A Message to the American People

Muammar Al Qadhafi

Secretary General of the General People's Congress
The Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

A need for mutual understanding

First, I would like to greet you and to express my appreciation, gratitude and happiness for making it possible for this Symposium to be convened. I consider it a positive step towards strengthening understanding among nations, and in particular between the Arab nation and the American nation because these two nations have considerable international weight which cannot be esteemed lightly. The enhancement of understanding between our two nations will lead to wider international understanding and to important new gains.

Arab citizens, from all walks of life, have always felt the necessity for such understanding between our two nations and we also feel its importance for the international community. The absence of this understanding deprives the world of important opportunities and increases tension in international relations, increases misunderstanding which eventually will lead to an international conflict and threaten world peace.

Setting a valid historical perspective

I have to admit that understanding between the Arab nation and the American nation is at this stage faced with a great difficulty. I would say, however, that it is difficult for the Americans and the Arabs to reach a genuine understanding in a short period of time because the historical stages, which have influenced the two nations and formulated their cultures, necessitates the same historical stages which created the misunderstanding. In order to reach the best, we should start now. We think that this start should not be a casual gathering. Rather it should be the foundation of an edifice on which we shall build, step by step, until we reach a desirable level of understanding.

We are keen for understanding between the Arab nation and the American nation because enmity, lack of cooperation and the continuation and escalation of misunderstandings between these two nations is not in the interest of either one, nor is it in the interest of the rest of the peoples of this world. They are negative elements and are of no use to anyone. If it is possible to overcome this we should do so, and this gathering is evidence of the desire to overcome misunderstanding.

If I make some passing observations at this Symposium, they could lead towards ending the misunderstanding between the Arab and the American peoples. They will not instantaniously eliminate the accumulation of misunderstanding but will be a step in the building of the edifice. If we can find those who are willing to join in building it, step by step, it will someday be completed.

I personally have had several discussions with a number of American popular delegations and also some American officials, particularly diplomats, and I have a fair idea of American attitudes and their perspective of international policy, and of today's issues; the most important of these is the problem of the Middle East.

American policy is hostile to the interests of the Arab Nation

At the present time, the United States has made itself an adversary to the legitimate objectives of the Arab nation, and also to a great number of peoples in the world. This is an undeniable reality even though the Americans may say that they have no reason or justification to be hostile to any person, and that it is a matter of policy rather than of enmity. Whatever its origin, this policy towards the Arab nation and a great number of other peoples is in conflict with interests of those peoples and a threat to their independence and progress. The Americans have to solve this complex problem and rid themselves of its implications. We ask why does American policy harbor hostility to Arab interests, and why do they maintain their hostile attitude towards a great many peoples of the world.

This is not our problem; we are faced with a hostile policy and we resist it, and this is our duty. It is a legitimate duty to defend oneself. American policy is now hostile to us and we are obliged to resist it in self-defence. Our stand is not motivated by enmity towards Americans; what is done by the Arabs, whether they be Palestinians, Libyans or others, is in self-defence and in resistance to this hostile policy. Who is standing in the accused's dock? It is the United States who has to answer the question. Why does it pursue a hostile policy towards the Arabs and to many other peoples of the world?

It might be said in the United States that they have no enmity towards the Arabs, and that they have no reason to hate them, and that there is no reason for hatred towards many peoples of the world, but reality shows that daily American policy is hostile to the interests of these peoples, against their progress, and a threat to their freedom and independence. We Arabs here at this dialogue or at others, must not exert any effort in solving this complex problem; it is the sole responsibility of the Americans to do so and to get themselves out of the accused's dock. They have to waken the American consciousness to understand that by this policy they antagonize a great number of peoples in the world. I would like to put this point on record, since it is the outcome of my discussions with Americans.

U.S. policy does not serve actual American interests

Accordingly, we Arabs must not waste time in discussing this matter, but we have to tell you that you are pursuing a hostile policy towards us. We do not understand the reason for your hostility both towards us and a great number of peoples who have no guilt other than they wish to live as free nations under the sun.

This policy is unreasonable and it is not in the interest of Americans or in the interest of the Arabs; neither is it in the interest of those peoples towards which the United States is hostile. As for the reasons, they are best left for those who search to find the truth.

Is Zionism behind the hostility that has penetrated and flourished inside American society? Is it Zionism that has fed them with this hostility for its own interests at the expense of American interests?

Zionism has poisoned American policy

Zionism has, in fact, poisoned American policy with hatred and hostility to the extent that this policy has become so biased that the United States now finds itself confronting peoples with which it has no conflict. In the forefront of those peoples is our great Arab nation, although there is not one single American-Arab problem. America has now become hostile to a people with which it has no conflict. Since there is no Arab land occupied by the United States and there is no part of the United States occupied by the Arabs, there are not even common borders that might be a source of conflict between us.

However, the United States is hostile to the Arabs. There may be various reasons for this hostility which we shall leave for researchers to fathom. But by casting a quick glance at some causes of this biased attitude, we charge that the Zionist policy, which is hostile to the United States itself and to the Arabs, it the primary source of poisoning American policy, transforming it into a policy which is hostile to the Arab nation as well as to other peoples. That is to say, racist Zionism has subjected American policy to serving its own racist and colonialist interests.

I would now like to say a few words regarding the question of international terrorism. I am a prime enthusiast when it comes to the necessity of putting the question of international terrorism before the United Nations. The world must face this phenomenon and somehow find a solution.

We must put the question of international terrorism before the United Nations

However, we must first know what terrorism is. A passenger whose plane is hijacked has the right to say that this is terrorism. I am, as a citizen living in Libya, threatened by the United States naval fleet in our waters. I have the right to say that this is international terrorism. I am a Palestinian expelled from my land by the force of arms; supported by other Powers, people came from Europe to the Middle East to expel me from my land. It is my right as a Palestinian to say that this is terrorism.

Thus, forms of terrorism may vary according to circumstances and situations. Arabs do not have the right to say that the hijacking of planes by some Palestinians is not terrorism, just because it was done by Arabs. Likewise, while the United States naval fleet is in the territorial waters of Libya, or of Algeria, or of Yemen, or in the Arabian Gulf, Americans have no right to claim that this is not terrorism. We have to ask these peoples whether they are living in terror. If their answer is yes, we must denounce the presence of these strong fleets in their territorial waters and on their borders and describe this as terrorism. No Israeli and no American has the right to deny that the Palestinian lives in fear of terrorism. We have to ask the Palestinian whether he is living in fear and, if the answer is yes-that he in fact lives in terror and fear because of the armed aggression perpetrated against him by Zionist force, and supported by the United States-then we should put on record that he is subjected to terrorism.

It must be put on record that the United States practices terrorism when it stops supplying or selling wheat to other nations. What terrorizes these nations? Hunger. And who is terrorizing them? The United States terrorizes them through exercising this aggressive policy. It is not the position of the United States to say that this is not terrorism. We have to ask these people if they were facing terrorism or not. If they answer that they faced terrorism through starvation imposed by the United States, we have to record that this is terrorism.

There are many forms of international terrorism

We have to begin saying that the hijacking of planes and the manufacturing of nuclear bombs are acts of terrorism. This is terrorism. Every one of us is terrorized by nuclear bombs. The Soviet Union is terrorized by the United States' nuclear bombs, and, likewise, the United States is terrorized by the nuclear bombs and intercontinental missiles possessed by the Soviet Union. If the great Powers themselves live under the terror of nuclear bombs and missiles, what of the plight of other nations who do not possess nuclear bombs or even nuclear reactors for peaceful purposes, such as for the generation of electricity or for medical research? These nations live in real terror. This is the true international terrorism. Nuclear bombs are terrorism; intercontinental missiles are terrorism; starvation is terrorism; naval fleets are terrorism; and foreign bases in other countries is terrorism.

An example of people living under terrorism is the Chadian people who are terrorized by French planes. Go to northern Chad and ask the people if they are living in terror. They will say yes, they live in terror. If you ask them what it is that frightens them, they will say French troops and planes.

If you ask the Turkish people whether they suffer from terrorism, they will say that they live in terror of the American bases. The Greek people, too, suffer from the presence of American bases.

Manufacturing nuclear bombs is also terrorism

Foreign bases, nuclear weapons, starvation, economic warfare, naval fleets, hijacking of planes, the holding of hostages for ransom, and the killing of innocent people are all acts of terrorism. If we are serious in combatting terrorism, we have to put all these deeds on one list and find the necessary solution for them. We are ready to put all our resources in the service of this objective. To achieve this objective, the world must begin to discuss international terrorism and find a way to eradicate it and drive away the shadow of economic and nuclear war. It has to drive away the shadow of naval fleets from the territorial waters of peoples who wish to live in peace. Foreign bases must be withdrawn, and occupying forces must leave the territories they occupy. The means to prevent the hijacking of planes must be found.

The Palestinian who hijacks a plane wants to express that he has a cause and that his land is occupied. As long as the world does not recognize that he is a refugee and homeless, he will continue to resort to such means to draw world attention to his cause. To stop plane hijackings by the Palestinians, we must address ourselves to the reason behind such deeds. The Palestinian wants to return to his homeland and when his problem is settled, he will not have to resort to the hijacking of planes.

Let there be no doubt that we are against the hijacking of planes, against terrorizing innocent peoples, against the blowing up of planes, and against terrorizing civilians. But, unfortunately, we cannot put an end to all these things unless the main problem is addressed in all seriousness.

We must understand the motives of terrorists

We must question why the Palestinians hijacked the plane, and the causes which led to this deed. It is because his land is occupied and the whole world has ignored his cause. He wants to express himself by a means which he feels will draw world attention to him and his cause.

Americans who always decry hijackings forget that their fleets, bases, nuclear weapons and intercontinental missiles are terrorizing peoples, and that the starvation of peoples is in itself an act of terrorism.

Why do Americans forget that the Palestinians have been expelled from their homeland and that the United States is helping the occupier keep hold of the land of the Palestinians? But when a Palestinian hijacks a plane to express his despair, the United States shakes the world by saying that this is terrorism and an end should be put to it. We are in agreement with the United States; an end must be put to terrorism, but we should seek solutions to the underlying problems which have led to this kind of terrorism.

Responsibilities of the United States Congressman

This suggestion might be useful for the members of the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, so that their discussions take this direction. The Congress should not be misled from the truth by hearing that a plane has been hijacked and innocent women and children have been kidnapped by a Palestinian whose only purpose is to commit acts of terrorism. Such an attitude in the United States Congress reflects not only disrespect for the Congress itself, but also for the people who elected these members to represent them.

Why doesn't a member of the Congress have the courage after this Symposium to speak out and say that the United States is responsible for the hijacking of planes because the land of the Palestinians is occupied by the Zionists who are aided by the United States? This member of Congress should explain to his President that aiding the occupiers of Palestine has caused the Palestinians to commit this act. Therefore, the President is primarily responsible.

U.S. aid for the occupiers of Palestine is responsible for plane hijackings by Palestinians

This is the key to the solution if we wish the Arab-American dialogue to bear fruit and lead to understanding.

Why does the United States stand with the Zionists against the Palestinian people, against their return to their homeland, and against the establishment of their State? Why do you stand against the freedom of the Arab people , against socialism, equality, independence, and prosperity in the Arab homeland? Why are you against us and then ask us to solve the problems existing between us, so we may come to an understanding? How can we possibly come to an understanding as long as things remain as they currently are? What interest has the United States in seeing that the Arabs do not establish socialism in their land?

United States policy as now practiced against the Arabs will push them to turn to communism someday. It might even push them at some point to becoming members of the Warsaw Pact.

If the Arab nation is seriously confronted by the Unites States, as is the present case, the Arabs will automatically be pushed into looking for an ally to confront the United States. At this time there is no ally who can confront the Unites States, and who has nuclear weapons and intercontinental missiles, other than the Soviet Union.

Current U.S. policy is driving the Arabs towards the Soviets

I will not hide this fact from you; there exists some who are officially suggesting that the progressive Arab States join the Warsaw Pact and that missiles with nuclear warheads be placed in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula in defiance of all hostile policies towards the Arab nation, in spite of the fact that we are against pacts and alliances and in spite of the fact that Arabs are Arabs and the Soviets are Soviets. As I have said, it will be in defiance of American policy, which has crossed the red line in its contempt for the rights of the Arabs and the Arab nation, and because of its ignoring the Palestinian people. We will go also in defiance of reactionary Arab regimes with ties to the United States and who are contemptuous and neglectful of the rights of the Arabs. American policy will be held responsible for all of this should it happen.

You fight against us and then you expect us to be your friends. For quite some time you refused to sell us civilian aircraft and denied us other assistance. Moreover, you even denied us arms. How then could friendship be established between us and the United States?

Inconsistency of the American stand on the question of human rights

Day after day, American policy pushes Libya closer to the Soviet Union, to stand in opposition to the United States in all areas. This is not because we want to be hostile to the United States, but you are pushing us into taking such a stand. If war breaks out between Libya and one of its neighbors, the United States interferes militarily on the side of the aggressor against Libya. After all this, what do you expect Libya to do?

Why is the United States hostile to progressive policies? Why is the United States against liberty and why does it associate itself with fascist and reactionary regimes that are hostile to liberty and in support of fascism and dictatorships?

From the political and historical standpoint, it is an infamous insult to the United States and to all Americans since this means that this great nation is against freedom, and supports fascism and dictatorships. This is not our responsibility because we are a progressive regime facing aggressive American policies. We should use our legitimate right to defend ourselves. The United States is responsible for it. You Americans should answer the question: Why is your policy always supportive of fascist and reactionary regimes and hostile to progressive ones?

History has recorded the insult to the Americans by their mobilizing all of their resources in the service of evil, reaction, backwardness, dictatorships, fascism and oppression. Therefore, United States talk about human rights is worthless to us. I personally do not attribute any significance to such talk. I consider it falsification and demagogy, especially when I listen to the American point of view on human rights while at the same time they are stifling freedom.

It is a basic human right of the Libyan people to build socialism, to build the Jamahiriya, and to live in freedom. The United States exerts all its pressure against us-that is to say, it stands against human rights, against Libyan rights, and against Palestinian rights, because the Palestinian people wish to live freely and not as refugees. America does injustice to this people by helping to keep this people dispersed and humiliated.

It seems that in view of Americans, human rights are applied only to some people. Perhaps, they mean human rights only in the case of Americans and Israelis. We have no objection if you say that you do not regard Mankind everywhere as human beings, that you extend protection to particular human beings. While speaking about human rights you in fact speak about rights of a particular group of human beings. This is your privilege; you are free to say that you defend the rights of certain human beings, but not human rights in general. All humanity knows that the Palestinian is a human being, that the Libyan is a human being, the Yemeni, Sudanese and Egyptian are human beings. Likewise, the peoples of Zimbabwe, South Africa and Viet Nam are human beings.

Here we ask if the United States is entitled, after having fought the Vietnamese people with all means of destruction, to claim that she has any ties to human rights. The Vietnamese had all the rights to be independent, but the United States fought them to prevent their independence and freedom.

When I hear the United States government authorities speaking about human rights, I wonder about such statements because the United States has and is committing deeds everywhere that are contrary to human rights. How can she talk about human rights while she terrorizes people and, in the same breath, talk about her intentions to end terrorism?

Nuclear disarmament, a SALT accord, and withdrawal of foreign-based naval fleets are also necessary to end terrorism

The United States President must issue a resolution declaring its withdrawal of its naval fleet from the Mediterranean and its withdrawal of its bases from Europe, Turkey, Greece, the Arabian Gulf and Iran. The President must move expeditiously towards nuclear disarmament and a SALT accord with the Soviet Union.

We have great ideals which have no counterpart in the United States. We are opposed to terrorism and we defend human rights. We want people to live freely and to have religion. We want that religion to be the common bond between all the peoples of the Revealed Books-to be, at least, a source of moral deterrence. We want progress and freedom for Mankind and want the masses to govern themselves by themselves.

Why doesn't some American representative say to the President:

"Our hostility to the rights of the Palestinian people is against human rights. Our hostility to the Yemeni people is against human rights. Spreading our bases everywhere, nuclear weapons, the starvation of peoples, and our support of racist regimes are terrorism."

Americans have to ask themselves how they can talk about human rights while they still make distinctions between the white man and the black man.

I wonder how the United States has achieved such a level of progress that she was able to reach the moon, while she is still backward from the social and humanistic point of view. In spite of reaching the moon, you still persist in making distinctions between the blacks and whites in your country. Who, then, is backward, underdeveloped and the barbarian?

Zionism has fooled and blinded many Americans

I say that Zionism has been able to fool and blind many Americans, leading them in this hostile direction. I discussed this with a U.S. Senator and asked him about the reasons which force the United States to stand with the Zionists against the Palestinians. He answered that Americans do not make a distinction between Palestinians and Jews, but that they consider the Israeli people to be victims of fascism. Therefore, Americans sympathize with them.

I said to that Senator, "If this is the American opinion-that they do not traditionally hate Arabs, the East, or Muslims, that they just feel sorry for a people that they believe to be homeless-they, therefore, should be informed that the Palestinian people are also homeless and that the Palestinian people have been driven from their country, dispersed and deprived of their rights, including the right to establish a state and live like any other people."

If this American interpretation is accurate, the American stand towards the Palestinian people should have been at least the same as their stand towards the Israeli people. But this is not the case.

Egypt displayed defeatist policies at Camp David

Even at Camp David, when the President of Egypt betrayed the Arab people by his defeatist policies, he could not impose his will on the Palestinian people. According to American logic, it was the human duty of the United States President to ask the President of Egypt: "Where are the Palestinian people? They should have their own state, gather together from their dispersion and return to their land." Why didn't the President of the United States ask or say this? He, therefore, does not consider all peoples to be equal; he is biased towards Israelis. It is not a humanistic stand for Americans because it did not take the Palestinian people into consideration.

This stand leads us to talk about Camp David, although I do not want to dwell on this matter long. But, as an Arab nationalist, I hope this international precedent will succeed and that the United States will continue adhering to its stand because it is for the benefit of the Palestinians, the Arabs and many other peoples of the world. This precedence means that anyone who owns weapons and occupies the land of others has the right to dictate its conditions to the conquered. No one in the world will be able to oppose it-not even the United States.

We want this precedent to succeed and to be established in International Law, tradition and policy because it is a rule that will benefit us in the future. If Syria occupies half of Palestine and refuses to withdraw except upon the establishment of the Palestinian state and the return of the Palestinians to their land, the United States will be in no position to oppose it.

This may happen after ten, twenty, fifty, maybe even one hundred years from now. The Arabs may force their way back inside Palestine, their armies staying and refusing to withdraw, unless the conquered sign a peace treaty ending the war and returning to the Arabs their right. The great Powers, including the United States, will naturally proceed to sign and bless this agreement, leaving the Arabs and the conquered to reconciliate and to tell the world that they have achieved a great thing by peace, identical to what has recently transpired at Camp David.

I personally wish that this incentive, this precedent, will succeed. I do not want the United States to disown or evade its responsibility by recognizing the consequences of war and the use of armed force.

International precedents are being set

True negotiations mean the withdrawal of the Israelis to the post-1967 border. After that, negotiations should start between them and the Arabs. They might agree; they might not. But for the Israeli army to remain in Sinai, with Egypt conquered and defeated and being asked to sign all these papers, with the blessing of such a great nation as the United States, such a situation sets a new international precedent.

What happened at Camp David set a precedent for any land occupied by another party, and the United States cannot protest since they established such a precedent.

The value of the United Nations as a vehicle for peace

There are some people who ask what the alternative is if the Arabs reject such agreements as those reached at Camp David. There is always the United Nations. It is an international gathering for the whole world. In the United Nations we can discuss any question. The Palestinian question is discussed in the United Nations in the presence of all the parties concerned, together with all the States of the world. To hold a meeting attended by two or three parties, to discuss an important international issue (like the Palestinian issue) is to subvert and undermine the United Nations itself.

Oh, people of America-I cannot address you as friends because we were not friends, and we are not yet friends-I say: Oh American guests, after this review and all these explanations you should be able to understand whether or not we have aggressive intentions. You can also understand whether we are backward, or whether we have ideas. I believe that these observations are useful because you have heard them from me personally.


The first Arab-American People-to-People Dialogue Conference was held in Tripoli, Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya on October 9, 10, 11, and 12, 1978.

The Conference was of particular importance as it provided a forum for full and frank discussions. Distinguished figures from the Arab World and from the United States discussed present conditions and the prospects for Arab-American relations in the following areas:

American and Arab Politics in the Middle East: Evaluation and Prospects.

Arab-American Economic Cooperation: Importance and Problems.

Cultural, Scientific, and Educational Exchange.

The Role of the Mass Media in Arab-American Relations.

Colonel Qadhafi, the Secretary General of the General People's Congress of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, addressed the Conference. His remarks, "A Message to the American People," are contained herein.