Dear Mr. Siblani:
I was greatly disturbed with a recent opinion piece featured in The Arab American News titled “Chaldeans at AIPAC do not speak for the community” and would be remiss if I did not bring my concerns to your attention.
The Chaldean community does not wish to engage in a debate pertaining to Arab and Jewish relations. Our focus must remain on helping those persecuted and driven from their ancestral homelands by ISIS and other jihadists. That said, your publication stating that Chaldeans who support Israel are condoning the same brutality their people are facing is both inaccurate and offensive. Whatever the vexed history of the Arab-Israeli conflict is, it does not rise anywhere near the ideology, tactics, religious cleansing or brutality of ISIS.
Also misleading is the portrayal of your organization representing or speaking on behalf of Chaldeans. You continually depict your organization as representing Chaldeans through the New Michigan Media Coalition, while the truth is there is no Chaldean representation offered.
Metro Detroit is a very diverse and wonderful place to live, and while Chaldeans are part of the Arab world, we have a very special and ancient heritage within the Middle East.
Further, characterizing the Honorable Klint Kesto as a liar is irresponsible and shortsighted.
Ultimately, Chaldeans wish to live in peace in our ancestral homelands and cohabitate peacefully among Muslims – free to practice our faith without fear of persecution or threat of eviction and death.
In closing, I would greatly appreciate if organizations that are not Chaldean refrain from falsely speaking out on behalf of Chaldeans and cease misrepresenting us.
We will hope for a day when religious choice is respected and humanity – all humanity – is revered.
Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce
You wrote that the Chaldean community does not wish to engage in a debate pertaining to Arab and Jewish relations. However, nobody appointed you to say what the Chaldean community wishes or does not wish to do. You are not the spokesperson for the community.
Moreover, the Arab-Israeli conflict is not simply a fight between Arabs and Jews. It is an ongoing struggle against the occupation of the diverse Palestinian people.
You said that comparing the Palestinian struggle to what Chaldeans are facing today is inaccurate and offensive.
If you find it offensive, we can’t help you. But it is not inaccurate.
More than 700,000 Palestinians were terrorized out of their homes by Zionist gangs to create the state of Israel in 1948. Many of them still have the deeds and keys to the homes they were forced to abandon. The millions descendants of those refugees around the world are living proof of this catastrophe (Nakba). Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank continue to be treated as second-class citizens, much like ISIS wants non-Muslim subjects to be treated.
We argued that State Rep. Klint Kesto (R- Commerce Twp.) was lying when he claimed to be standing with the Jewish community to promote freedom of religion by attending the AIPAC conference. We encourage engaging with and reaching out to the Jewish community, but we demonstrated that AIPAC is not a community organization but a foreign policy lobby.
We wrote that Israeli apartheid supporters, such as yourself and Kesto, are fear-mongering against Iran, which is fighting ISIS on the ground, unlike Israel, which giving support to Islamist extremists in the Golan Heights.
You may well think that characterizing the “Honorable Klint Kesto” as a liar is irresponsible, but you did not provide a compelling counter argument to ours.
You complained that The Arab American News does not represent the Chaldean community. But neither do you.
When we said that apartheid supporters do not speak for Chaldeans, we relied on our knowledge of the community without claiming to represent all Chaldeans.
Our paper has a history of defending Chaldeans and we have a strong readership base in the community. One of our reporters is a proud Chaldean American. We ask you, Mr. Manna, to type “Chaldean” in the search bar on The Arab American News’ website and scroll through the countless stories we have written in defense of Chaldean causes.