Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Letter to My Senator

Dear Mr. Sherrod Brown,

thank you for your reply about my request for a congressional call for a ceasefire from all sides in the Israeli incursion into Gaza, and for a re-opening of the borders to help bring civilian aid to Palestinians suffering from economic blockade.

I found your answer, however, to be unsatisfying. While I understand your point of view--that you wish to support Israel, and that you hope for a lasting peace--the language of the letter itself suggests that such hope is not based on an fair-minded policy:

"I support Israel’s right to defend itself from terrorism and to protect its people. The recent ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli troops in Gaza are overdue but important steps forward in providing stability and peace in the region.

I remain deeply concerned for the safety and welfare of civilians in desperate need of relief. As we begin to address the damage caused by the recent war, we must make humanitarian aid a clear and immediate priority. I will work with the new Administration to push for the immediate removal of all obstacles for the delivery of humanitarian aid as well as a permanent ceasefire.

We must invest in the future of all people in the region, so everyone intent on peace will have a stake in the peace process. I will continue to encourage the U.S. government to broker a lasting peace in the region."

To wit: nowhere in your letter does it even mention that the civilians you mention might be "Palestinian." I don't need to tell you that this is a stateless people dispossessed and made refugees in 1948 by the Arab-Israeli war, and by Israel itself. The U.S. and the international community have long supported the national aspirations of the Palestinian people, though there is an increasing debate about whether a two-state solution is even viable at this point, given the land confiscations in the West Bank and the geographic and political distance between the West Bank and Gaza.

I understand that you have received considerable contributions from AIPAC (American Israel Political Affairs Committee)--to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars in recent years--and understand that this does not imply that you are beholden to special interests. But I ask you to rethink Middle East positions that are not in the longterm interest of either Israel or Palestine or any other people in the world; the reckless and disproportionate bombing of a civilian population has done damage to Israel's reputation in the world, further isolated it in the eyes of the international community, and ensured another generation of Palestinian trauma and anger. The U.S., as Israel's strongest ally, could have forestalled that. We did not.


Philip Metres

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