Like Helen Gerhardt ("Islam in Service to Our Country," Dec. 13 Forum), I too read Thomas L. Friedman's November address to Muslims in The New York Times. I was pleased to read her response to Mr. Friedman for stating that Muslims "need to show us how [Islam's] positive interpretations are being promoted in your schools and mosques."
Also like Ms. Gerhardt, I spent some years in the Middle East. I saw firsthand how Islam's message of peace is promoted in even the most horrific living situations such as refugee camps in Palestine. The message from Palestinians I heard for more than two years: "All we want is peace!"
This message is coming from a people who have been living under a brutal military occupation, the longest standing of our time. Many Palestinians, internally displaced, who have had their homes and their olive trees uprooted, continuously resist complete annihilation through nonviolent means. And their message is rooted in the most basic concepts of Islam -- social justice and peace. Of course, it is not just Muslim Palestinians under the gun. Christian Palestinians echo a similar narrative.
For any Pittsburgher who agrees with Mr. Friedman's critique, I urge spending a week or two witnessing with your own eyes and ears Islam's call to peace in, say, Bethlehem. But bring a book for the wait in line, an eight-meter-high steel wall separates the birthplace of Jesus from the rest of the world. During this holiday season, I ponder, "What would Jesus do?"