Friday, October 28, 2011

Two Letters

I have suggested to many of our fellow travelers that they write to their political leaders. Almost invariably their response is, “I wouldn’t know what to say.” Thus, below are two letters. One is a letter I sent to my Senator, Johnny Isakson, this week and the other is a letter to the Editor written by a friend in Nashville. I think it would be wonderful if each of us would write a letter to someone in Washington expressing concern for America’s ignorant support of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. .

October 18, 2009
Dear Senator,

It has just come to my attention that you have again cast votes seeking to block the Palestinian’s quest for statehood. I have in mind your letters to President Obama and to various African leaders seeking to influence their vote at the U.N. Then you voted to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority unless they withdraw their request to the United Nations.

The peace talks you promote are a joke. Only one side of the negotiating teams has anything with which to negotiate. Only one side has an army with tanks and bulldozers. In the last “war” with the citizens of Gaza, the kill ratio was 100 to 1. Only one side had the capacity to fight and Israel knew it.

I am sure that you want peace for Israel. However, the problem is the OCCUPATION with its settlements, road blocks, apartheid wall, the uprooting of trees and crops and the assassination of Palestinian leaders.

I agree, it may be too late for a two state solution for all the “facts on the ground” listed above. Perhaps the only route to peace is a democratic Israel for all its citizens including those living in the occupied territories, with a constitution guaranteeing equal rights to all.

I have no authority except my voice, but I am sure that you are aware that the mood toward Israel in America is changing, including and perhaps most significantly, among our younger Jewish citizens.

I urge you to learn more about what is actually happening in the West Bank and Gaza before you cut off funds.


The second letter is by my friend Iley Behr to his local newspaper:

Tuesday, September, 27, 2011

Gaza, West Bank conditions are overlooked in Debate .

“Dad, is the coffee you drink fair-trade coffee?”

“Isabel,” I replied, “do you even know what fair trade means?”

I didn’t expect my 10-year-old to know it, but she was pretty close. “It means a fairer price for those who are down.” So when she asked what my bumper sticker, “Free Palestine, End the Occupation” means, I didn’t get into discussions of settlements, restricted movement within one’s own country, checkpoints, and very tall walls. I simply said, “It’s a fairer way of life for those who are being put down.” She understood that.

I hope our 81 congressmen who recently visited Israel were shown the conditions in which people are forced to live in Gaza and the West Bank, but my hunch is they may not have heard a single word about Palestinian human rights.

“Dad, will ending the occupation work?” Isabel asked. I didn’t get into money and politics. I said, “Yes, in time because there can be no Israeli peace without Palestinian justice, and peace and justice are a fairer way to live.”

My goodness, what will she ask me when she turns 21?
Iley Behr

I don’t write my political leaders as often as I should. But the important thing is not that they get more letters from one or two people, but that they receive something from many different people. I wish you would write a letter to someone/anyone in Congress asking about justice for the Palestinians.

Thomas Are
October 28, 2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011

We Need a Declaration of Independence ... from Israel

How I wish for a Thomas Jefferson. The United States needs another Declaration of Independence. This time, from Israel.

Like Thomas Paine’s 1776 plea, in his Common Sense, for America’s independence from England, I fail to see, in 2011, a single advantage that America reaps by being connected with Israel.

As for the bad effects of the “unbroken bond” our politicians continue to cement, I think of the loss of so many American lives because of our blind support of Israel’s conduct, such as: the 34 sailors who died in Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty in 1967, the 1983 bombing of the US Marine barracks in Lebanon killing 241, the attack on the USS Cole in 2000 by angry extremist which took the lives of 17 sailors, and at least partially, according to the declarations of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, the attack on the World Trade Center which pulled us into a war with Afghanistan and Iraq.[1]

The argument is made that Israel is like our aircraft carrier in the Middle East in case of a war with one of the radical Islamic nations. I ask, why would any Muslim nation want to declare war on the US were it not for Israel’s abuse of its Muslim neighbors, including and especially, the Palestinians?

The injury and pain we have sustained by our connection with Israel are without number. Any dependence upon Israel has a tendency to involve the U.S. in wars and quarrels and sets us up at odds with nations who would otherwise seek our friendship.

Paine said, “Everything that is right or reasonable pleads for separation.”[2] I say that the death of so many of our men and women, the cost of oil embargos, the loss of our reputation as a righteous and “justice for all” nation cry out, it’s time for a Declaration of Independence from Israel.

Without our backing, who knows, Israel might be forced to act more as a neighbor in the Middle East community and less as a bully.

Thomas Are
October 2, 2011
[1] Bin Laden’s “Letter to America” (published in The Guardian, November 24, 2002): ask, “Why are we fighting and opposing you? Because you attacked us and continue to attack us in Palestine.” Ilan Pappe, Jewish author of The Forgotten Palestinian reminds us of Hussein’s promise to withdraw his army from Kuwait if the Israeli army left the Palestinian occupied territories.” (p. 192)
[2] See A Peoples History of the United States, By Howard Zinn. p. 69.