It is very easy to be an armchair warrior. It is easy to protest from the safety of your home, to rant and rave online with fellow armchair warriors. It is hard to get in the trenches and do what is necessary to make a difference. To that extent, I have striven to be more than an armchair warrior; I am leading activities in the NYC area and I hope to actually make a difference. But what I have done is nothing. It is a drop in the bucket compared to Salah Choudhury, a "Muslim Zionist" journalist from Bangladesh who faces a possible death penalty for the "crime" of advocating for normalized relations with Israel. Please read what David Harris of AJC wrote about this courageous man.
Mr. Choudhury could have easily sought aslyum in the United States, during his week long reprieve he was granted by the Bangladeshi government. He could have sought personal safety. Instead, this man will travel back to Bangladesh and face trial, with his life on the line. Mr. Choudhury, a man I wrote about earlier, is seeking to empower the peace loving people of Bangladesh. And let me say this. With no exceptions, the Muslim Bangladeshis I have met have been kind, peace loving, and honestly moderate. None had a bad word to say about Israel. I actually lived in a building with two Bangladeshi Americans, and the only bad words they had to say were about Pakistan, and the way that Bangladeshis were treated like dirt by what was once their mother country.
And so I empathize with the Bangladeshi people, some of the poorest on earth, who are simply trying to find their way in this world, but have an authoritarian Islamist government backed by Saudi money that is preventing ordinary Bangladeshis from expressing their opinions and leading their lives as they see fit. And I fear for a new generation of Bangladeshis who, so impovershed, will be taught in Saudi-funded madrassas.
And so what does the US do in response to this crisis? It offers a $20 billion weapons deal to Saudi Arabia. What does Israel do in response to THAT? Olmert says, "No, America, give MORE!"
Knowing Choudhury's plight and how empowering the Saudis disempowers the moderate life-loving Bangladeshis, this puts the Saudi weapons deal in a whole new light. Not only is it a suicidally stupid move, it is a move which as a side-swipe also hurts the innocents around the world who are being victimized by those that the Saudis empower. It hurts the friends we have around the world, not just ourselves.
I would say Bush and Olmert should be ashamed of themselves, but at this point I do not believe Olmert has any shame left inside him.