed to ethnic
> diversity, has set up a recruitment stall at the convention.

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