Dear Editor:A new trend has arisen in recent years for Jewish pro-Israel activism groups to recruit so-called Muslim “reformers” such as Tawfik Hamid, who professes to speak as an expert on terrorism. In fact, Hamid’s only credentials are that he was allegedly recruited by a terrorist organization over 20 years ago. He grew up in a secular family with no formal Islamic training, yet claims to know the heart and soul of Islam.Having been a jihadi 20 years ago doesn’t give him the right to say that his experience reflects what the majority of moderate Muslims think. Hamid’s accusations that most moderate Muslims condone jihad, most American mosques preach the violent overthrow of secular society and that democracy and Islam are incompatible, are despicable characterizations that lead to Islamophobia. He claims to promote peace and love between all religions but advocates the curtailing of civil rights for American Muslims and more violence by the U.S. against Muslims in the Middle East.Despite his claim to teach Islamic reform, Hamid doesn’t bring his message to mosques or Islamic communities. He speaks almost exclusively to and for Jewish organizations, and was recently invited to speak by the Zionist Organization of America. He is on the speakers list of IsraelActivism.com, the official website of Hasbara Fellowships.When the Israeli Foreign Ministry sought to combat “anti-Israel propaganda” on college campuses it enlisted the help of Aish HaTorah, a staunch defender of Israel. This organization founded Hasbara Fellowships to train university students to be effective pro-Israel activists on their campuses. Aish HaTorah also launched a grassroots movement, which scrutinizes worldwide media for “anti-Israel bias,” then alerts its subscribers to respond to the news agency concerned. Hamid’s appearance in Aspen on June 25 was the work of ALERT (American League for Effective Responses to Terrorism) an organization co-founded by Doug Weiser and Judith King, formerly of Valley Voices for Middle East Peace, which had as its goal the destruction of the Roaring Fork Peace Coalition.In a transparent effort to combat the revelations in recent letters to the editor, of Israel’s apartheid policies and human rights abuses, King and Weiser sponsored the lecture by Dr. Hamid in which he vehemently denied the role that the Israel/Palestine conflict played in the 9/11 attack, blaming it instead on Clinton’s weak response to the 1998 US embassy bombings.The American people need and want to understand the real roots of terrorism and what can be done to prevent further attacks. Groups like ALERT are doing the public a disservice by promoting thinly veiled pro-Israel messages by so-called experts that divert attention away from the real cause of anti-U.S. sentiment in the Muslim world.Sue GrayCarbondale
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: The Colorado Department of Transportation gives Aspen’s roundabout a poor grade in terms of level of service so it’s thinking about making changes. But first, a study or two must be done.