American Muslims chafe at the US government’s hands-off approach to Israeli reprisals and worry about countless relatives and friends trapped by violence in Lebanon.

US officials say Israel “has the right to defend itself,” since its incursion into Gaza three weeks ago and air raids on Lebanon, but President George W. Bush’s stance offends Americans who are Muslims or of Arab descent.

Early last week, a coalition of 11 major Muslim organizations publicly called on Bush to forcefully condemn the attacks on Gaza and to designate as “war crimes” the destruction of Palestinian civilian infrastructure.

After the Israeli bombing of Lebanon, the appeals for denouncing Israel have multiplied.

“Once again America’s image and interests worldwide are being harmed by one-sided support for Israeli actions,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest US Muslim rights group.

“We’re urging Muslims in America and other people of conscience to contact their elected officials to tell them that we have to have balanced foreign policy for the Middle East, one that is driven by American interests, not Israeli interests.”


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