To the editor:
(re: “Collegian confronts congressman over Israel, Ilhan Omar,” April 25)
Today the trifecta for the politically correct crowd is female, Muslim and of color.
I was not present at Eliot Engel’s presentation at Manhattan College, as reported in The Riverdale Press, but some of what was reported begs further illumination.
Based on the story, I do not see how Rabea Ali felt that she was treated unfairly as a Muslim. Rather, she is the one who skipped work to attend a meeting on the immigration issues at the southern border of the United States. However, her question was about Palestinians.
She is entitled to ask what she wants (does Engel have any free speech rights, I wonder?), but it should be noted that her remarks were narrowly focused according to her own narrow agenda. For example, given the enormous suffering of the Muslim Rohingya in their own country (Myanmar) and Bangladesh (a neighboring Muslim country), I would expect her concern for Muslims under attack to be more focused on immediate, real-time festering problems.
About the comment from Engel to be nicer and smile: If he had said that at the beginning of Ali’s comments, it would certainly have been a put-down. At the end, it may have simply represented frustration with the questioner. Ali already admitted that she saw Engel as “Islamophobic,” so I am guessing that the situation was confrontational.
Women as a class have many legitimate complaints, but pulling out the “Muslim woman of color” card as a regular excuse detracts from the ability to have a reasonable dialogue.
While I do not want to wade into the Israel-Palestine conflict, the pity is that most Americans do not speak or read Arabic and therefore believe whatever newspapers report, which is usually vastly at odds with what is actually being said to and on the Arab street.
Whether any of the peace plans offered in the past have worked out (remember, Gaza was evacuated so that it could be “free,” but all Israel got out of it was a Hamas government that launches rockets and fire balloons) is hard to say, but past experience is not a good argument for further engagement.
Notice also that the wider Muslim world is rapidly losing patience with the Palestinian issue.
In any case, it is a disservice to calmer voices to turn this into a front page story and make Ali a cause célèbre.