Letter to the Editor

Mideast friction may date back to Abraham

Tuesday, April 9, 2002

To the editor:

It is not unreasonable to assume that the animosity of the Mideastern world toward the Western world and the Jews may have had its beginnings at the birth of Abraham's two sons. Ishmael was the son of Hagar, an Egyptian handmaiden to Sarah, Abraham's wife. Isaac was Sarah's son. Bad blood developed very early between the sons and mothers, culminating in the expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael.

Moslems have declared themselves descendants of Ishmael with rightful legacy from Abraham coupled with God's promise to make Ishmael a great nation. They have inhabited the land as Jews spread all over the world and as Westerners have colonized and become interlopers of their lands. The current struggle is aptly described by Tom Friedman as a "war of civilizations." It seems now that only a voice, or assembly of voices, can convince both camps that their vital interest rests in accommodating each other.

They are both the sons of Abraham with God's promises in their hearing. America must take up the gauntlet and give impetus to the process in the hope of establishing peace for our time, which may be, at best, tenuous with the most capable monitoring.

GILBERT DEGENHARDT

Cape Girardeau