Why Can't Gaza Become a Tourist Attraction, Not a Weapons Cache?

Why Can't Gaza Become a Tourist Attraction, Not a Weapons Cache?

In 1988 I did a film called Terrorist on Trial: The United States vs. Salim Ajami. It was the brain child of George Englund who produced and directed The Ugly American.

He was a wonderfully brilliant fellow who ran both Marlon Brando’s and Paul Newman’s film companies at various times. Trial was the last script written by the legendary writing team of Richard Levison and Bill Link, the duo that created Columbo, Murder She Wrote, The Education of Private Slovak and much else.

I played a Palestinian kidnapped by the U.S. government to stand trial for acts of terrorism. The U.S. wanted the terrorist to have the best defense possible so a lawyer, fashioned after the great Alan Dershowitz and played by Ron Liebman, was summoned.

The irony being, the best lawyer who happens to be Jewish, defends the Arab. You can imagine the riveting scenes between the two of these characters. The prosecutor is played by a pre-Law and Order Sam Waterston. This piece was on CBS as a 3-hour special and received terrific reviews.

I bring this up is to give a point of reference to my following statements and suggest that my understanding of the Middle East crisis goes back over 25 years. The world is doing a disservice to the Middle East and the Palestinians–do you all think for one second if Israel did not exist the Middle East would be peaceful? Does anyone think for one second if the U.S. did not exist the Middle East would be peaceful? Does anyone think for one second if the Western world did not exist the Middle East would be peaceful?

It disgusts me how Secretary of State John Kerry, the U.S. and Europe can blame the Jews! The problems in the Middle East come from the absurd pandering by our government and most of the world that causes the radicals to feel emboldened.

In 1994 I traveled to Jordan, a lovely people and country, for a film project. Terrorist on Trial was shown all over the Middle East, and because of it I was able to get an up close and personal view of what some think. I was invited to Bedouin tents, and I would always bring up the conflict. There was an overwhelming sentiment of “we will push them into the sea” and “they will kiss the bottoms of our feet.” There were some who did not agree with this sentiment, but they were silenced by their extremist peers.

What I find perplexing is with all the oil money in the Middle East, and the fact that Gaza is such a tiny piece of land, why hasn’t the Arab world built a kind of Paradise for the Palestinians in Gaza? Instead, we see all the weapons and all the destruction that Hamas and other extreme organizations propagate. 

Why doesn’t the Arab World build a wonderful haven for their Palestinians?

Child in Gaza

I have never been to Dubai, though it sounds beautiful and I would like to go some day. If a paradise can be created there, why not in Gaza so it becomes a tourist destination? Why not? They all have the resources to make this happen–why doesn’t it?

Doesn’t it make sense to create a beautiful place and state instead of one filled with underground tunnels to help people blow up their neighbors? Do you think if the world came down on Hamas, and isolated them instead of sending a message of tolerance, things might be different?

If Kerry denounced the actions of the terrorists and communicated to the world how the extremists are creating a climate of intolerance–would that be better?

How can we see the destruction of Christianity in Iraq and let it happen? How can law enforcement in London be told they cannot go into certain areas because they are under Sharia Law? How can a seemingly intolerant group hold hostage 1.6 billion Muslims? I blame the ambiguity of the West and America’s position as the cause of what we are seeing.

If the UN and the world would finally demanded the immediate cease of aggression toward Israel, the international community denounced Hamas and its actions, then perhaps progress could be made toward peace.

If there was a true Middle East summit denouncing extremists and demanding that funds and energy goes towards creating a beautiful Gaza, wouldn’t that be better for the Palestinians? Why doesn’t this happen? Why do Palestinians demand the destruction of Israel instead?

Why is a group able to demand the extinction of Christians, and the world lets it happen? Why are not the 1.6 billion peaceful Muslims not in an uproar against the intolerance by extremists of other religions?

I call out to all my Muslim brothers and sisters to stand in solidarity with a peaceful solution! Demand that Gaza be built up so the Palestinians can live in a wonderful place side by side with Israel! There is enough money to do this. Build instead of destroy!

I don’t believe, as some have said, that my Muslim brothers and sisters are living in the Middle Ages with a tribal mentality unable to grasp a modern world. Islam is a peaceful religion. Is it not? Christ is not your enemy? Moses is not your enemy? Why do you permit this intolerance? If someone wants to convert why does your peaceful religion behead them?

If I wanted to convert to Islam, I would not be beheaded as a Christian. Should the western world be concerned that if eventually Muslims are the majority in America that what is happening in Iraq would happen here? Could some U.S. cities someday be governed by Sharia Law, as is happening in London?

Look, I do understand the concern of families not wanting to be westernized and the corrupt way of life some of the role models give them in music, film and the creative arts. Yes I understand this–perhaps that is what Hamas should focus on, the Hollywood crowd instead of the Jews? The Hollywood crowd spreading its cultural disease in the world of empowering woman, the acceptance of men and women being able to have same-sex marriage, being able to have beliefs whatever they are–this is all against Sharia Law.

If the Jews were trying to build a caliphate the world would not tolerate them. Israel lets Christians, Jews and Muslims worship side by side, do they not?

A close friend of mine was asked by the U.S. government to defend a group of Iranian students that were put in prison in California in 1979. He was taken to a building in Los Angeles that acted as an Embassy during the crisis when there was no Iranian Embassy in LA. They spoke to my lawyer friend and showed him a video–this is 1979. The video was of an airplane hanger in Van Nuys that was loaded with a dirty bomb by a terrorist and the plane taking off–at that point in the video, it said–within 60 seconds this plane will crash into home plate during an Dodger Game while 65,000 unsuspecting cheering fans will be killed.

My friend called the U.S. Attorney in D.C., told him what he had seen and what he was told. The sheriff at the time was Sheriff Block who would not free the Iranian students. The U.S. attorney called Sheriff Block and told him unless the students were freed, Martial Law would be declared to free the students. Well, they were then freed. This is a part of the story that Argo did not depict because it is not known by many. And yes, this was in 1979.

So I ask you all–how would you solve this current crisis in the Middle East? I for one would like the Gaza to be built up to a lovely place–existing side by side with Israel–who is stopping this from happening?


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