My mother is American—from Indiana. My grandfather fought in
World War II and my Uncle fought in Vietnam. My father is Egyptian.
I was raised between Cairo and the United States. I have spent most
of my life traveling between both cultures and have always had a dual
understanding of world events depending on whether I was living in Cairo
or New York.
When war was about to break out in Iraq, I could not sit back and watch
it on television. I had to get on a plane to Qatar to make this film
because, like many people around the world, I was consumed by questions
about the war and the way it would be reported. I believed by going
to Qatar, I could gain access to both the Arab and American media, and
if I could step into both worlds simultaneously, I would better understand
how the two cultures that I am proudly a part of—the Arab one
and the American one—could view the war so differently.
Thomas Jefferson said that if you live in a democracy the most important
principle is to have an educated electorate.
I went to Qatar to immerse myself into the reality of people who were
struggling to find the truth and to express it. I was joined by Hani
Salama, a talented filmmaker of Egyptian/Bosnian origin who had just
experienced the war in Bosnia first hand. We soon met three individuals
who became our friends and ultimately gave us an incredible glimpse
into some of the complexities of reporting the war. They gave us the
greatest gift in the world by allowing us, and all the people that see
the film, into their lives. They shared their opinions during a crucial
time in their lives while working in the emotionally charged environment
of war. I asked these central figures in the film to write a few words
to shed some light on their feelings towards the politics surrounding
Iraq before, during and after the War. Captain Josh Rushing (the U.S.
military press officer), Hassan Ibrahim (an Al-Jazeera Journalist) and
Samir Khader (an Al-Jazeera Producer) sent us a few of their thoughts.
“It was the 15th of September 1982…when we received that
fateful phone call: ‘go to the Rachidia camp. The Israelis have
broken through the defenses.’ We went with a bunch of reporters
who were just like us—young, enthusiastic and willing to cross
that thin line between professionalism and activism. What ensued changed
my life forever. [My wife] Lena was raped and killed by somebody.
I do not know who and why! But it made me abhor wars and refuse to
justify violence under any circumstances….
I have seen many wars firsthand, from the Iran-Iraq war to Latin
America to Lebanon and Southern Sudan. The only conclusion I have
come up with is that war is never the answer. Violence produces more
violence. And believe me—this is not a cliché.”
Capt. Josh Rushing
"Before the war started I was assigned at CENTCOM to engage
in discussion online. My purpose was not to sell the war, but to clear
up the glut of misinformation that can take on a life of its own on
the Internet…Over a year has passed. I'm disappointed that I
seemed so pro-invasion….
I still dream for ‘an Iraq that is democratic, unified, multi-ethnic,
which has no weapons of mass destruction, no links to terrorists,
and is at peace with its neighbors.’"
"The streets of Baghdad were the same. They were the same as
I used to know them some thirty years ago as a child here. The same
landscape, with a single addition: sometimes you could see an American
humvee or a tank passing by unnoticed by a population who has gotten
used to such things….
Most of the Iraqis are today angry. Not against the Americans, the
British or any other occupying soldier. They seem angry against the
odds…angry against themselves. Yet, the seed has been planted.
It will one day flourish and carry them to something else. Something
that will certainly be better. As, what could be worse than what they
have known and what they have lived."